Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Then found they) at the rock (one of Our slaves) i.e. Khidr, (unto whom We had given mercy from Us) He says: We favoured him with prophethood, (and had taught him knowledge from Our presence) the knowledge of future events.
“When someone is able to sacrifice his attributes to the holy Shariah, We will engrave the secrets of the knowledges of the Haqiqah on his heart: And We taught him knowledge from Us.” The one who speaks of this knowledge is the realizer, who speaks from finding. Light is apparent from his words, familiarity on his face, and servanthood in his conduct. A lightning flash of the Greatest Light has shone in his heart, the lamp of his recognition has been lit, and the unseen secrets have been unveiled to him. Such was Khiẓr in the work of the ship, the boy, and the wall.
Take care not to have the opinion that Khiẓr was greater than Moses the Speaking Companion, even if Moses was sent to Khiẓr's grammar school. No, of course not, for in the Court of Inaccessibility, after MuṣṬafā no prophet has the same joyful expansiveness and proximity as Moses. Nonetheless, He made Khiẓr the furnace of Moses' discipline. Thus, when someone wants to take silver to pureness, he puts it in a fiery furnace. This is because of the superiority of silver over the fiery furnace, not because of the superiority of fire and furnace over silver.
So [there] they found one of Our servants, namely, al-Khidr, to whom We had given mercy from Us — according to one opinion this [mercy] was prophethood; according to another it was authority, and this [latter] is the opinion of the majority of scholars — and We had taught him knowledge from Us (‘ilman is the second direct object), in other words, some knowledge of unseen things; al-Bukhārī reports the [following] hadīth: ‘Moses was delivering a sermon among the Children of Israel and was asked, “Who is the most knowledgeable of people?”, to which he [Moses] said, “Myself”. God then reproached him for not having attributed [his] knowledge as [coming] from Him. God then revealed to him the following: “Truly, there is a servant of Mine at the juncture of the two seas; he is more knowledgeable than you”. Moses then asked, “My Lord, how do I reach him?” He [God] said, ‘Take a fish with you and place it in a basket and [the place] where you lose the fish will be [the place] where he is.” He [Moses] took a fish and placed it in a basket and departed together with his lad Joshua son of Nun until they reached the rock. [There] they placed their heads back and fell asleep. The fish began to move about in the basket, until it escaped from it and fell into the sea, and it made its way into the sea in an amazing manner. God then held back the flow of the water [preventing it] from [engulfing] the fish, forming a kind of arch over it. When he awoke, his companion [Joshua] forgot to inform him of [what had happened to] the fish, and so they journeyed on for the remainder of that day and night until on the morning [of the second day] Moses said to his lad, ‘Bring us our breakfast’, to where he says, and it made its way into the sea in an amazing manner’. He [Bukhārī] said, ‘For the fish, it [the way into the sea] was [by] ‘burrowing’ (saraban), and for Moses and his lad it [this way] was ‘amazing’ (‘ajaban) …’ [and so on] to the end [of Bukhārī’s report].
[So [there] they found one of Our servants] to whom We had given mercy from Us, that is, spiritual perfection through disengagement from matter and sanctification from direction as well as pure luminosity all of which are the effects of propinquity and with-ness, and We had taught him knowledge from Us, in the way of holy gnoses and God-given universal realities without the medium of human instruction.
The reason for Musa's conversation with the boy-servant, Yusha` bin Nun, was that he had been told about one of the servants of Allah at the junction of the two seas, who had knowledge which Musa had not been granted, so he wanted to travel to meet him. So he said to that boy-servant of his:
(I will not give up) meaning, I will keep on traveling,
حَتَّى أَبْلُغَ مَجْمَعَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ
(until I reach the junction of the two seas) meaning, the place where the two seas met.
أَوْ أَمْضِىَ حُقُباً
(or a Huqub passes.) meaning, even if I have to travel for a very long time. Ibn Jarir (may Allah have mercy on him) said, "Some of the scholars of the Arabic language said that Huqub means a year in the dialect of the tribe of Qays,'' then he narrated that `Abdullah bin `Amr said, "Huqub means eighty years.'' Mujahid said, "Seventy years.'' `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said that it means a lifetime. Qatadah and Ibn Zayd said likewise.
