بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
والحمدلله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على أشرف الأنبياء والمرسلين
Alhamdulilah we’re fast approaching the month of Dhul Hijjah. This is a time where the Ummah unites in observing the Pilgrimage or Hajj. Allah (swt) says in the Holy Quran:
Pilgrimage to the House is a duty owed to God by people who are able to undertake it. Those who reject this [should know that] God has no need of anyone–[Surat aal Imran (the Family of Imran) 3:97]
The performance of Hajj is the pinnacle of obedience to Allah (swt) and the rites we perform are also in remembrance and imitation of those who were obedient believers before us, who loved Allah and submitted to His Will. No more does this description fit than to the family of our Noble Prophet Ibrahim (as) and his family; his wife Hajar and his son Prophet Ismail (as). By learning and understanding their journey and their place in the history of Islam, inshaAllah we can seek to emulate their qualities that made them so beloved to Allah swt.
The Story of Hajar
“Safa and Marwa are among the rites of God, so for those who make major or minor pilgrimage to the House it is no offence to circulate between the two. Anyone who does good of his own accord will be rewarded, for God rewards good deeds, and knows everything.” [- Surat al Baqarah (the Cow) 2:158]
When the Hujaj (pilgrims) visit the mounds of Safa and Marwa and move between them, they are repeating the actions of the believing woman Hajar. Allah swt has blessed and honored her memorializing her experience eternally as a part of the compulsory acts of Hajj. But who was this woman that was bestowed such a position in our religion? What did she do to earn such a place in History?
Hajar was the second wife of the Prophet Ibrahim whom he married after his first wife Sarah was unable to have children (Allah swt later blessed Sarah in old age with a son who became Prophet Ishaq as). She was a believing woman who shared in the Prophet Ibrahim’s commitment to establish Islam in the world. Surah al Hajj says:
“Strive hard for God as is His due: He has chosen you and placed no hardship in your religion, the faith of your forefather Abraham. God has called you Muslims––both in the past and in this [message]––so that the Messenger can bear witness about you and so that you can bear witness about other people. So keep up the prayer, give the prescribed alms, and seek refuge in God: He is your protector––an excellent protector and an excellent helper” [– Surat Al Hajj 22:78]
Hajar understood that Allah swt was the best protector and the best helper. When Ibrahim as announced that Allah swt had commanded the family to go to the Arabian Desert, she accompanied her husband willingly with their young baby until Prophet Ibrahim brought them to a place. The Prophet Muhammed pbuh’s companion Ibn Abbas (ra) recounts the story of Hajar as told by Prophet Muhammed pbuh:
“Ibrahim brought the mother of Ismail and her son, Ismail, whom she was nursing and put her near the House by a tall tree above Zamzam in the upper part of the mosque. At that time no one lived in Makkah and there was no water there. He put them there and left with her a bag with some dates in it and a waterskin with some water in it. Then Ibrahim returned the way he had come. Ismail’s mother followed him and said, ‘O Ibrahim! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley in which there are no people or anything else?’ She said that to him several times but he did not turn to her. She said to him, ‘Has Allah commanded you to do this?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ She said, ‘Then He will not let us come to harm,’ and went back. Ibrahim went on until he reached a hill where they could not see him. He turned to face the House and then made a supplication with these words. He raised his hands and said:
“Our Lord, I have established some of my offspring in an uncultivated valley, close to Your Sacred House, Lord, so that they may keep up the prayer. Make people’s hearts turn to them, and provide them with produce, so that they may be thankful.” Surat Ibrahim, 14:37. [Al Bukhari]
The Prophet Ibrahim and Hajar were under no allusions about the test Allah had presented to them. The reality of the situation was bleak, they were in a desolate environment with limited provisions however they did not complain or challenge Allah swt in His plan for them.
How Hajar faced this challenge is an example and inspiration to us all, she put her trust in Allah with complete understanding of the term. When their limited rations finally ran out, she did not sit idly by waiting for Allah to provide for her with bounties from the sky, she searched and searched and searched for water and substance for herself and her baby.
