Hajj and the Neglected Legacy of a Great Woman
Islam teaches us to submit completely and whole-heartedly. "O you who believe! Enter into Islam completely, whole-heartedly..." (Quran 2:208)
It also calls for a submission that is spontaneous and conscientious, without any hesitation or resistance against the will and guidance of God. "But no, by your Rabb, they can have no (real) faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction." (Quran 4:65)
There is great - truly great - news from God. "Those who have faith and do righteous deeds, they are the best of creatures, their reward is with God: Gardens of Eternity, beneath which rivers flow; they will dwell therein forever; God is well pleased with them, and they with Him: All this for such as fear their Rabb (the cherisher and sustainer)." (Quran 98:7-8)
Eid al-Adha is a great and unique occasion of joy and celebration. Ironically, this joy and celebration revolve around sacrifice. It would probably make sense to only those who understand that the joy of giving that touches others' lives is far greater and deeper than the joy of receiving.
This great occasion of Eid al-Ad'ha is tied to an unique event, the Hajj; a unique city, Makkah; and a unique family, the family of Ibrahim (peace be upon him). Indeed, what the Quran refers to the Milla of Ibrahim is essentially rooted in the legacy of a model family. Say: "God speaks the Truth: follow the Milla of Ibrahim, the True in Faith; he was not of the Pagans." (Quran 3:95)
We cannot discuss Eid al-Ad'ha without remembering Ibrahim, who represents in the Quran an ideal submission. He never hesitated to respond to the call and command of his Rabb (the Creator, the Sustainer and the Evolver). He never considered anything too precious to be withheld when it came to fulfilling the wish of his Rabb. Everything he did was commanded by God, and was fulfilled by him conscientiously with honor and nobility. We are all too familiar with the story of his unwavering faith and conviction, and his supreme sacrifice as embodied in the event when he was ready to sacrifice his dear and only son to fulfill the wish of his Rabb. "Behold! his Rabb (Lord) said to him: "Bow (submit your will to Me): He said: "I bow (submit my will) to the Lord and Cherisher of the Universe." (Quran 2:131) We know, of course, God didn't really want him to slaughter his son, he just wanted to see if Ibrahim was ready to submit entirely and unconditionally. No loving God would have exacted such a sacrifice of one's own child in reality.
Another member of this ideal family was the first son of Ibrahim, Ismail. The Quran presents him as like father like son. "... (Abraham) he said: 'O my son! I see in vision that I offer you in sacrifice: Now see what is your view!' (The son) said: 'O my father! Do as you are commanded: You will find me, if God so wills, one practicing patience and constancy!" (Quran 19:102)
In his submission to the will of his Rabb, Ismail was no less ideal. He submitted to the will of God whole-heartedly and with a heart full of peace and tranquility. Once again, there are very few among us who are not already familiar with the role and position of Ismail in the heritage of Tawheed and the eternal truth.
Going beyond the customary commemoration of the stories of Ibrahim and Ismail, I want to focus here on the not-so-mentioned legacy of a great woman, Mother Hajar (Radhiallahu 'anha, May Allah be pleased with her) the wife of Ibrahim and the mother of Ismail . Indeed, she is an integral and as important part of the legacy of Tawheed and the Milla (community) of Ibrahim. Her submission to the will of her Rabb and her sacrifice were as ideal as that of Ibrahim and Ismail. God has ennobled her in the Quran by making Safaa and Marwah integral to the performance of Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam. These are the two hills between which she ran back and forth in search of water for her beloved infant son, while she was all alone according to the plan of God Himself. "Behold! Safaa and Marwah are among the symbols of God. So if those who visit the House in the Season or at other times, should compass them round, it is no sin in them. And if any one obeys his own impulse to Good, be sure that God is He Who recognizes and knows." (Quran 2:158)
If the readers have not read already, I invite them to read the Hadith containing details of her story in Sahih al-Bukhari (Vol. 4, #583, Book of Ambiya or Prophets).
Mother Hajar was not just a wife of Ibrahim, but she was deeply loved by him. But, once again, to fulfill the wish of God, he brought Mother Hajar and their beloved infant son, Ismail, to this abandoned, desolate, barren valley of Makkah. There was no such inhabited place called Makkah at that time.
As Ibrahim brought Mother Hajar and Ismail to that barren, rugged valley, she asks (as in the Hadith): 'O Ibrahim! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is neither any person nor anything else (to survive)?' She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her. Then she asked him, 'Has God instructed you to do so?' He replied, 'Yes.'...
That was enough for Mother Hajar. Now she knew that it was according to the Divine Will. With the same nobility and dignity of faith as it ran in that family, "She said, 'Then God will not neglect us.' (In another version): 'I am pleased to be (left) with God.'
