Lessons from the Life of Hajar (as)


Allah (swt) chose Hajar or Hajirah (her name comes as Hagar in the Bible) – wife of Ibrahim (as) and mother of Ismail (as) – to be remembered for all times to come. Her “Sunnah” is an integral part of an obligatory pillar of Islam – the Hajj. Why? Because, she was who she was: wife of Ibrahim (as) and mum of Ismail (as)?

No. She was chosen because of her faith and her complete trust in Allah (swt).

The top five lessons we can learn from this incredible lady’s example are:

  1. Tawakkul in Allah (swt) – complete trust in Allah (swt)

Tawakkul doesn’t come better than this.

Forget what trials you may have passed through (or are going through right now) and think of being abandoned by your husband, father of your baby, while you’re still breastfeeding. He leaves you with your child in the scorching heat of an uninhabited part of the desert, with you looking on while he walks away silently.

Part of Hajar probably wanted to run after him, grab onto him and beg him not to leave them there. But when he nods that this is from Allah (swt) what does she say? “If Allah has asked you to leave us here, then He will not abandon us.”

A majority of us acknowledge at an intellectual level that, yes, God is there. But do we know that we can trust Him? Do we realize that He will catch us when we fall?

Allah (swt) says: “Whoever puts his trust in Allah; He will be enough for him.” (At-Talaq 65:3)

Hajar (as) has given us the explanation of this verse.

  1. Deep faith in Allah (swt)

This kind of trust can only rise from a deep-rooted faith in Allah (swt). We need to examine our Aqeedah (faith) and ask ourselves: Who is it that we think we believe in? What is our concept of Allah (swt)? Do we believe in a ‘Creator God’ only, Who doesn’t have much to do with our day-to-day living?

Faith in Allah (swt) means believing firmly in His existence, His Lordship and Divinity, and in His names and attributes. We must not take our Aqeedah lightly, as it is the foundation of all our actions. We must believe in Allah (swt) the way He wants us to believe and the way Rasoolullah (sa) believed, without following self-created whimsical ideas. Deviation in faith is the root of such serious problems as Kufr, Shirk (attributing partners to Allah) and Nifaq (hypocrisy).

We must also remember that faith is not merely a lip service: I say ‘La ilaha Illa Allah’, and that is it? Faith not confirmed by actions is hollow – it is like a car with no fuel, which won’t get you anywhere!

  1. Trust Allah (swt) but tie your camel

Did Hajar just sit and cry and pray to Allah (swt) for miraculous sustenance? No, she didn’t. Rather, she ran back and forth with whatever energy was left in her body, still continuing to breastfeed her baby intermittently, searching for civilization with hope and belief in Allah (swt) and His mercy.

This is very important to understand because we often think that reliance on Allah (swt) means doing nothing. Sahl ibn Abdullah Al-Tustari has said: “Tawakkul upon Allah (swt) was the state of the Prophet (sa) – how he was – and taking the means was his Sunnah – was his way in life.”

Reliance upon Allah (swt) is how you have to be, and taking the means is what you have to do.

One day, Rasoolullah (sa) noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it. He asked the Bedouin: “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered: “I put my trust in Allah.” The Prophet (sa) then said: “Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah.” (At-Tirmidhi)

  1. Patience during times of trials

We see Hajar being patient not only about Allah’s (swt) decree of being left with a suckling baby in a desolate wilderness – we see her patience also towards her husband. He does not give her any explanation; he does not utter even a single word – but she is not losing her cool or going ballistic. Subhan’Allah, amazing patience!

We don’t know if Ibrahim (as) returned to Hajar to continue spousal relations with her; however, he did later return to visit their son and to complete his duty to Allah (swt) as a prophet and a messenger.

Patience is the key to Tawakkul. According to scholars, patience is a core virtue of a believer. We need to understand what it really means. A simple definition given by scholars is: to hold ourselves firm in what we are supposed to do and hold ourselves firm in staying away from what we are supposed to leave.

Patience has many aspects to it and is sometimes given different names, depending on what it relates to: for example, if related to trials, it is referred to as Sabr; if related to steadfastness in danger, it is called courage; if related to remaining resolute on proper conduct when others provoke you, it is called Hilm (forbearance); if related to acting in a good manner when you could be firm or hard with someone, it is called clemency.

We have to bear each trial with patience, and the more tests we pass, the greater patience we would need for the upcoming tests. No difficulty will last forever, and no two tests will be the same.

  5. There is Khayr (good) in every trial for a believer

Rasoolullah (sa) has said: “How amazing is the affair of the believer. There is good for him in everything, and that is for no one but the believer. If good times come his way, he expresses gratitude to Allah, and that is good for him, and if hardship comes his way, he endures it patiently, and that is better for him.” (Muslim)

Let’s reflect upon the moment when Hajar was running between the two hills.

Her heart must have been broken; she must have been crying due to the pain of seeing her son dying in front of her eyes. She was a believing and a righteous woman, and Allah (swt) was testing her; He was hiding from her something of the future. Imagine Hajar is resurrected and gets the chance to see what Muslims from all over the world are doing today at the time of Hajj.

