Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ramadan Challenge Day 30: Asma' Bint Abu Bakr

30 days of Ramadan and 30 amazing women - I took up this challenge not knowing what would unfold for me. A range of women from across Muslim history that I had never heard or known of before. Blame media? At the end of the month, I blame all of us for not trying harder to record our histories, to learn from Qur'an, hadith (sayings of the Holy Prophet pbuh) and the lives of early Muslims, or to try harder ourselves to find out about the women who were stronger, more enlightened, braver, and more sacrificing than many women I hear of today. 
The final story of Ramadan, I thought, would be best if covered one of the most amazing women Islam has produced. The daughter of Hazrat Abu Bakar (the first caliph of Islam and the first "man" after Muhammad pbuh to enter Islam) and the older sister of Hazrat Ayesha (wife of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh) - her name is Asma bint Abu Bakar. There are lessons in her life which cover every aspect that has been talked about throughout this Ramadan series - ranging from sacrifice, support and bravery. At the same time, her story includes lessons in being an exceptional daughter, wife and mother. 
A brave daughter: 
Asma bint Abu Bakar was the seventeenth person to accept Islam. When the persecutions towards the Muslims of Mecca reached their zenith, Allah swt ordered the Holy Prophet (pbuh) to migrate to Medina with the early Muslims for their safety. After his followers had safely migrated to Medina, the Holy Prophet migrated alone with Abu Bakar Siddiq as the enemies were plotting against his life. On their way to Medina, they hid in the cave of Thawr for three nights. 

Her faith in Allah was enough for her sustenance. Abu Bakar had taken all of the property of the house with him when migrating with Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). When Abu Quhafa, her grandfather came to her and said, "this man put you in adversity. He deprived you of himself and property." Asma told him that their father had left a lot for them and covered some stones and brought them to the old man who could not see either due to age. Her grand father said, "There is no blame if left that" hence satisfying him in his old age.  

It was during this time that Asma endangered her life for the Prophet of Islam and her father as well as for her faith. She was called the possessor of the two scarves as she split her scarf into two parts in order to deliver food and water to the Prophet (pbuh) and her father. Abu Jahl was furious and tried to force Asma to disclose where they were hiding but she faced him bravely and kept silent. Having given up, he left Asma who safely joined the Muslims in Medina which is where she gave birth to the first new born of Islam Abdullah.

A caring wife:
At the beginning of her marital life, her husband Az-Zubair had little money and no property except a camel and a horse. She helped her husband by taking care of the cooking of the house, its cleaning and feeding of the horse.

She is quoted to have said that she would carry the date stones on her head a distance of two miles from her house. One day, during this chore, she came across Prophet Muhammad with some Ansari men. Seeing her carrying weight on her head alone, he called out to her and offered to ride with her to her home on a camel. She was shy to travel alone as there were other men with him too and she felt it would hurt her husband's pride or honour and therefore refused the offer politely. 
When she shared the story with her husband, he said  "By Allah, your carrying the date-stones (and you being seen by the Prophet (pbuh) in such a state) is more shameful to me than your riding with him.'"

A courageous and strong mother:
She was the mother of 'Abdullah ibn az-Zubair, the first new born of Islam. A courageous woman, she too fought extremely brave in the time of battle of Yarmuk and kept a dagger to defend herself when thieves appeared in Madina. 

Her courage is also demonstrated in this story when her son Abdullah consulted his mother at the time of Al-Hajjaj seige of Mecca (a battle in which Abdullah fought bravely until he was killed). 

The enemy had offered him wordly benefits to which Asma advised her son:
"You know yourself best. If you realized that you are right and calling for the truth, you would better go on. It is the issue for which your fellows passed away. Do not surrender your neck to Banu Umayyah to play it. But if you just wanted a worldly benefit you would be the worst man who demolished himself and his fellows.'  
Abdullah said, "By Allah, this is also my opinion,mother. But I fear to suffer crucifixion after death." 
She replied, "Skinning a slaughtered goat does not bring it pain. Off you go and seek Allah's help."


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