Asmā' bint Abu Bakr (Arabic: أسماء بنت أبي بكر), c. 595 – 692 CE, was one of the companions of the Islamic prophetMuhammad.
She was Abu Bakr's daughter. Her mother was Qutaylah bint Abd-al-Uzza, and she was the full sister of Abdullah ibn Abi Bakr. Her half-sisters were Aisha and Umm Kulthum bint Abi Bakr, and her half-brothers were Abdul-Rahman ibn Abi Bakr and Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr. She also had a stepmother from the Kinana tribe, Umm Ruman bint Amir, and a stepbrother, al-Tufayl ibn al-Harith al-Azdi. The historians Ibn Kathir and Ibn 'Asakir cite a tradition that Asma was 10 years older than Aisha; but according to Al-Dhahabi, the age difference was thirteen to nineteen years.
Early Life: 595–610
Asma’s parents were divorced "in the Jahiliyya," i.e. before Islam. Because of this she remained at her fathers house.
Islam in Mecca: 610–622
Asma was one of the first to accept Islam, being listed fifteenth on Ibn Ishaq's list of "those who accepted Islam at the invitation of Abu Bakr".
When Muhammad and Abu Bakr sought refuge in the cave of Thoor outside Mecca on their migration to Medina in 622, Asma used to carry food to them under cover of dark. When the Muhammad and Abu Bakr left the cave, Asma tied the goods with the two belts of her cover, and for this ingenuity she received from Muhammad the title Dhat an Nitaqayn meaning She of the Two Belts.
She was married to Al-Zubayr ibn al-Awwam shortly before the Hijra.[unreliable source?] She joined him in Medina a few months later.
Medina: 623 onwards
Asma found her new neighbours to be "sincere women". She was a poor baker, and they used to make bread for her. She and Al-Zubayr arrived in Medina with "neither property nor slave nor any possession in the earth other than his horse." Asma used to feed the horse, taking it out to graze and grinding date-stones for it. Muhammad gave Al-Zubayr some date-palms in Medina, and Asma used to carry date-stones on her head from the garden to their home, a journey of about two miles. One day she passed Muhammad, who offered her a lift home on his camel, but fearing her husband’s jealousy, she modestly refused. Al-Zubayr told her, however, that she should have accepted rather than carry such a heavy load on foot. When Abu Bakr eventually gave them a slave, Asma said that "it was as if he had set me free."
Her mother Qutayla bint Abduluzza came to visit her in Medina, bringing gifts of dates, ghee and mimosa leaves. Asma would not admit her to the house or accept the gifts until she had sent her sister Aisha to consult with Muhammad. Muhammad advised that it was correct for Asma to show hospitality to her mother”
Asma and Al-Zubayr had eight children.
- Umm al-Hasan.
- Urwa, a major transmitter of ahadith.
Asma was unhappy in her married life, for Al-Zubayr was "the most jealous of people" and "hard on her." He took three additional wives in Medina, and "whenever Zubayr was angry with one of us, he used to beat her until the stick broke." She complained to her father, who advised her: “My daughter, be patient. When a woman has a righteous husband and he dies and she does not remarry after him, they will be reunited in the Garden.” Another of Al-Zubayr's wives, Umm Kulthum bint Uqba, also complained of his "harshness" and "pestered" him into divorcing her after only a few months.
Al-Zubayr eventually divorced Asma "and took Urwa, who was young at that time."
The Battle of Yarmouk
The Battle of Yarmouk in 636 is regarded as one of the most decisive battles in military history. The Muslims were hugely outnumbered by the Romans but, with the help of the women and the young boys amongst them, they drove the Roman Empire out of Syria.
Women like Hind bint Utbah and Asma bint Abi Bakr were instrumental in the Battle of Yarmouk. The earliest histories pay great tribute to Asmā's bravery there. Al-Waqidi wrote that the Quraysh women fought harder than the men. Every time the men ran away, the women fought, fearing that if they lost, the Romans would enslave them.
