Animosity Between Abraham’s Wives?

05 February, 2017
Q Was there any animosity between the two wives of Prophet Abraham? If so, what were they?

Answer

Salam (Peace) Mike,

Thank you for your question. 

I was rather hesitant to answer your question because I don’t like to give hypothetical answers.

Actually, according to authenticated Islamic sources, the details of the relationship between these noble ladies is not known. 

All we know from the Quran and hadith (sayings of the prophet Muhammad – peace and blessings be upon him-PBUH) is that Prophet Abraham took a second wife; Hajar, who was a slave to his first wife Sarah. 

It was Sarah’s decision to offer her maid to her husband, Prophet Abraham, in marriage so that he could have a son, since she—at the time—thought she was sterile.

Hajar begot a child; Prophet Ismael. Then Sarah, by a miracle from Allah, was blessed also with a child; Prophet Isaac, when she was nearly ninety. 

Later, Prophet Abraham had to submit to the will of His Lord by taking his second wife, Hajar, and her child to the deserted place of Makkah in the Arab Peninsula. This was where – after a hard time – Hajar and Ismael settled.

Then, started the new lineage, who would become the “Arabs”. 

From our sources, that’s all that we know about this story. Any other story is taken from both the Old and the New Testaments. This is why I hesitate and define it as hypothesis, which I read out of curiosity, but cannot take as a fact. 

It says in Genesis that after Hajar had married Prophet Abraham – as planned by Sarah – and had Abraham’s child, she started to behave arrogantly towards Sarah. 

It is also said that Sarah complained to her husband about that and he gave her a free hand in dealing with Hajar.

So, she decided to dismiss her, with her child, to the wilderness. Then on her way, Hajar met angels, who gave her the glad tiding of a bright future for her son, as a master of that land. 

My own personal evaluation of the story, as such, is that it is unfair. It portrays an image of all its characters, which is far from the model example of a prophetic household.

It can be accepted that Sarah felt jealous, as it is the human nature, but it cannot be accepted that she, a noble woman, could have had such cruelty and vice in her heart and acted so harshly toward Hajar and her innocent child. 

Prophet Abraham would never have committed something so cruel on Sarah’s whim, unless he was inspired by divine commands because then he would know for certain it was Allah who would care for Hajar and his son and not let them die in the wilderness (and it is always Allah who cares for us all).

Also, it is not believable that Hajar have been so arrogant and ungrateful towards Sarah. 

This is all that I know of the different interpretations of this aspect of our Prophet Abraham’s life and Allah knows best.

Thank you again for your question and please keep in touch. 

Salam 

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

The Tremendous Sacrifice

The Story of the Ka’bah

A Perfect Woman

The Biblical Roots of the Palestinian Problem