Is it true that al-Khidr who was with Prophet Musa is still alive? Is he an angel or a human?
It is not beyond the limits of the intellect or of Islamic jurisprudence for the Khidr or any other of God’s creation to be alive. A Muslim should never be so quick to pass judgment on everything that comes their way that is not common before turning to the Shari‘ah and examining what is said regarding the issue.
God is capable of prolonging anyone’s life as He has prolonged Satan’s life, not as a miracle for Satan or as a special attribute to him, but rather to serve a specific purpose in His ultimate plan. Likewise God can prolong the life of a saintly person such as Khidr as this can be a miracle attributed to him or again for another purpose we might not be aware of.
As for the issue of Khidr specifically, it has been mentioned by the pious ancestors and they have acknowledged that he remains alive. Imam Muslim mentions in his Sahih the hadith of the man who will be killed by the antichrist as well as the comments of Abi Ishaq on it by saying that the Prophet said, “If this man is to be killed and then brought back to life will you be in doubt” and the companions responded in the negative and the Prophet said, “he will kill him and bring him back to life and will say, ‘by God I have never been more alive before you than this’, so he will try to kill the man again and he will be unable to”. Abu Ishaq said that this man was al-Khidr.
Anas also reported during the death of the Prophet “a man with a red beard and a beautiful figure crossed among them and cried. He then turned to the companions of the Prophet and said that in God is solace from every calamity and compensation for every loss so to God turn in repentance and in Him desire and then he left. Some of the companions asked one another if they knew who the man was so Abu Bakr and Ali said “yes, he is the brother of the Prophet al-Khidr upon him be peace.”
Anas also said:
I went out with the Prophet one night carrying for him water for purification when he heard someone call out and said to me, “quite” and the caller said, “O God give me aid with that which will save me from that which I fear so the Prophet said, ‘he should say something else’ and it is as if the man said what the Prophet wanted” and the caller continued, “and give me the longing of the pious for that which they long” and the Prophet said, “go Anas, leave the purification water and go to the caller and ask him to make supplication for the Prophet that He aids him with that which He has commissioned him with and ask him to make supplications for the community and that they take that which has been given to them by the Prophet with truth”, so I went to the caller then he said to me, “who has sent you?” so I hated to inform him without taking the permission of the Prophet so I said to him, “with God’s mercy on you why do you need to know?” then he said, “will you not inform me who sent you?” so I went to the Prophet and informed him what the caller said and told me, “tell him you are the messenger of the Prophet so the caller responded after I informed him, “greetings to the Messenger of God and his messenger.
I should have gone to him. Send him greetings of peace from me and say to him that al-Khidr sends greetings of peace and he says to you that God has favored you over all the Prophets as He has favored and honored the month of Ramadan over all other months and He has favored your community over all others as He has favored the day of Friday over all other days.” As I got near to the caller I heard him say, “O God make me from amongst this community that has received mercy, is guided, and receives forgiveness.’”
Also narrated by Anas who said that the Prophet said, “Al-Khidr is in the seas and Elijah is on land and the two of them gather each night at the dam built by Dhul Qarnayn as a barrier between the people and Gog and Magog. They also both make pilgrimage or they gather each year to drink from Zam Zam enough to last them the following year” Anas added “a third of the well is now gone.”
All of this is in regards to what has been transmitted to us regarding al-Khidr. As for what has come to us by way of the reliable jurists, Imam al-Nawawi has said, “as for the story of al-Khidr visiting the Prophet after his death it has been narrated by Imam al-Shafi in his Um with a weak chain of transmission, however he did not mention the name of al-Khidr and rather said the companions heard someone say such and such. The name of al-Khidr was not mentioned by Imam al-Shafi, but rather by some of our fellow jurists who have their own proof texts for adding al-Khidr’s name. The correct opinion (regarding al-Khidr) is that he is alive and this is the opinion of most of the scholars.”
Imam al-Ramli was asked about al-Khidr and Elijah upon them both be peace and he answered:
As for al-Khidr the correct opinion is that he is a prophet not a saint which is the opinion of the majority of the scholars as al-Khidr said in the Qur’an, “and I did not do it on my own accord” and God’s statement “We bestowed on Him Our mercy” which means revelation and prophecy, not sainthood. This is the case even though some scholars said that he was not a prophet. The correct opinion is that he is alive as Ibn Salah has stated, “the majority of scholars have agreed that he is alive, even the commoners believe in this” and Imam al-Nawawi has stated that “the majority of scholars say that he is alive and living amongst us; this is agreed upon between the Sufis and the pious people as they mention true stories of seeing him in visions, meeting him in waking states, taking knowledge from him, asking him questions, hearing his answers, and his presence at holy locations too many to enumerate”. Therefore the correct opinion is that he is a human and not an angel and his location as well as the location of Elijah is in the land of the Arabs.”
From the above it is clear that al-Khidr is a human, is living amongst us, and can meet with people as a miracle for him and the one he is meeting. This should not, however, open the door of those pretenders who claim things that are not true regarding al-Khidr. There is also dispute on his prophethood and the sounder opinion, as stated by Imam al-Ramli, is that he is a prophet. God is most high and all knowledgeable.