Meeting Khwaja Khidr is the theme in the eight Sufi tales below:
Shaykh Khusraw, who was one of the most important companions of shaykh Bahauddin Naqshband has said:
“One day I went for a visit to the shaykh and I found him standing at the edge of a basin, while he was speaking to an unknown person. When I greeted him, the stranger walked away and went to another part of the garden. The shaykh told me: “That man is Khidr!” He said it twice. I, however, did not reply and remained silent and with the assistance of God it so happened that I experienced neither any outward attachment nor any inward inclination in my soul to Khidr.
After about two or three days I saw him again talking to the shaykh in the garden of the khanaqah. Two months later I met Khidr in the open air marketplace of Bokhara. He then gave me a smile, I greeted him and he embraced me, talked to me and asked how I was. When I returned to Qasr-i-‘Arifan (the place where shaykh Bahauddin Naqshband was teaching his murids) and met the shaykh, he said to me: “You have met Khidr in the marketplace of Bokhara.”
Sidi ‘Ali ad-Darir an-Nabtiti asked questions to Khidr one day about the scholars of Egypt of his time. Khidr answered about each scholar: “So-and-so is a good man.”
Then the question turned to shaykh Zakariyya al-Ansari. Khidr again remarked that he is a good man, but for one thing. When asked about it, Khidr said: “When he corresponds with the rulers, he signs his letters with shaykh Zakariyya, so he uses the title shaykh.”
Sidi ‘Ali informed shaykh Zakariyya about what Khidr had said. That is why the shaykh afterwards no longer used his title.
There once was a fool who lived in Turkestan. He had the habit of acting only after consulting his wife. It so happened one day that two strangers came to his house and knocked at his door. They told him: “We would like to be your guest today.”
The fool asked them: “Who are you? Where are you from?” They answered: “We are Khidr and Elias. We have been sent by God to your house.”
The fool then responded: “Wait! I’ll ask my wife what she thinks about your proposal.” He went to his wife and said: ‘My dear, do you know what happened? Two very important people have come to our house and they wish to be our guests. What is your opinion?”
His wife gave it some thought and then remarked: “Go to them and say that we do not need any guests?”
The fool acted according to the advice of his wife and excuses himself but tells Khidr and Elias that they don’t need any guests. They however answer him that they have brought their own food and only need a room wherein they could stay. The fool again consulted his wife and then allowed the two travelers to enter their house. He also gave them some water to drink.
Khidr and Elias then started to eat and the fool noticed to his great surprise that the quantity of the bread of the travelers did not get less. That is why he tried to steal this bread from them during their sleep. This attempt did not succeed, because one of his guests got awake when he tried to steal the bread. The fool however found some words in order to excuse himself in this embarrassing situation.
The next morning the guests asked the fool to formulate a wish. After consulting his wife he tells them that they wish to receive three houses filled with gold. The two strangers then prayed to God and the wish became a reality. They then said goodbye to the fool, who again asked them: “Who are you?”
One of the strangers answered him thus: “My name is Khidr. I travel to very many places in the world every day. In case you have heard more about me, let me prove it to you.” The fool said: “I have been told that the hands and fingers of Khidr have no knuckles.”
Khidr said: “Hold my hand in order to know if it has any knuckles!” The fool took Khidr’s hand in own hand and noticed that it had no knuckles.
The fool then remarked: “It is also known to us, that when Khidr says a prayer for someone, this supplication gets accepted.” Khidr replied: “This is exactly as you have experienced, because you have received three houses filled with gold”.
The fool then remarked: “When I look at you” – and he pointed to Khidr – it is as if my heart expands, and when I look at your companion, I experience the opposite, so who is your brother?”
Khidr then introduced his “brother Elias” to the fool: “He is travelling across the oceans, sees and lakes. He will not stand up, because he is even taller than I am. You may get somewhat afraid because of his size. When we are together I am the one who mostly speaks, while he is mostly silent.” Finally the two guests said goodbye and left.
A man living in Asia made the decision one day to go on pilgrimage together with some friends. One of them told him: “You cannot afford to go on hajj!” This remark annoyed him very much and that is why he promised either to go on pilgrimage this year or to divorce his wife. Later on he discovered that he would not be able to leave for Makka this year. Because of his promise he was in great difficulties and that is why he went to the local Mulla to find a way out. The Mulla advised him to go to an important Sufi shaykh.
This Sufi shaykh said to him: “I don’t know a way to solve your difficulties. At such and such a place however, there is a certain man who will be able to help you.” The man asked the Sufi shaykh: “What is the name of this man?” The Sufi shaykh answered him: “You, in fact, don’t need to know his name. I can tell you his name, but it is important not to disclose it to your friends. The name of this man is Khidr. He is the wakil, the authorized agent of God”.
That is why the man went to the lonely place where he could find Khidr. He then saw an old man with long hair sitting there. He went to this man and explained why he needed his help. The old man responded thus: “Go away! I’m not the person you have been told about.”
