• Sunday , 26 March 2017
Aasiyah – The Wife of Pharaoh

Aasiyah – The Wife of Pharaoh

The wife of Pharoah, Aasiyah bint Muzahim, is considered by Muslims to be one of the greatest women in history. She was known to be beautiful and kind, and she proved to be extremely righteous. Allah subhaan wata ‘aala honours her in the Qur’an by saying:

“And Allah presents an example of those who believed: the wife of Pharaoh.” (66:11)

Allah does not limit Aasiyah to being a role-model only for women. Instead, she serves as an example for both the men and women of our ummah, representing piety, strength, courage and defiance against her husband, the most powerful man on Earth, in the face of her love of Allah.

As mentioned in the previous article, ‘The Mother of Musa’, Pharaoh was the ruling King during the time of Musa and Haroon alayhimu salaam. He was the cruellest of leaders who subjected his people to the most horrific torture. To give you an idea of his punishment, Allah documents Pharoah’s speech to his magicians after they declared their belief in the Oneness of Allah and vowed to follow Musa’s religion:

‘[Pharaoh] said, “You believed him before I gave you permission. Indeed, he is your leader who has taught you magic. So I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and I will crucify you on the trunks of palm trees, and you will surely know which of us is more severe in [giving] punishment and more enduring.”’ {20:71)

Pharaoh was clearly very much against this new religion Musa was spreading – and not because he was not a believer but because this religion threatened his power, his status and his claim to divinity. He made it a habit of crucifying believers, so much so that Musa and Haroon alayhimu salaam initially only had a very small following, as people feared Pharaoh’s punishment and so were too afraid to declare their belief in Allah. Even the few who did follow Musa followed him in secret. One of these secret followers included his adoptive mother, Aasiyah radiallahu anha. She believed in the Oneness of Allah and worshipped only Him. For a number of years she concealed her faith from Pharaoh, a difficult task, considering they lived together in a palace.

Eventually, Aasiyah’s secret was exposed, and although Pharaoh threatened her with torture, she refused to give in to his demands, instead holding firmly onto her imaan. At the hands and instruction of her own husband, Aasiyah was bound, burnt, crucified and killed for believing in Allah subhaana wa ta ‘aala. Pharaoh told his people to put nails through her palms and knees, and she was tortured for days on end in the scorching heat. The finale in this spectacle of torture was tying her to the ground and dropping a boulder over her, in an attempt to stone her to death. Unbeknown to her torturers however, Aasiyah, Queen of Egypt, was making du’a (supplication) to her Lord:

“My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise and save me from Pharaoh and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoing people.” (66:11)

She smiled gently throughout her torture, to Pharaoh’s dismay and anger, as Allah presented to her by way of a vision her palace in Jannah. And as Pharaoh’s men dropped the boulder over her, Allah took her soul from this world and hastened her journey to Jannah, so that it was her lifeless body that was hit by the boulder, and alhamdulillah she felt no pain.

About Aasiyah, wife of Pharaoh, the Prophet Muhammad (saw) has said:

“The best women of mankind are four: Mariam daughter of `Imraan, Aasiyah wife of Pharaoh, Khadija daughter of Khuwailid, and Fatima the daughter of the Messenger of Allah.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

So, what lessons can we learn from this exceptional woman?

Lessons

1. Paradise is More Worthy Than Dunya

The most amazing aspect of Aasiyah’s story is that she was Queen of Egypt. This status brought with it riches, possessions and wealth beyond our wildest dreams. In a talk I listened to, the speaker discussed the fact that the riches we see today, those of Hollywood or wealthy Arab nations and royals for example, are nothing in comparison to the wealth of Pharaoh and Aasiyah.

Materially, Aasiyah had everything a woman could possibly want: status, power, authority, money, gold, servants, and even the throne. Still, she heard the message of Tawheed (the Oneness of Allah) and she didn’t fight against the truth. She was fully aware of the pain this would bring her, and she knew it would most likely result in her death. But Aasiyah chose Jannah over Dunya. She died a very painful death for the reward of Jannah.

It would be a mistake to assume that these riches meant nothing to the Queen of Egypt, and that she simply didn’t care about having money, or a nice palace. To say this would be to diminish the sacrifice she made. It’s clear from the very specific du’a she made to Allah that she did enjoy these riches, as any woman would. Rather, she preferred that which was in Jannah, to that which was in Dunya. She hastened to ask Allah to provide her with a replacement that was greater than what she had lost.

