Moses and the Green Man

Nice summary here of one of the longer stories from the Qur'an, in this case it is from Spencer's commentary on the The Cave, one of the chapters of the Qur'an:

[...] Verses 60-82 of Sura 18 contain one of the strangest, most arresting stories in the entire Qur’an: that of the journey of Moses and Khidr, one of the great road-trip stories of all time. Moses, traveling with his servant, forgets the fish they had carried along for their meal (vv. 60-64). Returning to retrieve it, they encounter “one of Our servants, on whom We had bestowed Mercy from Ourselves and whom We had taught knowledge from Our own Presence,” (v. 65). In Islamic tradition this man is identified as Al-Khadir or Al-Khidr, or, more commonly, Khidr, “the Green Man.” Some identify him as one of the prophets, others as a wali, a Muslim saint. [...]

Anyway, at the beginning of their encounter, Moses asks Khidr: “May I follow thee,” so that “thou teach me something of the (Higher) Truth which thou hast been taught?” Khidr is leery (vv. 67-68), and finally agrees as long as Moses asks him no questions (v. 70). Moses agrees.

Khidr and Moses then get on a boat, which Khidr immediately scuttles – whereupon Moses breaks his promise for the first time, and upbraids Khidr (v. 71); Khidr reminds him of his promise (vv. 72-73). Shortly thereafter, Khidr murders a young man in an apparently random act, and Moses criticizes him again (v. 74), with the same exchange about the promise then following (vv. 75-76). Finally, Khidr rebuilds a wall that had fallen down in a town that had refused the two hospitality, and Moses scolds him yet again (v. 77), for he could have gotten wages for his action, which the two could have used to buy food and lodging.

Finally Khidr tells Moses that their journey is over, and explains his strange actions. (Muhammad commented: “We wished that Moses could have remained patient by virtue of which Allah might have told us more about their story.”) Khidr damaged the ship because a king is seizing “every boat by force,” but not ones that are unserviceable (v. 79) – presumably the poor owners of the boat could repair it once the king passed by. Khidr killed the young man because he would grieve his pious parents with his “rebellion and ingratitude” (v. 80), and Allah will give them a better son (v. 81). And as for the wall, there was buried treasure beneath it that belonged to boys too young to inherit it at this point — so repairing it gave them time to reach maturity while protecting the treasure from theft (v. 82).

Maududi enunciates the point of all this: “You should have full faith in the wisdom of what is happening in the Divine Factory in accordance with the will of Allah. As the reality is hidden from you, you are at a loss to understand the wisdom of what is happening, and sometimes if it appears that things are going against you, you cry out, ‘How and why has this happened’. The fact is that if the curtain be removed from the ‘unseen’, you would yourselves come to know that what is happening here is for the best. Even if some times it appears that something is going against you, you will see that in the end it also produces some good results for you.’” [...]

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