Khidr (Arabic: ٱلْخَضِر‎, romanizedal-Khaḍir), also transcribed as al-Khadir, Khader, Khizr, al-Khidr, Khazer, Khadr, Khedher, Khizir, Khizar, is a figure described but not mentioned by name in the Quran as a righteous servant of God possessing great wisdom or mystic knowledge. In various Islamic and non-Islamic traditions, Khidr is described as a messenger, prophet, wali, slave or angel,[1][2] who guards the sea, teaches secret knowledge[3] and aids those in distress.[4] As guardian angel, he prominently figures as patron of the Islamic saint ibn Arabi.[5] The figure of al-Khidr has been syncretized over time with various other figures including Dūraoša[6] and Sorūsh in Iran,[7][8][9] Sargis the General,[10][11] and Saint George in Asia Minor and the Levant, Samael (the divine prosecutor) in Judaism, John the Baptist in Armenia, and Jhulelal[12] in Sindh and Punjab in South Asia.[13][14][15][16][17]

Mystic, Green One, The Verdant One, Teacher of the Prophets, Sayyidina, Guide
Venerated inIslamic and Islamicate area
InfluencedCountless future Sufi saints and mystics
17th-century Mughal painting of al-Khidr

Though not mentioned by name in the Quran, he is named by Islamic scholars as the figure described in Quran 18:65–82 as a servant of God who has been given "knowledge" and who is accompanied and questioned by the prophet Musa (Moses) about the many seemingly unjust or inappropriate actions he (Al-Khidr) takes (sinking a ship, killing a young man, repaying inhospitality by repairing a wall). At the end of the story Khidr explains the circumstances unknown to Moses that made each of the actions just and/or appropriate.

Some Muslim scholars believe that Khidr is still alive.


The name "al-Khiḍr" shares exactly the same triliteral root as the Arabic al-akhḍar or al-khaḍra, a root found in several Semitic languages meaning "green" or "verdant" (as in al-Qubbah al-Khaḍrā’ or the Green Dome). Therefore, the meaning of the name has traditionally been taken to be "the Green One" or "the Verdant One". Some contemporary scholars have disagreed with this assessment;[18] however some others point to a possible reference to the Mesopotamian figure Utnapishtim from the Epic of Gilgamesh through the Arabization of his nickname, "Hasisatra".[19] According to another view, the name Khidr is not an Arabic variant or an abbreviation of Hasisatra, but it may have been derived from the name of the Canaanite god Kothar-wa-Khasis[20][21] and later it may have been assimilated to the Arabic "al-akhḍar".[22]

Quranic narrativeEdit

In the Quran 18:65–82, Moses meets the Servant of God, referred to in the Quran as "one of our slaves whom We had granted mercy from Us and whom We had taught knowledge from Ourselves".[23] Muslim scholars identify him as Khiḍr, although he is not explicitly named in the Quran and there is no reference to him being immortal or being especially associated with esoteric knowledge or fertility.[24] These associations come in later scholarship on al-Khiḍr.[25]

The Quran states that they meet at the junction of two seas, where a fish that Moses and his servant had intended to eat has escaped. Moses asks for permission to accompany the Servant of God so Moses can learn "right knowledge of what [he has] been taught".[26] The Servant informs him that "surely you [Moses] cannot have patience with me. And how canst thou have patience about things about which thy understanding is not complete?"[27] Moses promises to be patient and obey him unquestioningly, and they set out together. After they board a ship, the Servant of God damages the vessel. Forgetting his oath, Moses says, "Have you made a hole in it to drown its inmates? Certainly you have done a grievous thing." The Servant reminds Moses of his warning, "Did I not say that you will not be able to have patience with me?" and Moses pleads not to be rebuked.

Next, the Servant of God kills a young man. Moses again cries out in astonishment and dismay, and again the Servant reminds Moses of his warning, and Moses promises that he will not violate his oath again, and that if he does he will excuse himself from the Servant's presence. They then proceed to a town where they are denied hospitality. This time, instead of harming anyone or anything, the Servant of God restores a decrepit wall in the village. Yet again Moses is amazed and violates his oath for the third and last time, asking why the Servant did not at least exact "some recompense for it."

