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Early Muslim Women: Wisdom and Strength of Asma bint Amees

Early Muslim Women:  Wisdom and Strength

أسماء بنت عميس

Asma bint Amees


    Author Dr. Ilham M. Shahine, Professor of Aqeedah and Islamic philosophy, Alazhar University, Egypt


     Asma bint Amees أسماء بنت عميس has taught us that wisdom is the true guidance for a believer, whenever they find it.  She also taught us that we have to see things in perspective, to say things at the right time, with the right words, and with the right person.  She taught us how the wise woman could be in her actions and sayings. She proved that Muslim women have proven to provide great service to Islam; aiding in its spread across the world.  Asma and her sisters are considered from the Sahabiat, companions of the Prophet (saw). She and her sisters grew up in the house of the Prophet (saw) and grew up around the Sahaba and the great leaders of the Muslim state.  They had been great support to their husbands for their services to Islam and the Muslims, demonstrating great wisdom and abilities. 

     Her father, Amees ibn Maabed was from the Khath’am عميس بن معبد من بني خثعم tribe and her mother, Hind bint Aoof ibn Zohier ibn Alhareth هند بنت عوف بن زهير بن الحارث, was from Kana. Her sister Salma سلمى was married to Hamza حمزة (RA) and her sister Mimunah ميمونة was married to the Prophet (saw).   Her sister Um Faddal أم فضل was married to Al Abbas العباس. Her other sister,   Qumisaa القميصاء أم خالد بن الوليد , the mother of Khalid ibn Walid and her sister Azaa عزة, was married into one of ThaQeef tribe ثقيف.   Her sister Hamda حمده had no children.

     Asmaa (RAA) taught us how a woman could be the first to give and to be the example of the best Muslim.  She was from those people who were starters in everything. She accepted Islam and migrated with her husband, Jafer ibn Abi Talib جعفر بن أبي طالب during the first migration to Abyssinia الحبشة. She was also the first to migrate to Madeena المدينة. She accepted Islam before the Prophet (saw) went to Dar al Arqam دار الأرقم.

     Since she arrived to Madeena, Asma was keen to know exactly what the Prophet (saw) had done and she consulted with him in all things that happened to her when she did not know what to do.  This was why she was from the companions who narrated hadeeths from the Prophet (SAW) to the extent that other companions and followers narrated hadeeths from her.  She narrated about 60 hadith from the Prophet.  It was said that Muslim was the only scholar who wrote down the hadiths that she had narrated. 

     Of the people that narrated hadiths from her are her two children, Abdullah عبدالله and Awn عوناً, the children she had with Jafer, her grandson al Qasm, the son of Muhammad ibn Abu Baker, and  her granddaughter, Um Awn, the daughter of Muhammad ibn Abi Jafer. Included as well were Fatimah bint Ali ibn Abi Talib, Abdullah ibn Abbas, her nephew Abdullah ibn Shadat, Omar ibn al Khattab, Abu Musa al Ashari, Urwa ibn al Azuber, and many others (RAA).

      She married Jafer ibn Abi Talib, who accompanied her to Abyssinia during the first migration of the Muslims.  In Abyssinia   she gave birth to her children from Jafer, Abdullah, Muhammed, and Awn.  They returned to Madinah in the year of Khayber خيبر, where Jafer ibn Abi Talib was killed in the battle of Muw’ta مؤتة, during the 8th year of the hijra.  After this she married Abu Baker and gave birth to his son Muhammed, near the area of Theealholifa, on the way to make hajj with the Prophet (SAW). After she had the child, Abu Bakr wanted to have her and the baby return home and not make hajj.  She did not want to accept this and so she went to the Prophet (SAW) and she asked what she could do to be able to still make hajj after just giving birth.  The Prophet’s (SAW) reply was that she was to clean the blood and use a large cloth to be able to stop the blood flow, then to shower till clean, then be able to make hajj.  This example from her gives Muslims a way to follow in this type of situation. After the death of Abu Baker أبى بكر she married Ali ibn Abu Talib, the fourth Kalifate. Asma’s son from Abu Baker was three years old at the time of his death.  She had two children, Yahya يحيى and Awn with Ali ibn Abu Talib أبى طالب.  In the meanwhile, Ali ibn Abi Talib took care of the children from her previous two marriages, a total of six children and only two of his own.