(But when they reached the junction of the two seas, they forgot their fish,) He had been commanded to carry a salted fish with him, and it had been said to him, when you lose the fish, that will be a sign that you have reached the right place. So they set out and traveled until they reached the junction of the two seas, where there was a spring called `Ayn Al-Hayat (the Spring of Life). They went to sleep there, and the fish felt the drops of that water, so it came back to life. It was in a vessel with Yusha`, upon him be peace, and it jumped out of the vessel towards the sea. Yusha` woke up and the fish fell into the water and started to swim through the water, leaving a track or channel behind it. Allah said:
فَاتَّخَذَ سَبِيلَهُ فِى الْبَحْرِ سَرَباً
(and it took its way through the sea as in a tunnel.) meaning, like going through a tunnel on land. Ibn Jurayj said, "Ibn `Abbas said, `It left a trace as if it were a rock.'"
(So when they had passed further on,) means, past the place where they had forgotten the fish. Forgetfulness is attributed to them both even though it was actually Yusha` who forgot. This is like the Ayah:
يَخْرُجُ مِنْهُمَا الُّلؤْلُؤُ وَالمَرْجَانُ
(Out of them both come out pearl and coral.) 55:22, although they come from the salt water, according to one of the two opinions. When they had passed one stage beyond the place where they had forgotten the fish,
(Then they found one of Our servants, on whom We had bestowed mercy from Us, and whom We had taught knowledge from Us.) This was Al-Khidr, peace be upon him, as is indicated by the authentic Hadiths narrated from the Messenger of Allah. Al-Bukhari recorded that Sa`id bin Jubayr said, "I said to Ibn `Abbas: `Nawf Al-Bikali claims that Musa, the companion of Al-Khidr was not the Musa of the Children of Israel.' Ibn `Abbas said, `The enemy of Allah has told a lie.' Ubayy bin Ka`b narrated that he heard the Messenger of Allah say,
(Musa got up to deliver a speech before the Children of Israel and he was asked, "Who is the most learned person among the people'' Musa replied, "I am.'' Allah rebuked him because he did not refer the knowledge to Allah. So Allah revealed to him: "At the junction of the two seas there is a servant of Ours who is more learned than you.'' Musa asked, "O my Lord, how can I meet him'' Allah said, "Take a fish and put it in a vessel and then set out, and where you lose the fish, you will find him.'' So Musa took a fish, put it in a vessel and set out, along with his boy-servant Yusha` bin Nun, peace be upon him, till they reached a rock (on which) they both lay down their heads and slept. The fish moved vigorously in the vessel and got out of it and fell into the sea and there it took its way through the sea (straight) as in a tunnel. Allah stopped the flow of water on both sides of the way created by the fish, and so that way was like a tunnel. When Musa got up, his companion forgot to tell him about the fish, and so they carried on their journey during the rest of the day and the whole night. The next morning Musa said to his boy-servant, ("Bring us our morning meal; truly, we have suffered much fatigue in this, our journey.'') وَلَمْ يَجِدْ مُوسَى النَّصَبَ حَتَّى جَاوَزَ الْمَكَانَ الَّذِي أَمَرَهُ اللهُ بِهِ، قَالَ لَهُ فَتَاهُ:
يَا مُوسَى إِنِّي عَلَى عِلْمٍ مِنْ علْمِ اللهِ عَلَّمَنِيهِ لَا تَعْلَمُهُ أَنْتَ وَأَنْتَ عَلَى عَلْمٍ مِنْ عِلْمِ اللهِ عَلَّمَكَهُ اللهُ لَا أَعْلَمُهُ. Musa did not get tired till he had passed the place that Allah had ordered him to look for. His boy-servant then said to him, ("Do you remember when we betook ourselves to the rock I indeed forgot the fish; none but Shaytan made me forget to remember it. It took its course into the sea in a strange way.'') There was a tunnel for the fish and Musa and his boy-servant were amazed. Musa said, ("That is what we have been seeking.'' So they went back retracing their footsteps.'') So they went back retracing their steps until they reached the rock. There they found a man covered with a garment. Musa greeted him. Al-Khidr said, "Is there such a greeting in your land'' Musa said, "I am Musa.'' He said, "Are you the Musa of the Children of Israel'' Musa said, "Yes,'' and added, "I have come to you so that you may teach me something of that knowledge which you have been taught.'' Al-Khidr said, ("You will not be able to have patience with me.) O Musa! I have some of Allah's knowledge which He has bestowed upon me but you do not know it; and you too, have some of Allah's knowledge which He has bestowed upon you, but I do not know it.'' فَقَالَ مُوسَى:
Musa said, ("If Allah wills, you will find me patient, and I will not disobey you in aught.'') Al-Khidr said to him, ("Then, if you follow me, ask me not about anything till I myself mention it to you.'') So they set out walking along the shore, until a boat passed by and they asked the crew to let them go on board. The crew recognized Al-Khidr and allowed them to go on board free of charge. When they went on board, suddenly Musa saw that Al-Khidr had pulled out one of the planks of the ship with an adz. Musa said to him, "These people gave us a free ride, yet you have broken their boat so that its people will drown! Verily, you have done a terrible thing! ("Al-Khidr said, "Did I not tell you, that you would not be able to have patience with me'') (Musa said, "Call me not to account for what I forgot and be not hard upon me for my affair (with you). '')) The Messenger of Allah said, فَكَانَتِ الْأُولَى مِنْ مُوسَى نِسْيَانًا، قَالَ: وَجَاءَ عُصْفُورٌ فَوَقَعَ عَلَى حَرْفِ السَّفِينَةِ، فَنَقَرَ فِي الْبَحْرِ نَقْرَةً أَوْ نَقْرَتَيْنِ فَقَالَ لَهُ الْخَضِرُ: مَا عِلْمِي وَعِلْمُكَ فِي عِلْمِ اللهِ إِلَّا مِثْلُ مَا نَقَصَ هَذَا الْعُصْفُورُ مِنْ هَذَا الْبَحْرِ ثُمَّ خَرَجَا مِنَ السَّفِينَةِ فَبَيْنَمَا هُمَا يَمْشِيَانِ عَلَى السَّاحِلِ إِذْ أَبْصَرَ الْخَضِرُ غُلَامًا يَلْعَبُ مَعَ الْغِلْمَانِ، فَأَخَذَ الْخَضِرُ رَأْسَهُ فَاقْتَلَعَهُ بِيَدِهِ فَقَتَلَهُ، فَقَالَ لَهُ مُوسَى:
(In the first instance, Musa asked Al-Khidr because he had forgotten his promise. Then a bird came and sat on the edge of the boat, dipping its beak once or twice in the sea. Al-Khidr said to Musa, "My knowledge and your knowledge, in comparison to Allah's knowledge, is like what this bird has taken out of the sea.'' Then they both disembarked from the boat, and while they were walking on the shore, Al-Khidr saw a boy playing with other boys. Al-Khidr took hold of the boy's head and pulled it off with his hands, killing him. Musa said to him, ("Have you killed an innocent person who had killed none! Verily, you have committed a thing Nukr!'' He said, "Did I not tell you that you would not be able to have patience with me'') قَالَ: وَهَذِهِ أَشَدُّ مِنَ الْأُولَى/
The narrator said, "The second blame was stronger than the first one''. (Musa said, "If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company; you have received an excuse from me.'' Then they both proceeded until they came to the people of a town. They asked them for food but they refused to entertain them. (Then) they found there a wall on the point of falling down.) (Al-Khidr) set it up straight with his own hands. Musa said, "We came to these people, but they neither fed us nor received us as guests. (If you had wished, surely, you could have taken wages for it!'' (Al-Khidr) said: "This is the parting between you and I. I will tell you the interpretation of (those) things over which you were unable to be patient.'') The Messenger of Allah said:
(We wish that Musa was patient so that Allah would have told us more about both of them.) Sa`id bin Jubayr said: "Ibn `Abbas used to recite Ayah no. 79 (وَكَانَ أَمَامَهُمْ مَلِكٌ يَاْخُذُ كُلَّ سَفِينَةٍ صَالَحَةٍ غَضْبًا) (There was a king before them who seized every good-conditioned ship by force) and Ayah no 80 (وَأَمَّا الْغُلَامُ فَكَانَ كَافِرًا وَكَانَ أَبَوَاهُ مُؤْمِنَيْنِ) (As for the boy, he was a disbeliever and his parents were believers.) Then (in another narration) Al-Bukhari recorded a similar account which says: فَخَرَجَ مُوسَى وَمَعَهُ فَتَاهُ يُوشَعُ بْنُ نُونٍ وَمَعَهُمَا الْحُوتُ، حَتَّى انْتَهَيَا إِلَى الصَّخْرَةِ، فَنَزَلَا عِنْدَهَا، قَالَ: فَوَضَعَ مُوسَى رَأْسَهُ فَنَامَ، قَالَ: وَفِي أَصْلِ الصَّخْرَةِ عَيْنٌ يُقَالُ لَهَا الْحَيَاةُ لَا يُصِيبُ مِنْ مَائِهَا شَيْءٌ إِلَّا حَيِيَ فَأَصَابَ الْحُوتَ مِنْ مَاءِ تِلْكَ الْعَيْنِ، فَتَحَرَّكَ وَانْسَلَّ مِنَ الْمِكْتَلِ فَدَخَلَ الْبَحْرَ، فَلَمَّا اسْتَيْقَظَ قَالَ مُوسَى لِفَتَاهُ:
(...then Musa set out and with him was his boy-servant Yusha` bin Nun, and they had the fish with them. When they reached the rock, they camped there, and Musa lay down his head and slept. At the base of the rock there was a spring called Al-Hayat; its water never touched a thing but it brought it to life. Some of its water touched the fish, so it began to move and jumped out of the vessel and into the sea. When he woke up, Musa said to his boy-servant: (Bring us our morning meal.)) Then he quoted the rest of the Hadith. Then a bird came and perched on the edge of the ship, and dipped its beak in the sea, and Al-Khidr said to Musa, "My knowledge and your knowledge and the knowledge of all of creation, in comparison to the knowledge of Allah, is like what this bird has taken from the sea.'' Then he mentioned the rest of the report.
