There are differences (Ikhtilaaf) amongst the scholars regarding whether Khidr (Alay hissalaam) is still alive, or has died. There also exists Ikhtilaaf regarding whether Khidr (Alay hissalaam) was a Prophet or a saint. Many scholars are of the opinion that he is still alive, while others, such as Hafidhh Ibn Taymiyyah and his followers is of the opinion that he has died.
Evidence suggesting that Khidr ‘alaihi salaam is alive
In Sahih Muslim we find the following narration:
Dajjaal will kill a person once and then bring him back to life, then he will ask him, “Do you believe that I am God?” That person will reply, “No! I am convinced that you are the Dajjaal of which the Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) informed us”. Dajjaal will throw him in his fire, which in reality will be Paradise.The narrator of this Hadith is Abu Is-haaq who says: It is commonly known that this person would be Khidr (Alay hissalaam).
(Sahih Muslim, Chapter on Dajjaal)
Abu Is-haaq was amongst the Taba’tabi’een and it was common knowledge during that period that Khidr (Alay hissalaam) was alive and his death will occur at the time of Dajjaal.
Hafidhh Ibn Kathir states:
King Zulqarnain discovered a type of water referred to as the ‘water of life’ which when drank would allow a person to remain alive forever. He departed with many people searching for it, and Khidr, (Alay hissalaam) was also with him. At one place Khidr (Alay hissalaam) drank some water and the King did not.
[Tareekh by Ibn Kathir, volume 1 chapter Zulqarnain]
Hafidhh Ibn Hajar Asqalani says in his A’sabah that Khidr’s name is in the list of Companions of our Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace).)
Hafidhh Ibn Kathir writes: “ When the Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) departed from this world, Umar heard someone come into the house but saw no-one, when he asked, Umar said it was Khidr (Alay hissalaam)”. Then a voice was heard which said, ‘O household of the Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace), be patient’. Ali said it was Khidr (Alay hissalaam).”
Imam Bayhaqi said: “These narration’s are weak, but there are so many similar narrations, which suggests that they do have some origin. The coming of Khidr upon the death of the Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace).
(Sirat-un-Nabi and Tareekh ibn Kathir chap Demise of Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) by Hafidhh ibn Kathir).
Other narrations of a similar nature can be found including the following made by someone who is very much respected by certain factions :
Ibn Muhammad bin Abdul Wahaab al Najdi writes, “After the death of the Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) a voice was heard, ‘O family of the Prophet, be patient and peace be upon you.’” [Mukhtaser Sirat-ur-Rasool, Chapter ‘Death of Prophet’]
We can mention here a very important scholarly point that are made by countless scholars including Hafidhh Ibn Kathir who writes,
“If there exist many narrations regarding one issue, then even if they are weak, they can be accepted.” [Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Surah Al-An’am, verse 123]
Hafidhh Ibn Kathir states that Khidr (Alay hissalaam) was the son of Adam (Alay hissalaam), who prayed to Allah: ‘O Allah, give my son Khidr a long life so that he lives until the Day of Judgement’. Adam (Alay hissalaam) also told Khidr (Alay hissalaam) ‘O my son, you shall bury me after my death’. He also gave him news of his long life. Khidr (Alay hissalaam) also sat in the boat of the Prophet Nuh (Alay hissalaam).
[Tareekh by Ibn Kathir, Volume One, Chapter ‘Musa and Khidr’]
There have been many narrations of various types some which have been rejected by the scholars for example Hafidhh Ibn Kathir rejected the statements which claimed that Khidr (Alay hissalaam) was the son of Pharaoh or that he was born during Pharaoh’s time. He strictly says he was alive a long time before Musa (Alay hissalaam).
[Tareekh by Ibn Kathir, Volume One, Chapter ‘Musa and Khidr’]
Imam Dhahabi writes, Umar bin Abdul Aziz was talking with a man. After he had finished talking with him, he returned and someone asked him who, he had been talking with. He replied, “He was Khidr and he came to give me some good news, that I will be the ruler of the Muslim world.”
(Tadkarahtul Huffaz biography of Umar bin Abdul Aziz by Imam Dhahabi)
Imam Nawawi also provides many references and statements given by many scholars, proving that Khidr (Alay hissalaam) is still alive. (Sharh Muslim, Chapter on Dajjaal)
From the aforementioned evidence, it can be clearly seen that the narrations support the opinion of those Ulama who say that Khidr (Alay hissalaam) is still alive.
Some people raise a question by saying:
In Bukhari there is a Hadith where the Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) states, ‘Of all the people who are alive upon the earth on this day, none will be living in a hundred years time’.
Secondly he said that: The Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) supplicated (du’a) upon the occasion of the battle of Badr. “There are three hundred and thirteen people with me. If we do not triumph then no one will be left to worship you Oh Allah.” Following this evidence, Hafidhh Ibn Taymiyyah and his follwers conclude that if Khidr (Alay hissalaam) was alive then he should have joined the army and made the number amount to three hundred and fourteen.
Answers to the objections
(1) The Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) stated: “Of those alive on the earth, none will be alive in a hundred years time”. It is possible that Khidr (Alay hissalaam) at that particular moment was present in a location other than this world (dunya). Just as Isa (Alay hissalaam) was also ‘alive’ at that time. If Isa (Alay hissalaam) never came down to help the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) in the battle of Badr then this did not break his promise that he made with Allah most High, in the spiritual world. In the same manner, there is nothing inappropriate regarding the fact that Khidr (Alay hissalaam) never joined the army for the battle. Having said that there is no confirmation that he did or did not join the Muslim army in the Battle of Badr since he is an unseen person. It may also be possible that he joined, but our Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) never mentioned his name like the thousands of angels who fought in this great battle but the Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) never mentioned all their names. So this means that Hafidhh Ibn Taymiyyah’s suspicions are insufficient to support the opinion that Khidr (Alay hissalaam) has died. There is not even a single weak Hadith to support this opinion let alone an authentic one.
(2) At the time of the Battle of Badr the population of the Muslim Ummah was not just three hundred and thirteen, In fact there were Muslims present in Madinah Munawarah who did not fight in the battle.
The explanation of the du’a is. ‘There will be none to worship you with victory.’ For no doubt the Muslims in Madinah, Abysinnia and Makkah would have continued to worship Allah.
From the aforementioned, according to Hafidhh Ibn Kathir, Khidr (Alay hissalaam) was alive from the time of Adam (Alay hissalaam) up until the time of Musa (Alay hissalaam). It seems rather unusual that Ibn Kathir rejected the understanding that Khidr (Alay hissalaam) could not live after the time of Musa (Alay hisalaam)
To conclude this chapter, it is clear that Ibn Taymiyyah and those who adhere to his principles do not believe that Khidr (Alay hissalaam) is alive.
It is very disturbing to see that on one side many narration’s exist which prove the validity of Khidr (Alay hissalaam) being ‘alive’ but on the other side there are the suspicions of Ibn Taymiyyah and those who blindly follow him. Such as, Hafidhh Ibn Kathir, who after having written the above narrations was convinced by Hafidhh ibn Taymiyyah’s understanding, still continue to create doubts in the minds of Muslims.
It must be understood that the belief that Khidr (Alay hissalaam) is still alive is not a matter of aqeedah and has no relation to Imaan and kufr.
We ask Allah ‘O Allah whatever we have said, if it is true accept it but if it is false we ask you to forgive us’. Amin!