Once Hadhrat Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) delivered an extraordinarily eloquent khutbah (lecture) which reduced the audience to tears. Afterwards when he was asked: “Who is the most learned man on earth today?” Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) responded: “I”. Allah Ta’ala was displeased with this response. Although, undoubtedly, Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) was the greatest Aalim on earth at that time, he was supposed to have said: “Allah knows best.”
Simultaneously with his response, Allah Ta’ala revealed to him that at the juncture where the two seas meet, there is one of Allah’s servants who has more knowledge. Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) supplicated: “O Allah! How can I meet him?” It was revealed to him to set off on a journey and to take with him a whole fried fish. He will meet the person at the juncture of the two seas where the fish will miraculously disappear.
Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) set off on the journey together with his companion, Nabi Yusha’ Bin Noon (alayhis salaam). Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) instructed his young companion, Nabi Yusha’ (alayhis salaam) to immediately inform him when the fish becomes alive and disappears. Hadhrat Yusha’ (alayhis salaam) responded that this was a very simple matter, and he would most certainly notify him. Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) resolved to continue walking to find this great Aalim even if the journey should take him many years. And, so the two walked the entire day and the night without feeling any tiredness. The arduous journey did not tire them in the least. When they reached a certain place on the shores of the sea, they felt weary. Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) halted by a rock and took a short nap.
When some splashes of the water fell on the fish, it became alive and jumped out from the food basket and disappeared into the sea. It is said that this was the splashes from the water or fountain of life. The fried fish miraculously became alive and miraculously left a solid tunnel drilled through ice in the water. Although Hadhrat Yusha’ Bin Noon (alayhis salaam) had witnessed this miraculous incident, he completely forgot to mention it when Nabi Musaa woke up from his sleep. They continued along the journey. However, now Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam), unlike the previous day, felt extremely tired and hungry. He instructed his companion to bring the food from the basket. It was at this moment that he recalled the miraculous episode and the wonderful method in which the fish had disappeared into the water. Despite this event being an extraordinary episode, in fact a miracle, it was out of the mind of Nabi Yusha’ (alayhis salaam). He therefore said to Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) that it was shaitaan who had caused him to forget this important episode.
In astonishment Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) said that the place where the fish had disappeared was in fact their destination where they would find the great Aalim. Thus, they retraced their steps When they reached the place where they had rested they saw a man sitting on the rock. This was Hadhrat Khidhr (alayhis salaam). Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) made Salaam. Khidhr (alayhis salaam) said: “From whence has Salaam come in this desolate abode? Who are you?”
Nabi Musaa: “I am Musaa”.
Khidhr: “The Musaa of Bani Israaeel?”
Khidhr: “Why have you come here?”
Musaa: “To acquire knowledge from you.”
Khidhr: “Is the Tauraah and the Revelation you receive not sufficient for you?” O Musaa! Allah Ta’ala has bestowed to me such knowledge which He has not bestowed to you, and He has granted you such knowledge which he has not granted me.”
During this conversation a tiny bird came and dipped its beak in the sea to drink water. After it removed its beak from the water, Hadhrat Khidhr (alayhis salaam) said to Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) that the combined knowledge of them both and of entire creation in relation to the Knowledge of Allah Ta’ala does not have even the comparison which the moisture on the bird’s beak has with all the waters of the oceans. In relation to all the waters of the oceans what is the proportion of the moisture on the tiny beak of that tiny bird? The Knowledge of entire creation in relation to Allah’s Knowledge does not have even this infinitesimal relationship.
Hadhrat Khidhr (alayhis salaam) told Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) that he (Nabi Musaa) will not be able to tolerate him since he (Nabi Musaa) lacked the knowledge necessary to comprehend his (Khidhr’s) actions. However, Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) promised to have patience and to obey. Hadhrat Khidhr then said that he (Nabi Musaa) should not question him about anything. Accepting this condition, the two walked along the coast until they reached a ferry boat which ferried people to the opposite shore. Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) and Hadhrat Khidhr (alayhis salaam) sat in the boat. The owner of the boat being acquainted with Khidhr (alayhis salaam) did not charge the passenger fee.
While they were in the boat, Hadhrat Khidhr surreptitiously removed a plank in the bottom of the boat. Only Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) saw this act being committed. However, Allah Ta’ala did not permit the boat to sink. Astonished at this sinful act of ingratitude, Nabi Musa (alayhis salaam) remonstrated, asking Khidhr (alayhis salaam) if he intended to drown the people. Hadhrat Khidhr (alayhis salaam) responded: “Did I not say that you will not have patience with me?” Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam), apologized for his forgetfulness.
After disembarking from the boat, the two walked on until they came to a place where some boys were playing. Hadhrat Khidhr (alayhis salaam) took one boy aside and severed his head. This was beyond Nabi Musaa’s tolerating capacity. He burst out: “You have killed an innocent child….You have most certainly perpetrated a heinous misdeed.” Again Khidhr (alayhis salaam) reminded him of the condition he had made and the pledge Musaa (alayhis salaam) had given.
Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) on this occasion said: “If I again question you after this, then do not keep me with you, for then you will have a valid reason forthcoming from me for terminating the association.” After walking for a while, they became very tired. When they entered a town they requested the people for some food. The popular version is that this was the town of Antioch in southern Turkey. The inhospitable people refused to give them anything. They continued walking and in the town they found a wall about to collapse. Hadhrat Khidhr with his hand miraculously straightened the wall. Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) said in surprise that despite the people having been inhospitable, he (Khidhr) reciprocated with the good act of repairing the wall in their town. He asked Khidhr (alayhis salaam): “Why have you done this favour for them?”
Hadhrat Khidhr (alayhis salaam) responded: “This is the parting between us. However, I shall unravel the mystery of the issues for which you had no patience.” Explaining the reasons for the three actions, Hadhrat Khidhr (alayhis salaam) said:
1) The boat belonged to some poor persons. It was their means of earning a livelihood. A king was approaching on the high seas and seizing every good boat. The king would not seize the damaged boat. The owner would repair the boat and continue earning his livelihood.
2) While both parents of the boy were pious Muslims, the boy was a kaafir and destined to remain one. The parents loved their son dearly. There was the fear of them inclining to his rebellion and transgression, hence he was eliminated to safeguard the Imaan of his parents. Allah Ta’ala later blessed the parents with an extremely pious daughter in whose progeny seventy Ambiya (alayhimus salaam) were born.
3) The wall belonged to two orphaned boys. Their pious father had buried a treasure for them under the wall. If the wall had collapsed, the people of the town would have usurped the treasure. When they would come of age, they will discover the treasure.
Finally Hadhrat Khidhr (alayhis salaam) assured Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam) that he did not commit these acts of his own desire, but by the command of Allah Ta’ala. This confirms the view that Hadhrat Khidr (alayhis salaam) was a Nabi. He acted in terms of Allah’s commands received by way of Wahi, not Ilhaam.
When Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) recited the aayat: “This is the parting between us.”, he commented: “May Allah have mercy on Musaa. If only he had been patient, he would have been able to report to us more (of the mysterious assignments of Hadhrat Khidhr).”