Recently, I have been going through the Greatest Mums of all times series, and in there, one of the Ustaadh’s mentioned a beautiful story about a beautiful woman, wife, mother and servant of Allah. It is said to be one of the most touching conversations between a mother and son ever to be recorded in the Seerah, and one which is sure to bring tears to your eyes, and will cause your hairs to stand on end.
It is no other than the story of Asmaa bint Abi Bakr and her son, Abdullah Ibn az Zubayr.
Asmaa was a woman who lived a life of great struggle. Even pre-marriage, she was known for playing a prominent role in the Hijrah. Her role was to tie the food of her father, Abu Bakr and Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wasallam) with two belts, which she wore around her waist. Thus, she became known as “Dhaatun-Niqaatain” – ‘The Woman with the two waist belts.’ Due to this act of goodness, it is said that she will be recompensed with two waist belts (pieces of cloth) in Jannah.
Even when she married Az Zubayr, she worked hard day and night. She married him despite the fact he had no land, no wealth and no servant. She says in a hadith narrated by Bukhari, that she would graze his (her husbands) horse and camel, she would ground the flour, and do all the other chores. She says that she wasn’t very good at baking bread, so she would get some women from the neighbourhood to help her in baking the bread. She worked so hard that once Abu Bakr gave her a maid, and she described to have felt as though she had been freed from slavery.
Now, I want to fast forward to a 100 year old, Asmaa bint Abu Bakr, and I want you to imagine you are witnessing this conversation between her, and her son Abdullah.
The Ummayyadh caliphate at that time was Al-Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf. He was a cruel and tough leader who set out to kill Az-Zubayr, someone who dedicated his life to the service of Islam.
Now, just before he was killed, a conversation took place between Abdullah and his mother, and it goes as follows…[Paraphrased]
Abdullah is just moments away from being killed, and before he leaves, he decides to speak to his mother for the last time. Still unsure and doubtful of whether he should leave, he, goes and consults his mother for her advice. He says:
“O Umm, what do you think I should do?” (i.e – should I surrender?)
Asmaa, his old, weak and frail mother, whose heart was flooded with strength and bravery, replies to her son with a most powerful statement, by saying:
“Wallahi! A dignified strike with a sword is more beloved to me than a humiliating lash of a whip!”
So Abdullah smiles at his mother and continues to take heed to her words. She goes on to say:
“All Praise is due to Allah who put you upon that which is beloved to Him, and that which is beloved to me.”
“Come closer to me, O my son, let me sense your smell for the last time.”
Now, just close your eyes and imagine this. An old woman, of a hundred years old, is requesting to hold her son for the last time, knowing that this was last time she would ever see, touch and smell him. The son who was the coolness of her eyes, and a delight to her heart.
So Abdullah comes closer and embraces his old mother with a hug. Whilst doing so, Abdullah lowers himself to kiss her hands, her feet and her forehead. As he does this, Asmaa’s frail hands touches Abdullah’s shield, and so she says to him:
“What is this you’re wearing, my son?”
Abdullah then replies,
“O Umma, its a shield, its armour”
He said, “I am afraid I will be mutilated by the people of Sham, I am afraid that they will cut up my body after they have killed me”
And the brave Asmaa then cries,
“After someone has died it won’t make any difference what they do to you if you have been killed.”
(i.e – So what if he mutilates you! You are standing up for the truth!)
Abdullah, with a heart of honesty, then replies,
“I did not come to you except to increase myself in knowledge.”
(He is also reported to have said, “I wore it so that you could be comfortable.”)
“This is not the way a person who was seeking the pleasure of Allah should dress.”
Abdullah then takes off his armour, obeying his mothers request and advice.
She then looks to him and says,
“Tighten your Siwaar.” (so that his awrah doesn’t expose when he’s killed)
Look at what she was concerned with! She was ready to accept her son as a martyr but did not want his Awrah to be exposed in the process!
So Abdullah tightenes his siwaar, again obeying his mothers request.
As Abdullah gets up to walk away, his 100 year old mother, Asmaa, the daughter of Abu Bakr, a woman who lived a life of great hardship and toil, watches him as he leaves.
So he stops and turns to his mother. Imagine how Abdullah must be feeling. He just said a farewell to his mother, knowing that this was probably the last time they would ever meet. Similarly she gazes at her son, the one she carried for months long, the one she raised, the one who served her and loved her, and here he was, walking away from het loving embrace and towards his death.
And so it is reported that he turns back to her and requests her her Du’aa,
i.e – “Make Du’aa for me”
At this moment, imagine the emotions? The heaviness that he must have felt in his heart. The lump in his throat, the tears in his eyes. Imagine all this. Yet, he knew that if anything, it was his mothers incredible and powerful Du’aa that would benefit him. He was doing this for a just cause, for the honour of Islam, and so despite the feelings of sadness right then, he would continue to fight for the truth, even if that meant parting with his beloved.
Asmaa, after hearing this, immediately raises her weak hands to the sky, and makes Du’aa for her son.
A short while later, Hajjaj crucified him and said, “No one must put down his body except Asmaa (radiallaahu anha ), she must come to me and ask permission of me and only then will his body be put down”.
It is said that Asmaa would spend so much of her time in worship and dhikr after her son’s death. Not long after her son’s martyrdom, Allah took her soul too, whilst she was in her Salaah. It is also reported that Az-Zubayr’s family, all died whilst they were in Salaah. A noble family, a noble progeny, and a noble ending. May Allah be pleased with them and shower His mercy upon the family of Zubayr.
– Madiyah Bint Mas’ood