This week the Islamic pilgrimage or Hajj was completed. For those not gathering on the dusty plains of the desert in Arabia, we have the celebration of the Feast of the Sacrifice, commemorating the exchange of a lamb for the blood of the son of Abraham. This story is coated with patriarchy, and so it is with some fascination that Hajar (biblical Hagar) configures so significantly in the Islamic telling of it.
According to the same patriarchal twist, it is Abraham’s first son that is pivotal to the story’s continuation and the salvation of a people, yet to be born. That his first son, Ishmael, was born of a slave woman—some say of African origins—is not without extreme symbolism for African-American women, mostly Christian. That she is the mother of the tribes of Arabs is also not without some extreme genealogy along with that symbolism. But that she a single female head of household, whose sojourn in the desert still, has a central ritual re-enactment in the Hajj, that I turn to here. Continue reading “Hajar: of the desert by amina wadud”