Then she tells the story of Abraham meeting Ishmael's wife which I will copy from a website instead of typing it all. And after she tells of this (see below) Ms. Gordon writes, "Yet, despite their doubts about her skills as a matchmaker, according to the hadith, Hagar was the founder of a city and a people. She had fought off the nomads' claims to the Zamzam and the holy site of Mecca. Thanks to her, Ishmael and all Arabs would inherit a vital legacy. Despite western preconceptions about Islam, from its beginnings Muslims have revered Ishmael's mother as a heroine, illustrating that the respect of women is inherent to the faith." (pg. 237)
From Ishmael, Son of Abraham
The Prophet (pbuh) continued: "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 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 salutations 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 such and such 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 said: '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 among them (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 sof 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 (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 (pbuh) added: "At that time they did not have grain, and if they had grain he would have also invoked Allah to bless it. 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 (pbuh) continued: "Then Abraham said to 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 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.'
Do you agree with Charlotte Gordon's conclusion that Jewish and Muslim scholars told this Abraham story re: Ishmael's wife because they didn't want a mere woman to have this much power? Or do you think Abraham told Ishmael to divorce his first wife because she gave a bad report about life? What do you think of this story of Abraham telling his son to divorce his wife? Do you think it's in line with Jesus' teachings on divorce? Any other thoughts? Feel free to share whatever comes to mind.
For more posts from this book, please see
Abraham, Sarah, Canaanites & Ancient Egypt
"Rape in the Palace" -- Abraham & Sarah in Egypt
Relating Hagar to Jesus' Birth