Although the Qur’an does not mention the expulsion of Hagar, later Islamic commentators, influenced by Jewish sources, do—but with an interesting twist. In these accounts, Abraham does not send Hagar and Ishmael into the wilderness alone, but accompanies them to Mecca, where he regularly visits them. This helps explain another Qur’anic episode (2:127), in which Abraham and Ishmael together construct the Ka‘ba—the sacred building at the center of the Great Mosque of Mecca that is the focus of daily Muslim prayer and the annual pilgrimage.

Today, pilgrims to Mecca recall Hagar and Ishmael’s experiences as they run back and forth seven times between two sites in reenactment of Hagar’s desperate search for water for herself and her son. Similar tradition has it that a well (called Zamzam) near the Ka‘ba first sprung up when the child Ishmael scratched on the ground as his mother was looking for water.