Hagar (Arabic: هاجر [Hajar], Hebrew: הָגָר [Hagar]) was the second wife of the prophet Abraham and the mother of the prophet Ishmael. Her story is recounted in chapters 16 and 21 of the Book of Genesis.
A new duty
Hagar was an Egyptian who became a handmaid for Abraham's wife Sarah. Sarah was childless, and due to her age, did not believe that she could still conceive and bear children. In order to ensure that her husband does not die childless, Sarah convinced Abraham to take Hagar as his second wife:
So Sarai said to Abram,See here, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. I am asking you to go in to [the bed of] my maid [so that she may bear you a child]; perhaps I will obtain children by her.— Genesis 16:2 (AMP)
Abraham took Hagar as his second wife and they conceived a child together.
Sarah believed that the pregnant Hagar was downing down on her and her supposed barrenness, and Sarah became upset and jealous. Sarah complained to Abraham, and Abraham told Sarah that she may discipline Hagar however she saw fit. Sarah treated Hagar harshly, so Hagar fled.
Hagar came to a spring of water, and an angel of God found her there. God, through his angelic messenger, commanded Hagar to return to Abraham and Sarah and to humble herself to Sarah. God promised Hagar countless descendants and told that the child she is carrying is a son. He also told her to name the child Ishmael ("God hears") in acknowledgement of how He heard and responded to her suffering.
The Angel of the Lord said to her,Go back to your mistress, and submit humbly to her authority.Then the Angel of the Lord said to her,I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.The Angel of the Lord continued,
"Behold, you are with child,
And you will bear a son;
And you shall name him Ishmael (God hears),
Because the Lord has heard and paid attention to your persecution (suffering).
"He (Ishmael) will be a wild donkey of a man;
His hand will be against every man [continually fighting]
And every man’s hand against him;
And he will dwell in defiance of all his brothers."— Genesis 16:9–16:12 (AMP)
Hagar praised God and the spring where she and the angel met became known as Beer-lahai-roi ("Well of the Living One Who Sees Me").
Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her,You are God Who Sees; for she said,Have I not even here [in the wilderness] remained alive after seeing Him [who sees me with understanding and compassion]?Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi (Well of the Living One Who Sees Me); it is between Kadesh and Bered.— Genesis 16:13–16:14 (AMP)
Hagar did as God commanded and returned to Abraham and Sarah, and she gave birth to Abraham's son Ishmael.
Into the wilderness
Several years later, Sarah gave birth to Isaac, as God promised. A few years after that, Sarah saw Hagar's teenage son Ishmael tease Isaac. She became upset and asked Abraham to oust Hagar and Ishmael. Abraham was reluctant to do what as his wife desired and became distressed, but God appeared to Abraham and told him not to worry and to do as Sarah commands. God assured Abraham that Ishmael will become father of a great nation.
With this assurance from God, Abraham gave provisions to Hagar and Ishmael and sent them out. They went into the Wilderness of Beersheba and ran out of water. Hagar called God for mercy and to not see her son die. God heard Ishmael and sent one of His angel to tell Hagar not to worry and that He had plans for Ishmael and his descendants.
God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her,What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid, for God has heard the voice of the boy from where he is [resting]. Get up, help the boy up, and hold him by the hand, for I will make him a great nation.— Genesis 21:17–21:18 (AMP)
God then made a well appear and provided them with water.
They lived, and Ishmael, with God's blessings, grew into a skilled archer. They settled in the wilderness of Paran, and Hagar found Ishmael an Egyptian wife.
In the Quran, Abraham prayed to God for Ishmael and his descendants.
Our Lord, I have made some of my seed to dwell in a valley where is no sown land by Thy Holy House; Our Lord, let them perform the prayer, and make hearts of men yearn towards them, and provide them with fruits; haply they will be thankful.— Surah 14:37 (Arberry)
Ishmael's descendants would become the Ishmaelites, or Arabs, and they would embrace Islam.