Biography of Asma Bint Abu Bakr (R.A.)
Asma’s (R.A.) Family:
Asma bint Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) was the mother of Abdullha bin Zubair (R.A.). Her father Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) was a trusted friend of Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.). Her mother was Qutailah bint Abdul Uzza, first wife of Abu Bakr (R.A.). Asma's (R.A.) parents were divorced before Islam. Although her father was the first man to embrace Islam, her mother Qutailah remained a polytheist.
Asma (R.A.) was also the elder sister of Aisha bint Abi Bakr (R.A.), the mother of the believers. According to Ibn Kathir, Asma (R.A.) was ten-years older than Aisha (R.A.) but according to Imam Al-Dhahabi, the age difference was 13 to 19 years.
Her Acceptance of Islam and Firm Faith:
According to different sources, Asma (R.A.) was the seventeenth of fifteenth person to embrace Islam. She gave pledge to the Prophet (S.A.W.) and firmly believed in him.
Asma’s (R.A.) mother Qutailah once came to visit her in Madinah and brought gifts (dates etc) for her daughter. Asma (R.A.) did not allow her mother to enter the house or accept the gifts until she had sent her sister Aisha (R.A.) to consult with the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) whether it was correct for her to show hospitality to her mother (who was not Muslim).
‘My mother came to me while she was a nonbeliever during the lifetime of the Prophet (S.A.W.). I asked him (S.A.W.) about her.I said (seeking his verdict), "My mother has come to me and she desires to receive a reward from me, shall I keep good relations with her?"The Prophet (S.A.W.) said, "Yes, keep good relation with her. " (Sahih Bukhari: 2620)
Migration of Prophet (S.A.W.) and Abu Bakr (R.A.):
When the Prophet (S.A.W.) set out for Madinah accompanied by Asma's (R.A.) father, Abu Bakr (R.A.) took all what he had of property and left nothing to his family.
Then Abu Quhafa, her grandfather came to her and said, "this man put you in adversity. He deprived you of himself and property.”
Asma (R.A.) bravely replied, "No, he has left so much to us."
She covered some stones and brought them to her blind grand-father and said, "This is what he left." Thereby, the old man said, "There is no blame if he left that."
By such device she reassured the old man.
Before the Prophet (S.A.W.) immigrated to Madinah, the enemies had plotted for his life. He (S.A.W.) had already sent his followers to Madinah. Ali Ibn Talib (R.A.) had volunteered to face his enemies in his house. His (S.A.W.) single companion for the journey was Abu Bakr (R.A.). They two concealed themselves in the cave of Thawr, three miles from Makkah, for three nights, with the enemy prowling around in great numbers in fruitless search of them. Asma (R.A.), the daughter of Abu Bakr (R.A.) provided them with food and water during their stay there.
Abu Jahl came furious and enraged with anger to enforced Asma (R.A.) to tell him the hidden place of her father and Prophet (S.A.W.). But she (R.A.) kept silent and faced him bravely. Failing to make her confess, he slapped her so violently that her necklace fell down. Then he had nothing to do but to leave her place with anger.
Her Title of ‘Dhat an Nitaqayn’:
Asma (R.A.) was given title of ‘Dhat an Nitaqayn’, meaning ‘The Possessor of the two scarves’ by Prophet (S.A.W.) because she (R.A.) split her scarf into two parts in order to deliver food and water to the Prophet (S.A.W.) and her father Abu Bakr (R.A.) in the Thawr cave when they were immigrating from Makkah to Madinah.
Her Migration to Madinah and birth of her Son:
Asma (R.A.) soon joined the Muslim community at Madinah. No sooner did she arrive there than she gave birth to her son, Abullah bin Zubair (R.A.). This was a very special occasion for the Muslims as he was the first newborn in Islam. All the Muslims were excited, as was the Prophet (S.A.W.). He (S.A.W.) picked up the baby in his arms and congratulated the family. Then he (S.A.W.) bit off a little piece of a date, softened it in his mouth and gave it to the baby. This was an honor that made the family feel very proud. At the beginning of her marital life, she was so poor that she had to serve her husband, Zubair bin Awamn (R.A.), bake the bread, clean the home and feed the horse.
Her early days after Migration:
Her husband, Zubair bin Awam (R.A.), the Prophet's (S.A.W.) friend and Companion, was the son of Safiyyah bint Abdul Muttalib (R.A.). She and Zubair (R.A.) arrived in Medinah with no property nor slave nor any possession other than his horse. After reaching Madinah, a house was given to him by Prophet (S.A.W.) in which he lived. It was the duty of Asma (R.A.) to tend to the horse and feed him. Her other duties include fetch water for daily use and prepare the dough for bread and bake it. But she did not know how to bake bread. Her Ansari neighbors used to bake bread for her.
