Hagar: A Traveller to Allah

Hagar, who left behind a sainted child that later became the forefather of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), is the symbol of a devoted and obedient woman to God. Although her name is not directly mentioned in the Quran, in many Islamic quotes (hadiths) she is known as an example of faith in Allah that makes her a role model for every Muslim.


Ishmael (AS)’s Birth


Being barren, Sarah the prophet Abraham(AS)’s wife, told him to marry her housemaid, Hagar, as a second wife. After Hagar gave birth to a blessed child, Ishmael (AS), Allah ordered Abraham (AS) to emigrate from Egypt to Mecca with Hagar and infant Ishmael (AS).


With the guidance of Gabriel, they stopped to camp at a bleak, isolated place with a limited supply of food and water. That was the land on which the Kaaba was later built. Soon after this, Abraham (AS) received another command from Allah to leave his beloved wife and child behind in that harsh condition.


Abraham (AS) submitted to the command of Allah and patiently tolerated this separation while praying for them: “Our Lord! I have settled part of my descendants in a barren valley, by Your Sacred House, our Lord, that they may maintain the prayer. So make the hearts of a part of the people fond of them, and provide them with fruits, so that they may give thanks” (14:37).


birth, Ishmael, Hagar, sun rise


Hagar's Faith Was Paid


At that time some people would come to Mecca to pray, but no one inhabited there because of the unbearable living conditions[1]. Believing in divine predestination and knowing that God had not forgotten them, Hagar endured the hard conditions until she ran out of food and water.


Seeing her child dying of thirst, she ran to the top of Mount Safa hoping to find some water, but she found nothing. So she continued her search and ran to Mount Marwa instead, again in the hope to find some water. She continued and ran seven times between these two mounts, Safa and Marwa, with faith to divine mercy.


She had such trust in her God that she did not give up searching for water even for a moment. Then, she noticed water bubbling up from somewhere under Ishmael (AS)’s feet. Hagar’s patience and sincere efforts were paid; they survived.


Later on, the place where the water came to the surface was named Zamzam Spring. This act of Hagar became a big sign (called sa’i) for billions of Muslims through the ages, especially during Hajj, reminding them of pure struggles of a faithful woman and the subsequent Divine Favour [1]. Hagar showed a deep sincerity to God by attesting with certainty that Allah had not abandoned her and her child.


Ishmael, Abraham, Hagar, Islam, Muslim, sacrifice

Second Divine Trial For Hagar


After Zamzam water sprang out from the Earth, a tribe who lived in the vicinity of Mecca realized and came to settle there. Abraham (AS)’s prayer was responded; Hagar and her son were not alone anymore. He came to visit Hagar and Ishmael (AS) time by time. As he knew the capabilities and merits of Hagar, he entrusted the training and education of Ishmael (AS) to her mother.


Some years later when Ishmael (AS) became 13 [2], another divine test awaited him and his parents; Allah ordered Abraham (AS) to sacrifice Ishmael (AS): “When he was old enough to assist in his endeavor, he said," My son! I see in a dream that I am sacrificing you. See what you think." He said," Father! Do whatever you have been commanded. If Allah wishes, you will find me to be patient” (37:102).


The full story is mentioned in the chapter (Surah) Al-Saaffat (verses 102-111) in the Quran. Growing up with religious teachings of her mother, Ishmael (AS) obeyed Allah’s will. But it was no more than a trial for both Ishmael (AS) and Abraham (AS) in which they succeeded: “This was indeed a manifest test, Then We ransomed him with a great sacrifice, and left for him a good name in posterity” (37: 106-108). 


Rested in Peace, Close to the Kaaba


Hagar was buried beside the Holy Kaaba after her demise. Her grave is located in Hijr Ishmael; a crescent-shaped area immediately adjacent to the Kaaba. Every Muslim who performs Hajj is obliged to circumambulate around it; the place where Abraham (AS) had constructed a shelter for Ishmael (AS) and Hagar[3] before he left them in that desert. This is how Allah rewards his sincere obedient believers.



[1]. http://en.rafed.net

[2]. F. H.Tabarsi, "Majma' al-Bayan", vol. 8, p. 321.

[3]. http://www.hawzah.net