Asma's opposition to Yazid
Asma’s son, Abdullah, and his cousin, Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr, were both grandsons of Abu Bakr and nephews of Aisha. When Hussein ibn Ali was killed in Karbala, Abdullah, who had been Hussein’s friend, collected the people of Mecca and rose up against Yazid. When he heard about this, Yazid had a silver chain made and sent to Mecca with the intention of having Walid ibn Utbah arrest Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr with it. In Mecca and Medina Hussein’s family had a strong support base, and the people were willing to stand up for them. Hussein’s remaining family moved back to Madina. Eventually Abdullah consolidated his power by sending a governor to Kufa. Soon Abdullah established his power in Iraq, southern Arabia, the greater part of Syria and parts of Egypt.
Yazid tried to end Abdullah's rebellion by invading the Hejaz, and he took Medina after the Battle of al-Harrah followed by the siege of Mecca. His sudden death ended the campaign and threw the Umayyads into disarray, with civil war eventually breaking out. After the Umayyad civil war ended, Abdullah lost Egypt and whatever he had of Syria to Marwan I. This, coupled with the Kharijite rebellions in Iraq, reduced his domain to only the Hejaz.
Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr was finally defeated by Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, who sent Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf. Hajjaj was from Ta’if, as were those who had killed Hussein. Abdullah asked his mother Asma what he should do, then left to take on Hajjaj. Hajjaj’s army defeated and Abdullah on the battlefield in 692. The defeat of Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr re-established Umayyad control over the Empire.
A few years later the people of Kufa called Zayd ibn Ali, the grandson of Hussein, over to Kufa. Zaydis believe that in Zayd's last hour, he was also betrayed by the people of Kufa,."
Asma died a few days after her son who was killed on Tuesday 17 Jumada al-Ula in 73 AH". Asma died when she was 100 years old.
Asma was 17th person who became Muslim and she was 10 years older than her sister, Aisha. She passed away ten days after death of her son while she was 100 years old and all of her teeth were healthy. It was in the year 73 AH
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She was called the "most truthful daughter of the most truthful one."
She was most devout. Most beautiful. And she was wed to the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, in the latter part of his lifetime.
The story of Aisha bint Abu Bakr (may God be pleased with her) is one of divinity, fortitude, knowledge and love. She contributed more than 2,000 hadith (sayings of the Prophet) to mankind- and is one of the most extraordinary figures in Islamic history.
The Prophet's first wife, Khadija, supported him in the beginning of his Prophet hood in Mecca and through his most difficult days up until her death. Aisha supported the Prophet after his migration to Medina, through various battles and divine revelations up until his death.
Contextualizing the societal constructs of the Prophet's time is critical when discussing Aisha. Her story is one that is used and abused to discredit the Prophet - at the hand of challengers insisting she was a child bride.
What is the real story of Aisha?
Some incredible facts about Aisha, may God be pleased with her:
Her Existence Was Divine
"Marry her, since she is your wife," Angel Gabriel revealed during the time the Prophet's mosque was established in Medina and civilization was thriving.
The marriage of Aisha to the Prophet was divinely decreed. It was quite literally "a match made in heaven."
Muhammad saw Aisha in a dream. Her father, companion to the Prophet, Abu Bakr, was delighted about the marriage. As an esteemed "Mother of the Believers," he treated her with great honor. Muhammad had other wives (previously divorced or widowed) which was customary since women did not hold rights in pre-Islamic times. Women were treated like property; marriage was about survival. Aisha was his only pure wife who never married before or after him.
She Helped Establish a Woman's Right to Choose Her Husband
Pre-Islamic times were referred to as the Era of Jahiliyya or the Age of Ignorance. It was common practice for women to have no say in who they could marry, forced by their fathers and societal predilections. Women turned to Aisha for issues in their lives as well as marital advice. When a girl came to Aisha unhappy that her father was forcing an arranged marriage upon her, Aisha brought the matter to the Prophet who for the first time- established that a woman's choice in marriage was hers to make. Though arranged marriages exist still today in many cultures of various faiths with both good and bad outcomes, it is this period in time that forced marriage became prohibited in Islam.
