;
Damaging the Boat

Allah tells us that Musa and his companion Al-Khidr set out having come to an agreement and reached an understanding. Al-Khidr had made the condition that Musa should not ask him about anything he found distasteful until he himself initiated the discussion and offered an explanation. So they went on board the ship, as described in the Hadith quoted above -- the crew recognized Al-Khidr and let them ride on board free of charge, as an honor to Al-Khidr. When the boat took them out to sea and they were far from the shore, Al-Khidr got up and damaged the boat, pulling out one of its planks and then patching it up again. Musa, peace be upon him, could not restrain himself from denouncing him, so he said:

﴿ أَخَرَقۡتَہَا لِتُغۡرِقَ أَهۡلَهَا

(Have you damaged it wherein its people will drown) The grammatical structure of the sentence in Arabic implies that this was the consequence, not the purpose, of his action.

﴿ لَقَدۡ جِئۡتَ شَيۡـًٔا إِمۡرً۬ا

(Verily, you have committed a thing Imr.) About `Imr', Mujahid said: "An evil thing.'' Qatadah said, "An astounding thing.'' At this point, reminding him of the previously-agreed condition, Al-Khidr said:

﴿ أَلَمۡ أَقُلۡ إِنَّكَ لَن تَسۡتَطِيعَ مَعِىَ صَبۡرً۬ا

(Did I not tell you, that you would not be able to have patience with me) meaning, `this thing that I did deliberately is one of the things I told you not to denounce me for, because you do not know the full story, and there is a reason and purpose for it that you do not know about.'

﴿ قَالَ

(He said), meaning, Musa said:

﴿ لَا تُؤَاخِذۡنِى بِمَا نَسِيتُ وَلَا تُرۡهِقۡنِى مِنۡ أَمۡرِى عُسۡرً۬ا

(Call me not to account for what I forgot, and be not hard upon me for my affair (with you).) meaning, `do not be harsh with me.' Hence it says in the Hadith quoted above from the Messenger of Allah:

« كَانَتِ الْأُولَى مِنْ مُوسَى نِسْيَانًا »

(In the first instance, Musa asked Al-Khidr because he had forgotten his promise.)

﴿ فَٱنطَلَقَا حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا لَقِيَا غُلَـٰمً۬ا فَقَتَلَهُ ۥ قَالَ أَقَتَلۡتَ نَفۡسً۬ا زَكِيَّةَۢ بِغَيۡرِ نَفۡسٍ۬ لَّقَدۡ جِئۡتَ شَيۡـًٔ۬ا نُّكۡرً۬ا قَالَ أَلَمۡ أَقُل لَّكَ إِنَّكَ لَن تَسۡتَطِيعَ مَعِىَ صَبۡرً۬ا قَالَ إِن سَأَلۡتُكَ عَن شَىۡءِۭ بَعۡدَهَا فَلَا تُصَـٰحِبۡنِى‌ۖ قَدۡ بَلَغۡتَ مِن لَّدُنِّى عُذۡرً۬ا

(74. Then they both proceeded till they met a boy, and he (Khidr) killed him. Musa said: "Have you killed an innocent person without Nafs Verily, you have committed a thing Nukr!'') (75. He said: "Did I not tell you that you can have no patience with me'') (76. He said: "If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company, you have received an excuse from me.'')

The Story of killing the Boy
﴿ فَٱنطَلَقَا

(Then they both proceeded,) means, after the first incident,

﴿ حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَا لَقِيَا غُلَـٰمً۬ا فَقَتَلَهُ ۥ

(till they met a boy, and he (Khidr) killed him.) It has been stated previously that this boy was playing with other boys in one of the towns, and that Al-Khidr deliberately singled him out. He was the finest and most handsome of them all, and Al-Khidr killed him. When Musa, peace be upon him, saw that he denounced him even more fervently than in the first case, and said hastily:

﴿ أَقَتَلۡتَ نَفۡسً۬ا زَكِيَّةَۢ

(Have you killed an innocent person) meaning, a young person who had not yet committed any sin or done anything wrong, yet you killed him

﴿ بِغَيۡرِ نَفۡسٍ۬

(without Nafs) with no reason for killing him.