The Servant of God replies, "This shall be separation between me and you; now I will inform you of the significance of that with which you could not have patience. Many acts which seem to be evil, malicious or somber, actually are merciful. The boat was damaged to prevent its owners from falling into the hands of a king who seized every boat by force. And as for the boy, his parents were believers and we feared lest he should make disobedience and ingratitude to come upon them. God will replace the child with one better in purity, affection and obedience. As for the restored wall, the Servant explained that underneath the wall was a treasure belonging to two helpless orphans whose father was a righteous man. As God's envoy, the Servant restored the wall, showing God's kindness by rewarding the piety of the orphans' father, and so that when the wall becomes weak again and collapses, the orphans will be older and stronger and will take the treasure that belongs to them."[28]

Reports in the HadithEdit

A Persian manuscript depicting Elijah and al-Khiḍr praying together from an illuminated manuscript version of Stories of the Prophets

Among the strongest transmitted proofs about the life of al-Khiḍr are two reports, one narrated by Ahmad ibn Hanbal in Al-Zuhd whereby Muhammad is said to have stated that the prophet Elijah (Ilyas) and al-Khiḍr meet every year and spend the month of Ramadan in Jerusalem[citation needed] and the other narrated by Ya'qub ibn Sufyan from Umar II whereby a man he was seen walking with was actually al-Khiḍr. Ibn Hajar declared the claim of the first fair and that of the second sound in Fath al-Bari (1959 ed. 6:435). He goes on to cite another sound report narrated by ibn Asakir from Abu Zur’a al-Razi whereby the latter met al-Khiḍr twice, once in his youth, the other in old age, but al-Khiḍr himself had not changed.

The Islamic scholar Said Nursî also contends[29] that Khidr is alive, but that there are five degrees of life; Khidr is at the second degree of life,[clarification needed] thus some religious scholars have been doubtful about it. Khidr and Ilyas are free to an extent. That is to say, they can be present in numerous places at the same time. They are not permanently restricted by the requirements of humanity like. They can eat and drink when they want to, but are not compelled to.[citation needed] The saints are those who uncover and witness the realities of creation, and the reports of their adventures with Khidr are unanimous and elucidate and point to this level of life.[citation needed] There is even one degree of sainthood which is called 'the degree of Khidr.' A saint who reaches this degree receives instruction from Khidr and meets with him. But sometimes the one at that degree is mistaken to be Khidr himself.[29]

al-Khiḍr is believed to be a man who has the appearance of a young adult but a long, white beard. According to some authors like Abdul Haq Vidhyarthi, al-Khiḍr is Xerxes (a 6th-century Sasanian prince, not to be confused with Xerxes I), who disappeared after being in the lake regions of Sistan that comprise the wetlands of the Irano-Afghan border today, and after finding the fountain of life, sought to live his entire remaining life in service of God and to help those in their path/journey to Him.

Muhammad al-Bukhari reports that al-Khiḍr got his name after he was present over the surface of some ground that became green as a result of his presence there. There are reports from al-Bayhaqi that al-Khiḍr was present at the funeral of Muhammad and was recognized only by Ali from amongst the rest of the companions, and where he came to show his grief and sadness at the death of Muhammad. Al-Khiḍr's appearance at Muhammad's funeral is related as follows: A powerful-looking, fine-featured, handsome man with a white beard came leaping over the backs of the people till he reached where the sacred body lay. Weeping bitterly, he turned toward the Companions and paid his condolences. Ali said that he was Khiḍr.[30]

In another narration al-Khiḍr met with Ali by the Kaaba and instructed him about a supplication that is very meritorious when recited after the obligatory prayers. It is reported by Imam Muslim that during the time when the false Messiah appears and as he approaches at the outskirts of the city of Medina, a believer would challenge him, whom the false Messiah will slice into two pieces and rejoin, making it appear that he caused him to die and be resurrected, to which this man would proclaim the falsehood of the Dajjal who would try again to kill him (or make show of it) but would fail and thus his weakness and inability being made revealed. According to the commentators and transmitters of this narration, the person who will challenge the Antichrist and humiliate him will be al-Khiḍr.