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
Though this story was told in answer to the question of the disbelievers, it has been used to impress a very important truth on the minds of both the disbelievers and the believers. It is this: those people who draw their conclusions only from the seeming aspects of events, make a very serious error in their deductions, for they only see what is apparent and do not go deep into the Divine Wisdom that underlies them. When they daily see the prosperity of the tyrants and the afflictions of the innocent people, the affluence of the disobedient people and the indigence of the obedient people, the enjoyments of the wicked people and the adversity of the virtuous people, they get involved in mental conflicts, nay, they become victims of misunderstandings because they do not comprehend the wisdom behind them. The disbelievers and the tyrants conclude from this that the world is functioning without any moral laws and has no sovereign, and, if there is one, he must be senseless and unjust: therefore one may do whatever one desires for there is none to whom one shall be accountable. On the other hand, when the believers see those things, they become so frustrated and disheartened that sometimes their faiths are put to x very hard trial. It was to unravel the wisdom behind this mystery that Allah slightly lifted the curtain from the Reality governing His factory, so that Moses might see the wisdom behind the events that are happening day and night and how their seeming aspect is quite different from the Reality.
Now let us consider the question: when and where did this event take place? The Qur'an says nothing about this. There is a tradition related by Aufi in which he cites a saying of Ibn 'Abbas to this effect: "This event happened after the destruction of Pharaoh when Prophet Moses had settled his people in Egypt". But this is not supported by other more authentic traditions from Ibn 'Abbas which Dave been cited in the collection of Bukhari and other books of Traditions, nor is there any other source which may prove that Prophet Moses ever settled in Egypt after the destruction of Pharaoh. On the contrary, the Qur'an says explicitly that Prophet Moses passed the whole of his life after Exodus from Egypt in the desert (Sinai and At-Tilt). Therefore the tradition from 'Aufi cannot be accepted. However, if we consider the details of this story, two things are quite obvious: (1) These things would have been demonstrated to Prophet Moses in the earlier period of his Prophethood because such things are needed in the beginning of Prophethood for the teaching and training of the Prophets. (2) As this story has been cited to comfort the Believers of Makkah, it can be reasonably concluded that these demonstrations would have been shown to Prophet Moses, when the Israelites were encountering the same conditions as the Muslims of Makkah did at the time of the revelation of this Surah. On the basis of these two things, we are of the opinion (and correct Knowledge is with Allah alone) that this event relates to the period, when the persecution of the Israelites by Pharaoh was at its height and, like the chiefs of the Quraish, Pharaoh and his courtiers were deluded by delay in the scourge that there was no power above them to take them to task, and like the persecuted Muslims of Makkah, the persecuted Muslims of Egypt were crying in their agony, as if to say, "Our Lord! how long will the prosperity of these tyrants and our adversity continue ?" So much so that Prophet Moses himself cried out: ".... Our Lord, Thou hast bestowed on Pharaoh and his nobles splendor and possessions in the worldly life; O our Lord, hast Thou done this drat they might lead astray the people from Thy Way?..." (X: 88)
If our conjecture is correct, then it may be concluded that probably this event took place during Prophet Moses' journey to Sudan, and by the confluence of the rivers is meant the site of the present city of Khartum where the Blue Nile and the White Nile meet together.
The Bible does not say anything about this event but the Talmud does relate this though it assigns it to Rabbi Jochanan, the son of Levi, instead of to Prophet Moses, and according to it the other person was Elijah who had been taken up alive to heaven and joined with the angels for the purpose of the administration of the world. (The Talmud Selections by H. Polano, pp. 313-16).