The man in difficulties kept on asking for his help, while the old man did not give in. After hearing the same thing over and over again, the old man finally said: “Yes, I’ll tell you how you can accomplish your goal.” He moved closer to the man and told him: “Go back to your house! Return here when it is the evening just before the most important day of the pilgrimage. I’ll take you then to the hajj.”
After hearing this the man experienced some inward peace and returned to his house. He waited until the specified evening arrived and then returned to Khidr.
Khidr told the man to close his eyes and asked him to put his feet on his own. Khidr in this way brought the man in a few steps to the sacred area (haram) in Mecca. The man thus was able to perform the hajj together with the other pilgrims. Some of his friends saw him there and congratulated him that he did manage to perform the pilgrimage.
Khidr returned the man to his house in a way similar to the journey to Makka. No one in his neighbourhood was aware that he had performed the pilgrimage. His friends also returned from the hajj somewhat later. They were surprised that he had returned earlier than them.
When his neighbours heard this they could not understand it, because they had seen him in his own house in the evening before the most important day of the pilgrimage. They asked him to explain the secret behind all of this and they did not stop and really wanted an explanation. They even took a firm hold of him in order to force him to disclose this mystery.
The man did not know how to get out of this situation and had to tell them the truth. That is why the people were informed of the exact place where Khidr stayed. When they however arrived at that spot, he had already left it and had travelled on. Although they desperately wished to meet Khidr, he did not return.
Shaykh Abu Sa’id bin Abi’l-Khair had a milk sister who was highly respected by everyone. This woman was called ‘Amma (Auntie) by the sons of the shaykh. She was also known as ‘Amma in the nearby town of Mayhana.
There was a door connecting the cell of the shaykh and the cell of ‘Amma. In case she wanted to see the shaykh during the retreat, or wanted to talk to him or wanted to ask a question she could easily do so.
One day the shaykh was sitting in his cell and Khidr was visiting him. They were alone and talked to one another. ‘Amma moved in the direction of the connecting door. By means of being clairvoyant and because of her charismatic abilities she knew intuitively that this visitor was Khidr. She secretly observed the two of them.
Khidr two times drank some water from the pitcher standing in front of the shaykh. Then Khidr stood up and the shaykh did the same. When they had left the cell, ‘Amma immediately entered it. She then took a drink from the same pitcher in order to derive some blessings from it and quickly left the place of retreat of the shaykh.
When the shaykh returned to his cell he immediately knew everything that ‘Amma had done by means of his intuition. He, however, said nothing, and called for a servant who permanently closed the connecting door between the two cells in such a way that ‘Amma would be unable to have a look into the cell of the shaykh.
Shaykh ‘Abdul Qadir Jilani was not at home. A thief entered the house of shaykh ‘Abdul Qadir and became blind and was unable to do anything. In the meanwhile Khidr arrived at the place where the shaykh was and said to him: “Friend of God! One of the substitutes (abdal) has died. The one you’ll choose, will replace him!”
The shaykh answered him thus: “Someone got into difficulties when entering my house. Go to him and help him to leave my house. Let him be the replacement for the substitute who has died.”
Khidr went to the thief and brought him into the presence of this unique master of the time, who healed him just by looking at him. The thief not only could once again see, but he was thus also enabled to realize the rank of the substitutes.
Khalid bin Abi ‘Imran (d. 743) was asked to come to a certain place so that the position of a judge could be offered to him. When he was on his way a man approached him who said: “Khalid, tell me if these people have asked you to come to them?” He answered: “Yes!”
The stranger continued by asking: “What do they want of you?” Khalid answered: “They want to appoint me as a judge.”
The man then remarked: “Don’t you know that God, when He does not want to make further use of His servant, He arranges it such that this position is offered to him?”
Khalid immediately went back to his house. When he turned around to have a look at the stranger, he saw nobody. It is said that this stranger was Khidr.
Hakim at-Tirmidhi was taught by Khwaja Khidr in his youth. You’ll know the story wherein he wanted to leave his hometown in order to go to the centres of learning. Because of his mother, who was sad to see him leave, he decided to stay. When the disciple is ready, the teacher arrives and in his case it was a very remarkable teacher, i.e. Khwaja Khidr.
Hakim at-Tirmidhi has described his teacher as the one who travels over land and sea, mountains and valleys searching and longing to meet the friends of God. According to him Khwaja Khidr wished to see in his own life what would become of the work of these awliya. That is why Khidr received such a long life, so that he could experience all of it up to the End of Times.
The following story deals with a later period in the life of Hakim at-Tirmidhi. For some reason or other he had not seen Khwaja Khidr for a long time. This did not change until a servant girl cleaned the latrines. She came out with a bucket filled with filth. At the same time Hakim at-Tirmidhi passed her by. He was on his way to the mosque. He was wearing spotless white clothes.
The girl asked him for some money, but he did not have any money to give to her. She became so angry with the shaykh that she threw the dirty contents of the bucket she was carrying, all over his clean clothes. The shaykh did not become angry in the least. At that very moment Khwaja Khidr reappeared and greeted him.