Sunday, December 11, 2005

6. Khizr Blog 2: Khizr Meets Moses (Musa)

Moses learned there was man of wisdom greater than his own. He prayed to Allah that he might receive the blessing of meeting Hazrat Khizr and was ordered to make ready and to take with him a cooked fish. Khizr meets him at the assigned spot and the fish was missing as foretold. Moses and Khizr, began a journey together during which Hazrat Khizr taught a three-fold lesson through rather perverse, yet nevertheless instructive means:

[Taken from Quranic verses from 60 to 82 of Surah Kahf (18)]

And (remember) when Mûsa (Moses) said to his boy-servant: "I will not give up (travelling) until I reach the junction of the two seas or (until) I spend years and years in travelling." But when they reached the junction of the two seas, they forgot their fish, and it took its way through the sea as in a tunnel. So when they had passed further on (beyond that fixed place), Mûsa (Moses) said to his boy-servant: "Bring us our morning meal; truly, we have suffered much fatigue in this, our journey." He said:"Do you remember when we betook ourselves to the rock? I indeed forgot the fish, none but Shaitân (Satan) made me forget to remember it. It took its course into the sea in a strange (way)!" [Mûsa (Moses)] said: "That is what we have been seeking." So they went back retracing their footsteps. Then they found one of Our slaves, unto whom We had bestowed mercy from Us, and whom We had taught knowledge from Us.

Mûsa (Moses) said to him (Khidr) "May I follow you so that you teach me something of that knowledge (guidance and true path) which you have been taught (by Allâh)?" . He (Khidr) said: "Verily! You will not be able to have patience with me! "And how can you have patience about a thing which you know not?" Mûsa (Moses) said: "If Allâh will, you will find me patient, and I will not disobey you in aught." He (Khidr) said: "Then, if you follow me, ask me not about anything till I myself mention it to you."

So they both proceeded, till, when they embarked the ship, he (Khidr) scuttled it. Mûsa (Moses) said: "Have you scuttled it in order to drown its people? Verily, you have committed a thing "Imra" (a Munkar - evil, bad, dreadful thing)." He (Khidr) said: "Did I not tell you, that you would not be able to have patience with me?" [Mûsa (Moses)] said: "Call me not to account for what I forgot, and be not hard upon me for my affair (with you)."

Then they both proceeded, till they met a boy, he (Khidr) killed him. Mûsa (Moses) said: "Have you killed an innocent person who had killed none? Verily, you have committed a thing "Nukra" (a great Munkar - prohibited, evil, dreadful thing)!" (Khidr) said: "Did I not tell you that you can have no patience with me?" [Mûsa (Moses)] said: "If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company, you have received an excuse from me."

Then they both proceeded, till, when they came to the people of a town, they asked them for food, but they refused to entertain them. Then they found therein a wall about to collapse and he (Khidr) set it up straight. [Mûsa (Moses)] said: If you had wished, surely, you could have taken wages for it!" (Khidr) said: "This is the parting between me and you, I will tell you the interpretation of (those) things over which you were unable to hold patience.

"As for the ship, it belonged to Masâkîn (poor people) working in the sea. So I wished to make a defective damage in it, as there was a king after them who seized every ship by force. "And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared lest he should oppress them by rebellion and disbelief. "So we intended that their Lord should change him for them for one better in righteousness and near to mercy. "And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the town; and there was under it a treasure belonging to them; and their father was a righteous man, and your Lord intended that they should attain their age of full strength and take out their treasure as a mercy from your Lord. And I did it not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of those (things) over which you could not hold patience."

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.