سر طلب كردن موسى خضر را علیهما السلام با كمال نبوت و قربت
The mystery of the prophet Moses seeking Khwaja Khidr [peace be upon them], notwithstanding his perfection as a prophet and as one near unto God
[Mawlana Rumi: Masnawi, book 3]
What is this mystery of Khwaja Khidr? What is the meaning of the quest for Khidr? Why do all kinds of people wish to meet Khidr? The answer to the final question is different depending on the level of preparedness [isti’dad] of these seekers. The level of Moses is that of a wali, a nabi and a rasul. What could be the use of a meeting with Khwaja Khidr be for someone who is a friend of God and a prophet and a messenger?
No doubt it is something valuable. Some people hope to receive the mantle of initiation from Khwaja Khidr, others receive knowledge directly from the Divine presence [‘ilm ladunni] and again others aim for the sacred intellect [al-‘aql al-qudsi] which is necessary for the ascent to perfection.
The saying of the prophet Moses “God willing, you’ll find me patient” when meeting Khwaja Khidr testifies to his own preparedness and perseverance in his quest for perfection. The path towards perfection requires devotion to spiritual training until your soul is disengaged from the impulses of the body. Only then you can become acquainted with deeper realities.
Where to find Khwaja Khidr? A certain man, let’s call him H, rushed through the streets of the city of R, in a fever of excitement, though he could not say why. You and I, would know that he experienced a spiritual state [hal] and that he was in search of the knowledge befitting his state [‘ilm al-batin, hidden knowledge]. It was as if H was driven forward by the force of imagination.
H had slept very little. He remembered a short dream while walking tired and irritable from lack of sleep, through the streets of R. H had heard a voice and had seen a document in last night’s dream. The voice made this clear to him:
“If you wish to follow me in the path of inward development, don’t ask me anything. You need to practice emulation, following the path by works, spiritual discipline, moral traits and inner struggle. Don’t search for higher realities and meanings until the proper time when I myself explain things to you.”
He was certain of one thing only. The name that had leapt out at him from the document was:
H took a shortcut over an iron bridge leading to the oldest part of the city. He found himself in front of a shopping centre. H intended to enter it when he noticed people running. Those rushing outside the shopping centre were shouting “fire” fire“. This was a shocking moment for H. But he took control of himself, and, for some reason or other, H went into the opposite direction of the rushing crowd.
In spite of the fire alarm, he entered a shop. It was a rather curious shop wherein all kinds of unknown artefacts were sold. “I have been expecting you,” the owner said. He added:
“Just continue to disregard the fire alarm! I have something to tell you about knowledge you cannot find in books. You have had a dream in which the name of Khwaja Khidr was mentioned. To be very simple and direct, he is the guide for all those who’ll go directly to God without intermediaries. He stands for the path of the Private Face, a personal path to God.”
“This is the knowledge received by unveiling [kashf]. There are various types of unveiling, such as witnessing [shuhud], tasting [dhawq], theophany [tajalli], inspiration [ilham], revelation [wahy], clairvoyance [firasa] and intuition [hads]. These are the sources of deep inward knowledge [ma’rifa] that reveal mysteries [asrar] and realities [haqa’iq] of the Unseen.”
“Khwaja Khidr is the initiator into this deep inward knowledge of those ready to receive it. He is the initiator into the esoteric mysteries, the enigmatic immortal guide who takes on the training of certain seekers. What he brings is not prophetic knowledge, so that’s why the prophet Moses wished to become his student.”
“You have in fact come here to learn about Khwaja Khidr,” said the owner of the shop to H. “The prophet Moses went as far as the meetingplace of the two seas to receive training by someone more knowledgeable than himself. While the prophet symbolized the sea of outward knowledge, Khwaja Khidr represented the sea of inward knowledge. Their meeting point symbolizes the integrated human being who represents the junction of these two realms.”
“He is called Khwaja Khidr, the green master, because he sat on a barren patch of withered vegetation that turned white and then green [khadra’] under him.” He continued: “That’s why Khwaja Khidr is known in Tajikistan as Baba-yi-Dihqan [Father Farmer]”.
“This brings me to C. G. Jung. Jung says Khidr reveals not just the greenness of the chlorophyll within the leaves, not just the sunlight and water responsible for their nourishment and liveliness, and not just the [secondary] green ray of light that is refracted as the “middle-pillar” within the light spectrum, but also the [primary] undifferentiated light of a pure and altered consciousness.”
“Jung narrated,” said the owner of the shop where artefacts were being sold, “that while travelling in Kenya, his guide, a Sufi, informed Jung that he might meet Khwaja Khidr in the street in the shape of a man, or he might appear to me during the night as a pure white light, or [he smilingly picked up a blade of grass] the Green one might even look like that.”
