Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA – Dhat An Nitaqayn
Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA belonged to a distinguished Muslim family. Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA father, Abu Bakr, was a close friend of the Prophet and the first Khalifah after his death. Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA half-sister, Sayyidah Aisyah RA, was a wife of Rasulullah SAW and one of the Ummahat al-Muminin. Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA husband, Zubair ibn al-Awwam RA, was one of the special personal aides of Rasulullah SAW. Her son, Abdullah ibn Az-Zubair RA, became well known for his incorruptibility and his unswerving devotion to Truth.
Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA was one of the few persons who knew of Rasulullah SAW’s plan to leave for Madinah. The utmost secrecy had to be maintained because of the Quraish plans to murder Rasulullah SAW. On the night of their departure, Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA 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. Saidina Abu Bakr RA suggested that she tear it into two. This she did and Rasulullah SAW commended her action. From then on Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA became known as “the One with the Two Waistbands”.Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA herself was one of the first persons to accept Islam. Only about seventeen persons including both men and women became Muslims before her. Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA 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.
When the final emigration from Makkah to Madinah took place soon after the departure of Rasulullah SAW, Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA was pregnant. Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA did not let her pregnancy or the prospect of a long and arduous journey deter her from leaving. As soon as Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA reached Quba on the outskirts of Madinah, she gave birth to a son, Abdullah. The Muslims shouted Allahu 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 Muhajirin in Madinah.
Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA became known from her tine and noble qualities and for the keenness of her intelligence. Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA was an extremely generous person. Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA’s son Abdullah once said of her, “I have not seen two women more generous than my aunt Aisyah and my mother Asma. 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.”
Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA’s presence of mind in difficult circumstances was remarkable. When her father let 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 Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA.
“I understand that he has left you bereft of money after he himself has abandoned you.”
“No, grandfather,” replied Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA, “in fact he has left us much money.” Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA took some pebbles and put them in a small recess in the wall where they used to put money. Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA 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 stratagem, Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA wanted to allay the fears of the old man and to forestall him from giving them anything of his own wealth. This was because Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA disliked receiving any assistance from a mushrikun if it was her own grandfather.
Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA had a similar attitude to her mother and was not inclined to compromise her honor 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 pre-Islamic times. Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA’s mother brought her gifts of raisins, clarified butter and qaraz (pods of a species of sant tree). Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA at first refused to admit her into her house or accept the gifts. Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA sent someone to Aisyah 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 6O: 8-9).
For Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA 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. Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA 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-Zubair’s plot which Rasulullah SAW had allocated to him to cultivate. It was about three farsakh (about eight kilo meters) from the town’s center. One day I was on the road carrying the grain on my head when I met Rasulullah SAW 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 Rasulullah SAW and also remembered Az-Zubair’s jealousy; he was the most jealous of men. Rasulullah SAW realized that I was embarrassed and rode on.”
Later, Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA related to Az-Zubair exactly what had happened and he said, “By God, that you should have to carry grain is far more distressing to me than you’re riding with (Rasulullah SAW)”.
Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA obviously then was a person of great sensitivity and devotion. Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA and her husband worked extremely hard together until their situation of poverty gradually changed. At times, however, Az-Zubair treated her harshly. Once Az-Zubair 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 him, they will be brought together again in Paradise.
Az-Zubair eventually became one of the richest men among the Sahabah but Az-Zubair 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. Az-Zubair by this time was blind. Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA felt the material and said, “It’s awful. Take it back to him”.
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 Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA life may easily be forgotten, then her final meeting with her son, Abdullah Ibn Zubair RA, must remain one of the most unforgettable moments in early Muslim history. At that meeting Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA demonstrated the keenness of her intelligence, her resoluteness and the strength of her faith.
Abdullah ibn Zubair RA was in the running for the Caliphate after the death of Yazid ibn Muawiyah. The Hijaz, Egypt, Iraq, Khurasan and much of Syria were favorable to him and acknowledged him as the Caliph. The Umayyad’s however continued to contest the Caliphate and to field a massive army under the command of Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf at-Thaqafi. Relentless battles were fought between the two sides during which Abdullah ibn Az-Zubair RA 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 Umayyad’s) are now negotiating with me, offering to give me whatever worldly 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 slaughtered sheep.”
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 aging but resolute Sayyidah Asma RA bint Abu Bakr RA, “only if you are killed in a vain and unjust cause.”
“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 to 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 Ibn Zubair RA 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 armor plate.”
“This, my son, is 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 Ibn Zubair RA took off his armor plate and put on the sirwal. As he left for the Haram to join the fighting he said: “My mother, don’t deprive me of your dua (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 Allah, have mercy on his hunger and his thirst on his Journeys from Madinah and Makkah while he fasted… “O Allah, bless his righteousness to his mother and his father… “O Allah, 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 Ibn Zubair RA 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.
