al-Khidr, the Green Man

The Green Prophet, Khizr:
Islam's Patron Saint of Cannabis

A Word from the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission

"To forbid or even seriously to restrict the use of so gracious an herb as hemp would cause widespread suffering and annoyance and to large bands of worshipped ascetics, deep-seated anger. It would rob the people of a solace in discomfort, of a cure in sickness, of a guardian whose gracious protection saves them from the attacks of evil influences, and whose mightly power makes the devotee of the Victorious, overcoming the demons of hunger and thirst, of panic, fear, of the glamour of Maya or matter, and of madness, able in rest to brood on the Eternal, till the Eternal,possessing him body and soul, frees him from the haunting of self and receives him into the Ocean of Being. These beliefs the Musalman devotee shares to the full. Like his Hindu brother, the Musalman fakir reveres bhang as the lengthener of life, the freer from the bonds of self. Bhang brings union with the Divine spirit. "We drank bhang and the mystery I am he grew plain. So grand a result, so tiny a sin."

"In his devotion to bhang, with reverence, not with the worship, which is due to Allah alone, the North Indian Mussulman joins hynming to the praise of bhang. To the follower of the later religion of Islam the holy spirit in bhang is not the spirit of the Almighty, it is the spirit of the great prophet Khizr, or Elijah. That bhang should be sacred to Khizr is natural; Khizr is the patron saint of water. Still more, Khizr means green, the revered color of the cooling water of bhang. So the Urdu poet sings, "When I quaff fresh bhang I liken its color to the fresh light down of thy youthful beard." The prophet Khizr, the green prophet, cries, "May the drink be pleasing to thee." Nasir, the great North Indian Urdu poet, is loud in praises o his beloved Sabzi, 'the Green One.'

Compared with bhang spirits are naught. Leave all things thou fool, drink bhang.

From its quickening the imagination, Mussulman poets honor bhang with the title Waraq al-Khayal, 'Fancy's Leaf.' And the Makhazan or great Arab-Greek drug book records many other fond names for the drug. Bhang is the Joy-Giver, the Sky-Flier, the Heavenly-Guide, the Poor Man's Heaven, the Soother of Grief."

J.M. Campbell
Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report, 1893-1894

from Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
Copyright 1999, 2000 Kathleen Seidel
All rights reserved. Details at:

"To the follower of Islam the holy spirit in bhang... is the spirit of the great prophet Khizr, or Elijah."

As noted by Joseph Campbell over a century ago, in his epic 1894 study for the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission, On The Religion of Hemp: "To the follower of Islam the holy spirit in bhang... is the spirit of the great prophet Khizr, or Elijah." That bhang should be sacred to Khizr is natural, as Khizr means green, the revered color of the cooling water of bhang. So the Urdu poet sings "When I quaff fresh bhang I liken its color to the fresh light down of thy youthful beard."

Islam inherited Khizr from many earlier myths, as can be seen from stories that associate him with such luminary figures as Moses and Alexander the Great. By medieval times he came to represent the type of esoteric knowledge which breaks the trance of everyday existence through shock, usually in the form of outrage, laughter, or both at once.

Wilson explains that Khizr was seen as "the initiator of Sufis who have no human master." In the 1990 book Green Man, William Anderson describes Khizr as "the voice of inspiration to the true aspirant and committed artist. He can come as a white light or the gleam of a blade of grass, but more often as an inner mood. The sign of his presence is the ability to work or experience with tireless enthusiasm beyond one's normal capacities."

In his 1993 book Sacred Drift, Essays on the Margins of Islam, Peter Wilson writes "When you say the name of Khezr in company you should always add the greeting Salām aliekum! since he may be there... immortal and anonymous, engaged on some karmic errand. Perhaps he'll hint of his identity by wearing green, or by revealing knowledge of the occult and hidden. But he's something of a spy, and if you have no need to know he's unlikely to tell you. Still, one of his functions is to convince skeptics of the existence of the Marvelous, to rescue those who are lost in deserts of doubt and dryness. So he's needed now more than ever, and surely still moves among us playing his great game."

Originally a sort of vegetation spirit in whose footprints plants and flowers were said to magically sprout, Wilson explains that "nowadays Khezr might well be induced to reappear as the patron of modern militant eco-environmentalism… Khadirian Environmentalism would rejoice simultaneously both in [Nature's] utter wildness and its 'meaningfulness.' Nature as tajalli (the 'shining through' of the divine into creation; the manifestation of each thing as divine light), Nature as an aesthetic of realization."

With the wealth of esoteric lore, environmental products and medicines sprouting from the renaissance of his beloved cannabis, it seems that Khizr is once again trying to communicate to humanity through his most holy of plants.

Interestingly, there are legends of Khizr in which he is dismembered and reborn. As well, certain prophecies connect him with the end of time and the revealing of esoteric truths.


  1. Abel, Ernest. Marijuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years, Phenum Press, 1980.
  2. Anderson, William. Green Man: The Archetype of Our Oneness with the Earth, Harper Collins 1990.
  3. Burman, Edward. The Assassins: Holy Killers of Islam, Crucible 1987.
  4. Wilson, Peter Lamborn. Scandal Essays in Islamic Heresy, Autonomedia, Inc. 1988.
  5. Wilson, Peter Lamborn. Sacred Drift: Essays on the Margins of Islam, City Light Books 1993.