It is just possible that like the events, which happened before the Exodus. this event also might not have remained intact but during the passage of centuries changes and alterations might have been made in it. But it is a pity that some Muslims have been so influenced by the Talmud that they opine that in this story Moses does not refer to Prophet Moses but to some other person bearing the same name. They forget that every tradition of the Talmud is not necessarily correct, nor have we any reason to suppose that the Qur'an has related the story concerning some unknown person bearing the name "Moses". Above all, when we learn from an authentic Tradition related by Ubayy-bin-Ka`ab that the Holy Prophet himself made it clear that in this story, by Moses is meant Prophet Moses, there is absolutely no reason why any Muslim should consider any statement of the Talmud at all.
The Orientalists have, as usual, tried to make a "research" into the "sources" of this story and have pointed out that "The Kuranic story may be traced back to three main sources:'(1) The Gilgamesh Epic, (2) The Alexander Romance and (3) The Jewish Legend of Elijah and Rabbi Joshua hen Levi (Encyclopaedia of Islam new edition and Shorter Erlcyclopaedia of !slam under the heading Al Khadir). This is because these malicious "scholars" decide beforehand that their "scientific research" must lead to the conclusion that the Qur'an is not a revealed book: therefore they have, anyhow or other, to produce a proof that whatever Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) has presented as Revelation, has been plagiarized from such and such "sources". In this these people brazen facedly use "facts" and "quotations" so cunningly and cleverly as to achieve their mean end and one begins to have nausea at their "research". If that is research what these bigoted forgers make, then one is compelled to curse their "knowledge and research."
We ask them to answer our questions in order to expose their "research":
(I) What proof have you got to make the claim that the Qur'an has based a certain statement on the contents of a couple of ancient books? Obviously it will not be "research" to build this claim on the scant basis that a certain statement trade in the Quran is similar to the one found in these books.
(2) Do you possess any knowledge that at the time of the revelation of the Qur'an there was a library at Makkah from which the Holy Prophet collected material for the Qur'an? This question is pertinent because if a list were to be trade of the numerous books in different languages, which you allege were sources of the stories and statements contained in the Qur'an, it will become long enough for a big library. Have you got any proof that Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) had arranged for such translators as translated into Arabic those books from different languages for his use? If it is not so and your allegation is based on a couple of journeys which the Holy Prophet made outside Arabia, a question arises: How many books did the Holy Prophet copy or commit to memory during these trade journeys before his Prophethood? And how is it that even a day before he claimed to be a Prophet, no sign at all was displayed in. his conversation that he had gathered such information as was revealed in the Qur'an afterwards?
(3) How is it then that the contemporary disbelievers of Makkah and the Jews and the Christians, who like you, were always in search of such a proof, could not put forward even a single instance of plagiarism? They had a goad reason to produce an instance of this because they were being challenged over and over again to refute the claim that the Qur'an was a revealed book and it had no other source than Divine Knowledge and that if they said that it was a human work, they were to prove this by bringing the like of it. Though this challenge had broken the back of the contemporary opponents of Islam, they could not point out even a single plausible source that might prove reasonably that the Qur'an was based on it. In the light of these facts one may ask, "Why had the contemporaries of the Holy Prophet failed in their research and how have the opponents of Islam succeeded in their attempt today after the passage of more than a thousand years?"
(4) The last and the most important question is: Does it not show that it is bigotry and malice that has misled the opponents of Islam to discard the possibility that the Qur'an may be a revealed book of Allah and to concentrate all their efforts to prove that it is not so at all ? The tact that its stories are similar to those contained in the former books, could be considered equally in this light that the Qur'an was a revealed book and was relating them in order to correct those errors that had crept into them during the passage of time. Why should their research be confined to prove that those books are the real source of the stories of the Qur'an and not to consider the other possibility that the Qur'an itself was a revealed book?
An impartial person who will consider these questions will inevitably arrive at the conclusion that the "research" which the orientalists have presented in the name of "knowledge" is not worth any serious consideration.
That is, "The same was the sign of the place of our destination". This shows that Prophet Moses had taken this journey at Allah's behest to meet His Servant. He had been told that he would meet the Servant at the place where the fish would disappear.
The name of this Servant has been stated to be “Khidr” in all the authentic books of traditions. Thus there is no reason why it should be considered at all that his name was Elijah, as some people have asserted under the influence of the Israelite traditions. Their assertion is incorrect not only because it contradicts the assertion of the Holy Prophet but it is also absurd because Prophet Elijah was born several hundred years after Prophet Moses. Though the Qur'an does not mention the name of the attendant of Prophet Moses, according to some traditions he was Joshua, the son of Nun, who succeeded him.