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A Paragon of Perseverance

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(Sayyidah Asmaa bintu Abi Bakr [radhiyallahu ‘anhuma] – Part One)

Imagine a woman whose father is the best man to ever set foot on the earth after the Ambiyaa (‘alaihimus salaam) … her sister is married to the leader of all the Prophets (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) … she married one of the ‘Asharah Mubash-sharah (the ten Sahaabah [radhiyallahu ‘anhum] given the glad tidings of Jannah by Rasulullah [sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam] in one gathering) … and her son was the khaleefah of the Muslims in the land of Hijaaz.

This fortunate, blessed woman was none other than Sayyidah Asmaa (radhiyallahu ‘anha), the daughter of Sayyiduna Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), the elder sister of Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) (she was approximately seventeen years old when Sayyidah ‘Aaishah [radhiyallahu ‘anha] was born), the wife of Sayyiduna Zubair (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), and mother of Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah bin Zubair (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma).

There are two reasons for which a person may undergo difficulties and face tragedies. At times, the adverse circumstances are the consequences of one’s evil actions and sinful deeds. However, this is not always the case. Rather, the second reason for Allah Ta‘ala ‘enrolling’ a person into the testing process is so that he may exercise sabr and express his happiness with the decree of Allah Ta‘ala, thus qualifying for the great prizes and awards which Allah Ta‘ala has kept in store for him. Hence, the hadeeth explains that the people who were tested the most from all the people were the Amibiyaa (‘alaihimus salaam). (Sunan Tirmizi #2398)

As far as Sayyidah Asmaa (radhiyallahu ‘anha) is concerned, then her life was filled with different tests and challenges. Prior to the advent of Islam, her father and mother, Qutailah bintu ‘Abdil ‘Uzza, were divorced. Hence, she underwent the separation of her parents. Thereafter, when Sayyidah Asmaa (radhiyallahu ‘anha) was approximately fourteen years of age, she accepted Islam, but her mother remained on disbelief. After accepting Islam, she and her beloved father were persecuted by the disbelievers, just as the other Muslims were subjected to persecution. At the time of hijrah, her father left her with her siblings in Makkah Mukarramah and departed with all his money, in the service of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and Islam. When married to Sayyiduna Zubair (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), they lived in poverty, and unfortunately, the marriage did not work out and hence she underwent a divorce. Finally, at the very end of her life, she had to bid her son farewell, moments before he was mercilessly killed, beheaded and crucified by the tyrant, Hajjaaj bin Yusuf.

Each one of these challenges is such that a person today would perhaps regard it to be ‘the end of the world’. However, on examining these incidents in the life of Sayyidah Asmaa (radhiyallahu ‘anha), we will find that until the end of her life, no matter the circumstances, she had such imaan that she was a rock of steadfastness, a pillar of patience, and a paragon of resolve and resoluteness. Whatever happened to her, she never gave up and never lost hope, but continued to persevere.

Insha-Allah, in the parts to come, we will discuss some of these incidents and examine the remarkable response of Sayyidah Asmaa (radhiyallahu ‘anha) through which we will gain some solace, hope and courage to persevere, despite our difficulty.