Hakim at-Tirmidhi describes Khidr as the one who travels over land and sea, mountains and valleys searching and longing to meet the friends of God. Hakim at-Tirmidhi tells about Khidr a remarkable tale. Khidr knew from the beginning of time what would happen to these friends of God. He wished to see in his own life what would become of their works. That is why Khidr received such a long life that he would experience all of it up to the Day of Resurrection.
Here are more tales:
The Chishti shaykh Nasiruddin Cheragh Dehli says (see pp. 13-14 of “The Best of Assemblies”):
There once was a dervish, who went into the desert. He there met a Pir. The Pir told him: “When you go back into the town, then ask for ‘Abdullah Hajeb in so-and-so an area of the town. When you meet him give him my salaams and ask him to recite the Fatiha for the benefit of the preserving of my faith”.
The dervish returned to the town and asked for the house of ‘Abdullah Hajeb. He approached him and then told him about the salaams and the request of the Pir. Then ‘Abdullah recited the Fatiha. Afterwards he said to the dervish that he could go.
The dervish however told him: “Khwaja, I need to know who this Pir was!” ‘Abdullah Hajeb replied: “Go and do not ask questions about these things!” The dervish persisted: “I really need to know who this Pir was!” After repeating this for some time he received this answer from ‘Abdullah Hajeb: “It was Khwaja Khidr”. The dervish then remarked: “I have already met several Pirs in the desert. How do you know it was Khidr?”
‘ Abdullah Hajeb answered thus: “I have recognized him”. The dervish responded thus: “This the station of the shaykhs (maqaam-e-mashaa’ikh). How is this feat possible while you are wearing ordinary clothes?” (It so happened that ‘Abdullah Hajeb was not wearing clothes showing that he belonged to a Sufi order).
‘ Abdullah Hajeb explained it thus: “That which the shaykhs do in the corner of the Sufi centre, I am doing in the streets, on the market and in the palace”.
This implies that – although he occupied himself with the work of this world – he was able to reach the position of a shaykh. How? He met good people (khalq-e-niku). Being occupied with this world did not harm him. That is why Khidr asked him to recite the Fatiha for the benefit of preserving his faith.
Shaykh ‘Ali Abu al-Hasan ash-Shadhili related the following: “When I entered the city of Tunis as a young man, I found there a great famine and I came upon people dying in the market places. I said to myself: ‘Had I wherewith to buy bread for these hungry people, I would surely do it’.
Then I was instructed inwardly: ‘Take what is in your pocket’. So I shook my pocket and, see, there was silver money in it. So I went to a baker at Bab al-Manara and said to him: ‘Count up your loaves of bread’. He counted them for me. Then I offered them to the people who took them greedily. I drew out the pieces of money and handed them to the baker.
He found them to be spurious and said. These are Moroccan and you Moroccans practice alchemy’. So I gave him my burnus and a small bag as a pawn of the price of the bread and turned toward the gate. Right there stood a man who said to me: ‘O ‘Ali,, where are the pieces of money?’ So I gave them to him and he shook them in his hand, then returned them to me, saying: ‘Pay them to the baker for they are genuine’. So I paid them to the baker who accepted them from me, saying: ‘These are good’. I took my burnus and my bag and then looked for the man but did not find him.
Consequently I remained for some days inwardly perplexed until, on Friday, I went into the Zaytuna mosque and performed tow cycles of the greeting of the mosque and pronounced the salutation. Suddenly I saw a man to my right. I greeted him and he smiled at me, saying: “O ‘Ali, you say ‘Had I wherewith to feed these hungry people, I should surely do it’ you would presume to be more generous than God toward His creatures. Had He willed it, He would surely have fed them, or He is more cognizant of their welfare than you”.
Then I said to him: “O my master, by God, who are you?” He replied: “I am Ahmad al-Khidr”. I was in China and I was told: ‘Go and look for my friend ‘Ali in Tunis’. So I came hurriedly to you”. When I had performed the Friday worship, I looked about for him, but did not find him”.
There once was a King. This King had it publically announced that: “Whoever is able to show Khidr to me, I’ll fulfil his every wish!” But who is able to find Khidr? No one reported himself.
A poor man who had many children had heard this announcement. He said to his wife: “We’ll surly die because of hunger in our present circumstances. It is a good idea that I go to the King and tell him that I am able to find Khidr. I’ll ask for a period of forty days to make it come true. I’ll ask the King for so much food that until the end of their lives our children have enough sustenance. When the forty days have passed the King will hang me, but all of you, at least, will be able to have a good life”.
The wife of the poor man tried to persuade him to renounce his foolish plan, but to no avail. The brave man went to the King and told him: “My King! I’m able to find Khidr for you. I only need a period of forty days. You have to supply all the food I desire in this period”. The King ordered his food minister to give the poor man all that he wanted.
During forty days the poor man asked for so many food supplies that his children could live thereof to the rest of their days. Then the 41st day arrived. The King sent for him and asked him: “Have you found Khidr?” The poor man answered: “No, my King, I was unable to find him. It was not my intention to really find him. I only did what I did out of bitter need”.
The King then asked one of his viziers what to do after having been lied to. The vizier answered: ‘We should cut his flesh in small parts!” At the same time a child standing near them said: “Kullu shay’in ilâ asli-hî”. This means; “An apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!” The King asked the same question to a second vizier, who responded: “My King, we should strip him of his skin! Everyone will learn from this example to tell nothing but the truth in your presence”. The child once again said: “Kullu shay’in ilâ asli-hî”.
