First of all, I am new to reading the Quran, so forgive me for any misunderstanding that I may cause.

In Surat Al-Kahf aya 74, the journey between Al-Khidr and Moses, Al-Khidr kills an innocent boy and later on explains to Moses that the boy's parents were of the believers and they feared lest he(the boy) should oppress them with rebellion and disbelief. Here is the the whole story is taken from alim.org. Not sure if I am citing the right source, so I would welcome any corrections:

Moses said to him (Khidr) "May I follow you so that you teach me something of that knowledge (guidance and true path) which you have been taught (by Allah)?" He (Khidr) said: "Verily! You will not be able to have patience with me! And how can you have patience about a thing which you know not?" Moses said: "If Allah will, you will find me patient, and I will not disobey you in aught." He (Khidr) said: "Then, if you follow me, ask me not about anything till I myself mention it to you. So they both proceeded, till, when they were in the ship, he (Khidr) scuttled it. Moses said: "Have you scuttled it in order to drown its people? Verily, you have done Imra - a Munkar (evil, bad, dreadful) thing." He (Khidr) said: "Did I not tell you, that you would not be able to have patience with me?" (Moses) said: "Call me not to account for what I forgot, and be not hard upon me for my affair (with you)." Then they both proceeded, till they met a boy, he (Khidr) killed him. Moses said: "Have you killed an innocent person who had killed none? Verily, you have done Nukra a great Munkar (prohibited, evil, dreadful) thing!" (Khidr) said: "Did I not tell you that you can have no patience with me?" (Moses) said: "If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company, you have received an excuse from me." Then they both proceeded, till, when they came to the people of a town, they asked them for food, but they refused to entertain them. Then they found therein a wall about to collapse and he (Khidr) set it up straight. (Moses) said: "If you had wished, surely you could have taken wages for it!" (Khidr) said: "This is the parting between me and you. I will tell you the interpretation of (those) things over which you were unable to hold patience. 'As for the ship, it belonged to poor people working in the sea. So I wished to make a defective damage in it, as there was a king after them who seized every ship by force. "And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared lest he should oppress them by rebellion and disbelief. So we intended that their Lord should change him for them for one better in righteousness and near to mercy. "And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the town; and there was under it a treasure belonging to them, and their father was a righteous man, and your Lord intended that they should attain their age of full strength and take out their treasure as a mercy from your Lord. And I did it not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of those (things) over which you could not hold patience. Surah 18: 60-82

(Bold emphasis is mine.)

Please submit your answer with authentic sources.

  • 1
    Because all stories in Quran are symbolic and/or a condensed summary of great historic events, and they carry deep meanings. If you take them with their direct meaning, usually they become illogical or against ma'roof. For example: Ibrahim attempting to kill his son, a nabi praying Allah to flood the entire world, people sleeping in a cave more than three centuries, ... etc. If you are expecting the sea to divide in two, so that Palestinians can escape from the cruelty and the cruel ones would drown, it won't happen. It is inadmissible to directly apply Quran stories in life. Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 14:30
  • 8
    I don't really want to interpret this one as it's dangerous to try and get a moral from it. The story is about something that even an influential Prophet like Moses a.s. couldn't understand and accept.
    – Muz
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 3:09
  • @Noah If you are new to Holy Quran My friendly advice to you is to consider this ayah quran.com/3/7
    – adopilot
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 9:13

4 Answers 4


The answer for why the boy was killed is in Qur'an itself. Khidr explains his action:

وَأَمَّا الْغُلَامُ فَكَانَ أَبَوَاهُ مُؤْمِنَيْنِ فَخَشِينَا أَن يُرْ‌هِقَهُمَا طُغْيَانًا وَكُفْرً‌ا

Interpretation of the meaning:

And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared that he would overburden them by transgression and disbelief. [Al-Kahf:80]

It is also explained in tafsir Ibn Katheer

Ibn Abbas narrated from Ubayy bin Ka`b that the Prophet said:

الْغُلَامُ الَّذِي قَتَلَهُ الْخَضِرُ طُبِعَ يَوْمَ طُبِعَ كَافِرًا

The boy Al-Khidr killed was destined to be a disbeliever from the day he was created.

Now, he was killed not only because he was a disbeliever or bad person but because it was feared he would oppress his parents (who were believers) to disbelief.

It is mentioned in Tafsir Ibn Kathir.

It was recorded by Ibn Jarir from Ibn `Abbas. He said:

فَكَانَ أَبَوَاهُ مُؤْمِنَيْنِ فَخَشِينَا أَن يُرْهِقَهُمَا طُغْيَانًا وَكُفْرًا his parents were believers, and we feared he would oppress them by rebellion and disbelief [Muslim 2380]

There are many other hadith regarding this as well.

Ubayy b. Ka’b said:

I heard the Apostle of Allah (May peace be upon him) explaining the verse “As for the youth his parents were people of Faith,” he was created infidel the day when he was created.

حَدَّثَنَا مَحْمُودُ بْنُ خَالِدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا الْفِرْيَابِيُّ، عَنْ إِسْرَائِيلَ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو إِسْحَاقَ، عَنْ سَعِيدِ بْنِ جُبَيْرٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا أُبَىُّ بْنُ كَعْبٍ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ فِي قَوْلِهِ ‏{‏ وَأَمَّا الْغُلاَمُ فَكَانَ أَبَوَاهُ مُؤْمِنَيْنِ ‏}‏ ‏"‏ وَكَانَ طُبِعَ يَوْمَ طُبِعَ كَافِرًا ‏"‏ ‏.‏ [Sunan Abi Dawud 4706]

Tafseer Ibn Katheer explained further why he was killed as:

Their love for him might make them follow him in disbelief.