“My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise and save me from Pharaoh and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoing people.” (66:11)

This reminds me of Umm Salamah’s du’a (radi allahu anha), and the hadith she narrated:

“I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying, “When a person suffers from a calamity and utters: `Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji`un. Allahumma ujurni fi musibati, wakhluf li khairan minha’ (We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return. O Allah! Compensate me in my affliction, recompense my loss and give me something better in exchange for it) then Allah surely compensates him with reward and better substitute.” Umm Salamah (radi allahu anha) said: “When Abu Salamah (radi allahu anhu) died, I repeated the same supplication as the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) had commanded me (to do), so Allah bestowed upon me a better substitute than him.” [Muslim]

Aasiyah’s story is a very important reminder that we should hasten to choose Jannah over this life, and that on a daily basis we should take actions and make decisions that reflect our belief that Jannah has more worth than this Earth and all of its possessions.

2. When You Sacrifice Something For Allah’s Sake, He Will Replace it With Something Better.

This lesson is one that we all know, but when the time comes to put it into practice, it’s a true test of tawakkul. We should trust Allah and know that His promises are true. When we sacrifice something for His sake, to earn His pleasure and His Jannah, Allah will never forsake us. He will only provide us with that which is better for us, and He will lead us to a path that secures our happiness and His. Just like in Aasiyah radi allahu anha’s situation, where she sacrificed her wealth, her marriage and her husband for Allah’s sake, Allah the Most High rewarded her with a palace that our limited human minds cannot contemplate. She left this world physically broken, but she entered Jannah in a loftier state and with a loftier status than she ever attained on this Earth.

We should reflect on this and consider what exactly we give up for Allah – if anything at all. Aasiyah sacrificed everything, but can we give up greed, lying, cheating, music, zina? This story should prompt us into thinking about how we show Allah we love Him. What do we on a daily basis that reflects our love for Him and our belief in Him?

3. The Tradition of Adoption in Islam

An interesting aspect of this story, that hasn’t really been mentioned much in this account, is the adoption of Musa alayhi salaam. Aasiyah radiallahu anha found baby Musa drifting down the river Nile and pleaded with her hsuband, Pharaoh, to adopt him.

“And the family of Pharaoh picked him up [out of the river] so that he would become to them an enemy and a [cause of] grief. Indeed, Pharaoh and Haman and their soldiers were deliberate sinners. And the wife of Pharaoh said, “[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.” (28:8-9)

Aasiyah had no children of her own, and so it was Musa alayhi salaam who introduced her to the realm of motherhood. This act shows us how gentle, kind and loving she was and it takes us back to the valued Islamic tradition of looking after the vulnerable in our society, specifically children and the elderly. The Qur’an and Sunnah puts great emphasis on the adoption of orphans, and in this lies great reward for those who take up this task. Let’s not forget that our beloved Prophet peace be upon Him was also an orphan, having lost his father before he was even born, and his mother at a very young age.

Sahl ibn Sa’d reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The one who cares for an orphan and myself will be together in Paradise like this,” and he held his two fingers together to illustrate.

This point is also important for Muslim communities that base the value of a woman on whether or not she has children. Aasiyah, as well as many other women from our history, including the Mothers of the Believers: A’ishah and Hafsa radiallahu anhuma, to name but a few, did not give birth to any children during their lifetime. Their status in Islam and before Allah, however, is not diminished by this fact. It’s shameful, therefore, that Muslim women have so much pressure put on them to have children, when the examples from the people before us prove that our worth does not lie in our ability to reproduce.

4. Your Deen Should Not be Attached to Your Husband.

In any marriage, even the worst of marriages, there are always traces of love, compassion or at the very least some kind of attachment. We shouldn’t assume that because Pharaoh was the tyrant he was, Aasiyah didn’t love him, and that it was easy for her to leave him. Again, to say this would be to diminish her strength, independence and love for Allah. Realise that no matter how horrid the husband, it’s not easy to go against the person you’re married to. Nevertheless, Aasiyah put aside her own feelings and paved her way to Allah and Jannah by leaving behind the religion of her husband for the truth.

It’s a lesson to us women. Our imaan should be independent of our husbands’ and their imaan. Our belief shouldn’t fluctuate on the basis of the quality of our marriage, rather, Allah should come before them and we must seek to please Him before our husbands.

5. Fear Only Allah

Aasiyah demonstrated great bravery in following Musa and his religion. She knew that doing so would lead to separation from her husband, torture and most likely death. She earned herself the greatest of enemies, the only greater enemy being Allah Himself subhan Allah. And yet Aasiyah was willing to die for the truth, and she refused to go back on her belief even in the face of horrific, ongoing torture.

In this instance, we are reminded to fear only Allah. Despite there being people who have the ability to harm and hurt us, we have the Al-Mighty on our side. If the whole world were to act as a shield for you while Allah wishes to cause you harm, there is no power in this universe that can prevent His harm from afflicting you. But if the whole world is against you while Allah is on your side and has decreed your protection, there is not a thing in this universe that can harm you.

“So fear them not, but fear Me, if you are [indeed] believers.” (3:175)

Edited by Husnain Abbas Nasim

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