al-Khidr in the Hadiths
Concerning the following hadith:
In a lengthy Hadith narrated by Abu Saeed (R.A.), Rasulullah (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is reported to have said: "Dajjal will come but it will be prohibited and impossible for him to enter Madina. He will set up camp in a barren land outside Madina. One person who will be the best of persons will confront him by saying: "I bear witness that you are the very Dajjal about whom Rasulullah (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has informed us." Dajjal will say to his followers, "If I kill this person and then revive him, you people will still doubt me?" They will reply, "No." He will then kill this person, (according to another narration he will split this person in two) and thereafter revive him. This person will say, "I am totally convinced more than ever before that you definitely are Dajjal." Dajjal will attempt to kill this person again but his efforts will now be in vain. (According to a hadith, after this incident, Dajjal will not be able to harm anyone.) ... from: "Signs of Qiyamah" by Mohammed Ali Ibn Zubair Ali
This hadith is narrated from Abu Sa`id al-Khudri by Abu Ya`la in his Musnad (2:332) and al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak (1984 ed. 4:581=orig. ed. 4:537), both with a chain containing `Atiyya ibn Sa`d who is weak, and with another chain (by Abu Ya`la 2:535) containing Sufyan ibn Waki` who is weak; also narrated from Abu Umama al-Bahili by Ibn Majah in his Sunan (book of Fitan) with a chain containing Isma`il ibn Rafi`, who is weak in his memorization; also narrated by Nu`aym ibn Hammad (d. 288) in Kitab al-Fitan (2:551) who said: al-Zuhri said: `Ubayd Allah ibn `Abd Allah [ibn] `Utba narrated to us that Abu Sa`id al-Khudri said... The latter is a sound chain but there are several unnamed links between Nu`aym and al-Zuhri. Also narrated by al-Dani (d. 444) in his book al-Sunan fi al-Fitan (6:1178) but with a chain that stops at the Tabi`i Abu Mijlaz.
None of the weakness mentioned above in the chains raised to the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- is grave. If the weak links are at the same levels of the narrators' biographical layers and are judged to strengthen each other, it would raise the grade of the hadith to "fair due to corroborative/witness chains" (hasan li ghayrih), and Allah knows best.
Al-Barzanji's (d. 1103) said in his book al-Isha`a li Ashrat al-Sa`a (al-Jabr ed p. 204-205=Zakariyya al-Kandihlawi ed. p. 279-280) at the mention of this hadith: "This believer whom al-Dajjal kills is al-Khidr, peace upon him." He then cites the proofs for this view and states that it is also the view of Ibn `Abbas, Ma`mar (d. 154), and others.
Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari (1959 ed. 13:104) cited Ibn `Arabi's questioning of this view as unsupported by proof. Ibn Hajar continues: "Those who hold it have used for proof the hadith related from Abu `Ubayda ibn al-Jarrah whereby the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- said: 'It may be that one of those who saw me and heard my speech shall meet the Dajjal.' Narrated by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih (15:181) with a weak chain according to Shaykh Shu`ayb Arna'ut, However, Imam al-Tirmidhi in his Sunan said it is also narrated from three other Companions and thus graded the hadith itself "fair and single-chained (hasan gharib) as narrated from Abu `Ubayda."
Ibn 'Ata' Allah in Lata'if al-Minan (1:84-98) states that there is consensus among the Sufis that al-Khidr is alive. For the view that al-Khidr died see Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Manar al-Munif (p. 67-76) with 'Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda's comprehensive notes. Ibn al-Jawzi in his book 'Ujala al-Muntazir fi Sharh Hal al-Khadir holds the extreme position that to suggest that al-Khidr is alive contradicts the Shari'a. Yet he contradicts himself as he narrates in another book, with his chain from Bilal al-Khawass that the latter met al-Khidr and asked him: "What do you say of al-Shafi'i?" He replied: "He is one of the Pillar-Saints (al-awtād)." "And Ahmad ibn Hanbal?" He said: "He is a Siddîq." Ibn al-Jawzi, Manaqib al-Imam Ahmad (p. 144).
Among the strongest transmitted proofs to this effect are two reports, one narrated by Imam Ahmad in al-Zuhd whereby the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- said that Ilyas and al-Khidr meet every year and spend the month of Ramadan in al-Qudus, and the other narrated by Ya'qub ibn Sufyan from 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz whereby a man he was seen walking with was actually al-Khidr. Ibn Hajar declared the chain of the first fair and that of the second sound in Fath al-Bari (1959 ed. 6:435). He goes on to cite another sound report narrated by Ibn 'Asakir from Abu Zur'a al-Razi whereby the latter met al-Khidr twice, once in his young age, the other in his old age, but al-Khidr himself had not changed.
The hadith master al-Sakhawi stated: "It is well-known that al-Nawawi used to meet with al-Khidr and converse with him among many other unveilings (mukāshafāt)." Al-Sakhawi, Tarjima Shaykh al-Islam Qutb al-Awliya' al-Kiram wa Faqih al-Anam Muhyi al-Sunna wa Mumit al-Bid'a Abi Zakariyya Muhyi al-Din al-Nawawi ("Biography of the Shaykh of Islam, the Pole of the Noble Saints and Jurist of Mankind, the Reviver of the Sunna and Slayer of Innovation Abu Zakariyya Muhyiddin al-Nawawi") (Cairo: Jam'iyya al-Nashr wa al-Ta'lif al-Azhariyya, 1354/1935 p. 33).
And Allah knows best.