﴿ لَّقَدۡ جِئۡتَ شَيۡـًٔ۬ا نُّكۡرً۬ا

(Verily, you have committed a thing Nukr!) meaning, something that is clearly evil.

﴿ قَالَ أَلَمۡ أَقُل لَّكَ إِنَّكَ لَن تَسۡتَطِيعَ مَعِىَ صَبۡرً۬ا

(He said: "Did I not tell you that you can have no patience with me'') Once again, Al-Khidr reiterates the condition set in the first place, so Musa says to him:

﴿ إِن سَأَلۡتُكَ عَن شَىۡءِۭ بَعۡدَهَا

(If I ask you anything after this,) meaning, `if I object to anything else you do after this,'

﴿ فَلَا تُصَـٰحِبۡنِى‌ۖ قَدۡ بَلَغۡتَ مِن لَّدُنِّى عُذۡرً۬ا

(keep me not in your company, you have received an excuse from me.) `you have accepted my apology twice.' Ibn Jarir narrated from Ibn `Abbas that Ubayy bin Ka`b said: "Whenever the Prophet mentioned anyone, he would pray for himself first. One day he said:

« رَحْمَةُ اللهِ عَلَيْنَا وَعَلَى مُوسَى لَوْ لَبِثَ مَعَ صَاحِبِهِ لَأَبْصَرَ الْعَجَبَ، وَلَكِنَّهُ قَالَ:
﴿ إِن سَأَلۡتُكَ عَن شَىۡءِۭ بَعۡدَهَا فَلَا تُصَـٰحِبۡنِى‌ۖ قَدۡ بَلَغۡتَ مِن لَّدُنِّى عُذۡرً۬ا

(May the mercy of Allah be upon us and upon Musa. If he had stayed with his companion he would have seen wonders, but he said, (`If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company, you have received an excuse from me.'))''

﴿ فَٱنطَلَقَا حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَآ أَتَيَآ أَهۡلَ قَرۡيَةٍ ٱسۡتَطۡعَمَآ أَهۡلَهَا فَأَبَوۡاْ أَن يُضَيِّفُوهُمَا فَوَجَدَا فِيہَا جِدَارً۬ا يُرِيدُ أَن يَنقَضَّ فَأَقَامَهُ ۥ‌ۖ قَالَ لَوۡ شِئۡتَ لَتَّخَذۡتَ عَلَيۡهِ أَجۡرً۬ا قَالَ هَـٰذَا فِرَاقُ بَيۡنِى وَبَيۡنِكَ‌ۚ سَأُنَبِّئُكَ بِتَأۡوِيلِ مَا لَمۡ تَسۡتَطِع عَّلَيۡهِ صَبۡرًا

(77. 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 set it up straight. (Musa) said: "If you had wished, surely you could have taken wages for it!'') (78. He said: "This is the parting between you and I, I will tell you the interpretation of (those) things over which you were not able to be patient.'')

The Story of repairing the Wall Allah tells us that
﴿ فَٱنطَلَقَا

(they both proceeded) after the first two instances,

﴿ حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَآ أَتَيَآ أَهۡلَ قَرۡيَةٍ

(till when they came to the people of a town,) Ibn Jarir narrated from Ibn Sirin that this was Al-Aylah. According to the Hadith;

« حَتَّى إِذَا أَتَيَا أَهْلَ قَرْيَةٍ لِئَامًا »

(When they came there, the people of the town were mean.) i.e., miserly

﴿ ٱسۡتَطۡعَمَآ أَهۡلَهَا فَأَبَوۡاْ أَن يُضَيِّفُوهُمَا فَوَجَدَا فِيہَا جِدَارً۬ا يُرِيدُ أَن يَنقَضَّ

(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.) means, he fixed it so it was standing upright properly. We have already seen in the Hadith quoted above that he set it up with his own hands, supporting it until it was standing straight again, which is something extraordinary. At this point Musa said to him:

﴿ لَوۡ شِئۡتَ لَتَّخَذۡتَ عَلَيۡهِ أَجۡرً۬ا

(If you had wished, surely you could have taken wages for it!) meaning, because they did not entertain us as guests, you should not have worked for them for free.

﴿ قَالَ هَـٰذَا فِرَاقُ بَيۡنِى وَبَيۡنِكَ‌ۚ

(He said: "This is the parting between you and I) meaning, because you said after the boy was killed that if you asked me anything after that, you would not accompany me any further. So this is the parting of the ways between me and you.

