Hajj, and the Neglected Legacy of a Great Woman
on an Eid al-Ad’ha Khutba
Mohammad Omar Farooq*
Islam teaches us to submit
completely and whole-heartedly. "O
you who believe! Enter into Islam completely, whole-heartedly..." [2/al-Baqarah/208]
It also calls for a
submission that is spontaneous, without any hesitation or resistance against the
will and guidance of Allah. "But no,
by your Rabb, they can have no (real) faith, until they make you judge in all
disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against your
decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction." [4/an-Nisa'a/65]
There is great - truly
great - news from Allah. "Those who
have faith and do righteous deeds, they are the best of creatures, their reward
is with Allah: Gardens of Eternity, beneath which rivers flow; they will dwell
therein forever; Allah is well pleased with them, and they with Him: All this
for such as fear their Rabb (the cherisher and sustainer)." [98/al-Bayyinah/7-8]
Today we have gathered
here on a great occasion of joy and celebration. Ironically, this joy and
celebration revolves around sacrifice. It would probably make sense to only
those who understand that the joy of giving - that touches others' lives - is
far greater and deeper than the joy of receiving.
Today is the Eid al-Ad'ha.
This great occasion is tied to an unique event, the Hajj; a unique city, Makkah;
and a unique family, the family of Ibrahim (a). Indeed, what Qur'an refers to
the Millat of Ibrahim is essentially rooted in the legacy of a model family. Say: "God speaks the Truth: follow the Millat of Ibrahim, the True
in Faith; he was not of the Pagans." [3/ale Imran/95]
We cannot discuss Eid al-Ad'ha
without remembering Ibrahim (a), who represents in the Qur'an an ideal
submission. He never hesitated to respond to the call and command of his Rabb.
He never considered anything too precious to be withheld when it comes to the
fulfilling the wish of his Rabb. Everything he was commanded by Allah, he
fulfilled with honor and nobility. We are all too familiar with the story of his
unwavering faith and conviction, and his supreme sacrifice as embodied in the
event when he was ready to sacrifice his dear and only son to fulfill the wish
of his Rabb. "Behold! his Rabb (Lord)
said to him: "Bow/submit (your will to Me): He said: "I bow/submit (my
will) to the Lord and Cherisher of the Universe." [2/al-Baqarah/131]
Another member of this
ideal family was the first son of Ibrahim (a), Ismail. The Qur'an presents him
as like father, like son. "...
(Abraham) he said: ‘O my son! I see in vision that I offer you in sacrifice:
Now see what is your view!’ (The son) said: ‘O my father! Do as you are
commanded: You will find me, if God so wills, one practising patience and
In his submission to the
will of his Rabb, Ismail was no less ideal. He submitted to the will of Allah
whole-heartedly and with a heart full of peace and tranquility. Once again,
there are very few among us who are not already familiar with the role and
position of Ismail (a) in the heritage of Tawheed and the eternal truth.
In today's khutbah,
however, I want to focus on the not-so-familiar Legacy of a great woman, Mother
Hajera (a), the wife of Ibrahim (a) and the mother of Ismail (a). Indeed, she is
an integral and as important part of the legacy of Tawheed and the Millat of
Ibrahim. Her submission to the will of her Rabb and her sacrifice were as ideal
as that of Ibrahim (a) and Ismail (a). Allah has ennobled her in the Qur'an by
making Safaa and Marwah integral to the performance of Hajj, one of the five
pillars of Islam. These are the two hills between which she ran back and forth
in search of water for her beloved infant son, while she was all alone according
to the plan of Allah s.w.t. Himself. "Behold!
Safaa and Marwah are among the symbols of Allah. So if those who visit the House
in the Season or at other times, should compass them round, it is no sin in
them. And if any one obeys his own impulse to Good, be sure that Allah is He Who
recognizes and knows." [2/al-Baqarah/158]
If you have not read
already, I invite all of you, my dear brothers and sisters, to read the hadith
containing details of her story in Sahih al-Bukhari (Vol. 4, #583, Book of
Ambiya or Prophets). It is a must reading.
Mother Hajera was not just
a wife of Ibrahim (a), but she was deeply loved by him. But, once again, to
fulfill the wish of Allah, he brought Mother Hajera and their beloved infant
son, Ismail, to this abandoned, desolate, barren valley of Makkah. There was no
such inhabited place called Makkah at that time.
As Ibrahim (a) brought
Mother Hajera and Ismail (a) to that barren, rugged valley, she asks (as in the
hadith): ‘O Ibrahim! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where
there is neither any person nor anything else (to survive)?’ She repeated that
to him many times, but he did not look back at her. Then she asked him, ‘Has
God instructed you to do so?’ He replied, ‘Yes.’...
That was enough for Mother
Hajera. Now she knew that it was according to the Divine Will. With the same
nobility and dignity of faith as it ran in that family, "She said, ‘Then
God will not neglect us.’ (In another version): ‘I am pleased to be (left)
Then Ibrahim (a) left and
she was alone with her infant. Makka was not an inhabited place yet. Food and
water that Ibrahim (a) provided them with were finished. Then, she started
searching for water running back and forth through the valley between the hills
of Safaa and Marwah. Finally, she was visited by the arch-angel Jibril (a).