The Story of Sayyidah Asma bint Abu Bakr RA admonishing Hujjaj Al Takaffi:
“When Abdullah died, Hajjaj gave instructions that Abdullah’s lifeless body be crucified. To add insult to injury, he declared that it would only be taken down if Asma beseeched him to do so. Asma (RA) refused to do any such thing and her refusal was relayed to Hajjaj. The tyrant vowed that she would come to him, or he would send someone to drag her by her hair. In return, Asma vowed that she would not come to him, unless someone did drag her by her hair.
In the end, Hajjaj went to Asma’s residence. Keen to see her spirit broken, he insolently Inquired: “What do you say about this matter?”. She proudly replied, “As far as I am concerned, the result of the battle between you and my son is that you have destroyed his worldly life and he has destroyed your akhirah (hereafter)!” Asma then contemptuously asked: “Has not the time yet arrived for this knight to dismount?” Hajjaj replied, “You mean this munafiq (hypocrite?)” Asma boldly countered, “By Allah! He was not a munafiq. He was a man well-known for his prayers and fasting. I heard Allah’s Messenger (SAW) say that a great liar and a great fitnah-maker will arise from the tribe of Thaqif. We have already seen the liar (Musailamah al-Kathab) and I think that the fitnah-maker is none other than you!”
Asma bin Abu Bakr died a few days after the murder of her son Abdullah.
Hadith Attributed to Sayyidah Asma Bint Abu Bakr RA.
Found In: Imam Malik’s Muwatta Chapter No: 20, Hajj
Hadith no: 181
Yahya related to me from Malik from Yahya ibn Said from Ata ibn Abi Rabah that a mawla of Asma bint Abi Bakr told him, “We arrived at Mina with Asma bint Abi Bakr at the end of the night, and I said to her, ‘We have arrived at Mina at the end of the night,’ and she said, ‘We used to do that with one who was better than you.’ “
Found In: Imam Malik’s Muwatta Chapter No: 20, Hajj
Hadith no: 16
Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn Urwa that Fatima bint al-Mundhir said, “We used to veil our faces when we were in ihram in the company of Asma bint Abi Bakr as-Siddiq.” 20.7 Wearing Perfume during Hajj.
Found In: Imam Malik’s Muwatta Chapter No: 20, Hajj
Hadith no: 184
Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn Urwa that Fatima bint al-Mundhir told him that she used to see Asma bint Abi Bakr at Muzdalifah telling whoever led the subuh prayer for her and her companions to pray it as soon as the dawn broke, after which she would mount and go to Mina without stopping at all.
Found In: Imam Malik’s Muwatta Chapter No: 12, The Eclipse Prayer
Hadith no: 4
Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn Urwa from Fatima bint al Mundhir that Asma bint Abi Bakr as-Siddiq said, “I went to Aisyah RA the wife of Rasulullah SAW, during an eclipse of the sun, and everybody was standing in prayer, and she too was standing praying. I said, ‘What is everybody doing?’ She pointed towards the sky with her hand and said, ‘Glory be to Allah.’ I said, ‘A sign?’ She nodded ‘Yes’ with her head.” She continued, “I stood until I had almost fainted, and I began to pour water over my head. The Messenger of Allah, May Allah bless him and grant him peace, praised Allah and spoke well of Him, and then said, ‘There is nothing which I had previously not seen beforehand that I have not now seen while standing – even the Garden and the Fire. It has been revealed to me that you will be tried in your graves with a trial, like, or near to, the trial of the Dajjal (I do not know which one Asma said). Every one of you will have someone who comes to him and asks him, ‘What do you know about this man?’ A Mukminin, or one who has certainty (muqin) (I do not know which one Asma said), will say, ‘He is Rasulullah SAW who came to us with clear proofs and guidance, and we answered and believed and followed.’ He will then be told, ‘Sleep in a good state. We know now that you were a Mukminin.’ A hypocrite, however, or one who has doubts (l do not know which one Asma said), will say, ‘I do not know, I heard everybody saying something and I said it.’ “
Found In: Imam Malik’s Muwatta Chapter No: 50, the Evil Eye
Hadith no: 15
Narrated: Fatima bint Al-Mundhir
Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn Urwa from Fatima bint al-Mundhir that whenever a woman who had a fever, was brought to Asma bint Abi Bakr, she made dua for her and took water and poured it inside her collar. She said, “Rasulullah SAW, ordered us to cool it with water.”
