At the start of the journey, Khidr told Nabi Moosa (AS) that he would not display the required patience or sabr during this journey, writes ADIEL ISMAIL.
THE action of Khidr in ayah 74 of Surah Al-Kahf, in the Holy Quran, was apparently so repulsive that it shocked Nabi Moosa (AS) to the core upon witnessing it. Like any human being, Nabi Moosa (AS) could not but object to what appeared to have been a despicable action by Khidr. Yusuf Ali interpretated the Arabic text of ayah 74 as, ‘Then they proceeded: until, when they met a young man, he slew him.’ Khidr and Nabi Moosa (AS) on their journey met a young man who apparently had done nothing wrong and appeared to be quite innocent at the time. Khidr approached the young man and killed him for no apparent reason, in full view of Nabi Moosa (AS). Nabi Moosa (AS) then said: ‘Hast thou slain an innocent person who had slain none? Truly a foul (unheard of) thing hast thou done!’
Nabi Moosa (AS) was accompanying Khidr on a journey in pursuit of knowledge. At the start of the journey, Khidr told Nabi Moosa (AS) that he would not display the required patience or sabr during this journey.
An explanation for Khidr’s action is provided in ayah 80: ‘As for the youth, his parents were people of Faith, and we feared that he would grieve them by obstinate rebellion and ingratitude (to Allah and man).’ Most tafsirs of this ayah emphasise the action of Khidr as a way of protecting the parents in future when the youth would have become a rebellious adult. As an adult, the youth would have caused tremendous grief to his pious parents, and it was for this reason that Allah SWT instructed Khidr to kill the young man.
Killing the child was the only remedy to prevent the parents from grief in future. Bearing in mind that the Almighty is most Powerful and creator of everything in the universe, He could simply have stated, ‘Be and it is’, i.e. He could simply have empowered the young man by changing the boy’s decision-making so that its consequence would in future not cause any grief to his parents. In other words, the Almighty could have interceded and amended the destructive decisions of the lad. But, alas, He did not call on any of his superpowers to change the bad decisions of the boy. Why not? Questioning His lack of action is significant. Could there not have been any other approach or action to address this problem that the parents of the young man would face in future? Why did the child have to be killed as the only way of addressing the problem?
It is my humble view that inherent in the somewhat despicable action of Khidr, and as instructed by the Almighty, is a lesson to Man that not even the Almighty will use His powers to override any of the decisions that we take, even if the decisions are to our own detriment. Key to ayah 74 is the fact that the Almighty will never override any of our decisions in any matter. This is extremely important. The Almighty, by not changing the future decisions of the young man, resulted in the action of the child being killed as the only plausible option:
- to save the child from Jahannam or hell-fire and
- to prevent future grief to the parents, should the young man have been allowed to become an adult.
Inherent in the message of ayah 74 of Surah Al-Kahf is the fact that not even the Almighty will dip into his superpowers to change the decisions that we, as humans, take. The All-Powerful Creator, who has complete knowledge of everything in the universe, was also fully aware of the type of adult that the young man would develop into. The Almighty knew that, proverbially, His hands were tied as far as influencing the future decisions of the young man.
The action in ayah 74 points to and confirms that human beings, as the highest creation in the universe, have been granted the gift of free will. And, more importantly, that we are accountable for every decision that we take. And in view of this, we should be extremely cautious at all times with every decision that we take since every decision, once taken, will have its corresponding consequences – good or bad. And more importantly, that the Almighty will never use his powers to change any potential bad decisions we make.
Allah-wu-aa’lam. Allah knows best.