Life isn’t plain sailing; it has its unexpected bumps. When we are disheartened or disappointed, we seek to find comfort in the verse:  But they plan, and Allah plans. And Allah is the best of planners. (Qur’an, 8:30). Although we strive to feel at ease with the reminders that life is a test, and that we will be rewarded for our patience, in practice, it can be difficult when tested, especially when dealing with loss, heartbreak, a test of health, or wealth. We struggle to find the equilibrium between our expectations, and the reality we face.

Hajar’s (ra) legacy, even thousands of years on, is a powerful reminder that offers us hope, and inspires us to embody such patience, courage and tawakkul in our own lives.

A reliance that shaped the rituals of Hajj

Ibrahim (as) left his wife Hajar (as), and his young son in Makkah, with some water and dates. When she asked Ibrahim (as) if it was what Allah ordered, he said, ‘Yes’ and she responded, ‘Then He will not neglect us.’ As time passed, and the water and dates ran out, both mother and baby grew thirsty.  Hajar (as) went to search for water, and found that Mount Safa was closest to her. She stood on it to see if she could see anyone but she could not, so she ran to Mount Marwa. Hajar ran between Safa and Marwa seven times, searching the desert for somebody. All this time, she didn’t lose hope that Allah would send help.

In the midst of the valley, she heard a voice. She called out, ‘You have made me hear your voice, have you got something to help me?  She then saw Jibreel (as) digging the earth. She rushed forward, and pushed the earth around it to make a basin. Her unwavering faith and patience were rewarded with the pure spring of Zamzam, which continues to quench the thirst of millions today.

The solitary struggle of Hajar is divinely honoured as a ritual of the Hajj pilgrimage, practiced now for centuries. Every Dhul Hijjah, we continue to honour our mother Hajar and celebrate her strength.

Trusting His Plan

A mother’s bond with her a child is like no other. She will do her utmost to make sure her child is protected, and safe. Even within the animal kingdom, there are signs of such bonds and the mercy between mother and child is evident. Hajar’s instinct to protect her child (as) was present, yet she still sat with her baby within the barren desert, trusting her husband, knowing that he was following the orders of her Creator, whom she had full conviction in.

 “And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever places his trust in Allah, Sufficient is He for him, for Allah will surely accomplish His Purpose: For verily, Allah has appointed for all things a due proportion.” (Quran, 65:3).

When we go through a trial, we may not understand the wisdom of it until later. We may have prayed and pleaded for something, or for someone, but we weren’t aware of its harm or benefit for us. We can merely see a pixel of an image, whereas Allah is aware of the whole picture. Having tawakul, and trusting His Plan during those moments, is a test of our faith and belief in Him and His Plan for us.

‘…and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.’ (Surah Baqarah: 216)

It can be difficult to settle your heart, when you unaware of the goodness within a disappointment, however, we should remember Hajar (ra) who had full trust in Allah’s Plan to be left in the desert, under the scorching heat, with her beloved child. She was certain that her Lord would only test her with what she could bear.

Patience is a virtue

We’ve heard the saying, ‘patience is a virtue’, but we live in a world where everything is done within seconds, minutes or hours. We have grown accustomed to not having to wait long; within a few hours we can be across the world; within a day we can have anything delivered to our door.

Although, in theory, being patient is a simple ask, it can be excruciating to practice, especially when you desperately want or need something. When you are being patient, you can grow despondent, questioning whether relief will come. However, the legacy of Hajar teaches us how to embody the patience she had even when she was in dire circumstances. She was confident in the knowledge that Allah was near. 

“Only those who are steadfast in patience, only those who are blessed with great righteousness, will attain to such goodness” (Quran, 41:35)

She was patient when her husband Ibrahim (as) told her that she would have to remain in the desert with their son (as). She was patient when they ran out of food and water. She was patient when she ran between Mount Safa and Mount Marwa, searching for water to survive. Through her hardship, no matter how tough it got, she remained steadfast. Such is the beauty in the character of Hajar (ra).

Embodying Hajar in the 21st century

The traits of Hajar (ra) can be embodied even in the 21st century. Although the trials we go through may differ, the premise of her struggle and how she responded to the situation she was placed in, can be an inspiration to us all.

You can take steps to increase your patience, and tawakkul during the best ten days of Dhul Hijjah. Next time, life calls upon you to be patient, reflect upon Hajar (ra) and how she responded when she was left, with little food and water in the desert.

We should take inspiration from her story, and like her remain steadfast when we are tested. Embrace it as an opportunity to grow closer to Him, and to call out to Him in remembrance and for forgiveness.

Our thoughts at this time should also turn to the Hajars of today. With their husbands in prison, these women face social isolation and financial hardships, as they struggle desperately to provide for their children alone. With no one to rely on but Allah, they are living in our midst, unnoticed, unknown and often shunned. In the best ten days, will you help support sisters following in Hajar’s footsteps?

May Allah allow us to embody the traits of our mother Hajar, and increase our worship and connection to Him in the blessed days to come.