Then Ibrahim left and she was alone with her infant. Makkah was not an inhabited place yet. Food and water that Ibrahim provided them with were consumed by the mother and baby. Desperately, she started searching for water running back and forth through the valley between the hills of Safaa and Marwah. Surly Allah would not abandon the family of Ibrahim and so, she was visited by the arch-angel Jibril . This is an significant point to ponder: What kind of person is visited individually by Jibril?
Water, in the form of an ever flowing spring, the Zamzam, was made available to them by direct intervention of God. Right during that time, the tribe of Jurhum, passing by the valley saw birds flying. Realizing that water must be available, they searched and discovered Mother Hajar and Ismail. They sought permission to settle there. Thus, the desolate valley of Makkah became an inhabited area. Ibrahim returned there much later and laid the foundation of Ka'ba. Makkah ultimately was to emerge as a city and as the perennial heartland of Tawheed, the belief in oneness of God.
Subhanallah, God is glorified. He took such a significant and noble service from a woman. But consider another aspect. What kind of situation Mother Hajar was placed into? In that desolate, uninhabited valley, what might have been going on in her mind?
While unconditionally committed to her Lord, she was constantly searching, moving and struggling not thinking about herself any longer, but to find some water and save her child. What could she think about herself? Dr. Ali Shariati, in his well known book Hajj, attempts to provide a glimpse. Once she was slave only to be given away by her Master, a king representing the owning class; now a victim and a stranger, exiled and abandoned by her family all alone with her child in her arms! She hardly ever had a dignified identity. Had she not been the mother of Ismail, who would have given her any recognition and worth? There, in that barren place, her identity did not matter any further. Yet, she reposed her complete trust in her true Lord (Rabb) and was determined to pursue whatever she could in the Way of God.
Now ask yourself. If any human being needs to be identified, whom would you consider the foremost as far as founding of Makkah as a city?* Is there any other civilization, or even a city of this stature, that has been brought about by such primary contribution and sacrifice of a woman? How ironical, unfortunate, insulting and utterly unacceptable that the city that came into existence through the sacrifice and struggle of a lone woman now does not allow a woman to drive a car by herself. Nor does it allow a woman to travel to hajj by herself, even though the Prophet Muhammad himself had the vision that woman would travel someday alone to perform hajj and indeed, the vision did materialize. (Musnad of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Vol. 4, #19397, 19400; Also Sahih al-Bukhari: Vol. 4, #793)
It is so unfortunate that so little about her is talked about even on such pertinent occasion of which she is an integral part. I don't recall myself listening to any Khutbah that highlighted her faith, sacrifice, and contribution that were second to none; yes, second to none. Indeed, I have read Sahih al-Bukhari before too, until the work of a Muslim intellectual of our time, whose mind is keen about women's contribution in the heritage of Tawheed, drew my attention to this.*
What men and women can learn from a woman, whose service and contribution ennobled the Hills of Safaa and Marwah to the status of "among the Sign of God," which must be visited, and whose quest for saving the object of her love must be reenacted?
From far away as the pilgrims perform this reenactment, we also want to be like Ismail and have a share of this noble woman's affection. But there is a greater symbolic implication!
This community of believers follow the Way of Prophet Muhammad, a way that primarily was designed after the Way of Ibrahim and his family. The role that was played primarily by the family of Ibrahim, was broadly assumed by the Prophet Muhammad , but now involving not just his family, but the larger community of believers. This community (Ummah) is created for mankind! (Quran 3:110)
As it was true then, it is also true now, the humanity is in pursuit of doom and destruction. Should we not, think of the humanity as Ismail destined for death, to save which love, affection, and restless passion of Mother Hajar are needed again and again? Did not the Prophet Muhammad carry on that mission of mercy and affection, and thus he was the Rahmatullil Alamin (mercy for the universe), according to the Quran? Did not his loyal companions fulfill the same mission? Then, does not this community (Ummah) need to be conscious of the trust God has given to them, for which the community will be accountable? What could be a better occasion for us to remind ourselves of that trust and invite ourselves to reflect on this and respond accordingly?
In conclusion, what is there, then, to celebrate?
"Our Lord! Grant us what you did promise to us through your Prophets, and save us from the shame on the Day of Judgment: for you never break Your promise." And their Rabb (Lord) has accepted of them, and answered them: "Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female: you are members, one of another; those who have left their homes, or been driven out therefrom, or suffered harm in My Cause, or fought or been slain; Verily, I will blot out from them their iniquities, and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing beneath; A reward from the Presence of God, and from His Presence is the best of rewards. (Quran 3:194-195)
For all the toil and struggle, the hardship and sacrifice, the efforts and pursuits, is it not truly deserving of celebration that our works will not be in vain, will not suffer any loss? This is a guarantee from none other than God.
