Among the companions of the Prophet (PBUH), Bint Abu Bakr belonged to a very blessed and distinguished Muslim family. She was the daughter of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq, the Prophet’s closest companion and the first Muslim Caliph following the Prophet’s death.
Asmaa, the elder sister of Aysha, the mother of all believers and the Prophet’s third wife, was married to Az-Zubayr Ibn Al-Awwam, who was also a companion of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and one of the most successful commanders of the Rashidun Army.
She had two sons with Az-Zubayr; Abd-Allah Ibn Az-Zubayr, the first Muslim to be born in Al-Madinah after the Hijrah (The Prophet’s Migration from Makkah to Al-Madinah), and Urwa Ibn Az-Zubayr, who was among the seven fuqahas (jurists) who formulated the fiqh of Al-Medinah.
Asmaa was born twenty-seven years before Hijrah. She embraced Islam very early in Makkah. According to some historians, she was the eighteenth person to embrace Prophet Mohammed’s noble religion.
- “Zat al-Nitaqayen”
There are endless reasons to admire and respect Asmaa Bint Abu Bakr, whose personal qualities and values should be followed by every devoted Muslim.
Asmaa was known as “Zat al-Nitaqayen” (The one with two waistbands). There is a very interesting story behind this nickname. Asmaa’s father, Abu Bakr, was the only companion who joined Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) during Hijrah. When they prepared to set off for Al-Madinah, Asmaa packed their food and water in a leather bag but there was no rope to tie it up with. So she split her belt in two and used it to tie up the leather bag. The Prophet (PBUH) blessed her and told her that instead of the belt she sacrificed, she will be rewarded with two in paradise. And that’s how she got the nickname “Dhat al-Nitaqyen”. (In Arabic, a girdle or belt worn by women around the waist is called “Nitaq”)
Asmaa was a very brave woman, who always showed steadfastness and courage in the face of the enemies of Islam. It was Asmaa who brought fresh water and food to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and Abu Bakr As-Siddiq when they sought refuge for three nights in the cave of Thawr during their Hijrah from Makkah to Al-Medinah. She bravely confronted Abu Jahl when he came to Abu Bakr’s house looking for the Prophet (PBUH). Enraged and furious, Abu Jahl tried to force Asmaa to tell him her father’s whereabouts, but she kept silent. In a failed attempt to break her, Abu Jahl slapped her so hard that her necklace fell off, but she never told of the Prophet (PBUH) and Abu Bakr’s hiding place.
During her own journey from Makkah to Al-Medina, Asmaa gave birth to her son Abdullah Ibn Az-Zubayr in the Valley of Quba. Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) was the first to kiss the baby, who was the first newborn Muslim in Al-Madinah.
Not only was Asmaa a pious, devoted Muslim, she was also a supporting wife and a great mother. At the beginning of her marital life, Asmaa was so poor she had to serve her husband on her own. She said about her situation: “When Az-Zubayr married me, he had neither land, nor wealth, nor slave, nor anything else like it, except a camel to get water and his horse. I used to graze his horse, provide fodder for it, look after it and ground dates for his camel.” Asmaa and Az-Zubayr became very rich soon after they set up their business in Al-Madinah. But Asmaa was extremely generous to the poor. She kept nothing for herself.
Asmaa also had a very sharp memory. Perhaps that’s why several sayings (Hadiths) of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) are attributed to her. Many Companions and successors would come to her for guidance and verification of Hadiths. ‘Abdullah Ibn Az-Zubayr, Urwa Ibn az-Zubayr, Abdullah Ibn Abbas, Fatimah bint Munthir Ibn az-Zubayr and Abdullah Ibn Kisan are some of the noteworthy ones.
- “Embracing death for the sake of upholding the truth”
Asmaa was one of the bravest women in the history of Islam. She fought bravely in the battle of Yarmook against the Romans. She also kept a dagger to defend herself when thieves appeared in Al-Medinah at the time of Sa’id Ibn Al-‘As. But perhaps the clearest example of Asmaa’s bravery was her advice to her own son, Abdullah Ibn Az-Zubayr, to die fighting for what he believed in rather than surrender to his enemies during Al-Hajjaj siege to Makkah.
When Yazid Ibn Muawiyah died, Abdullah Ibn Az-Zubayr was declared the Caliph in Al-Madinah. Muslims came from as far as Egypt, Iraq, Khorasan and Syria to vow their allegiance. But Banu Umayyah started to challenge the new Caliph and Hajjaj Ibn Youssuf was dispatched with a large army to Al-Madinah. Though initially Az-Zubayr and his army won a few battles, his men began to abandon him and it became clear that he would either surrender or die fighting.
On the day he died, Abdullah went to Asmaa and told her: “O Mother, My companions have either been lured by Hajjaj or are too frightened to stand by me. I have been sent a missive from Banu Umayyah offering me a whole lot of wealth in lieu of surrender. They are asking me to declare my allegiance to Malik Ibn Marwan. What do you suggest?”
Asmaa wisely said: “Abdullah, it is not a matter of life and death. If you think you are on the right path, you should embrace death for the sake of upholding the truth.”
Abdullah was martyred at the hands of the men of Hajjaj before the sunset the same day.
A few days after her son’s death in the year 73 after Hijrah, Asmaa died. She was almost a hundreds years old.
By: Dina Awadallah
Posted on: September 19, 2011