Ja'far al-Sadiq narrates in Kitab al-Kafi that after entering the sacred Mosque in Mecca, Ali, Hasan ibn Ali, and Husayn ibn Ali were visited by a good looking, well dressed man who asked them a series of questions. Hasan answered the questions and upon this, the man testified to the prophet-hood of Muhammad followed by testifying that Ali and his Ahl al-Bayt are the successors and heir to his message. Ali asked Hasan to track the whereabouts of the visitor, but when he could not, Ali revealed the identity of the man to be Khidr.[31]

Islamic perspectivesEdit

In Sunni IslamEdit

Persian scholar, historian and exegete of the Qur'an Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, writes about Khidr in a chapter of his The History of al-Tabari, called "The Tale of al-Khiḍr and His History; and the History of Moses and His Servant Joshua." Al-Tabari describes several versions of the traditional story surrounding al-Khiḍr. At the beginning of the chapter, al-Tabari explains that in some variations, al-Khiḍr is a contemporary of the mythical Persian king Afridun, who was a contemporary of Abraham, and lived before the days of Moses.[32] Al-Khiḍr is also said to have been appointed to be over the vanguard of the king Dhul-Qarnayn the Elder, who in this version is identified as the king Afridun.[33] In this specific version, al-Khiḍr comes across the River of Life and, unaware of its properties, drinks from it and becomes immortal.[34] Al-Tabari also recounts that al-Khiḍr is said to have been the son of a man who believed in Abraham, and who emigrated with Abraham when he left Babylon.[35]

Al-Khiḍr is also commonly associated with Elijah, even equated with him, and al-Tabari makes a distinction in the next account in which al-Khiḍr is Persian and Elijah is an Israelite. According to this version of al-Khiḍr's story, al-Khiḍr and Elijah meet every year during the annual festival season.[35]

Al-Tabari seems more inclined to believe that al-Khiḍr lived during the time of Afridun before Moses, rather than traveled as Abraham's companion and drank the water of life.[36] He does not state clearly why he has this preference, but rather seems to prefer the chain of sources (the isnad) of the former story rather than the latter.

The various versions in al-Tabari's History more or less parallel each other and the account in the Quran. However, in the stories al-Tabari recounts, Moses claims to be the most knowledgeable man on earth, and God corrects him by telling him to seek out al-Khiḍr. Moses is told to bring a salted fish, and once he found the fish to be missing, he would then find al-Khiḍr. Moses sets out with a travel companion, and once they reach a certain rock, the fish comes to life, jumps into the water, and swims away. It is at this point that Moses and his companion meet al-Khiḍr.

Al-Tabari also adds to lore surrounding the origins of al-Khiḍr's name. He refers to a saying of Muhammad that al-Khiḍr ("the Green" or "the Verdant") was named because he sat on a white fur and it shimmered green with him.[37]

In Shia IslamEdit

Many Shia Muslims believe al-Khiḍr accompanied Muhammad al-Mahdi in meeting one Sheikh Hassan ibn Muthlih Jamkarani, on 22 February 984 CE (17 Ramadan 373 A.H.) and instructing him to build Jamkaran Mosque at that site of their meeting.[38] The site, six kilometers east of Qom, Iran, has been a pilgrimage destination for the Shia for some time.[39]

In Ismailism, al-Khiḍr is considered one of the 'permanent Imams'; that is, those who have guided people throughout history.[40]

In SufismEdit

To Sufis, al-Khiḍr holds a distinguished position. Although amongst the Sunni scholars there is a difference of opinion about him being still alive, amongst Sunni Sufis there is almost a consensus that al-Khiḍr is still alive, with many respected figures and shaykhs, and prominent leaders claiming having had personal encounters with him. Examples of those who have claimed this are Abdul-Qadir Gilani, al-Nawawi, Ibn Arabi, Sidi Abdul Aziz ad-Dabbagh and Ahmad ibn Idris al-Fasi. Ibn Ata Allah's Lata'if al-Minan (1:84-98) states that there is consensus among the Sufis that al-Khiḍr is alive. In fact there are orders that claim origin with al-Khiḍr himself, or that al-Khiḍr was part of their chain, for example some of the Naqshbandi Haqqani Sufi Order, the Muhammadiyah, the Idrisiyya, and the Senussi are tariqat that had al-Khiḍr as one of the central figures connecting them to the spiritual outflow of Muhammad.

