Sunday, December 11, 2005

5. Khizr Blog 1: Khizr of the Green Footstep, Guide of Travellers, Patron Saint of Cannabis

Khizr (Arabic al-khidr, Farsi/Urdu al-khizr): occupies a special place of distinction since pre-Islamic times. Khwaja Khadir (Khizr) was a legendary saint, prophet and teacher, often said to have been a companion of Moses (see Qur'an 18:65-82), considered to be a fountain of life and of spiritual understanding. Sometimes called the 'green man' because barren lands turned verdant in his presence. He is the protector of travellers, boat-people and rivers. When he is happy he bestows grain and fertility upon the land and when not, there is flood or a drought. He reputedly is the only soul who has gained life immortal from tasting of the Ma'ul Hayat or Fountain of Life in the Land of Darkness, possibly at Kataragama or Khidirgama, 'the home of al-Khadir' according to oral traditions that likewise live on to this day.

Although Muslim intellectuals today consign Khizr to the realm of myth and fairytale, the mass of Muslim believers are quite convinced of his saintly or angelic status. They believe he reveals himself to the worthy and shares the sirr or divine secrets. Personal encounters with Khwaja Khadir are not uncommon among Islamic mystics in Sri Lanka and worldwide. He is often invoked in Persian and Urdu literature as a guide to travellers:

Minute by minute – see – the crumbling dust of Dard,
yet Khizr cleaves the sand-dunes – another way round for me. - Dard

Khizr is portrayed in pre-Islamic sources, the Quran, Persian literature and later Islamic literatures like Turkish and Urdu. There is also a legend associating him with Alexander the Great. Both set off to find the legendary fountain of Eternal Youth, but only Khizr completes the journey and becomes Immortal. Alexander takes the path toward worldly immortality as a great king and conqueror. These traditions are well-supported by scholars. Some say that Khizr lived at the time of the biblical prophet Abraham and that he still may be seen at sacred places. According to the Isaba, 882, he was given immortality after a conversation with his friend the archangel Rafa'il in order to establish the true worship of God on earth and to maintain it.

According to the hadith or canonical account, al-Khadir was seen at the funeral of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (sal) offering condolence to the Prophet's bereaved companions. Khizr lives on an island (al-Tabari, i, 442) or upon a green carpet in the heart of the sea (al-Bukhari, Tafsir, sura 18, bab 3). He can find water beneath the ground and talks the language of all peoples (al-Suri). Others say that he can make himself invisible at will. Khizr and the biblical prophet Elijah perform haj annually and often appear in the disguise of bedawis. Both are entrusted with the duty of protecting travelers on their journeys. Elsewhere, al-Khadir's realm is an earthly paradise within the human world where Khadir rules over saints and angels; known as Yuh (also a name of the sun), it is situated in the far North.

It would incomplete to not draw attention to another popular identity of Khizr, who has also been long associated with hemp, or cannabis. As J.M. Campbell recorded in his classic 1894 essay, “On the Religion of Hemp :”

In his devotion to bhang , with reverence, not with the wor­ship, which is due to Allah alone, The North Indian Mussulman joins hymning to the praise of bhang. To the follower of the later religion of Islam the holy spirit in bhang is not the spirit of the Almighty, it is the spirit of the great prophet Khizr, or Elijiah. That bhang should be sacred to Khizr is natural, Khizr is the patron saint of water. Still more Khizr means green, the revered color of the cooling water of bhang ;. So the Urdu poet sings: When I quaff fresh bhang I liken its color to the fresh light down of thy youthful beard.” The prophet Khizr or the green prophet cries “May the drink be pleasing to thee.”

Thus, Khizr of the “green footstep’ and ‘the soother of grief’ is regarded as the patron-saint of the ‘Poor-Man’s Heaven,’ once used by sufi mystics to induce goodwill, pleasantness, trances and visions.


2 Comments:

Anonymous Guitar Master said...

I wish I could blog as good as you, but what I can do is give you a nice Guitar Lesson!

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think and i do know that Alexander the Great was my beautiful Khwaja khizr, also the friend of Moses (Musa Alay-islam) and also the king of the waters the oceans, sea and rivers.

5:57 AM  

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