Hajj and Haajar (AS)
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The thought of Hajj always comes with the memories of the incredible life history of Prophet Ibrahim (AS). His life, which was filled with enormous adventures and endeavours, has left behind an abundance of lessons to learn for all generations to come after him. While performing Hajj, Allah has ordained the pilgrims to fulfil certain rituals that are in fact a re-enactment of certain events in the life of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his family, thereby eternalising the marvelous history of this great Prophet. This history has a key factor in it. That was the breathtaking scenario of a mother who was left all alone with her infant son in the middle of a desert, with limited supply of water and dates as her provision. When the meagre supply that she had finished and her infant began crying inconsolably, the distressed mother frantically began to look for water in that barren land. She paced between the two hills there, climbing on each of them and anxiously looking around for any trace of water around. This incident was so significant that the mother’s act of pacing between the hills was made one of the mandatory rites to be performed during the Hajj pilgrimage. The lady who created this history was Haajar (AS) the wife of Ibrahim (AS). The significance of this stunning incident does not lie only in the innate affection of a mother towards her offspring. If that was the only reason, history would not have engraved this episode in golden words nor would this act be ordained as a mandatory act in one of the obligatory pillars of Islam. It is indeed an incident that gave a perpetual role model for the whole of mankind thereafter.
It wouldn’t be wrong if the word ‘Haajar’ is translated to ‘Woman’. Haajar (AS) is in fact an exemplar for women of all times. Her life showcases the real nature of women. She has wiped out all stereotypical notions about women such as – women are emotionally unstable, weak minded, timid during calamities, always indecisive etc. Hajar’s life story has established the fact that women can accomplish great tasks in spite of adversities, they can shoulder mammoth responsibilities, face disasters with courage, be poised during calamities, make important timely decisions and be independent in their thoughts and actions.

Let us take a quick glance at the life story of Haajar (AS). Prophet Ibrahim (AS) was commanded by his Creator to take his wife Haajar and their new born son Ismaeel to a barren land that was uninhabited by humans. This place was devoid of even a single trace of greenery and signs of any source of water around. When the trio reached there and Ibrahim (AS) was about to travel back alone, the anxious Haajar (AS) naturally questioned her husband: “O Ibrahim! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?” She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her. Then she asked him, “Has Allah ordered you to do so?” He said, “Yes.” She said, “Then He will not neglect us.” Thereafter, the mother resided in the barren land with her infant. Later, when she realized that she would soon run out of water, she looked around and saw two hillocks. She unceasingly ran between them and climbed on them to see if she could see any trace of water or caravans passing by. Her son was stomping his feet and crying. Just then, to the astonishment of the worried mother, a spring of water gushed out from below the feet of her son. She immediately approached the place, built a small sand barricade around the water and quenched their thirst. Thus, the barren land began to blossom.

A comprehensive analysis of this incident leaves us with loads of powerful life lessons to learn. When Haajar (AS) came to know that she had to leave with her son and husband to a faraway barren land by the order of her Creator, she set out immediately. When she was told that the Almighty had commanded her to live in the uninhabited land with her infant, she conceded. This could happen only due to the unwavering faith Haajar (AS) had in her Creator! This act manifested the readiness she showed to sacrifice anything for the sake of her Lord.

It is noteworthy that even after Haajar (AS) sacrificed her homeland, husband, family and facilities, there was no end to her agonies. At that moment she was determined to sacrifice another thing. That is the ‘feeling of nothingness’. When she had nothing, she sacrificed the very feeling of misery and developed a sense of optimism. Renouncing her feeling of nothingness is the marvelous part of this biography! In such situations. usually human nature is to feel dejected and demoralized. Here the attitude of Haajar (AS) displayed the highest level of perseverance. She did not wail and lament for the misfortune that befell her and her infant son. Nor did she mourn her loneliness. The hardships did not stop her from worshiping the One and Only Creator. Further, with all her optimism she did not sit gazing at the sky waiting for the divine help to ascend. Instead, she sprang into action, strode steadily, walked relentlessly and climbed the hillocks looking around for a sign of life before things could get out of hand. If at all the spring did not gush out when she completed seven rounds between the hillocks, she would definitely not have stopped her efforts. Here, Haajar (AS) has taught us a very important lesson that divine help arrives only when one is ready to put an effort from his/her side. Maintaining one’s composure even during extremely difficult times so that a clear thought process can be attained is another unparalleled teaching derived from her example.

Verse 158 in the second chapter of the Qur’an speaks about the two hillocks that were scaled by Hajar and instructs the pilgrims to walk between them during Hajj and Umrah. “Surely, al-Safa and al-Marwah are the symbols of Allah. Hence, whoever performs Hajj to the House (of Allah) or makes ‘Umrah, will find that it is no sin for him to ambulate between the two. And whoever does a good work voluntarily should know that Allah is Appreciative, All-Knowing.”

This is the only verse in the Qur’an where this instruction has been given. However, five verses that come before this verse give extensive teachings of sacrifice and perseverance. “Believers! Seek help in patience and in Prayer; Allah is with those that are patient. And do not say of those who are killed in the way of Allah that they are dead; they are alive even though you have no knowledge of their life. We shall certainly test you by afflicting you with fear, hunger, loss of properties and lives and fruits. Give glad tidings, then, to those who remain patient; those who when any affliction smites them, they say: “Verily, we belong to Allah, and it is to Him that we are destined to return.” Upon them will be the blessings and mercy of their Lord, and it is they who are rightly guided.” (Qur’an 2: 153-157). Striding between Safa and Marwa is mentioned only after this voluminous guidance of patience and sacrifice. This is timely advice given to the Ummah particularly in the current situation it is facing globally. While the Ummah is facing innumerable crises everywhere in the form of wars, civil wars, poverty, refugee problems, meaningless alignment to the world’s superpowers etc. the above verses are a wake-up call to not only seek help through patience and prayer, but also to deeply ponder over the causes for the present condition and find a way out.

The Creator always appreciates even the smallest effort and perseverance of his creations and rewards them abundantly. Therefore, even during utterly adverse situations, if one places absolute trust on Allah and strives hard to change the condition, assistance from Allah will certainly arrive. Sometimes, the results are so overwhelming and eternal as in the case of Haajar (AS). Her unparalleled reliance on her Lord, her spirit of sacrifice and relentless efforts gave birth to a new civilization. Even to this day, the then-dry and barren land remains a prosperous and vibrant place filled with life everywhere.

Allah has honoured Haajar as a role model for the whole of humanity. The companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) followed her footsteps and exhibited the same perseverance when they faced unfavourable conditions which helped them guide the world to enlightenment. It is extremely essential for the Ummah today to pursue the ideals set out by Haajar (AS), renounce all sorts of pessimism, inaction and stagnation, and adopt an attitude of optimism, gratitude and determination. Only then can we hope that the struggles against racism, poverty and oppression will see fruitful results in the near future.

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