To read the first part of this series, click on the following link: https://lubnah.me.ke/women-of-jannah-maryam-bint-imran/
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Many amongst men attained perfection but amongst women none attained the perfection except Mary, the daughter of `Imran and Asiya, the wife of Pharaoh. And the superiority of `Aisha to other women is like the superiority of Tharid (i.e. an Arabic dish) to other meals.” Sahih al-Bukhari 3769
So who was Asiyah bint Al Muzahim?
Not much is known about the origin of Asiyah but that she was from a rich family and was married off to Firau’n (Pharaoh) who was an oppressive tyrant and a very wealthy man. She was known to be very beautiful and very kind. Fir’aun declared himself a god, saying to his people, “I am your most exalted lord.” He was very powerful and the people feared him so much, they worshiped him. One night, Fira’un had a dream in which he saw a fire coming from Jerusalem, Palestine towards Egypt, burning every single house in Egypt except the Bani Israi’l houses. The Israelites at the time were subjugated by Firau’n and were being oppressed by him, making them slaves to the Egyptians. Thus when Firau’n saw this dream, he became concerned that there is more to it. He called onto fortune tellers and magicians to explain the meaning of the dream.
It is then that he was informed that, ‘There will be a male baby from Bani Israel who will be born very soon, in whose hands your end will come.’ Firau’n acted immediately and ordered his soldiers to raid the houses of the Israelites and kill any new male baby, and leave the female. It is believed that the killings would be done every alternative year. It was during this time that Nabii Musa was born.
Now the story of Asiyah is connected to two other magnificent women whom we can learn from too. The first one is the mother of Nabii Musa.
#The Promise of Allah
Like any other mother, Nabii Musa’s was terrified of having her son killed and thus Allah Subhanahu Wataala inspired her as stated in the Qur’an: “And We inspired to the mother of Moses, “Suckle him; but when you fear for him, cast him into the river and do not fear and do not grieve. Indeed, We will return him to you and will make him of the messengers.” (Qur’an 27:7)
Having no alternative but take the risk as guided by her Lord, Nabii Musa’s mother put her son in a little basket and cast him in the Nile river. She then asked her daughter to follow the basket and see where it will land. As per Allah’s perfect plan, the basket appeared near the palace of Firau’n where Asiyah and her maids were at. The basket was brought to Asiyah who immediately fell in love with the child. She went to Firau’n and pleaded with him: “[He will be] a comfort of the eye for me and for you. Do not kill him; perhaps he may benefit us, or we may adopt him as a son.” And they perceived not.” (Qur’an 28:9) Allah says ‘And they perceived not’ to mean they were oblivious of what nabii Musa was to become. When Asiyah said this to Firau’n he said, “He is a delight and happiness for you. Not for me.”
Asiyah went ahead and kept Nabii Musa as her son, for she had none of her own. However, the little boy refused to be breastfed by any of the women who tried to. Desperate to feed him, Asiyah kept asking for any woman who could breastfeed to come forth. It is then that Nabii Musa’s sister overheard about the search and suggested to them their mother (Nabii Musa’s and hers), saying I know such a good woman who will definitely succeed in breastfeeding her.
At that time, Nabii Musa’s mother was filled with grief and sadness over her son. She wanted to reveal the secret concerning her son but Allah made her heart firm, until she was called to the palace to breastfeed the baby. And indeed, mother and son were reunited once again. Nabii Musa’s mother was taken good care of by Asiyah and was paid well in exchange of feeding her own son.
Allah says: “And We had prevented from him [all] wet nurses before, so she said, “Shall I direct you to a household that will be responsible for him for you while they are to him [for his upbringing] sincere?” So We restored him to his mother that she might be content and not grieve and that she would know that the promise of Allah is true. But most of the people do not know.” (Qur’an 28:12-13)
Allah subhanahu wataala makes many such promises to us in the Qur’an; of ease, of forgiveness, of reward, of Jannah, of His response to our pleas and cries, and this should give us comfort and tranquility because we know for sure: ‘Allah does not fail in His promise.’ (Qur’an 3:9) He will definitely, by His Mercy and Might, come through for us.
