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06 April 2013

Hager: An Egyptian Princess

Hagar hay'gahr (HebrewהָגָרModern Hagar Tiberian Hāgār, meaning "uncertain";  GreekΆγαρ AgarLatinAgarArabicهاجر;‎ Hājar) is a biblical person in the Book of Genesis Chapter 16. Rabbinical commentators asserted that Hagar was Pharaoh's daughter. The midrash Genesis Rabbah states it was when Sarah was in Pharaoh's harem that he gave her his daughter Hagar as slave, saying: "It is better that my daughter should be a slave in the house of such a woman than mistress in another house". Sarah treated Hagar well, and induced women who came to visit her to visit Hagar also. She became wife of  Abram (Abraham) to bear a child. Thus came the firstborn, Ishmael, the patriarch of the Ishmaelites. The name Hagar originates from the Book of Genesis, is mentioned in Hadith, and alluded to in the Qur'an. She is revered in the Islamic faith and acknowledged in all Abrahamic faiths. 
According to Jewish Traditions:
Hagar is first mentioned in Gen. 16:1: “Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar.” The Torah does not explain how Sarah came to have an Egyptian handmaiden, nor does it specify how many years she was with her mistress before she was given to Abraham. The Rabbis connected Abraham and Sarah’s stay in Egypt during the years of famine with the Egyptian handmaiden’s joining their family. In the narrative in Gen. 12:10–20, when Abraham and Sarah went down to Egypt, Sarah was taken to the house of Pharaoh. In response, the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and all his household with mighty plagues. When, in the midrashic amplification, Pharaoh sees the miracles that were performed for Sarah in his house, he gives her his daughter Hagar as a handmaiden. He said: “It would be better for my daughter to be a handmaiden in this house [i.e., Sarah’s] than a noblewoman in another [in the palace in Egypt].” The Rabbis offer an etymological explanation of Hagar’s name: Pharaoh said to Sarah, “This is your reward [agrekh],” as he gave her his daughter as a handmaiden (Gen. Rabbah45:1). 
In another exegetical tradition, Hagar was born to Pharaoh from one of his concubines. When Pharaoh took Sarah as a wife, in her marriage contract he wrote over to her all his property: gold, silver, slaves and lands, and Hagar also was included in Sarah’s marriage contract (Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer [ed. Higger], chap. 26). 
These midrashim present Hagar as someone who was worthy to live in Abraham and Sarah’s house because her father acknowledged the existence of the Lord. Hagar, who would bear children to Abraham, was herself a princess, and was a fitting match for the father of the Israelite nation. She likewise was suited to be the mother of Ishmael, from whom twelve chieftains would issue (in accordance with the divine promise in Gen. 17:20). The tradition of Hagar being given to Sarah as a present from Pharaoh, king of Egypt, already appears in a Jewish composition from the first century BCE (Genesis Apocryphon [ed. Avigad-Yadin], p. 37), albeit without mentioning that she was the daughter of Pharaoh. 
According to another tradition, Hagar was a usufruct handmaiden (who had belonged to Sarah even before her marriage, and had come with her as part of her dowry; after Sarah wed Abraham, Hagar continued to be the property of her mistress, and not of the husband). Consequently, Abraham was obligated to provide her maintenance, and he was not permitted to sell her (Gen. Rabbah loc. cit.). This explains why, in the continuation of the narrative, Sarah determined Hagar’s fate: to whom she would be married, how much labor would be demanded of her, and when she would be sent away from the house.
In Islamic culture/ traditions, Hagar (or Hajer) was an Egyptian princess whom was kidnapped by the Hyksos when they have occupied Egypt. Her ancestors believed in Invisible, Eternal and Unseen One God who have no equal and no partner which means that she was Monotheist as her ancestors. In Islam she is a symbol of Faith, strong trust in Allah and loyalty to Him. In Pilgrimage (Hajj) we remember her, we haste seven time between the Safa & Merwa hills as she hasted, we do as she did. She is the mother of Ismael (Ishmael) and the grandmother of prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) which he praised her. Her name (Hajer) is an ancient egyptian name “Ha: Lotus flower. Jr: Land (e. i. Egypt)” literally means “Lotus of the Land”.
