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Sarah

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Sarah
Wife of prophet Ibrahim (a)
Grave of Sarah.jpg
Her grave in al-Masjid al-Ibrahimi (Cave of Patriarch)
Well-known Relatives Prophet Ibrahim (a) (husband), Ishaq (a) (son)
Places of Residence Syria, Palestine, Egypt
Burial Place Al-Masjid al-Ibrahimi (Cave of Patriarch), Hebron

Sārah was the first wife of prophet Ibrahim (a) (Abraham) and the mother of prophet Ishaq (a) (Isaac). Her name is mentioned in two suras of the Qur'an. She is one of Muhaddatha women (to whom the angels spoke). She was barren and did not bear a child after her marriage with prophet Ibrahim (a), but in her old ages, angels gave them good news of having children and she bore Ishaq (a).

In historical sources, Sarah is described as a beautiful woman. During the immigration of prophet Ibrahim (a) and Sarah to Egypt, the king of Egypt gifted to prophet Ibrahim (a) and Sarah one of his beautiful bondwomen to recompense for his ill treatments of prophet Ibrahim (a) and Sarah. After several immigrations Sarah had with prophet Ibrahim (a) to Assyria (present Syria) and Egypt, she stayed in Palestine and passed away long afterwards at the age of 127 in Hebron (al-Khalil).

According to some sources, educating dead Shi'a children in the Barzakh is upon prophet Ibrahim (a) and Sarah. The personality and events related to the life of Sarah are also mentioned in the Torah.

Lineage and Family

According to Islamic traditions, Sarah was a cousin of Ibrahim (a).[1] Sarah's mother and Ibrahim's (a) mother were daughters of prophet Lahij (a) (Arabic: لاحج); one of whom married Tarukh (Terah), Ibrahim's (a) father and the other married Batuael.[2]Sarah was a stepsister of prophet Lut (a) (Lot).[3] Kutha region in Babylonia mountains (Iraq) is mentioned as her birthplace.[4]

Sarah and her stepbrother Lot (a) believed in Ibrahim (a) after his invitation to monotheism.[5]

Marriage with Ibrahim (a)

Sarah married her cousin, Ibrahim (a) when he was 37 years old.[6] In some sources, Sarah is mentioned among the most beautiful women of her time.[7] She had many farms and cattle, which she gave to prophet Ibrahim (a).[8]

Immigration to Assyria, Egypt, and Palestine

After the invitation of prophet Ibrahim (a) to monotheism in Babylonia, few people accepted his invitation; so, Ibrahim (a) immigrated to Assyria and stayed in Haran (present Harran in Turkey). After famine stroke and illnesses spread there, Sarah and her husband, Ibrahim (a) went to Egypt.[9] Ibrahim (a) put Sarah in a box to hide her beauty from strangers. When they wanted to enter Egypt, border guards asked him to open the box, and Ibrahim (a) did not accept first, but they insisted and so, he opened the box. When they saw Sarah's beauty, they reported it to the king of Egypt.[10]

King's Treatment

After the king received the report about Sarah's beauty, Ibrahim (a) was asked about Sarah's relation with him. He (a) knew that if he (a) told the king that she was his wife, the king would kill him and take Sarah, so he (a) said that she was his sister, but he meant his sister in faith. So, the king ordered to make her up and send to him. It is mentioned in historical reports that Ibrahim (a) began praying and asked God for help after he (a) sent Sarah to the king. When the king of Egypt wanted to approach Sarah, his hand became numb and told Sarah to ask God to heal his hand and promised not to harm her. So, Sarah prayed and the king's hand was healed; but, he broke his promise and approached her and again his hand became numb and once then promised not to touch her if he was healed. The same happened three times.[11] The king learned that Sarah was not a normal woman and that he could not take pleasure from her; thus, he gave a bondwoman to Sarah called Hajar (Hagar) in addition to some other gifts.[12]

Gifting Hajar to Ibrahim (a)

Since Sarah was barren and did not want Ibrahim (a) to remain without children and progeny, gifted Hajar to his husband, so that he (a) could have children from her. Later, Hajar bore a son they named it Isma'il (a). According to historical reports, Sarah became sad because she could not bear any children for Ibrahim (a).[13]

Good News of Angels

Some years after the birth of Isma'il (a), angels brought Sarah, who was 90 years old, the good news of bearing a child called Ishaq (a). Sarah laughed upon hearing that news and said, "how would it be possible that an old, barren woman becomes pregnant?"[14] After a while, Sarah became pregnant and delivered a child they named it Isaac (a).[15]

In Qur'an

The name of Sarah is mentioned in two places in the Qur'an. In the Sura Hud, the presence of angels in the house of Ibrahim (a) and bringing the good news of having children and the reaction of Sarah are mentioned.[16][Note 1] Also in Sura al-Dhariyat, the conversation of angels with Sarah and her surprise for the good news of having Ishaq (a) is mentioned.[17][Note 2]

In Hadiths

Among hadiths which have mentioned Sarah, some of them have reported a negative face for her. These reports have described Sarah as an envious and bad-tempered woman who will be punished in the hereafter.[18] In these hadiths, her barrenness and her reaction to Hajar's childbearing and her son, Isma'il (a) is mentioned as the cause of her envy and bad-temperedness. Some researchers have considered the chains of transmission of these hadiths weak and unreliable.

