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Continued....

Posted 5/5/2012 at 4:00:00 PM

In Mohammedan tradition it is said that Ishmael's visage had the light of Muhammed. There is apparently no evidence that Muhammad believed himself to be a descendant of Hagar, however it is now commonly accepted by all three religions. The lore also states that Sarai, fueled with anger and jealousy, swears to bathe her hands in Hagar's blood. In an attempt to save the slave's life, Abram pierces Hagar and runs the blood over Sarai's hand to fulfill the vow.

Thirteen years after Hagar’s conception, angels visit the house of Abram, this time to tell him that Sarai will bear a child. Abram is now almost a hundred, his wife in her ninties. Sarai is at this moment renamed Sarah by the angels, as is Abram changed to Abraham. Hagar's name remains unchanged. Sarah does indeed have a son and legitimate heir, but there is a complication: Hagar's son Ishmael is the elder, and possibly of royal blood. Hagar is also a converted Jewess, putting Sarai's position and that of her son at risk. It is also at this time that God makes his everlasting covenant with Abraham requiring him to circumcise himself and his household, and Abraham circumcises Ishmael. While Judaism and Christianity believe Sarah's son, Isaac, is the only true prophet, the Islamic tradition acknowledges both as prophets and righteous men favoured above all mankind.

   "God was with the boy and he grew up; he dwelt in the wilderness and became a bowman. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt."

Once Hagar and Ishmael had settled by the miracle source of water, within the timespan of 80 - 200 years, the Ishmaelites become a tribe of traders. It is a caravan of Ishmaelites that purchase the biblical Joseph from his devious brothers and sell him to the Egyptians. Islamic tradition claims that Hagar and her son were both buried in Mecca. Part of the required pilgrimage to this holy place includes visiting the tombs of Hagar and her Son, where she is honoured of the Mother of Monotheism.

Once Isaac was weaned, Ishmael apparently teased or mocked the child. The elderly mother was infuriated and demanded Hagar and her boy be cast out, likely not wanting her son's inheritance split with Ishmael, the son of a slave. Abraham was distressed by this, but an angel assured him that both would be fine and instructed him to obey the demands of his wife. Given only meagre provisions, Hagar and her boy are sent into the wilderness. An interesting ancient reflection in modern times is the expulsion of the Palestinians from their homeland by Isreal. The place where Abraham is believed to have left the mother and child is now the location of the Kaab of Mecca. Some Islamic traditions suggest that Hagar was not thrown out but resettled, so that God might test the obedience of both Hagar and Abraham.

Mecca is also the birthplace of Muhammad in 570 CE, elegantly closing the circle of time. It is here that Muhammad experiences his own revelations and founds Islam. It was not his intention to start a new faith, initially he was a preacher to Arabs, and those who followed him submitted to the One God, Islam meaning "Submission", and "Muslim" meaning "believer". As his following grew, Muhammad viewed both Judaism and Christianity as partners, calling them "People of the Book":

   "Do not dispute with the people of the Book save in the fairest way; except for those of them who are evildoers. And say: "We believe in what has been sent down to us and what has been sent down to you. Our God and your God are one and to Him we are submissive." Surah 29:46

In turn Muhammad was rejected and mocked by both Christians and Jews, his political influence becoming a point of great resentment. To Muhammad's dismay, his enemies joined forces and sought to destroy him. A reflection of Hagar's story, and more foreshadowing to the long standing rivalry that lasts to our modern day. It was this attempt to destroy him and all that he had build that lead Muhammad to believe the Jews had strayed from the Torah, and the Christians had strayed from the Gospels, so he called the believers to gather under the name of Islam. Perhaps fulfilling the prophecy given to the pregnant Hagar: His hand against everyone, And everyone's hand against him.

When Hagar wandered the desert in exile with her adolescent boy, presumably attempting to make her way back to Egypt, she ran out of water and Ishmael began to die of thirst. Anguished, she placed the boy under a bush and walked away, not wanting to witness him die. According to Mohammedan tradition, Hagar ran back and forth seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah, praying for the life of her son and desperate for water. The pilgrimage to Mecca is in commemoration of Hagar's suffering for her son, where they walk around the Kaab seven times. Some say it honours the power of motherhood and the leadership of women. Muslim tradition states an angel was aware of Hagar's suffering and stamped his foot allowing a spring to gush forth. This is now the holy fountain of Zamzam, near the Kaaba. The Judeo-Christian story tells that God heard Hagar weeping, an angel of God comforted her and made a well of water appear. Hagar filled her waterskin at the miraculous source of water and let her adolescent son drink. Some traditions say they remained here and Abraham visited them monthly.

And so Hagar's story draws to an end… in theory.

   "God was with the boy and he grew up; he dwelt in the wilderness and became a bowman. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt."

Once Hagar and Ishmael had settled by the miracle source of water, within the timespan of 80 - 200 years, the Ishmaelites become a tribe of traders. It is a caravan of Ishmaelites that purchase the biblical Joseph from his devious brothers and sell him to the Egyptians. Islamic tradition claims that Hagar and her son were both buried in Mecca. Part of the required pilgrimage to this holy place includes visiting the tombs of Hagar and her Son, where she is honoured of the Mother of Monotheism.

Mysteriously, Hagar is assumed to return in the bible under a new name: Keturah. This name translates to "fragrant" which according the Judaic tradition refers to her actions being as pleasant as frankincense. After Abraham's first wife Sarah dies, he remains unmarried for a time. Isaac (Sarah’s son) marries before his father does. Upon Isaac's return from the land of Be’er-la-hai-ro’i”, he brings Hagar back to his father (Gen. 24:62). After this passage we learn that Abraham takes a second wife named Katurah, who bares him six children, all of whom become the leaders of nations, fulfilling God's promise that all Abraham's seed will be blessed. It is assumed that Hagar is renamed Keturah to honour her good actions as she respects her ties to Abraham even while in exile, never bedding another man. A brief mention of Keturah in Chronicals i. 32 refers to her as the concubine of Abraham, encouraging the Midrash and the Palestinian Targumim to support the idea that both names belong to one woman. However, even though Keturah is legitimately Abraham's wife, he still leaves his inheritance, and possibly the covenant with God to his son Isaac:

   And Abraham gave everything he had to Isaac. And to the sons of Abraham’s concubines Abraham gave gifts while he was still alive and sent them away from Isaac his son eastward, to the land of the East. (Genesis 25:1-6)

To Be Continued...

-- Modified on 5/5/2012 6:01:46 PM

 

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