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The Story of Hajar: Uncovering Certainty in Uncertainty

Yaqeen, or certainty (solid conviction), is the foundation upon which our faith is built. Certainty in the seen and the unseen is a requirement of our iman, our faith in Allah.

Allah says in Surah Al-Baqarah:

“This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah. Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them. And who believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muḥammad], and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith].” It is they who are ˹truly˺ guided by their Lord, and it is they who will be successful. (2:2-5)

The believers who are praised by Allah are the ones who “believe in the unseen” and they “are certain in faith,” i.e. they believe in Allah, in the angels, in the life after death without having experienced these things. We can also extend the concept of the “unseen” to the future. The future is something none of us have seen. Ye, we have faith in Allah that He plans the best life for us. Allah says that the people of yaqeen are the successful ones, the ones who place their trust in Allah. Yaqeen and tawakkul are two sides of the same coin. It is our yaqeen (certainty) in Allah’s existence and His Power that leads us to having tawakkul (reliance) on Him. If our yaqeen is lacking, so our tawakkul will be as well.

In the Islamic tradition, we have 3 levels of Certainty or 3 levels of Knowledge and Experience, and these are all derived from different places in the Qur’an.

  1. Ilmul-Yaqeen (Trusted Information and Knowledge): This is certainty based on knowledge from a trusted source, such as Allah and His Messenger (SAW).

  2. Ainul-Yaqeen (Witnessed Information and Knowledge): This is certainty based on seeing. You see with your own eyes the way something works or the consequences of this or that action. This confirms your ilmul-yaqeen (the first level).

  3. Haqqul-Yaqeen (Living Knowledge and Reality): This is certainty based on feeling and experience. You have lived through something that further confirms to you the first two levels of certainty.

As Muslims, we must all have the first level, ilmul-yaqeen. We must have belief in the information that Allah provides to us, of the seen and the unseen—it is a requirement of faith. The second and third levels may or may not be accessed in this life, but Allah may give it as a gift to people who walk the path of submission. The other two levels have to do with seeing with the eyes of the heart, seeing with our spiritual eyes. This is also known as baseerah. Strong believers are the ones who trust the knowledge when it comes to them, they act in accordance to it, and then Allah gives them deeper knowledge and certainty, and they are able to witness the miracles of Allah (SWT).

Hajar (alayhas-salam)’s story is one of the most unforgettable stories in our tradition—filled with powerful emotions, a deep level of reliance on Allah, and miracles. It is a story of strength and perseverance. But it all started with a deep level of certainty (yaqeen) in Allah.

Let’s take a look at the story of Hajar (A) in a modern context so that we can understand what lessons we can apply to our own lives. For any family, the head of the household is the source of security on a human level. This traditionally used to be the man, but in our times, it could be a single mom who is the head of household. In any case, the “security” lies in the job that they do. We, as a society, have been programmed to depend on work to make a living and put our money in a savings account as a “safety net.” Of course, there is nothing wrong with earning an income, and earning a halal income is rewardable if we make the right intentions. However, we must have yaqeen, not in the work itself or the money itself, but in Allah. Our certainty and our reliance should not be dependent upon these means, but upon the Provider of these means.

Hajar (A) was a young wife with an infant son. Her source of provision and safety, her “safety net” was her husband, Ibrahim (A). This is the situation that many of us may find ourselves in. We may be reliant upon another human being financially. But Hajar (A) knew that the Ultimate Provider, the True Safety Net, is Allah. He is the One Who feeds us, clothes us, and takes care of our every need—be it physical, psychological, emotional, or spiritual. Allah is the One upon Whom we rely on since before birth till after our death, into eternity itself. Our reliance on Him never ends, whether we realize it or not. When Hajar (A) was being left in the desert by Ibrahim (A), she questioned him, “Where are you going? Why are you doing this?” He didn’t answer. His heart was full of emotion but he could not disobey His Lord so he ignored her questions and kept walking further away. She continued to ask and he continued to ignore her pleas…until she asked a different question.

“Did Allah ask you to do this?”

He said yes.

Then she said the statement that was indicative of the light of iman and yaqeen that shone so brightly in her heart: “Then He will take care of us.”

Hajar (A) knew that Allah is The Giver. She knew that even when Allah was taking something from her, that He would be giving her something in return. Once she knew the command was from Allah, she did not complain. She did not despair. She didn’t worry about her rizq, despite being in an open desert with a baby in her hands and no water in sight. She had ilmul-yaqeen, the knowledge of Allah’s Power as Provider. And due to the depth of her yaqeen, she was able to access “seeing” provision without even seeing it. Her certainty in what she did not have (a safety net) was greater than what she did have before (a safety net in the form of Ibrahim A who was now leaving), because she knew that The Provider can provide from anywhere, from anything. She saw the Giver without even seeing the gift (yet)!

“…and whoever fears Allah - He will make for him a way out. And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah - then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.” (65:2-3)

When we lose our jobs, when we are faced with a problem, when we lose someone supportive and caring in our lives, we may think to ourselves that we are being deprived. But what we need to do is to deepen our yaqeen in the Presence of Allah in our lives. We must see the Giver even if we don’t see the gift that we are seeking, because there are other gifts still available to us in that moment. Our job is to fear Allah, to be mindful of Him, to remember Him always and know that He has our back. We must deepen our reliance not on our safety nets, but on the Ultimate Provider of care, security, provisions, and protection.

When baby Isma’il was crying out of hunger and Hajar (A) ran out of milk, she started running between the two hills of Safa and Marwa because she knew that Allah would provide. She did not give up. She did her part, while having full reliance on Allah that she and her baby would be taken care of.

Hajar (A) did not know what to expect, but she knew from Whom to expect! And Allah says in a Hadith Qudsi, “I am as My servant expects me to be…” Whatever expectations Hajar (A) may have had about Allah, He showed her His Love by fulfilling her expectations in the most miraculous ways possible!

As she ran between the mountains, Allah sent Jibril (A) to her aid. As baby Isma’il kicked the earth, Jibril (A) struck his wing and water started gushing out. She said, “zam zam!” (“stop, stop”), and gathered the water into a circular shape, which later became a well. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said that if she had not gathered the water, it would have continued to flow until the Day of Judgement.

Till this day, we benefit from Zamzam water. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Zamzam water is what you drink it for.” Many people around the world drink Zamzam water when they want to make du’a to Allah and many others drink it for shifaa’ (healing). Zamzam water is a living miracle that came as a miracle due to the deep seated yaqeen (certainty) and Tawakkul (reliance) that Hajar (A) had in Allah (SWT).

May Allah allow us to live lives that are pleasing to Him in everything that we do. May Allah prepare the soil of our hearts and plant the seeds of strong yaqeen (conviction) in Him and May He allow our yaqeen to blossom into trees of tawakkul (reliance) and may we bear those fruits with His Blessings. May Allah allow us to deeply reflect upon the example of Hajar (A) so that we may follow in her footsteps of true submission and reliance on the Provider, not the creation. Ameen.

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