Her Life Experiences Resulted in Quranic Decrees Favoring Women
Aisha combats slander in her death as she did in life. During an army caravan journey back to Medina from a campaign hailed Banu Mustaliq, Aisha was unwittingly left behind as she was off searching for her sister's lost necklace. Rescued by a male army member, rumors soon spread that she was adulterous. Aisha reportedly fainted from grief upon realizing the magnitude of slander against her. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) received divine revelation- today known as surah an-Nur, that not only confirmed Aisha's purity, it admonished those that took part in the slander. It also established that in Islam, one could not be accused of adultery unless there are four witnesses to the effect:
"Why did they not produce four witnesses (in support of the accusation?) Now that they have not produced witnesses, it is indeed they who are the liars in God's sight. (an-Nur 24:13)
The way Mary and Joseph were slandered in the time of Jesus, so was Aisha. Her travail resulted in the Qu'ranic protection of false accusations against women from God Himself.
She Braved the Front Line in Battles
Befitting the title of the Mother of the Believers, Aisha was courageous, braving the front line of the battlefield alongside her husband without a second thought. She famously took part in the Battles of Uhud, al-Khandaq, Banu Qurayza, Banu Mustaliq, Hudaybiya and the Meccan conquest.
She cared for the wounded and brought water to the armies. Aisha is attributed to the Qur'anic revelations of surah an-Nisa involving tayammum or the use of sand or dirt in the absence of water to perform wudu (ritual ablution before prayer.)
She Ran Circles Around Scholars of Her Time
Aisha was the anti-sheep! She was feisty, questioning everything- believing nothing- unless it was proven to her beyond a shadow of a doubt. Her keen intuition allowed her to astutely understand the motivation that lie behind what people said and did.
Aisha prayed with the Messenger himself, learning Islam from his most intimate and personal moments. She was in attendance at his famous last sermon. Graced with eidetic memory, she was a wealth of knowledge issuing justice so squarely- it didn't matter who it was for or against. She even issued fatwas (rulings on dubious matters)
Poetic and superbly eloquent, scholars clamored to attend Aisha's lectures. She was a teacher like no other teacher - with a God given gift for speaking.
A True Love Story
There was never hesitation from Aisha to become the wife of the Prophet of Islam. She loved him so much; she wanted him all to herself. It was a personal struggle for her to relinquish him to his other wives (who he was fair in dividing his time for) and to the people. Aisha shared tender moments with her husband and they lovingly teased each other. She even harbored some jealousy of her husband's love for his first wife, Khadija, with good reason. Khadija was his ultimate love because of how she was the only person he could rely on during his darkest days. His love for Aisha, however, was so deep- it made him truly happy. The Prophet died on Aisha's bosom. Upon his death, Aisha mourned intensely for her loss- never marrying again.
She Witnessed thousands of Miracles and Saw The Angel Gabriel
Aisha was the only wife to witness the Messenger receiving revelation. She twice saw the Angel Gabriel in human form and received salaams (greetings of peace) directly from him.
She Was Not a Child Bride
Though the controversy of Aisha's age at her engagement, marriage and marital consummation will always persist, historical back-tracking of her age at death as well as key historical events that took place in her life most likely makes her age at engagement 14 or 15- while her age at marriage was most likely 17 or 18. For marriage customs dating back 1,400 years- she was actually getting "up there" in age!
Aisha the Champion
Aisha spent her entire life as a champion for Islam. She lived a highly spiritual life knowing she was an example to mankind with the quest to reunite with her husband in the afterlife. Her days were spent in charity and fast, living modestly while spreading knowledge at every turn. People of all walks of life turned to her for advice all throughout her lifetime. Aisha remains a shining example in Islamic history, a gift to mankind.
Much credit for the information I learned for this article goes to the book, Aisha; The Wife, the Companion, the Scholar by: Resit Haylamaz. This is not an official endorsement or paid book review of any kind.
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