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asmaa bint abu bakr female sahaba stories biography, sahabah, sahaabah, sahabi, sahabi's, companion of prophet mohammed saw
|asmaa bint abu bakr female R.A Sahaba
Asmaa bint Abu Bakr belonged to a distinguished Muslim family. Her father, Abu Bakr, was a close
friend of the Prophet and the first Khalifah after his death. Her half- sister, A'ishah, was a wife of the
Prophet and one of the Ummahat al-Mu 'm ineen. Her husband, Zubayr ibn al- Awwam, was one of the
special personal aides of the Prophet. Her son, Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr, became well- known for his
incorruptibility and his unswerving devotion to Truth.
Asmaa herself was one of the first persons to accept Islam. Only about seventeen persons including both
men and women became Muslims before her. She was later given the nickname Dhat an-Nitaqayn (the
One with the Two Waistbands) because of an incident connected with the departure of the Prophet and
her father from Makkah on the historic hijrah to Madinah.
Asmaa was one of the few persons who knew of the Prophet's plan to leave for Madinah. The utmost
secrecy had to be maintained because of the Quraysh plans to murder the Prophet. On the night of their
departure, Asmaa was the one who prepared a bag of food and a water container for their journey. She
did not find anything though with which to tie the containers and decided to use her waistband or nitaq.
Abu Bakr suggested that she tear it into two. This she did and the Prophet commended her action. From
then on she became known as "the One with the Two Waistbands".
When the final emigration from Makkah to Madinah took place soon after the departure of the Prophet,
Asmaa was pregnant. She did not let her pregnancy or the prospect of a long and arduous journey deter
her from leaving. As soon as she reached Quba on the outskirts of Madinah, she gave birth to a son,
Abdullah. The Muslims shouted AllaXu Akbar (God is the Greatest) and Laa ilaaha illa Allah (There is
no God but Allah) in happiness and thanksgiving because this was the first child to be born to the
muhajireen in Madinah.
Asmaa became known for her fine and noble qualities and for the keenness of her intelligence. She was
an extremely generous person. Her son Abdullah once said of her, "I have not seen two women more
generous than my aunt A'ishah and my mother Asmaa. But their generosity was expressed in different
ways. My aunt would accumulate one thing after another until she had gathered what she felt was
sufficient and then distributed it all to those in need. My mother, on the other hand, would not keep
anything even for the morrow."
Asmaa's presence of mind in difficult circumstances was remarkable. When her father left Makkah, he
took all his wealth, amounting to some six thousand dirhams, with him and did not leave any for his
family. When Abu Bakr's father, Abu Quhafah (he was still a mushrik) heard of his departure he went to
his house and said to Asmaa:
"I understand that he has left you bereft of money after he himself has abandoned you."
"No, grandfather," replied Asmaa, "in fact he has left us much money." She took some pebbles and put
them in a small recess in the wall where they used to put money. She threw a cloth over the heap and
took the hand of her grandfather --he was blind--and said, "See how much money he has left us".
Through this strategem, Asmaa wanted to allay the fears of the old man and to forestall him from giving
them anything of his own wealth. This was because she disliked receiving any assistance from a mushrik
even if it was her own grandfather.
She had a similar attitude to her mother and was not inclined to compromise her honour and her faith.
Her mother, Qutaylah, once came to visit her in Madinah. She was not a Muslim and was divorced from
her father in preIslamic times. Her mother brought her gifts of raisins, clarified butter and qaraz (pods of
a species of sant tree). Asmaa at first refused to admit her into her house or accept the gifts. She sent
someone to A'ishah to ask the Prophet, peace be upon him, about her attitude to her mother and he
replied that she should certainly admit her to her house and accept the gifts. On this occasion, the
following revelation came to the Prophet:
"God forbids you not, with regard to those who do not fight you because of your faith nor drive you out
of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them. God loves those who are just. God only
forbids you with regard to those who fight you for your Faith, and drive you from your homes, and
support others in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn
to them (in these circumstances) that do wrong."
(Surah al-Mumtahanah 60: 8-9).
For Asmaa and indeed for many other Muslims, life in Madinah was rather difficult at first. Her husband
was quite poor and his only major possession to begin with was a horse he had bought. Asmaa herself
described these early days:
"I used to provide fodder for the horse, give it water and groom it. I would grind grain and make dough
but I could not bake well. The women of the Ansar used to bake for me. They were truly good women. I
used to carry the grain on my head from az-Zubayr's plot which the Prophet had allocated to him to
cultivate. It was about three farsakh (about eight kilometres) from the town's centre. One day I was on
the road carrying the grain on my head when I met the Prophet and a group of Sahabah. He called out to
me and stopped his camel so that I could ride behind him. I felt embarrassed to travel with the Prophet
and also remembered az-Zubayr's jealousy--he was the most jealous of men. The Prophet realised that I
was embarrassed and rode on."
Later, Asmaa related to az-Zubayr exactly what had happened and he said, "By God, that you should
have to carry grain is far more distressing to me than your riding with (the Prophet)".
Asmaa obviously then was a person of great sensitivity and devotion. She and her husband worked
extremely hard together until their situation of poverty gradually changed. At times, however, az-Zubayr
treated her harshly. Once she went to her father and complained to him about this. His reply to her was:
"My daughter, have sabr for if a woman has a righteous husband and he dies and she does not marry
after him, they will be brought together again in Paradise."