Prophet Ishmael (peace be upon him):
According to Islamic traditions, Prophet Ishmael (peace be upon him), the first born son of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) was left in wilderness (now known as Makka), as an infant along with his mother Hagar. Abraham invoked Almighty Allah: “0 our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley with no cultivation, by Your Sacred House (the Ka’ba at Mecca); in order, 0 our Lord, that they may offer prayers perfectly , so fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (0 Allah) provide them with fruits so that they may give thanks. 0’ our Lord! Certainly, You know what we conceal and what we reveal. Nothing on the earth or in the heaven is hidden from Allah.”(Qur’an;14:37-38). The biblical narrative is some what different, but it mentions: “And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. And Abram was eighty-six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.”(Genesis;16:15-16), “And the angel of the LORD said unto her (Hager), I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.”(Genesis;16:10-11). “And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.”(Genesis;13:18), “And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.” (Genesis;17:20), “And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”(Genesis;16:12).
The whole land of Arabia appears (Genesis;10:1-32) to have been inhabited by a variety of tribes of different lineage, Ishmaelites, Arabians, Idumeans, Horites, and Edomites; but at length becoming amalgamated, they came to be known by the general designation of Arabs. The modern nation of Arabs is predominantly Ishmaelite (decedents of Ishmael or Isma’il), their language Arabic, is the most developed and the richest of all the Semitic languages, and is of great value to the student of Hebrew. Isma’il was also a messenger of God (Qur’an;19:54). He willingly offered himself to be sacrificed in obedience to the command of Allah to his father Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), who was asked to offer the sacrifice of his ‘only son’ as mentioned at Genesis;22:2. Isaac was 13 years younger to Ishmael, hence he can not be called as  only son of Abraham. Allah accepted the gesture of Abraham and substituted ram instead (Qur’an;37:102-107). 
Who was offered for Sacrifice?
A controversy has raged between the followers of the Bible and the adherents of Islam as to which of the sons of Abraham, Ishmael or Isaac was offered as a sacrifice. It is important to note that, a peculiar sanctity was attached to the first-born both of man and of cattle among people right since the time of Adam, it was especially of great importance among the Israelites. God claimed that the first-born males of man and of animals should be consecrated to him, the one as a priest (Exodus;19:22,24), representing the family to which he belonged, and the other to be offered up in sacrifice (Geneis;4:4). The laws concerning this redemption of the first-born of man are recorded in Exodus;13:12-15; 22:29; 34:20; Numbers;3:45; 8:17; 18:16 and Leviticus;12:2,4. Even the first-fruits of the ground were offered unto God just as the first-born of man and animals. Ishmael, without any doubt was first born son of Prophet Abraham  (peace be upon him). The Bible is quite clear in designating the offering: “He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Mori'ah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."(Genesis;22:2). If at anytime, an offspring of Prophet Abraham  (peace be upon him) can be described as "thine only son: it could only be Ishmael, because for more than thirteen years, he was the only son and seed of Abraham. God Almighty acknowledges Ishmael as the "son and seed" of Abraham in no less than twelve places in the Book of Genesis alone. At no time was Isaac the only son and seed of Abraham. The false pen of the scribe was in the hand of the Hebrews who edited the Books of Moses, as the prophet Jeremiah lament: “How do ye say, We are wise, and the law (the Torah) of the Lord is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribe is in vain.”(Jeremiah;8:8). When the Hebrews are found to convert an Israelite into an Ishmaelite when no motives are involved, then how much easier for them to change the word "you only son Ishmael" to : your only son Isaac!"
Ishmael helped his father Abraham in building the Ka’ba (Qur’an;2:127). He called the people around (Arabia) to prayer and charity. Isma’il became the ancestor of Arabs. Allah says: “We blessed him (Abraham) and Isaac: but of their progeny are (some) that do right, and (some) that obviously do wrong, to their own souls.”(Qur’an;37:1130). Once the progeny of Abraham through his second son Isaac deviated from the faith of Abraham, after two and half millennium, God shifted the honor of “Leadership of Mankind” to the decedents of Ishmael by appointing Muhammad (peace be upon him) as His last messenger (610 C.E).