Hagar in Islam

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Hājar (Arabic: هَـاجَـر‎), the Arabic name for the biblical Hagar, was the wife of the patriarch and Islamic prophet Ibrāhīm (Abraham) and the mother of Ismā'īl (Ishmael). She is a revered woman in the Islamic faith. According to Muslim belief, she was the daughter of an Egyptian king who gifted her to Ibrahim. Although not mentioned by name in the Qur'an, she is referenced and alluded to via the story of her husband. She eventually settled in the Desert of Paran, seen as the Hejaz in the Islamic view, with her son Ishmael. Hagar is honoured as an especially important matriarch of monotheism, as it was through Ishmael that Muhammad would come.

Narrative[edit]

Abraham was childless. He was a prophet of Allah and, having left his native land, he was concerned over who would continue the prophetic office after him and whether he would indeed be a father one day. He married a Pharos' daughter and her name was Hagar. Hagar subsequently bore a child, and named him Ishmael, meaning "God will hear".[citation needed]

Islamic scholar Muhammad Saed Abdul-Rahman states the following using the Arabic name Haajar for Hagar; "After Haajar gave birth to Ismaa’eel, Saarah began to feel jealous, so she asked Ibrahim to send them away from her. Allah revealed to Ibrahim that he should take Haajar and the infant Ismaa’eel and take them to Makkah. So he took them and left Haajar and her child Ismaa’eel in a bleak, isolated place in which there was no water, then he left them and went back to Canaan (Parts of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel and Palestinan territories). Haajar said to him, 'For whom are you leaving us in this forsaken valley?' But Ibrahim went and left her, and she said, 'Has Allah commanded you to do this?” He said, 'Yes.' She said, 'Then Allah will not cause us to be lost.'"[1]

Abraham submitted to the command of his Lord and patiently bore the separation from his wife and child. Then he turned towards where they were at the Sacred House and prayed for them in the following words (interpretation of the meaning): 'O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in an uncultivatable valley by Your Sacred House (the Ka‘bah ('Cube') at Makkah) in order, O our Lord, that they may perform As-Ṣalāt. So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits so that they may give thanks'[Qur'an, Ibraaheem 14:37][2]

Because of the scarcity of water in the desert, it was not long before both mother and son suffered immense thirst. Thus, Hagar ran between the Al-Safa and Al-Marwah hills in search of water for her son. After the seventh run between the two hills, an angel[3] appeared before her. He helped her and told her that God had heard Ishmael's crying and would provide them with water. At that point, God caused a spring to burst forth from the ground, where Ishmael's heel lay, and thereafter Mecca became known for its excellence and abundance of water. The well was subsequently named Zamzam, and become a holy source of water.

Legacy[edit]

Hagar is honoured by Muslims as a wise, brave and pious woman as well as the believing mother of the Adnani Arab people. The incident[4] of her running between Al-Safa and Al-Marwah hills is remembered by Muslims when they perform their Ḥajj (major pilgrimage) at Mecca. Part of the pilgrimage is to run seven times between the hills, in commemoration of Hagar's courage and faith in God as she searched for water in the desert (which is believed to have then miraculously appeared from the Zamzam Well) and to symbolize the celebration of motherhood in Islam as well as the leadership of women. To complete the task, some Muslims also drink from the Zamzam Well and take some of the water back home from pilgrimage. Many Muslims believe that Hagar and Ishmael are buried beside the Kaaba, in a semi-enclosed area which Muslims circumambulate during Hajj and Umrah.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Abdul-Rahman, Muhammad Saed (2003). Islam: Questions and Answers, Volume 1, Basic Tenets of Faith: Belief, Part 1. MSA Publication Limited. p. 305. ISBN 1-86179-080-5.
  2. ^ IslamQA website: "Ibrahim (peace be upon him)" IslamQA retrieved June 22, 2013
  3. ^ Genesis 21:17-19: "And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.
    Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.
    And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink."
  4. ^ Lings, Martin (1983). Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. Islamic Texts Society. ISBN 978-0-946621-33-0.
  5. ^ Al-Islam.org

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