For me, that is more than good enough. With all the worldly promises, guarantees, and warranties that give us a sense of security, one tends to forget that there is also a vast world of deceptions. If we cannot have peace of mind with the promise from God, we have nowhere to turn to. Thus, what could be more worthy of our celebration than the invitation of God to an eternal life of peace, happiness, and prosperity, an invitation that comes with the unfailing promise of God. This, of course, requires that we commit ourselves to the positive and constructive pursuit of bringing peace, happiness and prosperity to the humanity.
* I became enlightened about this particular aspect from an important work of Dr. Kaukab Siddique. I can't speak for his positions on many other matters, but his contribution to issues related to Islam and women is quite relevant, enlightening and valuable.
Abridged from a Khutbah delivered on Eid al-Ad'ha in Iowa City, Iowa. The author is a professor of economics and finance at Upper Iowa University; Homepage: http://www.globalwebpost.com/farooqm; The author requests volunteers if anyone is interested in translating this piece in their native language. email: [email protected]
Topics: Hajj, Hajra (Hagar), Mothers, Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), Prophet Ismail (Ishmail) Values: Peace
It is wonderful for a man to acknowledge that a woman founded the
City of Makkah. The rites of Umra require the running between the
two mountains of Safa and Marwa and perhaps with every muslim who
performs Umra Allah, will reward her.
I just hope men will not abandon their wives, quoting this incident.
Of course with the help of prophet Abraham( pbh), but he had other wives and he had to travel a lot to be with them. But the big strugle to establish in actual Meca was Hajar's and of her son Ismail (pbh).
As an anthropologist I find this article and the analysis very interesting and enlightening.Most of our Ustadz who give khubah on Eid Al-adha tend to forget Prophet Ibrahim's wife and Prophet Ismail's mother for her great sacrifice in bringing up an important son in the most difficult region of the world. Your khutbah have recognized this important contribution of a Muslim woman and the mother of one of our most important prophets. A important contribution contribution to Muslim gender relations indeed!
The millions of hajis , when they run between the two green lights,peform the sunnah of mother hajira(RA).
In islam, we not only respect all the prophets and follow the sunnah of some. We also follow the sunnah of the wife of our patriarch. Let thedetractors of Islam know how much impotrance Islam hhas given women!to
Jazakallah dear brother for highlighting this. Alhamdulillah, I had the opportunity to perform hajj recently and I must say, the saie was indeed a very humbling experience for me. I tried to visualise Hajjar rushing between the two hills which are 420 meters apart - not once but seven times! I cannot imagine how she felt then - alone with a helpless infant, under the scorching sun,left by her beloved husband! There I was then, performing saie accompanied by my husband & thousands of other hujjaj, within the air-conditioned spacious building. I prayed very hard then, O Allah I pray to You- that You provide all the women who are performing the saie now with me, the faith, determination and steadfastness of Hajjar. And give us all the inspiration to raise our children to be like Ismail! Ameen
Thank you Dr. Farooq (and by extension, apparently, Dr. Siddique) for exponentiaally increasing knowledge of our Mothers and spiritual ancestresses who were blessed by Allah (swt).
nonetheless i really agree with the thought that may be our ummah is not so careful about their religion and are heading towards doom ..may Allah(swt) save us from his anger n wrath.Aameen.
May Allah reward you for your good work. Ammeen!
(swt) May Allah help us to understand the signficance of these events. Ameen.
London, United Kingdom
Author: keep up the good work... I found that IslamiCity.com is the most informative for me. I am learing about Islam I am really satisfied with this article and truly are for it...
Thank you so very much,
Geraldine Duncan USA
Comments: What author wants to convey in this paragraph? So called freedom of women as of western society? In other words he is commenting the prohibition of women to travel to hajj alone and not to drive a car by herself etc. by the Almighty Allah.
Your article was forwarded to me by a friend, and I just wanted to thank you so much for taking the time to write it. I always felt so hurt for Hagar (as our scripture spells it), and the story of her abandonment. Your article brought her to life for me as an obedient and trusting servant of God in her own right, willing as Abraham was to sacrifice her child, if that was God's will, and saved from that terrible heartbreak, as Abraham was, by the angel. Your words brought such clarity and light to the story! Thank you!
