The Emblem of Courage

…Ibrahim brought Hajar to a high hill called Al-Marwa, made her and her baby sit under a tree, placed a bag of dates and some water near her, and set out homeward. Hajar ran after him and said, “Are you going to leave us in this desert where there is no one to keep us company?” She repeated this many times but he would not look back at her. She asked, “Has Allah ordered you to do so?” He answered yes. “Then He will not neglect us,” she said.

Later…. some Arabs traveling through Makkah saw birds flying around Al Marwa. “They must be flying around water,” they said. When they arrived at the water, they found Hajar (alaihi salam) and asked her, “Would you allow us to stay with you, and use the water from your well?” She agreed and was pleased by their company.

This often overlooked narration about Hajar (alaihi salam) hides in the background of the anecdote about Zamzam, but to me it speaks volume about the character and strength of this outstanding woman and is part of our glorious history. To me, she is an icon of inspiration, courage and dignity. If I try and picture myself in a similar scenario to Hajar, I find it hard to perceive such a positive response to the situation she found herself in.

Imagine, you are being left all alone with an infant in a desert with no traces of life around. It implies a life leading towards a painful and brutal end. Imagine the kind of fear a lonely women would experience, first of being alone in unchartered territory, then for the wellbeing of her child and herself. Although we can’t listen to her tone, being humans we can relate to the sudden surge of fear that is apparent in her words when she realises that her beloved and kindhearted husband was going to leave her alone in that barren land. But as soon as she comes to know that it was commanded by Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala), she puts her complete and true tawakkal (reliance) in her Rabb and accepts His command with utmost grace.

We often face predicaments in life and striving for patience, utter the words ‘qadr Allah’ (as Allah destined) sometimes meaning them and at times not. Mind you, Hajar’s (alaihi salam) predicament was not an ordinary one. She had no tangible hope in the face of loss and fear, yet we see she stays optimistic and stifles the rush of panic by sincerely putting her trust in the One who has placed her in this situation. She retains her faith in the wisdom behind what He has decreed for her and her child and how can a Merciful Rabb forsake a slave who so lovingly submits to His pleasure? Needless to say, most of us would not handle a situation half as intense as hers with such patience and gratitude.

It is amazing to observe her resolution and courage throughout her life, be it accepting to live alone in the desert with her infant, or when allowing the tribe of Jurhum to share her water (Zamzam). It’s particularly awe inspiring how her grace and charisma compelled the tribesmen to ask her permission before using Zamzam water. Not only that, they even accepted her condition of having sole claim to the water of Zamzam. Being a group of strong and able men they could easily have taken over the water forcefully. After all she was only a woman with an infant by her side which made her even more vulnerable to any predator, but it was Ibrahim’s (alaihi salam) dua and her reliance on Allah that put the respect and care for her child and herself in the hearts of this noble clan, and they took it upon themselves to give her protection and make ease for her in raising her child without his father’s presence.

As time passed, the Jurhum clan settled with Hajar and Ismael (alaihi salam) in Makkah around the Kabah. They came to admire and love Ismael (alaihi salam) due to his virtues, and were eager for him to marry someone from their tribe when he grew up. Needless to say, the noble character of Ismael bears testimony to the character of Hajar (alaihi salam), who raised her son singlehandedly.

Single motherhood is a big trial for any woman to handle in any age, but Hajar’s case seems to be unique in the sense that she was completely uprooted from everything familiar and placed in a land completely foreign to her. In any given situation, after losing her husband, a single mother can draw support from family, friends and the state, but she still struggles with her grief and loss, and strives hard to raise an emotionally and morally stable child. If a single mother is to take a leaf from Hajar’s book she will probably find love and reliance on Allah her greatest weapon in dealing with her situation.

Like anyone else, I try to justify my weakness by reassuring myself that Hajar (alaihi salam) was a wife and a mother to a prophet and thus had divine help at her disposal. She was equipped to deal with the trials and tribulations of life, while I am at the mercy of my weak nafs. But then I realise, just like every other role model Allah has placed for us to look up to, the magnitude of Hajar’s trials was many times more than mine. It’s apparent that through these role models who were put to extreme tests, Allah has shown us a path to success in dealing with our daily challenges.

Today, not only thousands of women but men too, must literally follow her footsteps as they perform the pilgrimage rites of saee between Safa and Marwa to commemorate her struggle while seeking help for her baby. If we will only make her our true role model and follow in her example in all the trials of life, we can eventually climb our individual mountains as if taking a stroll on a hill and we will have every chance of making it to the top, inshaAllah.

Published by

Maria K. Siddiqui

Maria is an artist, counselor and art therapist in training.