The owner of the shop added: “Expansion [bast] is a dominant attribute of Khwaja Khidr, manifesting itself as a force of nature in Spring. The question is whether Khwaja Khidr is a human being who has received eternal life or a spiritual being who can assume different shapes.”
“You tell me quite a lot about Khwaja Khidr, but who are you?” – asked H to the owner of the shop. “My name is Bakhtiyor. I was born in Tajikistan. My father earned his living as a painter of classical miniatures. One of his paintings is of Khwaja Khidr taking a bath in the water of eternal life. He in fact took a special interest in painting Khwaja Khidr. When I asked him why, he told me what happened to him in the Hejaz.’
Bakhtiyor then told this tale to H: “After performing a pilgrimage, my father lost his way in the desert of the Hejaz. After several days without food, he suddenly desired to eat hot beans and bread. This thought was even stronger than the need he felt to drink water. Immediately thereafter he heard the voice of a bedouin calling aloud: ‘Hot beans and bread!’ My father went to him and asked: ‘Do you have hot beans and bread?’ The bedouin answered ‘yes!’ and opened a piece of cloth and put hot beans and bread thereon, telling my father to partake of this food. My father then asked him:
‘In the name of the One Who has sent you to me, tell me who you are.’
The man replied: ‘I am Khidr!’
He then disappeared and my father has never seen him again.”
“In Tajikistan, Bakhtiyor added, “we celebrate the sofrah-i-khwaja khidr, which starts on the final Thursday evening and it lasts until the change of the year. We put the same things on the table as we do at the celebration of the beginning of Spring. We add several other items: rice pudding, boiled spinach and a thick porridge of chickpeas. You can however imagine that my mother also puts hot beans and bread on the table!”
“My father belonged to the resistance movement against the ruling political party in Tajikistan. One day he punctured the tyres of the car of a corrupt apparatchik. When someone betrayed my father to the authorities, the authorities considered my father to be a murderer. My parents became refugees and settled as exiles in the Provence in France.”
“They changed the practice of the sofrah-i-khwaja khidr. They started something new by inviting their French neighbours on the 25th of December to have dinner with them. My parents always set an extra place at that table in case a beggar would come to their door. Year after year, nothing special happened, until one day there was a knock at the door…”
“The man at the door was a stranger. He was invited to take a seat at the extra place and to partake of the meal. After the meal, my father walked with him to the door. When the stranger was alone with my father, he told him the following story:
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 Khwaja Khidr?”
‘Abdullah Hajeb answered thus: “I have recognized him”. The dervish responded thus: “This the station of the shaykhs (maqam-e-masha’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 Khwaja Khidr asked him to recite the Fatiha for the benefit of preserving his faith.
“From that day on, my father recited the Fatiha every day for Khwaja Khidr”, Bakhtiyor said. “My name is Bakhtiyor. It means ‘fortunate’. The stranger who knocked at the door of my parents’ house in France told my father that a son would be born who would be fortunate. As a matter of fact, I inherited a fortune. Let me tell you what happened.”
“The unknown visitor who occupied the extra seat at the table of my parents, had left my father with a piece of farewell advice. He had asked my father to buy a certain piece of land. The stranger then pointed to a wall at its boundary. This wall was about to fall down, so he asked my father to repair it in the future. My father complied with each suggestion. When I was about twenty years old my father asked me to come to his piece of land in France. He told me he wanted to teach me a new skill.”
“It was the skill of dowsing. My father opened his pocket knife and carefully cut a branch he had selected. He stripped off the leaves and showed me the branch, which formed a perfect Y. He then asked me to take one arm of this Y in each hand and squeeze them while walking on his piece of land. He added that he had just taught me to find a spring. It isn’t something that can be learned in school and it isn’t useless.”
Apa, quand avèn set, es tout ço que i’a de meiour.
Nothing is better than water when you’re thirsty.
“After my father’s death, I inherited this piece of land. Near the wall, by means of dowsing, I thus discovered natural spring water that was available in a very large underground aquifer. As water is scarce in the Provence, the value of that piece of land had increased twentyfold. I was fortunate enough to realize that I didn’t need so much money. I, however, was able to start a shop selling artefacts. My true inheritance consisted of the insight to try to treat everyone I meet as if I meet Khwaja Khidr.”
After leaving Bakhtiyor, H. had much to reflect on. He felt a thought speak within him, as if it were the voice of Khwaja Khidr:
“Are you are destined to offer a helping hand to generations to come? Are you the water of life through whom all things grow, so that the time may come when I too may smile?”
As if H. had the double head of Janus, H could see both this everyday world and the hidden world at the same time and clearly distinguish its oneness as well as all details:
The Path will be completed only if the baraka of Khwaja Khidr
And the blessing of his inspiration will become your fellow travellers.