(I am not saying what is written in this post is Islamically correct. I am not saying I believe it. I am only mentioning interesting ideas I’ve come across.)
A guy with two horns? A guy who’s more than 1400 years old? A group of men who fell asleep for a 100 years? Demon/giant people trapped behind a large wall? Whaaaatt???
Hi everybody. 🙂 Religious post again, I just couldn’t help myself.
The 15 day Islamic course I was taking has come to an end, but one of the last sessions really got me interested. We studied Surah Kahf (Chapter 18 of the Quran) and honestly, all I ever knew about the surah before was that mom would bug me to read it every Friday and I would consider it a complete waste of time. I could be sleeping, for God’s sake!
The surah’s got three stories: the people of the cave, Dhul Qarnain (A), and Musa (A) & Khizr (A).
Now the title of this post is a bit odd, but you know how everyone thinks Islam is all boring? Islamic history is full of stories of amazingly righteous people who are consistently righteous and never do anything wrong. Everything is great. God will save them. The end. In school, every time we had to describe the character of the caliphs or companions, we would right the same thing for every one. Loved the Prophet (pbuh), good Muslim, good human, wonderful, kind, brave, devoted – and of course throw in a few ahadith.
But now we get to the interesting stuff. There’s a lotta mystical, magical, cool stories in Islam too.
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal says in his Musnad (1:112)
The people of Syria were mentioned in front of `Ali ibn Abi Talib while he was in Iraq, and they said: “Curse them, O Commander of the Believers.” He replied: “No, I heard the Messenger of Allah say: “The Substitutes (al-abdal) are in Syria and they are forty men, every time one of them dies, Allah substitutes another in his place. By means of them Allah brings down the rain, gives (Muslims) victory over their enemies, and averts punishment from the people of Syria.” al-Haythami said: “The men in its chains are all those of the sahih except for Sharih ibn `Ubayd, and he is trustworthy (thiqa).”
Sufis believe that these people have supernatural powers.
“the wali controls the universe; he says to a thing “Be!” and it is. In their view, every wali has been appointed by Allaah to control some aspect of creation. Four awliya’ are holding the earth by its four corners, and they are called al-awtaad (lit. tent pegs). Seven other awliya’ each control one of the seven continents of the world, and they are called al-abdaal (because…”
For history buffs, the story of the ‘Seven Sleepers’ – the men in the cave in Surah Kahf proves interesting. It is mentioned in Christianity and in ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire‘, Gibbon approximates that the event took place in Turkey (Ephesus) during the reign of Decius, the Roman tyrant known for being mean to Christians. The dudes asleep in the cave woke up in the reign of Theodosius. Muslim historians have written similar reports, but all sources are vague.
We’ve all probably heard of Khizr (A) – the guy who God said had the most knowledge of anybody in the world at that time. Musa/Moses (A) went with him to learn from him, and Khizr (A) killed a boy, broke a ship and built a wall without asking for any reward. Now this guy who we usually only hear about in lectures from aunties is also an important figure in Alevism as well as the subject of a major Turkish holiday, Hindrellez. In the Jordaniancity of Mahis there is a Mausoleum to al-Khiḍr.
Al-Khiḍr is believed to be a man who has the appearance of a young adult but a long, white beard. According to some authors like Abdul Haq Vidhyarthi, al-Khiḍr is Xerxes (not to be confused with Xerxes I), who disappeared after being in the lake regions of Sijistan or Sistan that comprise the wetlands of the Irano-Afghan border today, and after finding the fountain of life, sought to live his entire remaining life in service of God and to help those in their path/journey to Him.
Bukhari reports that al-Khiḍr got his name after he was present over the surface of some ground that became green as a result of his presence there. In Sufi tradition, al-Khiḍr has come to be known as one of those who receive illumination direct from God without human mediation. He is the hidden initiator of those who walk the mystical path, like some of those from the Uwaisi tariqa. Uwaisis are those who enter the mystical path without being initiated by a living master. Instead they begin their mystical journey either by following the guiding light of the teachings of the earlier masters or by being initiated by the mysterious prophet-saint al-Khiḍr.
People also think he’s still alive. Meaning, superhuman. Al-Khiḍr also figures into the Alexander Romance as a servant of Alexander the Great. Al-Khidr and Alexander cross the Land of Darkness to find the Water of Life. Alexander gets lost looking for the spring, but al-Khiḍr finds it and gains eternal life.
Then we come to Dhul Qarnain. Many people think he’s Alex the Great. Sounds like hooey doesnt it? Some people think he’s Cyrus the Great (Persian guy). He built a wall to trap the Gog and Magog. They are variously presented as men, supernatural beings (giants ordemons), national groups, or lands. Gog and Magog occur widely in mythology and folklore.
So – is researching your religion really that boring?