The article was informative, but picks up on a subject - Women doing hajj alone in a rather comparative approach, The hadith provided by the author(in the link) as reference does not conclusively prove/denounce this. But, in any case Iam sure the author considered why women are asked to perform hajj with a group of women or with a male. This aspect of hajj alone will not/can not take away the legacy of a great woman. Every muslim, male or female, young or old performs the Sa'e betweem safa and marwah to symolize this. Let us not equate the legacy of a woman deeply respected, to the interpretation/implementation of hadiths. If the reasons/ground realities of the ability for women to perform hajj alone change, I am sure the people managing it every year will take cognizance and change their views.
When we drink zam zam we pray to Allah for everybody.
But unfortunately we all forget to pray for Mother Hajar.
For HAJJ are the months well known. If any one undertakes that duty therein, Let there be no obscenity, nor wickedness, nor wrangling in the HAJJ. And whatever good ye do, (be sure) Allah knoweth it. And take a provision (With you) for the journey, but the best of provisions is right conduct. So fear Me, o ye that are wise. (Qur'an 2:197)
I do agree with your thoughts on Hajar (ra). Both men and female are created to worship Allah alone. Therefore it is not surprising that Allah has chosen pious female servants to serve him.
We have a lot to learn from the contribution of women in Islam and to truly learn from the wisdom in these stories will need us to shed many layers of ego and arrogance. Otherwise no amount of learning will change the way women are perceive in some Muslim society. It is so sad that some Muslim society look at women as not capable of anything but housework and raising children. No doubt these resposibilities are primary but women need to be empowered to contribute more to the society and realized their potential as the other half of humanity.
Am kindily requesting you to send me more information about Hajji relating on women as of now am preparing to take my mother on the next Hajji but i dont know what prosdure to follow as i was told that it's not allowed to take a lady alone unless ancompannied by a male relative but am not in position to pay for two people.Could you please send me more information regarding on that.
I will be very greatfull to hear from you.
(1). 'Asiya, Wife of pharoah,
(2). Maryam, Mother of Jesus (as),
(3). Khadijah, Wife of the Messenger of Allah (saw)&,
(4). Fatima, Daughter of the Messenger of Allah (saw).
How excellent of the Prophet (saw) to give inspiration to the women of the ummah, and yet there are thousands of more exemplary women that, unfortunately, do not get much recognition in our times, but have so in the past...Hadhrat Hajjar is one of them.
wish you best of luck.
GOD BLESS ALL OF US.
I have been dismayed to hear some Christian/Jews say that Prophet Ibrahim had a fling with Haggar and therefore Ismail is his illigitimate child, thus Arabs are decendants of his illigitimate child and therefore the Covenant - as mentioned in the Bible - does not apply to them. This is their proof to say that Issac p.b.u.h is the only such hire to Prophet Ibrahim's status. Yet God does not differentiate between His prophets.
Sadly twisting such issues to suit political agenda's does not do service to this greatest Prophet, nor to his decendants p.b.upon them all. Plus by portraying him as a man who gives so easily to his carnal passion, both such Christians and Jews, do disservice to their own respective faiths, by attributing such to the founder of their own religions.
As a Muslim, I say, Heaven forbid. This exhalted man would never attempt to do such a vile thing, as he was truly guided by HIS Creator and whatever God ordered him, he sincerely obeyed. At least; as Muslims, Christians and Jews; we all agree on that. Thus it ill-behoves anyone to think otherwise.
Peace be upon all.
Question: When will the Whole of Amerikkka
Protect the Sole of Amerikkka ?
This article is an eye opener to show us how important it is to give a fair analyzes to the context and to each character involved in a historic or religious situation. I hope we have more women scholars who can write from their perspective about women in Islam. Some stories indicated that youth and children stood courageously by the Prophet (pbuh). They too should not be ignored.
This article reminds us of the fact that life started from an empty desert. If one puts himself or herself in Hagar's place one could straight away relate to the pain and the desperation that she felt. Also when she realised that she was left with God straight away she felt secure. In saying that we human beings panic as part of our human nature.
Women are the pillars of a nation. If their contribution is lacking the society falls apart. Women are needed to take part in nation building both mentally physically and emotionally. Where my roots are in Africa women work side by side with men and their contribution is excellent just like men however, they are discriminated still. This shows when men and women work together it is like saying two pairs of hands are better than one.
Islam has given more rights to women but society suppresses them, it is not only common to muslim women but to many nations. If you look around the world so many women are still oppressed and their rights taken away from them.
Hopefully more women will get educated and share their history and heritage with the world community.Through art, poetry and so on we can share our heritage in a unique way. Women were sailors during the days of our prophet peace be upon him and little do we know of that history. At the end of the day it is having skills that matter not if you are man or wom
I guess such distinctions will help the spread of the global message of Islam.