﴿ سَأُنَبِّئُكَ بِتَأۡوِيلِ

(I will tell you the interpretation) meaning explanation,

﴿ مَا لَمۡ تَسۡطِع عَّلَيۡهِ صَبۡرً۬ا

(of (those) things over which you were not able to be patient.)

﴿ أَمَّا ٱلسَّفِينَةُ فَكَانَتۡ لِمَسَـٰكِينَ يَعۡمَلُونَ فِى ٱلۡبَحۡرِ فَأَرَدتُّ أَنۡ أَعِيبَہَا وَكَانَ وَرَآءَهُم مَّلِكٌ۬ يَأۡخُذُ كُلَّ سَفِينَةٍ غَصۡبً۬ا

(79. "As for the boat, it belonged to poor people working in the sea. So I wished to make a defective damage in it, as there was a king behind them who seized every boat by force.'')

Interpretations of why the Ship was damaged

This is an explanation of what Musa found so hard to understand, and the appearance of which he condemned. Allah showed Al-Khidr the hidden reasons, so he said, "I damaged the ship to make it faulty, because they used to pass by a king who was one of the oppressors, who

﴿ يَأۡخُذُ كُلَّ سَفِينَةٍ

(seized every boat), i.e., every good, sound boat

﴿ غَصۡبً۬ا

(by force.) `So I wanted to prevent him from taking this boat by making it appear faulty, so that its poor owners who had nothing else could benefit from it.' It was also said that they were orphans.

﴿ وَأَمَّا ٱلۡغُلَـٰمُ فَكَانَ أَبَوَاهُ مُؤۡمِنَيۡنِ فَخَشِينَآ أَن يُرۡهِقَهُمَا طُغۡيَـٰنً۬ا وَڪُفۡرً۬ا فَأَرَدۡنَآ أَن يُبۡدِلَهُمَا رَبُّہُمَا خَيۡرً۬ا مِّنۡهُ زَكَوٰةً۬ وَأَقۡرَبَ رُحۡمً۬ا

(80. "And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared he would oppress them by rebellion and disbelief.'') (81. "So we intended that their Lord should exchange him for them for one better in righteousness and nearer to mercy.'')

Interpretation of why the Boy was killed

Ibn `Abbas narrated from Ubayy bin Ka`b that the Prophet said:

« الْغُلَامُ الَّذِي قَتَلَهُ الْخَضِرُ طُبِعَ يَوْمَ طُبِعَ كَافِرًا »

(The boy Al-Khidr killed was destined to be a disbeliever from the day he was created.) It was recorded by Ibn Jarir from Ibn `Abbas. He said:

﴿ فَكَانَ أَبَوَاهُ مُؤۡمِنَيۡنِ فَخَشِينَآ أَن يُرۡهِقَهُمَا طُغۡيَـٰنً۬ا وَڪُفۡرً۬ا

(his parents were believers, and we feared he would oppress them by rebellion and disbelief) Their love for him might make them follow him in disbelief. Qatadah said, "His parents rejoiced when he was born and grieved for him when he was killed. If he had stayed alive, he would have been the cause of their doom. So let a man be content with the decree of Allah, for the decree of Allah for the believer, if he dislikes it, is better for him than if He were to decree something that he likes for him.'' An authentic Hadith says;

« لَا يَقْضِي اللهُ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ مِنْ قَضَاءٍ إِلَّا كَانَ خَيْرًا لَه »

(Allah does not decree anything for the believer except it is good for him.) And Allah says:

﴿ وَعَسَىٰٓ أَن تَكۡرَهُواْ شَيۡـًٔ۬ا وَهُوَ خَيۡرٌ۬ لَّڪُمۡ‌ۖ

(and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you.) (2:216).

﴿ فَأَرَدۡنَآ أَن يُبۡدِلَهُمَا رَبُّہُمَا خَيۡرً۬ا مِّنۡهُ زَكَوٰةً۬ وَأَقۡرَبَ رُحۡمً۬ا

(So we intended that their Lord should exchange him for them for one better in righteousness and nearer to mercy. ) A child who was better than this one, a child for whom they would feel more compassion. This was the view of Ibn Jurayj.