Rasoolullah (sa), while talking of Hajar going up and down Safa and Marwa, said: “And that is why we go between Safa and Marwa.” So we are following the footsteps of Hajar.

If Hajar knew that a time will come, when people would come in millions from all corners of the world to follow her footsteps, she would have gone through this, between Safa and Marwa, with a big smile on her face. This is a gift from Allah (swt) for Hajar in this world. We cannot even imagine what He has saved for her in the Hereafter!

This is a lesson for us, too. As believers, when we go through some trials and tribulations, let’s remember that Hajar went through the same. Allah (swt) provided her with something better; something Allah (swt) was hiding from her. Let’s have patience and be successful in such trials and tribulations.

When you feel deserted and alone with no one to talk to, there is Allah (swt) and there is the story of Hajar to remember for taking you through those bleak moments. Hajar – the woman of complete faith in Allah (swt) and His mercy. Hajar – a great reminder.

Allah (swt) says: “And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose: verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion.” (At-Talaq 65:3)

Faith & the Hill

Ramla Akhter shows us how a little faith takes us a long way.

Excerpt from an e-mail to a dear old (non-Muslim) friend, who has been a great listener of my life’s stories over the years

By the way, there is an athletic ritual called Saee in Umrah (in Masjid-Al-Haraam, Makkah). The meaning of the word Saee in Arabic and Urdu is ‘effort or endeavour’. It’s a 3.15 km run between two hills, now paved with marble. One actually paces up and down an air-conditioned gallery 7 times back and forth between the two hills of Safa and Marwah. It is to commemorate Hajrah’s (as) run between the two hills in search of water and food for Ismail (as).
It’s a tough run after other Umrah rituals. While I was doing it the second time in three days, I gave up after the second round. My right foot is bent inwards due to years of back injury and strain. I almost thought of the wheel chair rides that are available. (The ritual is a must, of course. And one can’t quit in the middle and go home. Fortunately, we can rest as long as we want anywhere on the route and on the two hills.) I sat down at Safa, the first hill, and cried. You can cry without shame in that place. People don’t really notice. And they think you’re crying for the love of Allah (swt). You know, I cried because I felt very disabled. Then I realized that Hajrah (as) didn’t run here in Nike runners, or in an air-conditioned gallery.
That’s when the lesson of that ritual became clear to me: MAKE AN EFFORT. The story goes that Hajrah’s (as) effort was rewarded by the miracle of the issuance of water from between the hills – now known as the Water of Zamzam. So, after a half hour of crying and massaging my feet and back, I got up and walked. Then I remembered something I read in “7 Habits”: just after an athlete has reached the limit of pain, s/he is rewarded with a tremendous release of energy that compensates for that muscle ache. I gave it a try. I limped. It is ugly to have to limp, when you’re so young – and it’s hard, when the pain is just jolt-jolt-jolting through the body. (I guess no one can know a backache and a headache, until they have one.)
Then, I noticed a 70-year-old Pakistani man pushing his wife in a wheel chair. And I visualized these mountains, 1000s of years ago, naked, hot, and scorched. And I imagined I was running between them barefoot, looking for water. I passed up the temptation of the many sprays and coolers of Zamzam that line the corridor.
The effect that this visualization had on me was stunning. Suddenly, my pain was much, much easier. My feet were actually thankful (the entire Umrah is done barefoot.) I also felt that making an effort is something that comes with, well, effort. I realized that I have so many gifts as a person – hardly anything has been an effort for ME – though it might have awed others. It was finally time to test my character.
There are seven rounds to be made between the two hills. I had unbearable pain by the fourth round, to the extent that my mind was blacking out. But I held on to Stephen Covey’s wisdom, and my life’s wisdom, if any, and the visualization of Hajrah (as). Perhaps the blacking out helped, as I imagined a huge rock in the place of the Kabah, and the real scene disappeared. To my memory, it still seems that I ran on bare, sun-hot rocks.
My foot was slightly bent inwards, and whenever I walked fast, there was a feeling of a tight string about to break from my back to my toe. This has prevented me from extensive walking for the past few years. By the fifth round, while I was struggling to straighten my long-bent foot by placing it firmly and evenly on the ground, something happened.
My mind was really blacking out to the extent that I felt I had completely lost it. For a split second the pain was gone. And suddenly there was a click-click sound. Some long-displaced bone just fell in place. My foot was okay.
Do you remember the Forrest Gump’s moment-of-release from his leg braces? It just happened! My foot just fell in place! What I read in “7 Habits” about an actual athletic phenomenon really happened. There was suddenly a tremendous rush of energy, and whatever was blocking energy (blood and oxygen to be exact and more scientific) just let go of its ugly grip.
It was one of the deepest emotional moments of my life. It happened, and I had no one to tell it to. I walked on. Now, whenever I have an “uphill” task ahead of me, I will remember the little lesson of Saee and of having a little but helpful amount of faith.
A little faith in a better tomorrow makes the present a lot easier, for us and for our loved ones.

Masha’Allah – A wonderful experience!