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The Status Of Women In Islam: The History Of Safa & Marwah


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The status of women cannot be questionable as Islam has given rights and privileges to women which they never had in other religions. But still nowadays the most common attack on Islamic morals and values is to question the status of women in Islam. The status of women in Islam is unique and does not have any similarity with previous systems or religions. Let us discuss the status of women in Islam with regard to the history of Safa and Marwa. Safa and Marwa are two hills close to Kaaba in Makkah. Muslims who perform the Hajj must run between Safa and Marwa. This is in memory of a mother’s sacrifice for her son.


The great woman was Hajira (May Allah be pleased with her). She was the wife of Prophet Ibrahim (A.S). Haajar/ Hajira was the daughter of king of Egypt and Her son was Prophet Ismael (A.S). Hajira’s sacrifice took place when she was left alone with her baby in the valley of Makkah all for the sake of Allah.


Ibn Abbaas (R.A) narrated the story of Haajar/Hajira, the wife of Ibraheem and the mother of his son Ismaeel. He said:


Ibraheem brought Hajira and her son Ismaeel while she was suckling him, to a place near the Kabah under a tree on the spot of Zamzam, at the highest place in the mosque. During those days there was nobody in Makkah, nor was there any water. So he made them sit over there and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates, and a small water-skin containing some water, and set out homeward. Hajira followed him saying: “O Ibraheem! Where are you going leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything?” She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her. Then she asked him: “Has Allah ordered you to do this?” He said, “Yes.” She said, “Then He will not neglect us” and returned while Ibrahim went on his way. When he reached al-Thaniyyah, where they could not see him, he faced the Ka’bah, and raising both hands, prayed to Allah in the following words:


“O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in an uncultivable valley by Your Sacred House (the Kaabah at Makkah) in order, O our Lord, that they may perform As‑Salaah (Iqaamat‑as‑Salaah). So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits so that they may give thanks”[ Ibraaheem 14:37]


Ismaeel’s mother went on suckling Ismael and drinking from the water (she had). When the water in the water-skin had all been used up, she became thirsty and her child also became thirsty. She started looking at her child tossing in agony. She left him, for she could not endure looking at him, and found that the mountain of al-Safa was the nearest mountain to her on that land. She stood on it and started looking at the valley keenly so that she might see somebody, but she could not see anybody. Then she descended from al-Safa and when she reached the valley, she tucked up her robe and ran in the valley like a person in distress and trouble, till she crossed the valley and reached al-Marwa where she stood and started looking, expecting to see somebody, but she could not see anybody. She repeated that (running between al-Safa and al-Marwa) seven times.


Ibn Abbaas said: the Prophet (P.B.U.H) said: “This is the source of the tradition of the walking between them (i.e. Safa and Marwa). When she reached Marwa (for the last time) she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice again and said, “O (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?” And she saw an angel at the place of Zamzam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing), till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin with water with her hands, and the water started flowing out after she had scooped some of it.”


Ibn Abbaas said: The Prophet (P.B.U.H) added: “May Allah bestow Mercy on Ismael’s mother! Had she left the Zamzam alone (flowing without trying to control it) (or had she not scooped from that water) (to fill her water-skin), Zamzam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth.” The Prophet (P.B.U.H) further added, “Then she drank (water) and suckled her child. The angel said to her: ‘Don’t be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people’


This act of running between Safa and Marwa by a woman was so much loved by Allah that Allah has made running between Safa and Marwa compulsory for every man and Woman who performs Hajj. Allah mentioned in Quran:


“Behold! Safa and Marwa are among the Symbols of Allah” [surah Baqara:158]


Today we drink from Zamzam and it is ever flowing water. When you go for Hajj, remember the struggle of this great woman. What a great example of Status of women in Islam!!

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