A woman who is revered by Muslims is Asma, the daughter of Abu Bakr, the close friend of the Prophet Muhammad. Asma, who was also Ayesha‘s half sister, is remembered in Islamic history for her courage, integrity, generosity, and intelligence. Many choose her name for their daughters hoping that they will display some of the characteristics of this great woman, who is the focus of this post, the eighth in a series on important men and woman of Islam.
Asma was born around 593 C.E. and was the daughter of Abu Bakr and his first wife Qutaylah. Eventually her parents divorced because Abu Bakr became a Muslim. Asma later followed in her father’s footsteps and was the 18th person to accept Islam.
Asma was nicknamed Dhat an-Nitaqayn (the One with the two waistbands) because of an incident during the hijra to Medina. The Prophet Muhammad and Abu Bakr were among the last to leave Mecca. On their way to Medina, they stopped at the Cave of Thawr. Asma used her waistbands to tie food supplies to take to her father and the Prophet in the cave. For this courageous act, the Prophet Muhammad told her that she would be among those in paradise. Her courage did not end there. When Abu Jahl, one of the Meccan leaders, came to her searching for the Prophet and her father, Asma refused to betray them and as a result he hit her causing her to bleed.
Asma was married to Zubayr, the Prophet’s cousin, friend, and companion. They had two sons: Abdullah and Urwah. On her way to Medina, Asma gave birth to Abdullah, who was the first Muslim to be born in Medina after the hijra. Her son Urwah went on to become one of the scholars in Medina. Abdullah ended up dying as a martyr after he challenged the Caliph Abdul Malik bin Marwan.
After the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs, some Muslims did not want the rule of the Umayyads. Abdullah was one of the contenders for the caliphate and won over some supporters. Abdul Malik bin Marwan sent Al-Hajjaj bin Yusuf as his representative in the Hijaz area. A battle then ensued between the armies of Abdul Malik and Abdullah. Abdullah’s forces were defeated and he was killed. Al- Hajjaj then ordered Abdullah’s body to be hung up for three days. Asma, hearing that her son was killed, went to retrieve her son’s body. She then fearlessly challenged Al-Hajjaj at a speech he was giving in Mecca, even after he had threatened her.
She died a few days after her son’s death at the age of 100. Even at that age, Asma was known for her sharp memory. In fact, many hadith are attributed to her. Asma is a role model for Muslim girls because of her courage, dedication, and contributions to the faith. Not only did she stand up for what she believed despite the risks, she also demonstrated that Muslim women are supposed to be strong members of their community.
Have you heard of Asma? What is your impression of her? Is she a role model for Muslim women? Is her story relevant today? Please share your comments below.