Az-Zubayr eventually became one of the richest men among the Sahabah but Asmaa did not allow this
to corrupt her principles. Her son, al-Mundhir once sent her an elegant dress from Iraq made of fine and
costly material. Asmaa by this time was blind. She felt the material and said, "It's awful. Take it back to
Al-Mundhir was upset and said, "Mother, it was not transparent."
"It may not be transparent," she retorted, "but it is too tight-fitting and shows the contours of the body."
Al-Mundhir bought another dress that met with her approval and she accepted it.
If the above incidents and aspects of Asmaa's life may easily be forgotten, then her final meeting with
her son, Abdullah, must remain one of the most unforgettable moments in early Muslim history. At that
meeting she demonstrated the keenness of her intelligence, her resoluteness and the strength of her faith.
Abdullah was in the running for the Caliphate after the death of Yazid ibn Mu'awiyah. The Hijaz, Egypt,
Iraq, Khurasan and much of Syria were favourable to him and acknowledged him as the Caliph. The
Ummayyads however continued to contest the Caliphate and to field a massive army under the
command of Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf ath-Thaqafi. Relentless battles were fought between the two sides
during which Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr displayed great acts of courage and heroism. Many of his
supporters however could not withstand the continuous strain of battle and gradually began to desert
him. Finally he sought refuge in the Sacred Mosque at Makkah. It was then that he went to his mother,
now an old blind woman, and said:
"Peace be on you, Mother, and the mercy and blessings of God."
"Unto you be peace, Abdullah," she replied. "What is it that brings you here at this hour while boulders
from Hajjaj's catapults are raining down on your soldiers in the Haram and shaking the houses of
Makkah?" "I came to seek your advice," he said.
"To seek my advice?" she asked in astonishment. "About what?"
"The people have deserted me out of fear of Hajjaj or being tempted by what he has to offer. Even my
children and my family have left me. There is only a small group of men with me now and however
strong and steadfast they are they can only resist for an hour or two more. Messengers of the Banu
Umayyah (the Umayyads) are now negotiating with me, offering to give me whatever wordly
possessions I want, should I lay down my arms and swear allegiance to Abdul Malik ibn Marwan. What
do you think?"
Raising her voice, she replied:
"It's your affair, Abdullah, and you know yourself better. If however you think that you are right and
that you are standing up for the Truth, then persevere and fight on as your companions who were killed
under your flag had shown perseverance. If however you desire the world, what a miserable wretch you
are. You would have destroyed yourself and you would have destroyed your men."
"But I will be killed today, there is no doubt about it."
"That is better for you than that you should surrender yourself to Hajjaj voluntarily and that some
minions of Banu Umayyah should play with your head."
"I do not fear death. I am only afraid that they will mutilate me."
"There is nothing after death that man should be afraid of. Skinning does not cause any pain to the
Abdullah's face beamed as he said:
"What a blessed mother! Blessed be your noble qualities! I have come to you at this hour to hear what I
have heard. God knows that I have not weakened or despaired. He is witness over me that I have not
stood up for what I have out of love for this world and its attractions but only out of anger for the sake of
God. His limits have been transgressed. Here am I, going to what is pleasing to you. So if I am killed, do
not grieve for me and commend me to God."
"I shall grieve for you," said the ageing but resolute Asmaa, "only if you are killed in a vain and unjust
"Be assured that your son has not supported an unjust cause, nor committed any detestable deed, nor
done any injustice to a Muslim or a Dhimmi and that there is nothing better in his sight than the pleasure
of God, the Mighty, the Great. I do not say this to exonerate myself. God knows that I have only said it
to make your heart firm and steadfast. "
"Praise be to God who has made you act according to what He likes and according fo what I like. Come
close to me, my son, that I may smell and feel your body for this might be the last meeting with you."
Abdullah knelt before her. She hugged him and smothered his head, his face and his neck with kisses.
Her hands began to squeeze his body when suddenly she withdrew them and asked:
"What is this you are wearing, Abdullah?"
"This is my armour plate."
"This, my son, ls not the dress of one who desires martyrdom. Take it off. That will make your
movements lighter and quicker. Wear instead the sirwal (a long under garment) so that if you are killed
your 'awrah will not be exposed.
Abdullah took off his armour plate and put on the sirwal. As he left for the Haram to join the fighting he
"My mother, don't deprive me of your dada (prayer)."
Raising her hands to heaven, she prayed:
"O Lord, have mercy on his staying up for long hours and his loud crying in the darkness of the night
while people slept . . .
"O Lord, have mercy on his hunger and his thirst on his journeys from Madinah and Makkah while he
fasted . . .
"O Lord, bless his righteousness to his mother and his father . . .
"O Lord, I commend him to Your cause and I am pleased with whatever You decree for him. And grant
me for his sake the reward of those who are patient and who persevere."
By sunset, Abdullah was dead. Just over ten days later, his mother joined him. She was a hundred years
old. Age had not made her infirm nor blunted the keenness of her mind.
Scanned from: "Companions of The Prophet", Vol.1, By: Abdul Wahid Hamid.
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