Being Muhaddatha

According to the verses of the Qur'an and historical and traditional reports, angels spoke to her; thus, she is called muhaddatha. Being muhaddath is a merit specific to prophets (a), Infallible Imams (a), Lady Fatima (a), Lady Maryam (a) (Mary), Jochebed (prophet Musa' (a) mother) and Sarah.

Educating Dead Children of Shi'a

In some hadiths, guardianship and education of the children of Shi'a and believers in the Barzakh is mentioned to be upon Sarah and Ibrahim (a); so, they raise them and give them to their parents.[19]

In the Torah

In the Bible, Sarah is called a stepsister of Ibrahim (a) who later married him.[20] Since Sarah was barren, gave her bondwoman, Hajar to Ibrahim (a) so that he (a) could have children from her. According to the Bible, Hajar became boastful when she became pregnant, and belittled her lady Sarah because of being barren; thus, Sarah began treating her badly and made Hagar leave the house.[21] Another time, Sarah asked Ibrahim (a) to send Hajar and Isma'il (a) out of the house and Ibrahim (a) became upset of Sarah; but, God soothed Ibrahim (a) and asked him to do so.[22] God's promise to Sarah about giving her a child, expansion of family and existence of kings in her progeny are among God's promises to her in the Bible.[23]

In some parts of the Bible, the personality of Hajar is described better than Sarah's.

Demise and Place of Burial

Sarah passed away in Hebron at the age of 127. After Sarah passed away, Ibrahim (a) bought a place out of Hebron (al-Khalil) from its residents and buried Sarah there.[24] Later, Ibrahim (a), Ishaq (a) and Ya'qub (a) (Jacob) were buried there. Today, this place is known as al-Masjid al-Ibrahimi (Cave of Patriarch).

Notes

  1. Ḥasanī al-ʿĀmilī, al-Anbīyā, p. 115.
  2. Ḥasanī al-ʿĀmilī, al-Anbīyā, p. 115.
  3. Ḥasanī al-ʿĀmilī, al-Anbīyā, p. 115.
  4. Maḥallātī, Rayāḥīn al-sharīʿa, vol. 5, p. 116, 117.
  5. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 1, p. 182, 183.
  6. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 1, p. 182.
  7. Ibn al-Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 1, p. 101.
  8. Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 8, p. 370.
  9. Daqas, Nisāʾ fī l-Qurʾān al-karīm, p. 110, 111.
  10. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 1, p. 150.
  11. Ibn al-Athīr, al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, vol. 2, p. 22, 23.
  12. Maqdisī, al-Badʾ wa l-tārikh, vol. 1, p. 441.
  13. Maqdisī, al-Badʾ wa l-tārikh, vol. 1, p. 441, 442.
  14. Daqas, Nisāʾ fī l-Qurʾān al-karīm, p. 116-119.
  15. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 1, p. 187.
  16. Qurʾān, 11:72-73.
  17. Qurʾān, 51:28-30.
  18. Ṣadūq, al-Khiṣāl, p. 307; Ṣadūq, Maʿānī l-akhbār, p. 128; Qummī, Tafsīr al-Qummī, vol. 1, p. 60.
  19. Ṣadūq, Man lā yaḥḍuruh al-faqīh, vol. 3, p. 490.
  20. Book of Genesis, 11:26-31.
  21. Book of Genesis, 16:1-6.
  22. Book of Genesis, 21:9-15.
  23. Book of Genesis, 17:15-16.
  24. Ibn Khaldūn, Tārīkh Ibn Khaldūn, vol. 1, p. 36, 37.
  1. His wife, standing by, laughed as We gave her the good news of [the birth of] Isaac, and of Jacob, after Isaac. (72) She said, 'Oh, my! Shall I, an old woman, bear [children], and [while] this husband of mine is an old man?! That is indeed an odd thing!' (Qur'an 11:72-73)
  2. Then he felt a fear of them. They said, 'Do not be afraid!' and they gave him the good news of a wise son. (28) Then his wife came forward crying [with joy]. She beat her face, and said, 'A barren old woman!' (29) They said, 'So has your Lord said. Indeed He is the All-wise, the All-knowing.' (Qur'an 28-30)

References

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