A lot of the time, we kind of hate running around places. Whether it’s running across campus from one class to another, running that mile in gym class, or running up the stairs 12 times every morning because we keep forgetting the same folder on the dresser — running can be really inconvenient in our daily lives.
But instead of grumbling to ourselves in the bathroom mirror later on as we attempt to fix fly-away hairs and hijabs, what if we decided to be thankful for all that running? After all, in the situations above, we are ideally running towards education, running towards physical health, and running towards new opportunities. If those are the reasons we’re running, we’re very lucky, Alhumdulillah.
Sometimes it’s very hard to put things into perspective and remove ourselves from our own ideas of self-importance. In the stories of the Qur’an, we are familiar with the greats — Prophet Musa (AS)’s journey to escape Pharoun, Prophet Nuh (AS)’s warnings about a massive flood, Prophet Muhammad (SAW)’s persistence of Islam and victories against the threatening naysayers — but as Muslim and non-Muslim women, it can be a little difficult for us to connect to the stories of these great men.
So yes, while our beloved Prophets and their companions did great deeds and have every right to be admired, we should also focus on the women who stood behind them and helped make them great with the permission and guidance of Allah (SWT).
One of the greatest stories told in the Qur’an encompasses the story of one woman who ran for a distinct and selfless purpose. Hajar (RA) is the reason we complete the act of Sa’yee (back and forth movement during Hajj and Umrah symbolizing Hajar ‘s search for water) and the reason why we are able to enjoy the refreshing taste of ZamZam (water from well in Mecca). While most of us are familiar with the story, we often overlook the lessons and comparisons provided in this story and in doing so, miss out on opportunities to learn. The story of Hajar is as follows:
One day, Prophet Ibrahim (AS) woke up and asked Hajar to prepare for a long journey with baby Ismail. She quickly did so, and they walked and walked past the fertile land and barren mountains until they arrived in the Arabian Desert. Prophet Ibrahim led her and the baby to a tree on a mountain named Al-Marwa. He then placed a bag of dates and some water near them and began to walk away.
Obviously alarmed, as anyone would be in this situation, Hajar ran after him and said, “O Ibrahim! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is neither any person nor anything else (to survive)?” When he didn’t reply, she repeated herself many times, but he didn’t even look back at her. Then, she asked him, “Has Allah instructed you to do so?” Finally, he replied, “Yes.” And just as simply, Hajar accepted Allah’s plans and replied “Then He will not neglect us.”
Now let’s think about this. I know that Hajar’s most famous act, the one that we replicate in a prominent ritual during Hajj and Umrah is coming up in the story and is very significant in its own right, but why don’t we ever recognize and remember the sheer faith that she had in this very instance? She is led all the way out into the desert, an unfamiliar place, there is no one around her, there is no food or water aside from that Prophet Ibrahim has given her, she is taking care of an infant, and now she is being told that without a second thought she must be left alone there with the baby because God has told someone else that she must.
Instead of becoming frustrated and demanding to be brought back to their home, she accepts the fact and puts her faith into Allah. Subhanallah! This is an amazing lesson we learn repeatedly throughout the life of Hajar, and one that we can apply to our own lives daily. When Allah is testing you, you need to believe that He isn’t going to abandon you. When you believe this, you feel less stressed, more productive, and less overwhelmed.
After Prophet Ibrahim left, Hajar began to nurse baby Ismail (AS) and drank the water until it was all gone. Soon after, she became very thirsty and unable to produce milk because of the intense heat. As baby Ismail began to cry, she realized she had no choice. She left her baby on Al-Marwa and ran to the nearest hill, As-Safaa, to look for anyone who could help.
She repeated the action of running back and forth between the two mountains seven times all the while worrying, sweating and needing someone to help her and her child. Finding no one but remarkably still keeping faith, she reached Al-Marwa the final time and the miracle of the Well of Zamzam was revealed as Angel Jibreel (AS) dug the earth until water flowed beneath Ismail.
Although it’s hard to believe that something as incredible and miraculous could happen to us today, it’s important for us to take the fundamental lessons out of this story and apply them to our own lives. Not only should we continue to put our faith upon Allah when things are rough, but we should also understand that things aren’t just given to us.
Instead of sitting in the shade of the tree and waiting for help to show up, Hajar demonstrated a remarkable intuition to motivate herself and solve her own problems. By doing so, she becomes one of the best examples of a Muslim woman that we can look up to in our society today.
Sometimes, we will come across people who don’t like us because of what the media says or because we look different. But by taking a page out of her book, we can put our faith in something real, brush ourselves off and run towards our own solutions, even if it take us seven tries.
Written by Tahira Ayub
Image from Wikimieda Commons