Who is Khidr?
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

I am somewhat confused about the story of Moses (sws) in the Qur’ān. We are told in Sūrah Kahaf about a servant of Allah who does certain things which are illegal according to Islamic law. Through Ahādīth we find out that he was called ‘Khidr’. I would like answers to the following questions: Was Khidr a human, a prophet or an angel? What are the reasons? If he was a human, how is it possible for a human to do illegal things and say that he did them because Allah told him to do so? What is the purpose of this story? Does this story tell us that there are people in this world who are above Islamic laws and have been given a right by Allah to do things which are prohibited in Islam?


In my opinion, Khidr (as) was an angel sent to instruct and educate the Prophet Moses (sws). Angels we know are entrusted by the Almighty to enforce His directives in accordance with His scheme and will. According to this scheme, He creates and destroys life, blesses some people with favours and deprives some people from these favours to make this world a place of trial and test. The incidents mentioned in this anecdote are of similar nature. A child was killed and a ship made defective at the behest of the Almighty. A human being has no authority to do such deeds even if he is a Prophet. No person is above the laws of the Sharī‘ah.  

The purpose of mentioning this story is:

(i) All that happens in this world happens with the permission and will of the Almighty. Nothing can happen unless He allows it.

(ii) All of Almighty’s works and actions are based on profound wisdom. If He sometimes allows evil to prosper, it is not that He likes evil; it is at times to give a chance to the evil doers to do more and more evil so that they can be given a grave punishment later on. If He tries and tests pious people by putting them through difficulties and hardships it is not that He dislikes them but that He wants to bless them with a greater reward on showing patience.

(iii) The profundity of Allah’s knowledge cannot be grasped by us in totality. The overall philosophy and wisdom about many of His actions will be revealed to us in the Hereafter. Therefore, we should adopt an attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving to Him in circumstances when we are not able to comprehend His will and actions, and we should resign and submit ourselves to Him.

Keeping in view these aspects of the story, it is pretty obvious that the inference that there are people in this world who are above Islamic laws and have been given a right by Allah (swt) to do things which are prohibited in Islam has no basis. It is reiterated that the whole episode delineates the enforcement of the Almighty’s will through his trusted angels for specific purposes and has nothing to do with human proceedings.

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