18:60 When Moses said to his chevalier, “I will continue on until I reach the meeting place of the two seas.”
Moses had four journeys: One was the journey of flight, as God says recounting from Moses, “So I fled from you when I was afraid of you” [26:21]. The second was the journey of seeking on the night of the fire. That is His words, “He was called from the right bank of the watercourse” [28:30]. The third was the journey of revelry: “When Moses came to Our appointed time” [7:143]. The fourth was the journey of toil: “We have certainly met with weariness on this journey of ours” [18:62]. His journey of the flight was at the beginning of the work. He fled from the enemy and turned his face toward Midian, having killed the Egyptian man, as the Exalted Lord says: “So Moses struck him and gave him the decree” [28:15]. When there is solicitude, how can prosperity and victory be ended? Since God had solicitude toward Moses’ work, He excused him for that killing. He said, “Moses struck him and My decree reached him.” Then He said, “Moses had no sin in that. The sin belonged to the devil and the act was from the devil: He said, ‘This is the work of Satan’ [28:15].” In the same way, He will excuse the faithful servant with His bounty and convey His pardon to him. He says, “Satan made them slip for something they had earned, but God has surely pardoned them” [3:155]. God overlooked their sin. It was Satanic disquiet and the devil’s work.
The second was the journey of seeking on the night of the fire. Moses set out seeking fire. What sort of fire was it, for it placed the whole world on fire! Wherever the talk of Moses’ fire goes, the whole world takes on the scent of passion because of its turmoil. Moses set off in search of fire and found light. These chevaliers set off in search of light and find the fire. If the sweetness of listening to the Real’s speech without intermediary reached Moses, what wonder is it that His friends catch a scent of that? If the fire of Moses was apparent, the fire of these chevaliers is hidden. If the fire of Moses was in a tree, the fire of these chevaliers is in the spirit. He who has it knows that this is so: All fires burn the body, but the fire of friendship burns the spirit. There is no patience with the spirit-burning fire. The journey of revelry was mentioned [in the commentary] under His words, “When Moses came to Our appointed time” [7:143]. The fourth journey of Moses was the journey of toil. This is an allusion to the journey of the desirers at the beginning of desire, the journey of discipline, and of tolerating the hardship of the rectification of three things: the soul, the disposition, and the heart.
The rectification of the soul is three things: bringing it from complaint to gratitude, from heedlessness to wakefulness, and from foolishness to awareness. The rectification of the disposition is three things: You come forth from annoyance to patience, from niggardliness to free giving, and from retribution to pardon. The rectification of the heart is three things: You come forth from the ruins of feeling secure to fear, from the calamity of despair to the blessing of hope, and from the tribulation of the heart’s scatteredness to the heart’s freedom. The material of this rectification is three things: the following knowledge, permitted food, and constant devotions. Its fruit is three things: a secret core adorned with awareness of the Patron, a spirit lit up with the love of eternity, and knowledge from God found without an intermediary. This is why the Lord of the Worlds honors Khiḍr and says about him, 18:65 And We taught him knowledge from Us. “When someone is able to sacrifice his attributes to the holy Shariah, We will engrave the secrets of the knowledge 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 Khiḍr in the work of the ship, the boy, and the wall.
Take care not to have the opinion that Khiḍr was greater than Moses the Speaking Companion, even if Moses was sent to Khiḍr’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 Khiḍr 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. Then there are Khiḍr’s words,
18:67 “Surely thou wilt not be able to bear patiently with me.”
The meaning according to true understanding is this allusion: “O Moses, the secret core of your disposition has so much expansiveness from the marks giving witness to the Divinity that you say, ‘Show me, that I may gaze upon Thee!’ [7:143]. I who am Khiḍr do not have the power and strength to pass these words over my heart or to busy my thoughts with them. Your ruling authority will not be able to put up with the grief of my deprivation. Surely thou wilt not be able to bear patiently with me.”
As for breaking the ship in the sea, killing the boy, and repairing the wall, each of these, in keeping with the understanding of the Folk of Findings, alludes to a great principle. It is said that the sea is the sea of recognition. Each of the one hundred twenty-some thousand center points of sinlessness dove into that sea with his community and people in the hope that from that sea they would gather the pearls of tawḥīd in the skirt of seeking, for “He who recognizes himself has recognized his Lord.”
The ship is the ship of human nature. Khiḍr wanted to ruin and break that ship with the hand of tenderness, for the owners of the ship were “indigent” [miskīn], and their attribute was “tranquility” [sakīna]. The Court of Eternity had addressed them with these words: “He it is Who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the faithful” [48:4]. When Muṣṭafā saw the Real’s self-disclosure of Majesty to the hearts of the indigent, he said, “O God, give me life as an indigent, give me death as an indigent, and muster me among the indigent!” When Khiḍr ruined the ship of mortal nature with the hand of tenderness, Moses saw that outwardly it was adorned and flourishing with the ornament of the Shariah and the Tariqah. He said, “Have you made a hole in it to drown its folk?” [18:71].
Khiḍr responded, “And behind them was a king [18:79]: Behind its flourishing was a king, a Satan who had prepared the ambush of severity in the neighborhood of the ship so that he might take the ship with his severity and deception and travel in it by night and day, for ‘Satan runs in the children of Adam like blood.’ We took away this adornment and flourishing with the hand of tenderness so that, when Satan comes like a king, he will see it ruined outwardly, and he will not come near it.”As for the boy whom Khiḍr killed and Moses’ disavowal of the act, this is an allusion to the wishes and fancies that stick up their heads from a man’s makeup in the playing field of discipline and the crucible of struggle. He said, “I have been commanded to strike off the head of everything not related to faith with the sword of jealousy. Once fancies mature, the result is that a man becomes a disbeliever in the Tariqah. In the world, I ambush them at the beginning of the road of disbelief so that they will return to their own measure.”
As for the wall that he repaired, that is an allusion to the serene soul. When he saw that it had become pure and cleansed in the crucible of struggle and was about to become nothing, he said, “O Moses, do not let it become nothing, for it is the rightful due of that Threshold to receive its service. Repairing its outwardness and taking into consideration its inwardness is obligatory for everyone. ‘Surely your soul has a rightful due against you.’ Beneath it has been placed the treasuries of the secrets of Eternity. If this wall of the soul is laid low, the lordly secrets will fall onto the plain, and every worthless nobody will crave to have them.”
The secret in these words is that the treasure of the Haqiqah has been placed in the attributes of mortal nature, and the stages of the clay of the poor were made its curtain. This is exactly what that chevalier said:
“Seek the religion from the poor, for reigning kings
have the custom of keeping treasures in ruined places.” [DS 466]
It has also been said that when Khiḍr said about the ship, “I desired to damage it” [18:79], he was reporting that he alone desired that; he said, “I desired to damage it,” observing courtesy by ascribing to himself the desire for damage. When he reached the talk of the slain boy, he said, “We desired” [18:81], because within it was killing, and killing is something earned by the created thing, whereas creation is God’s bounty. When he reached the talk of the two orphans, he said, “So thy Lord desired that they should reach their maturity” [18:82], for there was none of his own acquisition in that.
Ibn ʿAṭāʾ said, “When Khiḍr said, ‘I desired,’ it was revealed to him in his secret core, ‘Who are you that you should have a desire?’ So the second time he said, ‘We desired,’ and it was revealed to him in his secret core, ‘Who are you and Moses that you two should have desires?’ So he returned and said, ‘Your Lord desired.’”