The two wives of Prophet Ismael: A lesson in thankfulness and patience,By S N Smith
There is a very lengthy hadeeth in Bukhari — in fact it is over 1650 words long in English — which tells how Prophet Ibrahim, under the command of Allah, brought his wife Hajar and son Ismael to Mecca, settled them there and then left. In addition, the hadeeth talks about Prophet Ibrahim’s occasional visits to Mecca and how he and Prophet Ismael, built the Kaba. You can read the entire hadeeth here: https://sunnah.com/bukhari/60/43
In this article, I am not going to discuss the entire hadeeth, but focus on one part of it in order to highlight the importance of thankfulness and patience. Below is the most pertinent section. Pay close attention to the highlighted parts:
After Ishmael’s mother had died, Abraham came after Ishmael’s marriage in order to see his family that he had left before, but he did not find Ishmael there.
When he asked Ishmael’s wife about him, she replied, ‘He has gone in search of our livelihood.’ Then he asked her about their way of living and their condition, and she replied, ‘We are living in misery; we are living in hardship and destitution,’ complaining to him. He said, ‘When your husband returns, convey my salutation to him and tell him to change the threshold of the gate (of his house).’ When Ishmael came, he seemed to have felt something unusual, so he asked his wife, ‘Has anyone visited you?’ She replied, ‘Yes, an old man of so-and-so description came and asked me about you and I informed him, and he asked about our state of living, and I told him that we were living in a hardship and poverty.’ On that Ishmael said, ‘Did he advise you anything?’ She replied, ‘Yes, he told me to convey his salutation to you and to tell you to change the threshold of your gate.’
Ishmael said, ‘It was my father, and he has ordered me to divorce you. Go back to your family.’ So, Ishmael divorced her and married another woman from amongst them (i.e. Jurhum). Then Abraham stayed away from them for a period as long as Allah wished and called on them again but did not find Ishmael.
So he came to Ishmael’s wife and asked her about Ishmael. She said, ‘He has gone in search of our livelihood.’ Abraham asked her, ‘How are you getting on?’ asking her about their sustenance and living. She replied, ‘We are prosperous and well-off (i.e. we have everything in abundance).’ Then she thanked Allah’ Abraham said, ‘What kind of food do you eat?’ She said. ‘Meat.’ He said, ‘What do you drink?’ She said, ‘Water.” He said, “O Allah! Bless their meat and water.”
The Prophet added, “At that time they did not have grain, and if they had grain, he would have also invoked Allah to bless it.” The Prophet (ﷺ) added, “If somebody has only these two things as his sustenance, his health and disposition will be badly affected, unless he lives in Mecca.” The Prophet (ﷺ) added,” Then Abraham said Ishmael’s wife, “When your husband comes, give my regards to him and tell him that he should keep firm the threshold of his gate.’ When Ishmael came back, he asked his wife, ‘Did anyone call on you?’ She replied, ‘Yes, a good-looking old man came to me,’ so she praised him and added. ‘He asked about you, and I informed him, and he asked about our livelihood and I told him that we were in a good condition.‘
Ishmael asked her, ‘Did he give you any piece of advice?’ She said, ‘Yes, he told me to give his regards to you and ordered that you should keep firm the threshold of your gate.’ On that Ishmael said, ‘It was my father, and you are the threshold (of the gate). He has ordered me to keep you with me.’
Sadly, we always think everyone else is better off than we are, even though that is not true. Developing this thankful attitude takes work and many times we slip, especially since we live in a social environment in which everyone around us is always complaining about one thing or another.
I want to write about this in another article as a way to show how we are affected by our social environment even when we don’t realize it.
Allah reminds us in the Quran:
“And whoever is grateful, he is only grateful for the benefit of his own self” (Surah Luqman 31:12).
“For surely if it was not for the grace of Allah on you and His mercy, you would have been among the losers” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:64).
Truly, Islam is the greatest blessing that Allah could bestow on anyone, and for that alone we should be thankful.