In Sufi tradition, al-Khiḍr has come to be known as one of those who receive illumination direct from God without human mediation. He is the hidden initiator of those who walk the mystical path, like some of those from the Uwaisi tariqa. Uwaisis are those who enter the mystical path without being initiated by a living master. Instead they begin their mystical journey either by following the guiding light of the teachings of the earlier masters or by being initiated by the mysterious prophet-saint al-Khiḍr.

Al-Khiḍr has had thus gained enormous reputation and popularity in the Sufi tradition due to his role as an initiator. Through this way come several Sufi orders which claim initiation through al-Khiḍr and consider him their master. Al-Khiḍr had thus come to symbolize access to the divine mystery (ghayb) itself. In the writings of Abd al-Karim al-Jili, al-Khiḍr rules over ‘the Men of the Unseen' (rijalu’l-ghayb)— the exalted saints and angels. Al-Khiḍr is also included among what in classical Sufism are called the ‘’abdāl’’ (‘those who take turns’). In Sufi hierarchy, ‘’abdāl’’ is a mysterious rank. It is thought in Sufism that God decides who will be abdal for a decade before an abdal is born. Adbals are thought as the gainers of mysterious power that is knowing the future also called Ilm-e-ladunni. They are deployed to protect Islam from some unwanted evil activities that threaten the existence of Islam. In a divinely-instituted hierarchy of such saints, al-Khiḍr holds the rank of their spiritual head.

The Sri Lankan Sufi Bawa Muhaiyaddeen gives a unique account of al-Khiḍr. Al-Khiḍr was on a long search for God, until God, out of his mercy, sends the Archangel Gabriel to guide him. Gabriel appears to al-Khiḍr as a wise human sage, and al-Khiḍr accepts him as his teacher. Gabriel teaches al-Khiḍr much in the same way as al-Khiḍr later teaches Moses in the Quran, by carrying out seemingly unjust actions. Al-Khiḍr repeatedly breaks his oath not to speak out against Gabriel's actions, and is still unaware that the human teacher is actually Gabriel. Gabriel then explains his actions, and reveals his true angelic form to al-Khiḍr. Al-Khiḍr recognises him as the Archangel Gabriel, and then Gabriel bestows a spiritual title upon al-Khiḍr, by calling him Hayat Nabi, the Eternal Life Prophet.

The French scholar of Sufism, Henry Corbin, interprets al-Khiḍr as the mysterious prophet, the eternal wanderer. The function of al-Khiḍr as a 'person-archetype' is to reveal each disciple to himself, to lead each disciple to his own theophany, because that theophany corresponds to his own 'inner heaven,' to the form of his own being, to his eternal individuality. Accordingly, al-Khiḍr is Moses' spiritual guide, who initiates Moses into the divine sciences, and reveals to him the secret mystic truth.

In AhmadiyyaEdit

Ahmadi exegeses of the Quran tend to identify the "Servant of God" whom Moses met to be the symbolic representation of Muhammad himself. Ahmadis believe that the Quranic passage of Moses' encounter with the "Servant of God" is closely linked, contextually, to the subject matter of surah Al Kahf in which his story is cited. According to Ahmadi commentaries, Moses' journey towards, and his meeting with the "servant of God" was a visionary experience similar to the Mi'raj (ascension) of Muhammad whom Moses had desired to see and was shown in this vision.[41] The nature of the dialogue between Moses and the "Servant of God" and the relationship between them is seen as indicative of the personal characteristics of Moses and Muhammad as well as those of their respective followers; Khiḍr's seemingly inappropriate actions and the wisdom behind them are understood with reference to salient features of Muhammad's life and teachings; and the entire Quranic narrative is understood as being expressive of Muhammad's spiritual superiority over Moses and the superseding of the Judaic dispensation by the Islamic one.[42]

In ZoroastrianismEdit

There are many figures in Iran whose place Khidr took by the Islamization process. One of them is paradoxically a female figure, Anahita. The most popular shrine in Yazd is dedicated to Anahita. Among the Zoroastrians, for the pilgrims to Yazd, the most important of the six pir is Pir-e Sabz ("the green shrine"). The name of the shrine derives from the greenness of the foliage growing around the sanctuary.[43] It is still a functional temple and the holiest site for present-day Zoroastrians living in Iran.[44]