﴿ وَأَمَّا ٱلۡجِدَارُ فَكَانَ لِغُلَـٰمَيۡنِ يَتِيمَيۡنِ فِى ٱلۡمَدِينَةِ وَكَانَ تَحۡتَهُ ۥ كَنزٌ۬ لَّهُمَا وَكَانَ أَبُوهُمَا صَـٰلِحً۬ا فَأَرَادَ رَبُّكَ أَن يَبۡلُغَآ أَشُدَّهُمَا وَيَسۡتَخۡرِجَا كَنزَهُمَا رَحۡمَةً۬ مِّن رَّبِّكَ‌ۚ وَمَا فَعَلۡتُهُ ۥ عَنۡ أَمۡرِى‌ۚ ذَٲلِكَ تَأۡوِيلُ مَا لَمۡ تَسۡطِع عَّلَيۡهِ صَبۡرً۬ا

(82. "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 them not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of those (things) over which you could not be patient.)

Interpretation of why the Wall was repaired for no Charge

In this Ayah there is a proof that the word Qaryah (village) may be used to refer to a city (Madinah), because Allah first says,

﴿ حَتَّىٰٓ إِذَآ أَتَيَآ أَهۡلَ قَرۡيَةٍ

(till when they came to the people of a town (Qaryah)) (18:77), but here He says:

﴿ فَكَانَ لِغُلَـٰمَيۡنِ يَتِيمَيۡنِ فِى ٱلۡمَدِينَةِ

(it belonged to two orphan boys in the town (Al-Madinah);) This is like the Ayat:

﴿ وَكَأَيِّن مِّن قَرۡيَةٍ هِىَ أَشَدُّ قُوَّةً۬ مِّن قَرۡيَتِكَ ٱلَّتِىٓ أَخۡرَجَتۡكَ

(And many a town (Qaryah), stronger than your town which has driven you out We have destroyed) )47:13) and;

﴿ وَقَالُواْ لَوۡلَا نُزِّلَ هَـٰذَا ٱلۡقُرۡءَانُ عَلَىٰ رَجُلٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡقَرۡيَتَيۡنِ عَظِيمٍ

(And they say: "Why is not this Qur'an sent down to some great man of the two towns (Al-Qaryatayn)''))43:31) meaning Makkah and At-Ta'if. The meaning of the Ayah )18:82) is: "I repaired this wall because it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and underneath it was some treasure belonging to them.'' `Ikrimah, Qatadah and others said, "Underneath it there was some wealth that was buried for them.'' This meaning is apparent from the context of the Ayah, and is the view chosen by Ibn Jarir (may Allah have mercy on him).

﴿ وَكَانَ أَبُوهُمَا صَـٰلِحً۬ا

(their father was a righteous man,) indicates that a righteous person's offspring will be taken care of, and that the blessing of his worship will extend to them in this world and in the Hereafter. This will occur through his intercession for them, as well as their status being raised to the highest levels of Paradise, so that he may find joy in them. This was stated in the Qur'an and reported in the Sunnah. Sa`id bin Jubayr narrated from Ibn `Abbas: "They were taken care of because their father was a righteous man, although it is not stated that they themselves were righteous.''

﴿ فَأَرَادَ رَبُّكَ أَن يَبۡلُغَآ أَشُدَّهُمَا وَيَسۡتَخۡرِجَا كَنزَهُمَا

(your Lord intended that they should attain their age of full strength and take out their treasure) Here will is attributed to Allah, the Exalted, because no one else is able to bring them to the age of full strength and puberty except Allah. In contrast, He said about the boy:

﴿ فَأَرَدۡنَآ أَن يُبۡدِلَهُمَا رَبُّہُمَا خَيۡرً۬ا مِّنۡهُ زَكَوٰةً۬

(So we intended that their Lord should exchange him for them for one better in righteousness) and concerning the ship:

﴿ فَأَرَدتُّ أَنۡ أَعِيبَہَا

(So I wished to make a defective damage in it,) And Allah knows best.