#The bravery of a woman
When Nabii Musa grew up and matured, he unintentionally killed a man. To save himself, he ran away to Madyan where he stayed for about ten years. As he was travelling with his family, Allah subhanahu wataala talked to him for the first time and he was given his mission which was to call Firau’n and his people to the religion of Allah. So Nabii Musa in the company of his brother Haroon aleyhim assalam, went back to Egypt and preached. But Firau’n was arrogant and he denied the message and even forbade his people to follow Musa and would kill anyone who did. The people who reverted to the religion of Nabii Musa did so secretly and very discreetly. Among them was Asiyah bint Al Muzahim and a mashitah (hairdresser) of one of Firau’n’s daughters (from one of Firau’n’s concubines). This was her story:
It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “On the night on which I was taken on the Night Journey (Isra’), a beautiful fragrance came to me. I said: O Jibreel, what is this beautiful fragrance? He said: This is the fragrance of the hairdresser of Pharaoh’s daughter and her children. I said: What is their story? He said: Whilst she was combing the hair of Pharaoh’s daughter one day, the iron comb fell from her hand and she said, ‘Bismillaah (in the name of Allaah).’ The daughter of Pharaoh said: ‘My father?’ She said: ‘No. My Lord and the Lord of your father is Allaah.’ She said: ‘I will tell him about that.’ She said: ‘Yes.’ So she told him and he summoned her and said: ‘O So and so, do you have a Lord other than me?’ She said: ‘Yes, my Lord and your Lord is Allaah.’ He ordered that a baqarah (lit. “cow”) made of copper be heated up, then he ordered that she and her children be thrown into it. She said: ‘I have a request to make of you.’ He said: ‘What is your request?’ She said: ‘I would like my bones and my children’s bones to be gathered together in one cloth and buried.’ He said: ‘This will be done for you.’ He ordered that her children be thrown into it in front of her, one by one, until they came to the last one who was an infant boy who was still being breastfed. It was as if she wavered because of him, but he said (the baby): ‘O mother, go ahead, for the punishment of this world is easier to bear than the punishment of the hereafter.’ So she went ahead.”
Side note: Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: Four infants spoke: ‘Eesa ibn Maryam (peace be upon him), the companion of Jurayj, the witness of Yoosuf and the son of the hairdresser of Pharaoh’s daughter. (A story for another day)
Narrated by Imam Ahmad in al-Musnad (1/309), al-Tabaraani (12280), Ibn Hibbaan (2903) and al-Haakim (2/496).
The hairdresser’s status was elevated in Jannah due to her bravery for Allah’s sake. Imagine watching your five children getting burnt, one by one, in a huge fire. All for the sake of Allah. Indeed, as Allah subhanahu wataala says, the patient will be given their reward without account. (Qur’an 39:10)
#Sacrifice for the sake of Allah
Asiyah aleyha ssalam, seeing the hairdresser being burnt alive with her children, was all the motivation she needed to come forth and declare her true faith to her husband, Fira’un. Upon hearing this, Fira’un told her, ‘Do you know what I’ll do to you?’ and she responded, ‘I do and I still stick to my faith.’ Fir’aun tried to persuade her first. She was his wife, how could she go against him? She was a royal, a queen who had everything and lacked nothing. However much he persuaded her, she refused to change her faith in Allah. Fira’un then started to torture her in all kind of cruel manner. Still, Asiyah was a firm believer.
She was beaten up, denied food and drink. Some narrations say, he hung her from the ceilings with chains from her breasts. As the torture went on, Asiyah looked up in the sky and said, ‘’O my Lord! Build for me, in nearness to Thee, a mansion in the Garden, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings, and save me from those that do wrong’ (Qur’an 66: 11)
It is then that Allah opened up the sky and showed her palace in jannah and she smiled. Fir’aun was agitated. How could she be smiling at such a state? He then ordered her soldiers to go to the highest cliff, tie her under there and push off a boulder that would smash her body to pieces.
However, Allah saved her and took her soul before the boulder could hit her.
This was a queen, the wealthiest on the land. She could have gotten anything she wanted. Anything at all. But she gave up her palace and all that is within it in this world so that she can get a better one, next to Allah subhanahu wataala.
Allah Subhanahu Wataala says:
“And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision. Rejoicing in what Allah has bestowed upon them of His bounty, and they receive good tidings about those [to be martyred] after them who have not yet joined them – that there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve. They receive good tidings of favor from Allah and bounty and [of the fact] that Allah does not allow the reward of believers to be lost.” (Qur’an 3: 169-171)
Today let us ask ourselves, what are we sacrificing or doing for the sake of Allah to deserve Jannah?
Note: This is just my small effort in trying to research on this topic in the best of my ability. Kindly pardon me for any mistakes and don’t hesitate to correct me if anything.
Thank you for reading. Till next week in shaa Allah for the third part of this special Ramadhan series 🙂 Kindly share and subscribe below. Sawm Maqbul good people and please make a short dua for me as you read this 🙂
The Superstars Series by Sheikh Omar Suleiman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0gkYZpYstc
Islamic Guidance: Asiyah Bint Al-Muzahim [RA]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9DFNXT7iBg
MASHITAH. The Story of the Hairdresser of Firaun’s Daughter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nk521wiAatI
The Story Of The Hairdresser Of Pharaoh’s Daughter | A Woman Of Jannah: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Klp80O2E_4I