Each year from 14–18 June, many thousands of Zoroastrians from Iran, India and other countries make a pilgrimage to Yazd in Iran to worship at a hillside grotto containing the sacred spring dedicated to Pir-e Sabz. Here the worshippers pray for the fertilising rain and celebrate the greening of nature and the renewal of life.[citation needed]

As Babayan says, "Khizr is related to the Zoroastrian water goddess Anahita, and some of her former sanctuaries in Iran were rededicated to him (Pir-i Sabz)".[45][better source needed]

Theories on originEdit

The source of the Quranic episode of Moses's journey with Khiḍr is not immediately clear. Historian Brannon M. Wheeler notes that the story does not appear to have any direct Christian or Jewish antecedent.[46]

In one of the most influential hypotheses on the source of the Khiḍr story, the early twentieth-century Dutch historian Arent Jan Wensinck [de] argued that the tale was derived from a Jewish legend involving the Talmudic rabbi Joshua ben Levi and the Biblical prophet Elijah.[47] As with Moses and Khiḍr, Ben Levi asks to follow Elijah, who agrees under the condition that the former not question any actions he may take. One night, Ben Levi and Elijah are hosted by a poor man who owns only a cow, which Elijah slaughters. The next day, they are refused hospitality by a rich man, but the prophet fixes the man's wall without receiving pay. Finally, the two are refused hospitality by people at a rich synagogue but hosted by a group of poor people. Elijah prays to God to turn everyone in the rich synagogue into rulers, but says that only one person out of the latter should rule. When Ben Levi questions the prophet, the prophet explains that he killed the cow as a replacement for the soul of the man's wife, who was due to die that day; that he fixed the wall because there was treasure underneath it that the rich man would otherwise have found while fixing it himself; and that his prayer was because a land under a single ruler is preferable to one with multiple ones. Wensinck believed that the author of the Quran had taken the Khiḍr story directly from this Jewish source but had confused the names of the characters involved.[48]

This Jewish legend is first attested in an Arabic work by the eleventh-century Tunisian Jewish scholar Nissim ben Jacob, some four hundred years after the composition of the Quran.[49] Haim Schwarzbaum [de] argued as early as in 1960 that the story appeared to be "utterly dependent upon the Koranic [sic] text", with even the language more akin to typical Classical Arabic than to other stories by Ben Jacob with clear Talmudic origins.[50] Noting that Ben Jacob's compilation includes other stories with clear Islamic antecedents, Wheeler also suggests that the Jewish story of Elijah was created under Islamic influence, remarking that its parallels with the story of Khiḍr align more closely to the elaborations of later Islamic commentaries rather than the concise narrative of the Quran itself. For example, the Jewish story involves Ben Levi purposely seeking out Elijah just as God tells Moses to seek out Khiḍr in the Islamic commentaries, whereas the Quran itself never states whether the meeting between Moses and Khiḍr is intentional or accidental.[51] A close association between Elijah and Khiḍr is also first attested from a number of early Islamic sources.[52] Ben Jacob may have changed the character of the faulty disciple from Moses to Joshua ben Levi because he was wary of attributing negative qualities to the Jewish prophet and because Ben Levi was already a familiar recurrent character in Jewish literature.[53]

Another early story similar to the tale of Khiḍr is of Christian provenance. A damaged and non-standard thirteenth-century Greek manuscript of the Leimōn Pneumatikos, a hagiographical work by the pre-Islamic Byzantine monk John Moschus, includes the conclusion of a narrative involving an angel and a monk, in which the angel explains certain strange actions he had presumably taken in earlier, now lost sections of the narrative. The angel had stolen a cup from a generous host, because he knew that the cup was stolen and that their host would be unwittingly sinning if he continued to possess it. He had killed the son of another generous host, because he knew that the boy would grow to be a sinner if he reached adulthood but would go to heaven if he died before committing his sins. Finally, the angel had repaired the wall of a man who had refused them hospitality, because he knew that there was treasure underneath that the man would otherwise have found.[54] French historian Roger Paret points out that the Moschus story is much more closely aligned to the Quranic episode than the Jewish legend; for instance, the angel in the Greek story and the "servant of God" in the Quran are both anonymous and vaguely defined, in contrast to the named figures of the Jewish Elijah or Khiḍr in Islamic exegesis.[55] The tale of the angel and the monk is part of a wider Late Antique Christian tradition of theodicy, which may have influenced the author of the Quran.[56] Gabriel Said Reynolds, a scholar of Islamic theology, has regarded the Moschus tale as the likely source of the Quranic narrative.[57]