Was Al-Khidr a Prophet
﴿ رَحۡمَةً۬ مِّن رَّبِّكَ‌ۚ وَمَا فَعَلۡتُهُ ۥ عَنۡ أَمۡرِى‌ۚ

(as a mercy from your Lord. And I did them not of my own accord.) Meaning, `These three things that I did, come from the mercy of Allah for those we have mentioned, the crew of the ship, the parents of the boy and the two sons of the righteous man; I was only commanded to do these things that were enjoined upon me.' This is proof and evidence in support of those who say that Al-Khidr, peace be upon him, was a Prophet, along with the Ayah which we have already quoted:

﴿ فَوَجَدَا عَبۡدً۬ا مِّنۡ عِبَادِنَآ ءَاتَيۡنَـٰهُ رَحۡمَةً۬ مِّنۡ عِندِنَا وَعَلَّمۡنَـٰهُ مِن لَّدُنَّا عِلۡمً۬ا

(Then they found one of Our servants, on whom We had bestowed mercy from Us, and whom We had taught knowledge from Us.) (18:65)

Why he was called Al-Khidr

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Prophet said concerning Al-Khidr.

« إِنَّمَا سُمِّيَ خَضِرًا لِأَنَّهُ جَلَسَ عَلَى فَرْوَةٍ بَيْضَاءَ، فَإِذَا هِيَ تَهْتَزُّ مِنْ تَحْتِهِ خَضْرَاء »

(He was called Al-Khidr because he sat on a barren Farwah that turned white, then it turned green (Khadra') beneath him.) Imam Ahmad also recorded this from `Abdur-Razzaq. It was also recorded in Sahih Al-Bukhari from Hammam from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said,

« إِنَّمَا سُمِّي الْخَضِرَ لِأَنَّهُ جَلَسَ عَلَى فَرْوَةٍ، فَإِذَا هِيَ تَهْتَزُّ مِنْ تَحْتِهِ خَضْرَاء »

(He was called Al-Khidr because he sat on a barren Farwah and it turned green (Khadra') beneath him.) The meaning of Farwah here is a patch of withered vegetation. This was the view of `Abdur-Razzaq. It was also said that it means the face of the earth.

﴿ ذَٲلِكَ تَأۡوِيلُ مَا لَمۡ تَسۡطِع عَّلَيۡهِ صَبۡرً۬ا

(That is the interpretation of those (things) over which you could not be patient.) meaning, `this is the explanation of the things which you could not put up with or be patient with until I took the initiative of explaining them to you.' When he explained them and made them clear and solved the confusion, he used a milder form of the verb,

﴿ تَسۡطِع

(you could) When the matter was still confusing and very difficult, a more intensive form was used,

﴿ سَأُنَبِّئُكَ بِتَأۡوِيلِ مَا لَمۡ تَسۡتَطِع عَّلَيۡهِ صَبۡرًا

(I will tell you the interpretation of (those) things over which you were unable to be patient with) )18:78(. The intensity of the verbal form used reflects the intensity of the confusion felt. This is like the Ayah:

﴿ فَمَا ٱسۡطَـٰعُوٓاْ أَن يَظۡهَرُوهُ

(So they (Ya`juj and Ma`juj) were not able to scale it) (18:97) which means ascending to its highest point,

﴿ وَمَا ٱسۡتَطَـٰعُواْ لَهُ ۥ نَقۡبً۬ا

(nor are they able to dig through it) (18:97) which is more difficult than the former. The intensity of the verbal form used reflects the difficulty of the action, which has to do with the subtleties of meaning. And Allah knows best. If one were to ask, what happened to the boy-servant of Musa who appears at the beginning of the story but then is not mentioned. The answer is that the objective of the story is what happened between Musa and Al-Khidr. Musa's boy-servant was with him, following him. It is clearly mentioned in the Sahih Hadiths referred to above that he was Yusha` bin Nun, who was the one who became the leader of the Children of Israel after Musa, peace be upon him.

﴿ وَيَسۡـَٔلُونَكَ عَن ذِى ٱلۡقَرۡنَيۡنِ‌ۖ قُلۡ سَأَتۡلُواْ عَلَيۡكُم مِّنۡهُ ذِڪۡرًا إِنَّا مَكَّنَّا لَهُ ۥ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَءَاتَيۡنَـٰهُ مِن كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ سَبَبً۬ا

(83. And they ask you about Dhul-Qarnayn. Say: "I shall recite to you something of his story.'') (84. Verily, We established him in the earth, and We gave him the means of everything.)