Found In: Sahih Bukhari Chapter No: 18, Eclipses
Hadith no: 162
Narrated: Fatima bint Al-Mundhir
Asma’ bint Al Bakr said, “I came to Aisha the wife of Rasulullah SAW during the solar eclipse. The people were standing and offering the prayer and she was also praying too. I asked her, ‘What has happened to the people?’ She pointed out with her hand towards the sky and said, ‘Subhan-Allah’. I said, ‘Is there a sign?’ She pointed out in the affirmative.” Asma’ further said, “I too then stood up for the prayer till I fainted and then poured water on my head. When Allah’s Apostle had finished his prayer, he thanked and praised Allah and said, ‘I have seen at this place of mine what I have never seen even Paradise and Hell. No doubt, it has been inspired to me that you will be put to trial in the graves like or nearly like the trial of (Masih) Ad-Dajjal. (I do not know which one of the two Asma’ said.) (The angels) will come to every one of you and will ask what you know about this man (i.e. Muhammad). The believer or a firm believer (I do not know which word Asma’ said) will reply, ‘He is Rasulullah SAW who came to us with clear evidences and guidance, so we accepted his teachings, believed and followed him.’ The angels will then say to him, ‘Sleep peacefully as we knew surely that you were a firm believer.’ The hypocrite or doubtful person (I do not know which word Asma’ said) will say, ‘I do not know. I heard the people saying something so I said it (the same).’ “
Found In: Sahih Bukhari Chapter No: 27, Minor Pilgrimage (Umrah)
Hadith no: 22
Abdullah the slave of Asma bint Abu Bakr, told me that he used to hear Asma, whenever she passed by Al-Hajoon, saying, “May Allah bless His Apostle Muhammad. Once we dismounted here with him, and at that time we were traveling with light luggage; we had a few riding animals and a little food ration. I, my sister, Aisha, Az-Zubair and such and such persons performed Umrah, and when we had passed our hands over the Kaabah (i.e. performed Tawaf round the Kaabah and between As-Safa and Al-Marwa) we finished our ihram. Later on we assumed Ihram for Hajj the same evening.”
Found In: Imam Malik’s Muwatta Chapter No: 16, Burials
Hadith no: 12
Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn Urwa that asma bint Abi bakr said to her family, “Perfume my clothes with incense when I die and then embalm me. Do not put any of the embalming substance on my shroud, and do not follow me with a burning torch.”
Found In: Imam Malik’s Muwatta Chapter No: 2, Purity
Hadith no: 105
Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn Urwa from his father from Fatima bint al-Mundhir ibn Az-Zubair that Asma bint Abu Bakr as-Siddiq said, “A woman questioned Rasulullah SAW, saying, ‘If menstrual blood gets onto our clothes how do you think we should deal with it?’ Rasulullah SAW, said, ‘If menstrual blood gets onto your clothes you should wash them, and sprinkle them with water before you pray in them.’ “
Found In: Sahih Bukhari Chapter No: 31, Fasting
Hadith no: 180
Narrated: Abu Usama
Abu Usamah from Hisham bin Urwa from Fatima: Asma bint Abi Bakr said, “We broke our fast during the lifetime of the Prophet on a cloudy day and then the sun appeared.” Hisham was asked, “Were they ordered to fast in lieu of that day?” He replied, “It had to be made up for.” Ma ‘mar said, “I heard Hisham saying, “I don’t know whether they fasted in lieu of that day or not.”
Found In: Imam Malik’s Muwatta Chapter No: 20, Hajj
Hadith no: 11
Yahya related to me from Malik from Hisham ibn Urwa from his father that Asma bint Abi Bakr had worn clothes that were completely dyed with safflower while she was in ihram, though there was not any saffron in them. Yahya said that Malik was asked if a garment which had been perfumed could be used for ihram if the smell of the perfume had gone, and he said, “Yes, as long as there is no saffron or yellow dye in it.”
Found In: Sahih Bukhari Chapter No: 34, Sales and Trade
Hadith no: 348
Rarely did the Prophet fail to visit Abu Bakr’s house every day, either in the morning or in the evening. When the permission for migration to Medina was granted, all of a sudden the Prophet came to us at noon and Abu Bakr was informed, who said, “Certainly Rasulullah SAW has come for some urgent matter.” Rasulullah SAW said to Abu Bakr, when the latter entered “Let nobody stay in your home.” Abu Bakr said, “O Rasulullah! There are only my two daughters (namely Aisyah and Asma’) present.” Rasulullah SAW said, “I feel (am informed) that I have been granted the permission for migration.” Abu Bakr said, “I will accompany you, O Allah’s Apostle!” Rasulullah SAW said, “You will accompany me.” Abu Bakr then said “O Rasulullah! I have two she-camels I have prepared specially for migration, so I offer you one of them. Rasulullah SAW said, “I have accepted it on the condition that I will pay its price.”