Schwarzbaum has also argued that the Quranic narrative originated in a Late Antique context in which Christian theodicy legends involving monks were popular, with being the equivalent of the Christian pneumatic with knowledge derived directly from the Divine. and that the story probably reached Muhammad "through the intermediary of some Christian informant, presumably some monk well-versed in the numerous old Christian legends of anchorites and hermits."[58] Schwarzbaum also speculated of an ultimately Jewish prototype for Khiḍr, possibly a legend involving Moses becoming a disciple of the future Rabbi Akiva, compiler of the Oral Torah.[59] While agreeing that the Quranic story "combines disparate elements from motifs current in late antiquity", Wheeler rejects Schwarzbaum's connection between Rabbi Akiva and Khiḍr.[60]

In the Quranic narrative which immediately precedes Moses's encounter with Khiḍr, a fish that Moses and his servant had intended to eat escapes into the sea, and the prophet encounters Khiḍr when he returns to the place where the fish escaped. The episode of the fish is generally thought to derive from an episode in the Alexander Romance of Late Antiquity in which Alexander's cook discovers the Fountain of Life while washing a dead fish in it, which then comes to life and escapes.[61] The Alexander Romance is partly derived from the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh, which means that the Quranic narrative is ultimately related to the story of Gilgamesh.[62] But some scholars, including Wensinck, have argued that certain elements of the story of Moses and Khiḍr show influence from Gilgamesh that goes beyond the Alexander Romance. In this line of analysis, Khiḍr is considered an Islamic counterpart of Utnapishtim, the immortal sage of Mesopotamian mythology with esoteric knowledge from the gods, who Gilgamesh unsuccessfully consults in order to attain immortality. Khiḍr is similar to Utnapishtim in that they are both considered immortal—although the former's immortality is mentioned only in later Islamic sources, not the Qur'an—and in that Moses encounters Khiḍr at the "meeting place of the two waters", while Gilgamesh visits Utnapishtim at the "mouth of the waters".[63]

In Anatolian folk religionEdit

A hypothesis on the role of Khiḍr in Anatolian folk religion, suggested by Turkish scholar Gürdal Aksoy, compares him with the Ugaritic god Kothar-wa-Khasis. Both figures possess wisdom and secret knowledge.[64] Both are involved in the slaying of a dragon. Kothar helps Baal to kill Yam-Nahar by making weapons for him. Khidr helps Sufis or wali's like Sarı Saltık in their struggle with a dragon.[65] According to some other stories he plays a central role, not that of a helper, and slays the dragon himself.[66][67] For example, the people who live in Antakya (Turkey) tell a story about this feature of Khidr.[68]

Kothar and Khidr are also known as "sailor" figures who are symbolically associated with sea, lake and rivers.[69] The Phoenician figure of Chusor is an inventor of the boat and he saves sailors.[70] It believed that he was the first voyager on a boat. Khidr helps people when they need help and the most of these dangerous conditions are about seas, lakes and rivers, etc. For example, he sometimes helps children when they are drowning in the water or he helps boatmen during stormy weather. The Alevi Kurds of Dersim saw him as a savior and describe him as a "sovereign of the seas".[71] Khidr often has some characteristics of a sailor, even in cultural areas which are not directly linked to the sea, like mountainous Dersim. The Anatolian folk conception of Khidr may originally come from the culture of a people who inhabited the seashore. He has transformed to a wanderer by the cultural effects of darwishs and wanderer Sufis.[72]

