Hazrat Hajra (as) was the wife of Hazrat Ibrahim (as) and the mother of Hazrat Ismail (as). Hazrat Ibrahim (as) was a Prophet of God who lived in Syria around 4000 years ago. We have all heard the story of the great sacrifice made by Hazrat Ibrahim (as) and Hazrat Ismail (as).
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba) reminded us in his Eid sermon on 31st July 2020 that these sacrifices were not just limited to Hazrat Ibrahim (as) and Hazrat Ismail (as), but the same spirit of sacrifice was shown by Hazrat Hajra (as).
Huzoor (aba) said that all women should look at the example of Hazrat Hajra (as) and see what they must do to inculcate this spirit within themselves.
Huzoor (aba) explained that we cannot regard these incidents as mere stories; rather these incidents are a model for us. When every man strives to inculcate the example of Hazrat Ibrahim (as), when every woman tries to inculcate the example of Hazrat Hajra (as), when every youngster tries to inculcate the example of Hazrat Ishmail (as); only then will a true change come about.
Marriage and birth of Hazrat Ismail (as)
When Hazrat Ibrahim (as) was seventy-five years old, God commanded him to migrate. He journeyed from Ur (Mesopotamia) to Harran and from there to Canaan. When He passed through Egypt, the King was very impressed by him and offered him some gifts and a royal lady by the name of Hajra. Hazrat Ibrahim (as) was eighty-five years old when he married Hazrat Hajra (as). He did not have any children from his first wife Sara at that time. He fervently prayed to God for a son. Allah heard his prayers, and at the age of eighty-six, a beautiful baby boy was born to him and Hazrat Hajra (as). Hazrat Ibrahim (as) named his son Ismail which means ‘God has heard (the prayer).
Story of sacrifice
After the birth of Hazrat Ismail (as), God desired to test his father by means of a difficult trial. Allah said: “Ibrahim! Take the child and his mother to the bleak and barren desert of Arabia and leave them there.” The child had been born after great longing and prayer. Abandoning him in such desolate place would surely mean his painful death. Hazrat Hajra (as) had been brought up in a palace surrounded by riches. To abandon her in the isolated wilderness would also mean to condemn her to death within days.
Hazrat Ibrahim (as) knew these dangers, but his devotion to God was stronger than his love for his wife and son. With minimal water and a few dates, Hazrat Ibrahim (as) left them in this land. He put his complete trust in God and prayed:
“Our Lord, I have settled some of my progeny in an uncultivable valley near thy Sacred House. Our Lord, that they may observe prayer. So make men’s heart incline towards them and provide them with fruits and that they may be thankful. Our Lord, certainly, Thou knowest what we keep secret and what we make known. And nothing whatever is hidden from Allah, whether in the earth or in the heaven.” (14:38-39)
Hazrat Hajra (as) followed with her innocent child clasped to her bosom. When this small group arrived in the desolate valley where the city of Makkah is situated today, Hazrat Ibrahim (as) stopped. He placed the small leather bag of water upon the ground and handed over the bag of dates to his wife. When Hazrat Hajra saw him leave, she ran after him and asked him: “Are you leaving us here?”. He did not answer. Then she asked him again saying: “Are you leaving us here by the command of God?”. Hazrat Ibrahim (as) was unable to speak and just pointed towards the sky. She understood this and said: “Then God will not waste us”, and returned to the baby.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba) says about this incident
“Her belief and conviction in God was resolute. And so she was able to utter these resounding words. Upon hearing her words, which surely reached the Throne of the Almighty, God responded by saying that He would surely never let them go to waste. And just as was expected, God rewarded them immensely. It was from their progeny that the Seal of Prophets the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) came. Abraham (as) became father of spirituality and it is through his example and the standard set by him that one is able to reach God. God brought the entire world to the feet of the progeny of Ishmael (as) through the Holy Prophet (sa). The sacrifices of Hajra (as) are commemorated by millions upon millions who flock to perform Umrah and Hajj.”
After the departure of her husband, Hazrat Hajra (as) began to wonder how she would survive with a little child in a place like that. There was no tree visible, nor any other form of shelter. She had no means of protecting her son from the heat of the blazing sun. She had to put Hazrat Ismail (as), on the stony ground.
When the water in the small leather bag ran out, the little child became agitated due to thirst. The mother’s heart was torn to pieces and she looked around in desperation for water. In her state of anxiety, she climbed the hill in front of her, hoping to perhaps find a spring of water, but it was useless. She came down and climbed another hill opposite the first one to look for water but here too, she met with failure. Then she thought to herself that maybe the child had passed away and ran down the hill to check on him. The child was still alive, but had grown weaker. She thought to herself: Let me climb the hill one more time- maybe I’ll find some sign of water. She climbed the hill a second time and looked far and wide, but did not find any water. Heartbroken, she came down and ran up the second hill one more time. In this way she made seven circuits of the two hills, which are named Safa and Marwah. She would come back each time to check on her precious child and then climb the hill yet again in great anxiety.
Certain incidents seem ordinary at first but they often have a magnificent impact later on. The running of Hazrat Hajra (as) for instance between the two hills became an unparalleled event in history. To this day, when Muslims gather in Makkah for the observance of Hajj, they run between the hills of Safa and Marwah in memory of this incident.
Later in history, our Holy Master (sa) climbed these historical mountains and made the first proclamation of prophethood.
When Hazrat Hajra (as) returned for the seventh time, she saw that the ground was moist at the place where the child was striking his heels. She moved forward quickly and began to scrape the earth. Her joy knew no bounds when water began coming out. As she continued dig deeper, the flow of water increased until it began flowing freely. The disappointed mother’s heart began to burst with joy! Quickly, she lifted the child and gave him a drink by taking the water in the palm of her hand. The child was thus revived and he opened his eyes. Hazrat Hajra (as) was overjoyed upon seeing this and immediately fell down into prostration before God who, with His divine power, had caused a spring to come out of the rocky land. The water was still flowing and increasing in its quantity. Seeing this, she quickly collected stones and formed a raised boundary around the spring to save the water.
The water soon reached up to the edge of the stones and a sort of reservoir basin was formed. There was always a shortage of water in Arabia. Various tribes used to wander this way and that, carrying their camps with them. They would settle down wherever they found water and when the water dried out, they would move on in search of another spring. Soon, a tribe called Jurhum passed through this area. They were surprised to see a woman and a child living alone in that desolate valley. They asked Hazrat Hajra (as): “Who are you and where have you come from?”. On hearing her story they said to her that: “If you allow us, we will settle down in the area around the spring. In this way we’ll get water and you will not have to live alone.”
Hazrat Hajra (as)was amazed at the miraculous plan of God. She told the tribe that they could settle next to the spring. In exchange for water she asked them to take care of food supplies for herself and her child. She also asked them to accept her son as their chief when he grew up.
The people of the tribe accepted both these conditions and settled there. this is how the foundation of Makkah was laid, the city where The Holy Prophet (saw) was born. It is the religious centre of all Muslims today. Millions of Muslims travel to Makka every year to perform Hajj. The spring still exists in the form of a well. It is known as Zam Zam.
At that time there was no sign of life and no means of sustenance at that place. However God had so designed that this place should become the scene of the activities of God’s last message for mankind. Hazrat Hajra (as) and Hazrat Ismail (as) were chosen as the vehicles for the implementation of this divine plan.