The King asked the same question to a third vizier, who replied thus: “My lord! This man is poor. He only said it because he was in severe difficulties. It behoves you to pardon him”. The child once again said: “Kullu shay’in ilâ asli-hî”. The King then asked the child: “Who are you? I have asked my three viziers to advice me. Each time you have said: ‘Kullu shay’in ilâ asli-hî’. Explain yourself!”
The child gave this reply: “The father of your first vizier was a butcher. By means of his advice your vizier has shown his family background. He made it clear what his character is. The father of your second vizier was a saddle maker. He also has shown what his personal roots are. The father of your third vizier was a vizier himself. Your third vizier is a vizier from top to toe”.
” I have however come to help this poor man,” the child continued while pointing to the accused. “In case you are looking for a good vizier, your third vizier is a good vizier! In case you are looking for Khidr, here I am!” the child said and went to the door and disappeared.
The wife of Abu ‘Abdullah al-Qurashi reported that one day she was alone with her husband, while the door of their house was closed. She then left him to do something. When returning to the house she heard the voice of another man talking to her husband. She then discovered that the door was closed.
She waited and after hearing that the talk had ended, she went to her husband, but found no one with him. She asked him: “Can you explain what took place as I heard a voice of someone else than you, although the door was closed?”
‘Abdullah then told her that Khidr was the visitor. He had a pill in his hand and told me that he had brought it from Najd and that it contained a cure for his illness. I, however, made it clear to him that I did not want to have it. I told him to go away: “I don’t need your pill”.
Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi has told the following tale: A certain shahna (a chief of police) was active as such in the days of Harun ar-Rashid. Khidr visited him every day. This shahna suddenly retired from his job. Khidr then stopped visiting him. The poor shahna started to worry because of Khidr ignoring him.
It so happened that one night it was made clear to him that his value was connected to his being active in his work. The next morning he went to the caliph and asked to get his job back. Harun ar-Rashid asked him what had taken place and he explained it all. Khidr immediately thereafter again started to visit the reinstated shahna.
The shahna then wanted to know of Khidr why he had stopped visiting him. Khidr then said: “The value of your position is that you sit in the Diwaan and protect the poor and the needy and free them from the claws of their oppressors. You should know that this is better than thousand Sufi retreats!”
Shaykh Ruzbehaan Baqli has met Khwaja Khidr when he was still ignorant of the science of realities. Khidr then gave him an apple and he ate a part thereof. Then Khwaja Khidr said: “Eat all of it, for that is how much of it I ate”. Shaykh Ruzbehaan Baqli then gave this description: “I saw as it were an ocean from the throne to the earth and I saw nothing but this. It was like the radiance of the sun. My mouth opened involuntarily and all of it entered my mouth. Not a drop remained, but I drank of it”.
A thief entered the house of shaykh ‘Abdul-Qadir Jilani, but then the thief became blind and could do nothing. At the same time Khidr visited the shaykh and told him: “O friend of God! One of the abdaal has passed away. You should appoint another person in his place”.
The shaykh answered: “Someone who entered my house is in severe difficulties. Take him and give him the rank of one of the abdaal !”
Khidr took him to shaykh ‘Abdul Qadir Jilani and when the shaykh cast a look towards the thief he could once again see and became one of the abdaal.
This is a Chishti tale taken from p. 108 of “The Best of Assemblies”:
When shaykh Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki was a little boy he asked his mother: “I’d like to study the Qur’an. Send me to a teacher so that I can serve him”. His mother bought a table and some sweets, and then asked a servant to accompany him. A hafez, i.e. someone who has learnt the Qur’an by heart, was living nearby and she sent her son to him.
When the boy was on his way he was greeted by a pir, who asked him: “Where are you going, my brother?” He answered: “I’m going to study the Qur’an. My mother has sent me to the mosque”.
The pir then responded: “Don’t go to this mosque! It is better that you come with me to the place where I’m going. There you should learn the Qur’an”. The boy agreed and followed the pir. They arrived at a mosque where Aba Hafs instructed some children who sat in front of him.
When Aba Hafs saw the pir he showed an extreme respect to him. The pir then told him: “I have brought this boy to you. Take care that he works hard and teach him the Qur’an!”
Aba Hafs agreed and sat next to the boy. After the departure of the pir Aba Hafs asked the boy who this pir was and the boy explained that he met him on the way. Aba Hafs then asked: “Have you met him before, so that you know him?” The answer was: “No, I have never seen him and I also don’t know him”. Aba Hafs hereafter explained: “This was Khwaja Khidr!”
After telling this tale Khwaja Nasiruddin Cheragh of Delhi was having tears in his eyes.
The Chishtis sometimes consider the meeting with Khwaja Khidr as an act, which diverts the attention from God. This is especially true when the Sufi frees himself from past and future and opens himself up completely to the presence of God. Meeting Khidr at such a moment, which is called the ‘now’ (waqt) is not proper. Shaykh Nasiruddin Cheragh of Delhi has told his disciples that it was reported to him that Khidr had come to his door. He then remarked: “Send him away! I have got a time in which Khidr comes and goes. When this ‘now’ (waqt) takes its leave of me, will it ever return to me?”
The great shaykh and ‘arif Sahl bin ‘Abdallah went towards the people one day and gave an excellent speech. It was said to him: “If you’d talk like that every day, then we’d derive lots of benefit from it”.
He answered: “I only gave a speech today, because Khidr came to me and said: ‘Go to the people, turn to them and deliver a speech, because your brother Dhu’n-Nun has died and I’ve appointed you in his position’. It was an order from the master of masters, but otherwise I’d not have given a speech”.