Another hypothesis of Aksoy about the cultural origins of the Anatolian conception of Khidr points to another common element relating to a religious tradition in Near East, the traditional celebration of Hıdırellez.[64] Like Alevis, people make flour of roasted wheat on the day before the festival for Khidr. They keep it somewhere in the kitchen to see later for Khidr's traces. Next day in the morning if they see some signs on the flour, it means that Khidr came there to bring abundance and blessing for them. Later they bake some kind of cake which is called Qāvut, Kavut, Köme or Göme.[8][73] According to Aksoy, this tradition originated from the mythico-rituals of Ancient Near Eastern dying gods like Osiris, Adonis (also Dionysos, Melqart and Mithra), and the process which shows the transformation of the grain to flour symbolizes cremation (death) of the god.[74]

Comparative mythologyEdit

al-Khiḍr and Alexander the Great in front of the Fountain of Life

In various accounts al-Khidr has been linked to the figure of Dhu al-Qarnayn, who is either identified as Cyrus the Great or the Himyarite King Ṣaʿb.[75] In one version, al-Khiḍr and Dhul-Qarnayn cross the Land of Darkness to find the Water of Life. Dhul-Qarnayn gets lost looking for the spring but al-Khiḍr finds it and gains eternal life. According to Wahb ibn Munabbih, quoted by Ibn Hisham, King Ṣaʿb was given the epithet Dhu al-Qarnayn by al-Khidr after meeting him in Jerusalem.[75] There are also several versions of the Alexander Romance in which al-Khiḍr figures as a servant of Alexander the Great. In the Eskandarnāma by an anonymous author, al-Khiḍr is asked by Dhul-Qarnayn to lead him and his armies to the Water of Life.[76] Al-Khiḍr agrees, and eventually stumbles upon the Water of Life on his own.[77]

Some scholars suggest that al-Khiḍr is also represented in the Arthurian tale Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as the Green Knight.[78] In the story, the Green Knight tempts the faith of Sir Gawain three times. The character of al-Khiḍr may have come into European literature through the mixing of cultures during the Crusades.[79] It is also possible that the story derives from an Irish myth which predates the Crusades in which Cú Chulainn and two other heroes compete for the curadmír, the select portion given to champions, at feasts; ultimately, Cú Chulainn is the only one willing to let a giant — actually a king who has magically disguised himself — cut off his head, as per their agreement.

In certain parts of India, al-Khiḍr is also known as Khawaja Khidr, a river spirit of wells and streams.[80] He is mentioned in the Sikandar-nama as the saint who presides over the well of immortality, and is revered by both Hindus and Muslims.[80] He is sometimes pictured as an old man dressed in green, and is believed to ride upon a fish.[80] His principal shrine is on an island of the Indus River by Bhakkar in Punjab, Pakistan.[80]

In The Unreasoning Mask by famed science fiction writer Philip José Farmer, while Ramstan, captain of the al-Buraq, a rare model spaceship capable of instantaneous travel between two points, attempts to stop an unidentified creature that is annihilating intelligent life on planets throughout the universe, he is haunted by repeating vision of meeting al-Khiḍr.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Brannon Wheeler Prophets in the Quran: An Introduction to the Quran and Muslim Exegesis A&C Black 2002 ISBN 978-0-826-44956-6 page 225
  2. ^ Bruce Privratsky Muslim Turkistan: Kazak Religion and Collective Memory Routledge, 19 Nov 2013 ISBN 9781136838170 p. 121
  3. ^ John P. Brown The Darvishes: Or Oriental Spiritualism Routledge 2013 ISBN 978-1-135-02990-6 page 100
  4. ^ M. C. Lyons The Arabian Epic: Volume 1, Introduction: Heroic and Oral Story-telling Cambridge University Press 2005 ISBN 9780521017381 p. 46
  5. ^ Reynolds, Gabriel Said, “Angels”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE, Edited by: Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, Everett Rowson. Consulted online on 14 November 2019 <> First published online: 2009 First print edition: 9789004181304, 2009, 2009-3
  6. ^ "Welcome to Encyclopaedia Iranica".
  7. ^ Gürdal Aksoy, Dersim: Alevilik, Ermenilik, Kürtlük, Ankara, 2012, p. 65-80, Dipnot yayınevi (in Turkish), ISBN 9786054412501; Anna Krasnowolska, ḴEZR, Encyclopedia Iranica, 2009
  8. ^ a b "ḴEŻR – Encyclopaedia Iranica". Retrieved 13 January 2017.
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