The word Safa comes from the name of the smooth stones that are a part of the Abu Qubais Mountain, Marwa means a sparkling white stone describing those found on the Qaynuqa Mountain. These mountains are 420 meters apart in distance, nearly ½ kilometer however Hajar in the blazing heat of the desert not only walked between these points but hurried (Sai) in her search for water; not once or twice, four or five times but seven times in total. It was actually on the seventh trip and the fourth time she climbed upon Mount Marwa looking for passing travelers that could help her and her son that she heard a noise. In the same hadith, Ibn Abbas narration tells us how Hajar then responded:
‘”…[She called at the noise] I heard you! Do you have relief so that you will provide us with assistance?’ She then saw an angel digging up the ground with his wing where Zamzam exists today, and water then started to flow. She then started to contain the water with her hand (trying to make a pool of mud to collect the water in it), and she was also cupping her hands to fell her Siqaa’ (water jug), yet the water was flowing as fast as she was filling.”
Hajar had certain knowledge that Allah swt would provide for her, after all she heard directly from the Prophet of God that it was precisely His Will for her to be in this predicament, nonetheless she was not passive in seeking Allah’s help. She exerted every effort and all the strength she could muster to find a solution and Allah swt did not abandon her. It could have been that Hajar decided to go between Safa and Marwa only once in search of help and water. No one could blame her for lack of trying and considering her circumstances it would have been more than reasonable to assume that no one would come to her aid; her situation being so dire the best she could have hoped for was some sort of miraculous angelic intervention anyway. Perhaps. But Hajar had no idea how Allah swt was to save her, be it through the kindness of a passing traveler, an abandoned well behind the mountain, a date palm tree; any of these could have been possible. What Hajar did know for certain other than the omnipotent beneficent mercy of Allah was herself and her own capacity. For some of us, a trip once across the 420 meters between Safa and Marwa would have be the sum total of all our physical powers, finishing up as disheveled hyperventilating masses on the hot desert sands; but not Hajar. She was stronger and was able to do more and so Allah tested her and she did not fail Allah’s test. Ibn ‘Abbas narrates further:
The Prophet pbuh said, ‘May Allah bestow His Mercy upon Ismail’s mother! If she had left Zamzam – or if she had not cupped her hand – Zamzam would have been a flowing spring.’ Ibn Abbas then said, ‘So she drank and nursed her son. The angel then said to her, ‘Do not fear abandonment, for a House for Allah (the Kaa’bah) will be built in this area by this boy and his father, and most certainly, Allah does not abandon His people.’ [Al-Bukhari].
Allah provided for Hajar in a way she could have never imagined and the legacy of her experience lives with us today. The miracle that Allah gave to Hajar and her son is one that all Muslims can share in when we drink ZamZam water and perform this ritual inshaAllah. It’s a living representation to Allah’s fidelity and a comfort and support for all of us in times of strife and challenge.
By making Sai between Safa and Marwa Muslims are literally following in the footsteps of His People, the believing people, those who truly put their trust in Allah. Not just Hajar but all the Muslims who came after her not least our beloved Prophet Muhammed pbuh. He who Allah gave the title HabibAllah, the beloved of God, was tested like no other in so many different ways. We should take our example from he who bore his tests in the most beautiful way if we too want to be classed as one of Allah’s people. The Prophet pbuh said:
You should always aspire and expect what is positive and beneficial (or stated differently, we should set goals for ourselves that are at once positive and beneficial and put forth our best efforts in realizing them), and while doing so, seek the help of Allah and never feign helplessness. If, however, after having put forth your best efforts, you were to find yourself overwhelmed, then simply tell yourself, “It was God’s will (and therefore, it was never meant to be), and do not say, “I wish if I had done this or that;” for such (negative) thoughts will only open doors for the Devil (to play with your mind). [Muslim]
May Allah swt make us of the true believers who are steadfast and God conscious and forgive us for our sins. May we all be of Hujaj one day. Oh Allah accept our acts of worship and accept our Hajj. Ameen