Asma bint Abu Bakr: Role model for women

Updated 13 November 2015

Asma bint Abu Bakr: Role model for women

From Bilal to Sumayya, the history of Islam is replete with sacrifices rendered by the companions of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him). Asma bint Abu Bakr has a special position among the early Muslims. Her sacrifices for Islam are numerous.
Asma was the daughter of Abu Bakr and sister of Ummul Momineen Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with them). She was the mother of Caliph Abdullah bin Zubair. Her four generations were companions. She was the 18th person to enter into the fold of Islam. Asma supported Islam from her early age. She played a key role in the migration of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Asma was entrusted to carry food for Abu Bakr and the Prophet (peace be upon him) who were hiding in Cave Thawr. The cave was about three miles away on a mountainous track. She carried food daily for three days, though she was pregnant of seven months.
The last day when Asma prepared their travel provisions and water skin there was no rope to tie them. She tore her Nitaq (waist belt) into two pieces and tied the bag with one. The Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) saw it, he smiled and told her, “Indeed, Allah has given you, in exchange for this girdle, two belts in Paradise.” And thus she was named as “Zu Nataqain” (Lady of Two Belts). She kept this honorable title for the whole life.
After the two left Thawr cave, Abu Jahl came in searching for them and slapped Asma so hard that blood oozed from her ears. Bearing the pain with courage and tolerance, she did not disclose the secret.
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) reached Quba near Madinah, he invited a group that included his daughters and Asma accompanied them. When they reached near Quba, she gave birth to a boy named Abdullah bin Zubair. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was very happy. He took the baby in his lap and gave a bit of date chewed by him in the mouth of the baby. Abdullah was the first baby born to Muhajirin in Madinah.
Zubair ibn Al-Awwam, her husband, migrated to Madinah empty handed leaving everything in Makkah. Asma spent a hard time in the beginning. The daughter of a rich man found herself tending animals, kneading, grinding and fetching water. She used to carry on her head date-stones from their land at a distance of two miles from Madinah.
The real test of Asma’s tolerance and patience appeared after the martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) at Karbala. She was then about 90 years of age. After the tragedy of Karbala, people gathered around her son, Abdullah bin Zubair knowing him as a learned, powerful and brave man. He succeeded in winning the support of Makkah and Madinah. Eventually, Abdullah consolidated his power in Iraq, Hijaz, southern Arabia, the greater part of Syria and parts of Egypt.
Asma advised her son before the fight against the Damascus ruler Abdul Malik bin Marwan saying she will be grieving for him only if he is killed in a vain and unjust cause. “Death with honor is better than a life of peace with dishonor.”
Abdullah went forward to fight against Marwan’s commander Hajaj bin Yusuf and kept fighting until he was martyred. The cruel Hajaj beheaded him and hanged his body on a tree. He declared, “No one should take down his body except Asma. She must come to me and ask my permission. Asma refused to go. Eventually Hajaj came to her and asked, “What do you say about this matter?” She boldly replied, “Verily, you have destroyed him and you have ruined his life, and with that you have ruined your Hereafter.”
She added that she had heard the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) saying that “A man would appear from the tribe of Banu Thaqif who would be a liar and a cruel and ignoble barbarian. Today she has seen him for herself.” Hajaj bin Yusuf left silently.
Later Hajaj dropped the body into the graveyard. She arranged for its bathing, funeral prayer and buried with her hands her son Abdullah bin Zubair in Makkah.
Asma died a few days after burying her son, in 73AH. She was 100 years old but never lost her memory and had a full set of teeth. She took part in the Battle of Yarmuk in 636AC and fought bravely which drove the Roman Empire out of Syria. She is the narrator of 58 Hadith, and many leading men related Hadith from her. In a corner of Jannatul Muala a small grave indicates toward this great lady. Asma bint Abu Bakr was really a great role model for the Muslim women.
While proceeding to Jabal Thawr you will find a sign on the road named Zu Nataqain Street. And this is the path which was trodden by this great lady to carry the provisions to Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) to Thawr Cave. Just wait for a moment in this place and pray for these noble souls. May Almighty Allah grant them the highest ranks in Paradise.


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016

The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.