A Woman’s Faith, Dedication and Strength
As a new Muslim, no doubt you have been instructed that one has to believe in, respect, honor and accept all the messengers that God has sent to humanity. In the Quran God tells us about many of these role models and their stories. Unfortunately, for many converts to Islam familiar with the Biblical report of Abraham’s story, Ishmael and his mother Hagar do not get much attention. In fact, they are mentioned briefly in a negative light. Likewise followers of the Bible never give them the honor which they deserve.
Islam and its scripture the Quran, set the record straight on this and other historical matters which people have lost or ignored. The 12th month of the Islamic year is the Month of the Pilgrimage. The Pilgrimage is the 5th pillar of action in Islam along with the Feast of Sacrifice are Divinely mandated celebrations and a commemoration of the lives of Abraham, Hagar and their son Ishmael.
Some of the main highlights of Abraham’s story in Islam are: the trial of separation from family in Arabia to test dedication to God, vision of sacrificing the firstborn son Ishmael to test his love of God, then having the ransom ram out of God’s grace, building the cube structure (Kaba) in Mecca along with his son Ishmael, dedicating it as the first house of worship for the One True God, and inviting humanity to the Pilgrimage in obedience to God’s command.
Hagar was Abraham’s partner in much of the story. She cared for Ishmael in infancy in the barren valley for what would later become Mecca. She trusted that her son would build the Sacred House with his father when things looked so bleak in the early days. She gave the blessed special spring of water it’s name. She raised her son to be dedicated and obedient to God and to honor his father which would manifest in him accepting to be sacrificed.
She was an absolute trim tabber, which is the small wheel in large titanic ships that needs to turn in order for the bigger wheel to turn and for the whole ship to move. She was an essential component and the behind the scenes figure in Abraham’s story. Without her, fundamental quantum leaps and changes in the world could not have taken place. That’s how critical her role was.
Lessons to take from Hagar’s Amazing Story:
- Hagar was placed with Abraham by God as a key support system and a righteous partner. She bore Abraham his first child, Ishmael.
- Once she was blessed with a son, God tested her and Abraham shortly thereafter. Often when we want something so badly, we let it consume us not realizing that we’re so engrossed in the gift that we have forgotten the giver.
- She had total submission and amazing belief in God. When she was tested, She asked Abraham, “has God commanded you to leave us here?” He nodded his head. So immediately she was calm. This is solid, unflustered belief in God.
- Hagar was an example of fine belief. She never questioned or doubted. The person that is able to leave their matters to God in such a way, is a truly happy believer. One may ask…“Why me? Why is this happening to me? What did I do? Why do believers have to suffer while those who are less religious or religionless have everything they want? What’s the point? Where is the wisdom? Where is the mercy?” So many questions go through people’s minds when they’re facing a difficulty. But God doesn’t leave our questions unanswered.
- To be pleased with God no matter what the outcome. The person who championed this was Hagar.
- When she was being tested, she decided to take the means, without doubting God. To take the means is to do what is in your control. Yet to put your complete trust in God and not in the means.
- This woman faced her difficulty saying “God will not neglect us”; she went through physical struggle, emotional struggle, psychological, spiritual and even existential struggle… She could have doubted the words of faith she uttered at the beginning. But she remained steadfast. The relief eventually came with an angel repeating her same words “God will never neglect His people”. This is a live embodiment of the saying of Muhammad the Messenger of God who said, “God the Exalted says: ‘I am as my slave expects Me to be”
- God loved Hagar for her faith and trust in God, so He sent her help through Angel Gabriel. As a result, a spring of water was gifted to all of humanity. This is known as the well of Zamzam. She had good expectations of God. God didn’t only meet her expectations, but He gave her beyond what she imagined or prayed for.
- The place that was barren became the honorable location of the House of God where millions upon millions of people gravitate towards year after year until the end of time.
- The moments of faith, patience and hard work experienced by Hagar became a fundamental part of a faith followed by billions of people. She initiated one of the main rites of the Pilgrimage which is walking between Safa and Marwa. This rite is a fundamental part of the Pilgrimage. A pillar of Islam won’t be complete without following this woman. This is not merely in the physical sense, but also in the spiritual sense of trusting God in the hardest of moments, continuing to pursue Him and having hope in Him despite everything that we may be facing.
Our Islamic heritage is rich with a plethora of females that shook the world. Many target Islam as oppressive to women when in fact it calls to submission to God equally for both men and women. All are equal in their ability to gain favour with God and achieve high levels of spiritual rank. Many women may have influenced the world. However, true and everlasting influence is that which God praises and asks His servants to commemorate. Hagar is a figure which God himself has honoured.
This is the story of Hagar in a nutshell.