     Asmaa showed great submission to Allah (SWT) and his prophet and she obeyed the order of the Prophet no matter how much she had been through or how difficult.   She was married to three men that were considered the best of the Muslim nation and lost them all in succession without complaining.  She was told the news of her first husband’s death by the Prophet (SAW).  She was so tired from her daily chores of her life, but she still accepted the news from the Prophet and when she tried to show her anger and grief, the Prophet ordered her to be in peace, and she obeyed, yet she cried much for her husband.

       She always showed how a Muslim woman is responsible towards her community and how she can help to fill the gaps in her society. She helped all Muslims, especially the people of the Prophet (SAW), voluntarily and without waiting to be asked to do so. An example of this was during the marriage of Fatimah bint Rasoolullah فاطمة بنت رسول الله to Ali.   When the Prophet (SAW) asked all the woman to get out of the house to go and enjoy and celebrate the marriage, Asmaa stayed in the house with Fatimah. When the Prophet repeated that he had asked for all the women to leave to celebrate, she replied that she did not leave because she had promised Khadija on her death bed that she would stay with her daughters to advise them on marriage.  Khadija خديجة was concerned that her daughters would be left with no advice.  This was her reason for staying during Fatimah’s wedding day to help her prepare for her marriage.  This caused the Prophet (SAW) to become emotional and cry because she had taken care of his daughter on her wedding night.  She also supported the Muslim women during their times of grief.    Asmaa gave the best example as an ambassador for the Muslim Umah in both her sayings and actions. She always did what would benefit her country and what would agree with the religion, a beneficial example for all Muslims.

      Asmaa was the first to put a real cover for the Muslim woman once she has died to keep them covered while burying them.   She did this in response to Fatimah’s concern that the Muslim woman would be exposed during their burial.  Asmaa used a cover that was similar to one used in Abyssinia.  The cover Asmaa used is now called a nash.

     One of the great knowledge and wisdom of Asmaa was that she knew the explanation of dreams.  To the extent that Omar ibn Khatab عمر بن الخطاب use to ask her about the meaning of dreams and narrated many thing from her dealings with this subject.  One example of her use of wisdom was during a time when she could have argued with Umar ibn Khattab but she chose to go and ask the Prophet (SAW) instead.  Omar had said that people who migrated from Mecca to Madinah are those to be considered as the starters of Islam.  Asmaa diagreed. The Prophet (SAW) said those that migrated to Abyssinia from Mecca have two rewards for two migrations and those that migrated to Madinah from Mecca only, have one reward for their one migration.   She demonstrated much wisdom for how she deal with difference of opinion.   Another example of her wisdom, narrated by Zakariah ibn Abi Zaidah زكريا بن أبي زائدة, said he heard that when Ali married Asmaa, her two sons Muhammed ibn Abi Jafer and Muhammed ibn Abu Baker disagreed over who had the best father. When Ali asked her to discipline them and settle the dispute between them, she replied that she never saw a better youth than Jafer or a better old man then Abu Baker. When Ali questioned his position amongst her previous husbands, she told him you are the best of who are existing right now.

     She lived after Ali ibn Abi Talib على بن أبى طالب was murdered until her son Muhammad ibn Abu Baker was killed. She passed grieving on him, praying in her own masjid. They were told when she got the news of her son’s death in Egypt, she went to the musallah in her house to pray to Allah.

   Asmaa was a great wife, a great mother, and a great Muslim. One with so much wisdom that she earned during her lifetime by the mercy of Allah.  Allah says in surah Al Baqarah البقرة  ,  “He grants wisdom to whom He pleases; and whoever is granted wisdom is indeed given a great wealth, yet, none except people of understanding learn a lesson from it”.(Baqarah 269)

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