Eid ul-Adha is one of the most celebrated occasions in the Islamic realm, which is observed upon the completion of Hajj. It is an event marked with joy, gratitude, and festivity. However, amidst the excitement, some of the major details tied to the event itself go unnoticed.
The occasion of Eid ul-Adha revolves around the event of Hajj and the family of Ibrahim (AS), one of the purest families, who are deeply revered by Allah (SWT). He says so in the Quran:
Say: "God speaks the Truth: follow the milla of Ibrahim, the True in Faith; he was not of the Pagans." (Quran 3:95)
When pilgrims perform Hajj, they visit the hills of Safa and Marwa and are required to run between them; this act is, in essence, the reenactment of the struggles of a mother, Hajar (RA)- the wife of Ibrahim (AS), for her dying son. Allah (SWT) has honored her sacrifice by integrating her experience into the annual pilgrimage and ordaining it to become compulsory for all pilgrims performing Hajj. This leads us to the question: what did Hajar (RA) do to earn such a high position in the Islamic realm?
Hajar (RA) was a pious woman and supported Ibrahim’s (AS) prophetic mission to establish the rule of Allah (SWT) and spread Islam. When Allah (SWT) commanded Ibrahim (AS) to go to the Arabian Desert, which was isolated and barren, Hajar (RA) accompanied Ibrahim willingly along with her son, Ismail (AS). Thereafter, Ibrahim (AS) was ordered by Allah (SWT) to leave his family and move on to other responsibilities ordained for him. That is when Hajar’s (RA) true struggles came into play; when she was abandoned in the valley of Mecca, to fend for herself and her son.
According to the account reported in a hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas (RA), the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) described the story of Hajar (RA) as follows:
“Ibrahim brought her and her son Ismail while she was suckling him, to a place near the Ka`ba under a tree on the spot of Zamzam, at the highest place in the mosque. During those days there was nobody in Mecca, nor was there any water So he made them sit over there and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates, and a small water-skin containing some water, and set out homeward. Ishmael's mother followed him saying, "O Abraham! 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," and returned while Abraham proceeded onwards, and on reaching the Thaniya where they could not see him, he faced the Kaba’ah and raising both hands, invoked Allah saying the following prayers:
'O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House (Kaba’ah at Mecca) in order, O our Lord, that they may offer prayer perfectly. So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits, so that they may give thanks.' (Quran 14:37)” (Sahih Bukhari 3364)
This was a great test for Hajar (RA) by the Almighty; being put in desolate circumstances with scarce resources. However, Hajar (RA) did not lose hope or challenge the will of Allah (SWT), but instead, put her faith in Allah’s (SWT) power and protection. Hajar (RA), conceding to the will of Allah (SWT), returned and made do with the scarce provisions that she had. However, the water soon ran out and she was left with no more milk for the baby. She then ran out and ascended the hill of Safa to look for someone who could possibly help them. She found no living soul. She then came down from Safa, only to run up the hill of Marwa, hoping to find water there. But it was to no avail.
In the blazing heat of the desert, Hajar (RA) refused to give up. She kept running back and forth, between the hills of Safa and Marwa, clinging to the hope of finding water for her dying baby and herself- She ran to and fro seven times in total. She refused to see her child die right in front of her, so she kept going. It was on her seventh round when she was going to go back to check on Ismail (AS) that she heard a voice. According to Ibn Abbas, she responded:
'O, (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?" And behold! She saw an angel at the place of Zamzam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing), till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin with water with her hands, and the water was flowing out after she had scooped some of it.” (Sahih Bukhari 3364)
Today, that stream of water, which sprung up and fed both Hajar (RA) and Ismail (AS), is what we call the water of Zamzam.
This showcases how steadfast Hajar (RA) was in her faith. She did not doubt, even for a second, that Allah’s (SWT) help was out of reach. She conceded to His will and His trial for her and her family and bore it with resilience and determination, which was eventually rewarded by Allah (SWT). It is for this reason that during the pilgrimage, Muslims are required to run between the hills of Safa and Marwa; it is to commemorate the strength and faith of Hajar (RA). According to Ibn Abbas, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
"May Allah bestow Mercy on Ismail's mother! Had she let the Zamzam (flow without trying to control it) (or had she not scooped from that water) (to fill her water-skin), Zamzam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth." The Prophet (peace be upon him) further added, "Then she drank (water) and suckled her child. The angel said to her, 'Don't be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people.” (Sahih Bukhari 3364)
Allah (SWT) has sworn to never abandon His people, and He did not abandon Hajar (RA) that day. His aid came in the shape of a miracle for Hajar (RA), which remains alive to this day, as we enjoy its fruits through the well of Zamzam. This miracle stands to remind us that Allah (SWT) never forsakes His creation- all we have do is trust Him and His plans for us, for He loves us more than we can even comprehend. Hence, Hajar’s (RA) story is not one of desolation, but one of hope and self-determination; a story we can all learn from every single day.