And it quotes Qatadah who said:

"His parents rejoiced when he was born and grieved for him when he was killed. If he had stayed alive, he would have been the cause of their doom. So let a man be content with the decree of Allah, for the decree of Allah for the believer, if he dislikes it, is better for him than if He were to decree something that he likes for him.'

And this was from knowledge of Allah who knows the future and he knew that this boy would drive his parents to disbelief. So, he was killed in order to protect the belief and faith of his parents. The practical message from this is that there are several things in our life which might seem disastrous to us, a lost job perhaps, an accident or money lost. However, while we do not know, it might be actually good for us in long time. Hence, what is good for a believer is to be content with the will of Allah and not be sad or impatient.

And Allah says in Qur'an:

and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you.[Al-Baqarah :216]

  • 1
    @Noah In an Islamic state (caveat-An Islamic state), an apostate or a person who tries to change the religion of others could be given capital punishment by the ruler. However, that is not the lesson from this ayah. The lesson is what I have mentioned in the last para.
    – Abdullah
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 12:56
  • 3
    Moreover, I mentioned that he was killed because he is harmful for his parents and this is from knowledge of Allah. However, today no one can have that knowledge of whether someone is going to be harmful for someone in future because the knowledge of future is only known to Allah.
    – Abdullah
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 13:02
  • 1
    @Noah No, it is not. We, as muslims, believe that the religion in the sight of Allah is Islam. Allah says that in Qur'an. So, it is not at all fine to convert from islam.
    – Abdullah
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 13:06
  • 1
    @Abdullah "today no one can have that knowledge" can you plz mention some proof for this claim? if you think it is better to I ask it in a new question plz let me know. Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 15:54
  • @Ahmadi AFAIK, Knowledge of the future pertains to matters of the unseen and it is known only to Allah and certain matters of the future were revealed to the Prophets and the Prophets have told them to us. However, I think it is better to ask it in a new question, please.
    – Abdullah
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 16:08

The short answer is:

According to the rules of religion, it is not allowed to kill such boy. But he did not kill based on religion. God directly ordered him to kill the boy. It is like a disaster, such as an earthquake. In this case, God wanted to use Khidr as a tool of killing, instead of a disaster.

Actions such as this, that contradict religion, are only allowed of those who have a direct connection with God. They are called Wali. Wali means those who can meet God, and are close friends of God. Allah may use them as a mean like the other means of Him in the universe and they will obey Him just like those other means do obey him without any excuse or question. At the scale of the truth they have reached they see only the truth and no ambiguity exists there that they will fall in doubt if this is really a command from Allah or an inspiration from Satan or desires. Of course this is not something that can be generalized to all and so cannot be a part of religion, the set of rules for all. Like to say prostration for anyone except Allah is forbidden but only if Allah command to do it directly then it will be obligatory.

The same God who said that killing an innocent boy is sin, issued the command to kill this boy. Therefore, it is not a sin, because the command of God is above religion.

Reference and detailed answer:

  • I thought wali meant protecter or caregiver
    – NesreenA
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 13:06
  • @NesreenA Wali has two main meaning: in context of relation with people and governance means Master (who has authority on people or Nature granted from Allah. in context of relation with God means "very Close". any human can reach this ran. always even today some wali live on earth but are unknown to obey this verse they escape from being famous. duty of a wali is to (by command of God) specially help and guide who strive hard in God. train of Moses PBUH by Hadrat Khizr(is alive still) to can meet God was of this kind Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 16:11
  • @Ahmadi: Can you give me an example of such a person in today's world?
    – Noah
    Commented Sep 9, 2012 at 10:45
  • 1
    @Noah they are not famous and are hided among people. if you strive and practice what you know, God will introduce such person to you. it is duty of you to strive and it is duty of God to guide you. tanzil.net/#29:69 in this verse God says IF you do your strive GOD HIMSELF send such guides to you. the problem is strive. Commented Sep 9, 2012 at 14:23
  • @Ahmadi are your answers based on Ahmadiya or Sunni scholars?
    – Tassisto
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 13:41

If we looked at how the root term ره ق ra ha qa is used in the Quran such as (18:73, 10:27, 72:13, etc) seems to suggests that the act of رهق rahaqa has the notion of forcefully covering/engulfing to the point of hardship that offers no alternative choice but to accept or suffer the consequence.

Thus the output of rahaqa is the yielding of the subject imposed on. So when the Qur'an stated ان يرهقهما this would imply that the fear that the parents has yielded to kufr.

The teenager/Ghulam has acted on his parent in forceful manner (18:80) which will cause Fitna/hardship/tribulation/severe test on his parents that will cause them to yield to Kufr by giving them no choice but to accept or suffer a dire consequences.

Since the Qur'an adheres to the values of no compulsion on any belief system (2:256) therefore whenever this is jeopardized the risk must be subdued or eliminated.


  • good answer. , although 2/256 is abrogated / made specific by the verses of war such as 9/29 and 8/39
    – Hisham
    Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 1:41
  • On second thoughts, this does not justify killing of the teenager, it should be that the first to commit killing is then only can be killed otherwise no killing is in anyway or form justifiable, if the parent can't resist the force of the test so long as no life is taken away then its on them the blame of being weak willed Commented Mar 31 at 16:04

That the youth himself deserved death is abundantly clear. His inordinacy had now reached an extreme — the circumstances seem to have been known to Kha˙ir, though not to Moses — when it was feared that his innocent parents would be involved in the trouble which must befall him as a result of his wrongdoing. Note that the word used to indicate the youth’s wrongdoing is ∆ughyån, which means exceeding all limits in wrongdoing.

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