[This is an important point for Muslims to ponder: What kind of persons are
visited individually by Jibril (a)?]
Then, water, in the form
of an everflowing spring, the Zamzam, was made available to them by direct
intervention of Allah. Right during that time, the tribe of Jurhum, passing by
the valley saw birds flying. Realizing that water must be available, they
searched and discovered Mother Hajera and Ismail. They sought permission to
settle there. Thus, the desolate valley of Makkah became an inhabited area.
Hadrat Ibrahim returned there much later and laid the foundaton of Ka'ba. Makkah
ultimately was to emerge as a city; no, even greater than that, the perennial
heartland of Tawhid, the belief in oneness of Allah.
Subhanallah, Allah is
glorified. He took such a significant and noble service from a woman. But
consider another aspect. What kind of situation Mother Hajera was placed into?
In that desolate, uninhabited valley, what might have been going on in her mind?
She, while whole-heartedly
submitted to her Rabb, was constantly searching, moving and struggling not
remembering herself any longer, but to find some water and save her infant. What
could she think about herself? Once she was slave only to be given away by her
Master, a King representing the owning class; now a victim and a stranger,
exiled and abandoned by her family all alone with her child in her arms! She
hardly ever had a dignified identity. Had she not been the mother of Ismail (a),
who would have recognized her for anything worth? There, in that barren place,
her identity did not matter any further. Yet, she reposed her complete trust in
her true Lord (Rabb) and was determined to pursue whatever she could in the Way
Now ask yourself. Whom
would you consider the Founder of Makkah as a city? Is there any other
civilization, or even a city of this stature, that has been brought about by
such primary contribution and sacrifice of a woman? How ironical, unfortunate,
and insulting that the city that came into existence by a lone woman now does
not allow women to drive a car by herself. Nor does it allow a woman to travel
to hajj by herself, even though the Prophet Muhammad (s) himself had the vision
that woman would travel someday alone to perform hajj and indeed, the vision did
It is so unfortunate that
so little about her is talked about even on such pertinent occasion of which she
is an integral part. I don’t recall myself listening to any Khutbah that
highlighted her faith, sacrifice, and contribution that were second to none.
Indeed, I have read Sahih al-Bukhari before too, until a Muslim intellectual of
our time, whose mind is keen about women’s contribution in the heritage of
Tawheed, drew my attention to this.
What men and women can
learn from a woman, whose service and contribution ennobled the Hills of Safaa
and Marwah to the status of "among the Sign of Allah," which must be
visited, and whose quest for saving the object of her love must be reenacted.
From far away as the
pilgrims perform this reenactment, we also want to be like Ismail and have a
share of this noble woman's affection. But there is a greater symbolic
This community of
believers follow the Way of Prophet Muhammad, a way that primarily was designed
after the Way of Ibraham and his family. The role that was played primarily by
the family of Ibrahim, was broadly assumed by the Prophet Muhammad (s), but now
involving not just his family, but the larger community of believers. This
community (Ummah) is created for mankind!
As it was true then, it is
also now, humanity is in pursuit of doom and destruction. Can we not, should we
not, think of the humanity as Ismail destined for death, to save which love,
affection, and restless passion of Mother Hajera are needed again and again? Did
not the Prophet Muhammad (s) carry on that mission of mercy and affection, and
thus he was the Rahmatulllil Alamin, according to the Qur’an? Did not his
loyal companions fulfilled the same mission? Then, does not this community
(Ummah) need to be conscious of the trust Allah has given to them, for which the
community will be accountable? What could be a better occasion for us to remind
ourselves of that trust and invite ourselves to reflect on this and respond
In conclusion, what is
there, then, to celebrate? Listen.
Lord! Grant us what you did promise to us through your Prophets, and save us
from the shame on the Day of Judgment: for you never break Your promise."
And their Rabb (Lord) has accepted of them, and answered them: "Never will
I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female: you are
members, one of another; those who have left their homes, or been driven out
therefrom, or suffered harm in My Cause, or fought or been slain; Verily, I will
blot out from them their iniquities, and admit them into Gardens with rivers
flowing beneath; A reward from the Presence of Allah, and from His Presence is
the best of rewards. [3: ale Imran: 194-195]
For all the toil and
struggle, the hardship and sacrifice, the efforts and pursuits, is it not truly
deserving of celebration that our works will not be in vain, will not suffer any
loss. This is a guarantee from none other than Allah.
For me, that is good
enough. No, more than good enough. With all the worldly promises, guarantees,
and warranties that give us a sense of security, one tends to forget that there
is also a vast world of deceptions. If we cannot have peace of mind with the
promise from Allah, we have no where to turn to. Thus, what could be more worthy
of our celebration than the invitation of Allah to an eternal life of peace,
happiness, and prosperity, an invitation that comes with the unfailing promise
[Abridged from a khutbah delivered on Eid al-Ad’ha in Iowa City, Iowa. The author is a former editor of NABIC Newsletter and a faculty at Upper Iowa University.
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org ]
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