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 constancy!" [19/as-Saffat/102]
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) with Allah.
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
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 of Allah.
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 materialize.
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 dont 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 womens 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
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 Quran? 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 accordingly?
In conclusion, what is there, then, to celebrate? Listen.
"Our 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 of Allah.