She used to walk home with a bundle of hay (date stones) on her head from Zubair’s (R.A.) land, which was about two miles from her house. One day, the Prophet (S.A.W.) saw her and he (S.A.W.) immediately made his camel sit down so that he could let her ride. But she was embarrassed and thought it would displease her husband who was a very proud man. So she refused the offer and preferred to walk. When she told her husband about it, he said she should have got on to the camel, it would have been less shameful than walking with a bundle of hay. When her father Abu Bakr Siddiq (R.A.) eventually gave her a slave, Asma (R.A.) said that "it was as if he had set me free.” (Ref: Sahih Bukhari: 5224)
Later on Zubair (R.A.) became a wealthy man and his property was sold after his death for about forty million dirhams.
Her habit of Long Prayers to Allah:
Asma (R.A.) always prayed to Allah with full concentration. Her husband Zubair bin Awam (R.A.) relates that when he came home one day, he saw Asma (R.A.) was praying and weeping. She (R.A.) kept on repeating these words from the Quran again and again:
"But Allah has been gracious to us, and has saved us from the torment of the Fire." (Surah Tur: 27)
When Zubair (R.A.) saw her lost in the presence of Allah, he (R.A.) left the house and went to the market. When he (R.A.) came back much later and found her still lost in prayer.
She had a Sharp Memory:
Asma (R.A.) had a very sharp memory like her sister Aisha bint Abi Bakr (R.A.). If she heard anything, even once, she would never forget it. Like Aishah (R.A.), Umm Salamah (R.A.) and Asma bint Yazid (R.A.), she also has many Hadiths attributed to her. Many Companions and successors would come to her for guidance and verification of Hadiths.
Her participation in Battle of Yarmuk:
The Battle of Yarmuk is regarded as one of the most decisive battles in Islamic history. The Muslims were hugely outnumbered by the Romans but with the help of the women and young boys, they drove the Roman Empire out of Syria. Asma (R.A.) took part in the ‘Battle of Yarmuk’ and fought bravely among other Muslims warriors.
Her bravery and death of her son Abdullah:
Asma (R.A.) was a brave woman. Her courage is evident from her words to Abdullah (R.A.) when he consulted her about Hajjaj ibn Yusuf’s siege of Makkah. She was about hundred years old and was blind by then. Abdullah (R.A.) basically went to his mother to asked her if he should surrender.
She (R.A.) replied that if he was in the right, he should not worry about dying. He (R.A.) said he feared that the enemy would cut up his body after death. She answered it was irrelevant what they did with the body. Once a goat is slaughtered, the skinning cannot cause it any pain. She added that fear of death should not stand in the way of a truly courageous man. Death with honour was better than a life of peace with dishonour. A disgraceful peace did not suit a young hero like him. So Abdullah bin Zubair (R.A.) returned to the battlefield with renewed devotion and advanced through the ranks fighting courageously; but since Abdullah’s men were outnumbered, he died the death of a martyr. The cruel Hajjaj bin Yusuf hung up his body for all to see, and did not take it down even after three days. On the third day, the aged mother went to try and recover the body of her valiant and noble son. Since she lost her eyesight, she could only feel her way around. Sighing, she asked, if the time had not yet come for her son to get down from his horse. She faced this great torture with characteristic strength and fortitude.
Then Hajjaj came to Asma (R.A.) and said, "Did you not see How I punished your son, Asma!?"
She replied quietly, "You had ruined her son's life in this world, but her son had ruined your life for eternity.”
Then she added, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) saying that a man would appear from the tribe of Banu Thaqeef who would be a liar and a cruel and ignoble barbarian. Today I’ve seen him myself.”
After hearing Asma’s (R.A.), Hajjaj bin Yusuf left her home silently.
After few days, Hajjaj threw the body of Abdullah (R.A.) into the graveyard on the instructions of Abdul Malik bin Marwan. When Asma (R.A.) heard this news, she sent for the body, had it bathed and had conducted the Funeral Prayer for her dead son. Finally, she buried her beloved son's body in Makkah.
Asma bint Abu Bakr (R.A.) died in Makkah, few days after burying her son, in 73 A.H. She was almost 100 years old but even at that old age, she had a full set of teeth and a sharp memory.
May Allah have mercy on Asma Bint Abu Bakr (R.A.).