Assalaamu alaykum. A few years ago, I studied Islamic Theology at a german University. There was a deviant professor there who said that the Story of the Prophet Moosa (Moses) and Al-Khidhr can not be taken literally because Al-Khidhr kills someone, for example, and does other things. So he wanted to say that it cannot be taken literally because the story is too brutal. Is that true?
All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.
If your teacher meant that Al-Khidhr did not actually kill the young boy, then that is untrue and mere falsehood and distortion. The relevant verses are of clear indication and plainly state that Al-Khidhr killed the young boy, and there is no other possible interpretation contrary to the apparent meaning of the verse.
It is true that some people were confused as to why Al-Khidhr would kill the young boy although he was incompetent for religious assignments at the time and given the fact that the corruption of the son and the righteousness of the parents do not constitute a valid reason to kill him. Therefore, some scholars held that the knowledge of such matter should be referred to the knowledge of Allaah while declaring this matter as part of the qadar (divine decree) about which none has the knowledge or knows the wisdom behind it except Allaah.
Competent research scholars, on the other hand, maintained that the actions of Al-Khidhr were not in violation of the divine sharee'ah; rather, they were done in accordance with the fundamentals of the sharee'ah and they have reasonable wisdom and sound justification. This is because the boy whom Al-Khidhr killed could have been past puberty then and, accordingly, competent for religious assignments; he could have committed disbelief deeming it allowable to kill him. According to this possibility, Allaah ordered Al-Khidhr to kill him so as to put an end to his evil and eliminate his bad influence on his pious parents. It should be noted that the word "ghulaam" used in the verse may be used in the Arabic language to refer to a boy who has reached puberty, and not necessarily a young boy.
And assuming that this young boy had not reached puberty then, it is possible that the competence for religious assignments was not conditional to reaching puberty according to the divine laws that Al-Khidhr was following. Hence, the killing of this young boy was based on his competence for religious assignments. Thus, the problematic issue of being young is eliminated because he was competent for religious assignments.
Moreover, it is also possible that Al-Khidhr killed him so as to ward off the potential harms and wrongful transgressions on his part as is the case with killing snakes and beasts of prey. According to this possibility, the killing of the young boy is not a consequent of his competence for religious assignments in case of committing an evil deed that entails killing. According to the Islamic sharee'ah, if a young boy wrongfully assaults and transgresses against one's life, wealth, or honor and there is no other way to ward off such transgression except by killing him, then it is permissible to kill him.
In any case, if the wisdom behind the killing of the young boy by Al-Khidhr is known, then this is good; otherwise, the Muslim should refer the matter to the basic principle in this regard; that Allaah, The Exalted, is All-Wise. He does not create or do anything in vain, nor are His actions devoid of any meaning; all of His actions are based on great wisdom, even if we fail to recognize it.
Allaah knows best.
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