Al-Khadir and companion Zul-Qarnain (al-Sikandar)

Al-Khadir (right) and companion Zul-Qarnain (al-Sikandar) marvel at the sight of a salted fish that comes back to life when touched by the Water of Life. "When Alexander sought he did not find what Khizr found unsought" (Sikandar Nāma LXIX.75).

Al-Khadir crosses the River of Life upon a fish

In western Asia, Moslem or Hindu symbolic art shows the Saint, Al Khizr, dressed in a green coat being carried on top of the water by a fish which conveys him over the river of life.

The Story of al-Khadir and Alexander

as related by Kataragama Mosque & Shrine Trustee al-Haj M.H.A. Gaffar

"According to Islamic tradition, after prophet Adam (alai) was expelled from Paradise, he came down from Paradise to Adam's Peak in Serendip (Sri Lanka) while Hawwa (Eve) came down to Jeddah; her tomb is there. From Adam up to the Holy Prophet Mohammed (uhbp) there have been 124,000 nabis or prophets, of whom 313 were rasuls or special prophets.

Adam's footprint then was crusted with gems. The life span them was 1,500 years so that people then had time to walk all over the world. Only 25 nabis are mentioned in the Holy Quran. Almighty Allah has given more power (kudrath) to some rasuls than to others.

Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) was depicted in Greek coinage as ram-headed, (Arabic: Zul-Qarnain 'Lord of Two Horns') indicating that he was regarded as a living deity while yet a man. Called in Arabic al-Sikandar or Iskandar, in pan-Indian context the Sikandar name and legend are equally associated with Skanda, the pan-Indian wargod and god of Kataragama.

Allah has sent different nabis to different peoples at different time and also teaching differently. One of them is Hayat Nabi or Hilur or Khidr ('the Green Man') who has many names. Out of the 124,000 nabis, Allah sent Hilur Nabi and his cousin al-Sikandar or Zul-Qarnain (Alexander the Great) to be born to two sisters, both of whose fathers were kings. Hilur's father was a village headman-type 'king', while al-Sikandar's father was an emperor. Iskandar Kumara, Iskandar Zul-Qarnain and Alexander the Great are among his names. Everyone calls the same one by many names; all are brothers and sister. Zul-Qarnain means 'two-horned'.

Iskandar Zul-Qarnain's father was also an astrologer or vana sastra. He waited forty years for a conjunction of two stars/planets and remained celibate for the whole forty years. He told his queen, "If we have a child at that time, he will live until the end of the world. If we have a child one hour later he will rule the world under one flag." He had mahrÓfa or jñānam to know this. Meanwhile, the queen's sister heard all this from behind a pillar. She was the future mother of Hayat Nabi.

When the time had almost come, the emperor told his wife, "I will pray and sleep now. At that time you must call me." That time came, but because of shame or shyness (lajja, vetkam) she hesitated. So the emperor overslept and missed the first opportunity. The first opportunity was Hayat Nabi's and the second was al-Sikandar's.

When the two cousins grew up, they set out together to search for the ma'ul hayat or water of life. They came to Kathirkamam and went inside a tunnel in the mountain. They agreed to share the water, but only Hilur got it because Allah wanted to give it to him. Hilur brought it in a pot and set it down but a crow came and spilled it. Therefore the crow has long life. Anywhere Hayat Nabi goes that place is green.

Salat (19,484 bytes)

Above: Rifai faqirs at Kataragama Mosque & Shrine. Below: Rifai faqirs recite dua in Khidr Maqām. Kataragama Mosque & Shrine Trustee al-Haj M.H.A. Gaffar seated at right.

Rifai faqirs recite dua in Khidr Maqaam

Now anyone who finds that place describes it as a tunnel full of gems. Hayat Nabi says to such people, "If you take the gems you are fools; if you don't take them you are also fools." Allah has put gems all around places like Kataragama, Jailani and Adam's Peak as a gift from Allah. Every kind of gems and many different climates are here in Sri Lanka.

The tradition says that prophet Isha (Jesus) will come again and live for forty years. At that time, Hayat Nabi will fight Shaitan and Shaitan will cut him seven times but Hayat Nabi will not die. Isha will come forty years before the end of the world and Hayat Nabi is also living in this period. Only Almighty Allah can take Hayat Nabi's life.

Hayat Nabi is not living in one place but is always traveling (cf. Wandering Jew motif). Once every 500 years he returns here to Khadirgama.

He spends six months on land and six months at sea.

Prophet Musa was told by Allah to seek teachings from one greater in in wisdom than himself, from someone called a "servant of Allah". He was told to watch for a fried fish that would come alive and at that place he would find Hayat Nabi. Sura Kahlf (XVIII), verses 60-61 Musa is told to search for a junction near the sea. That place is here at Khadir-gama."

Kathirkamam Mosque & Shrine (19391 bytes) Refai Tariqat bawas(17624 bytes)

Traditions of Islamic Kataragama
 Islamic Kataragama: The Timeless Shrine
Interview with M.H.A. Gaffar, Trustee of Kataragama Mosque & Shrine
The Story of al-Khadir and Zul-Qarnain
"Kataragama is for all people"
Coming of Mystery Imam al-Mahdi
Al-Khadir, Alexander and the Fountain of Life
Al-Faqr or 'Spiritual Poverty'
Kataragama the 'Home of al-Khidr'
"Kataragama - The land of Khidr"
"Flag-Hoisting Ceremony at the Mosque"
"Muslim Pal Kudi Bawa of Kataragama" web site Abul `Abbas, Hazrat al-Khidr web site Dafther Jailany associated with Sheikh Muhiyadeen Abdul Qadir Jilani

Hayat Nabi or al-Khidr
Abul `Abbas, al-Khidr
Alexander the Great in mythology