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Hajar (Hagar) was an Egyptian handmaiden of Sarai, the first wife of Abraham, who served her mistress less than ten years since coming out of Egypt. Hagar was offered, by her mistress, to Abram to be as a second wife.[Gen.16:3] Sarai presented this offering to her husband because she had been barren for so long and sought a way to fulfill God's promise, especially since they were getting older.
When Hajar realized that she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Sarai sensed her slave's attitude which caused her to suffer greatly. Sarai then consulted her husband about the matter who gave her permission to do with Hagar as she saw fit. Sarah dealt with her harshly, which resulted in Hagar fleeing from Abram’s settlement.
Hagar fled into the desert on her way to Shur. En route, an angel of Yahweh appeared to Hagar at the well of a spring. He instructed her to return to Sarai her mistress, so that she may bear a child who "shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen." [Gen.16:12] Then she was told to call her son Ishmael. Afterward, Hagar referred to God as "El Roi". She then did as she was instructed by returning to Abram in order to have her child. When Abram was eighty-six years of age, Hagar gave birth to his firstborn son named Ishmael.
When Isaac was born to Sarah (Sarai), the relationship between Hagar and her mistress had come to a climax. At a celebration after Isaac was weaned, Sarah found the teenage Ishmael mocking her son. She was so upset by it that she demanded from her husband, who was now referred to as Abraham, to send Hagar and her son away. She declared that Ishmael would not share in Isaac's inheritance. Abraham was greatly distressed by his wife's words and sought the advice of God. Yahweh told Abraham not to be distressed but to do as his wife commanded because not only would Isaac carry the Abrahamic line, but a nation would come from the line of Ishmael as well.
Early the next morning, Abraham brought Hagar and Ishmael out together. He released Hagar and her son from being slaves of their household. Hagar would now be a free woman, and Ishmael a free man as a teenager. Under Mesopotamian law, their freedom absolved them from laying claim to any inheritance that Abraham and Sarah had. Abraham gave Hagar bread and water for a journey into the wilderness of Beersheba. She and her son wandered aimlessly until the bottle of water was completely consumed. In a moment of despair, she burst in tears. Her son then called to God and upon hearing him, an angel of Yahweh confirmed to Hagar that her son would become a great nation. A well of water then appeared so that it saved their lives. Hagar found her son a wife from her native home in the land of Egypt and they settled in the Desert of Paran.
Hājar is the Arabic name used to identify the wife of the Islamic prophet Ibrāhīm (Abraham) and the mother of the prophet Ismā'īl (Ishmael). Although not mentioned by name in the Qur'an, she is referenced and alluded to via the story of her husband. She is a revered woman in the Islamic faith.
According to Muslim belief, she was the Egyptian handmaiden of Abraham's first wife Sara (Sarah). She eventually settled in the Desert of Paran with her son Ishmael. Hagar is honoured as an especially important matriarch of monotheism, as it was through Ishmael that the prophet Muhammad would come.
Neither Sarah nor Hajar are mentioned by name in the Qur'an, but the story is traditionally understood to be referred to in a line from Abraham's prayer in Sura Ibrahim (14:37): "I have settled some of my family in a barren valley near your Sacred House." While Hagar is not named, the reader lives Hagar's predicament indirectly through the eyes of Abraham. She is also frequently mentioned in the books of hadiths.
According to Qisas Al-Anbiya, a collection of tales about the prophets, Hagar was the daughter of the King of Maghreb, a descendant of the prophet Salih. Her father was killed by Pharaoh Dhu l-'arsh and she was captured and taken as slave. Later, because of her royal blood, she was made mistress of the female slaves and given access to all of Pharaoh's wealth. Upon conversion to Abraham's faith, the Pharaoh gave Hagar to Sarah who gave her to Abraham. In this account, the name "Hagar" (called Hajar in Arabic) comes from Ha ajruka, Arabic for "here is your recompense".
According to another tradition, Hajar was the daughter of the Egyptian king, who gifted her to Abraham as a wife, thinking Sarah was his sister. According to Ibn Abbas, Ishmael's birth to Hagar caused strife between her and Sarah, who was still barren. Abraham brought Hagar and their son to a land called Paran-aram or (Faran in Arabic, in latter days held to be the land surrounding Mecca). The objective of this journey was to "resettle" rather than "expel" Hajar. Abraham left Hagar and Ishmael under a tree and provided them with water. Hajar, learning that God had ordered Abraham to leave her in the desert of Paran, respected his decision. Muslims believe that God ordered Abraham to leave Hagar in order to test his obedience to God's commands.
Hagar soon ran out of water, and Ishmael began to die. Hagar panicked and ran between two nearby hills, Al-Safa and Al-Marwah repeatedly in search for water. After her seventh run, Ishmael hit the ground with his heel and caused a miraculous well to spring out of the ground. This is called Zamzam Well and is located a few metres from the Kaaba in Mecca.
The incident of her running between the Al-Safa and Al-Marwah hills is remembered by Muslims when they perform their pilgrimage (Hajj) at Mecca. Part of the pilgrimage is to run seven times between the hills, in commemoration of Hagar's courage and to symbolize the celebration of motherhood in Islam as well as the leadership of women. To complete the task, some Muslims also drink from the Zamzam Well and take some of the water back home from pilgrimage in memory of Hagar.
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