From Bilal to Sumayya, the history of Islam is replete with sacrifices rendered by the companions of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him). Asma bint Abu Bakr has a special position among the early Muslims. Her sacrifices for Islam are numerous.
Asma was the daughter of Abu Bakr and sister of Ummul Momineen Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with them). She was the mother of Caliph Abdullah bin Zubair. Her four generations were companions. She was the 18th person to enter into the fold of Islam. Asma supported Islam from her early age. She played a key role in the migration of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Asma was entrusted to carry food for Abu Bakr and the Prophet (peace be upon him) who were hiding in Cave Thawr. The cave was about three miles away on a mountainous track. She carried food daily for three days, though she was pregnant of seven months.
The last day when Asma prepared their travel provisions and water skin there was no rope to tie them. She tore her Nitaq (waist belt) into two pieces and tied the bag with one. The Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) saw it, he smiled and told her, “Indeed, Allah has given you, in exchange for this girdle, two belts in Paradise.” And thus she was named as “Zu Nataqain” (Lady of Two Belts). She kept this honorable title for the whole life.
After the two left Thawr cave, Abu Jahl came in searching for them and slapped Asma so hard that blood oozed from her ears. Bearing the pain with courage and tolerance, she did not disclose the secret.
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) reached Quba near Madinah, he invited a group that included his daughters and Asma accompanied them. When they reached near Quba, she gave birth to a boy named Abdullah bin Zubair. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was very happy. He took the baby in his lap and gave a bit of date chewed by him in the mouth of the baby. Abdullah was the first baby born to Muhajirin in Madinah.
Zubair ibn Al-Awwam, her husband, migrated to Madinah empty handed leaving everything in Makkah. Asma spent a hard time in the beginning. The daughter of a rich man found herself tending animals, kneading, grinding and fetching water. She used to carry on her head date-stones from their land at a distance of two miles from Madinah.
The real test of Asma’s tolerance and patience appeared after the martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) at Karbala. She was then about 90 years of age. After the tragedy of Karbala, people gathered around her son, Abdullah bin Zubair knowing him as a learned, powerful and brave man. He succeeded in winning the support of Makkah and Madinah. Eventually, Abdullah consolidated his power in Iraq, Hijaz, southern Arabia, the greater part of Syria and parts of Egypt.
Asma advised her son before the fight against the Damascus ruler Abdul Malik bin Marwan saying she will be grieving for him only if he is killed in a vain and unjust cause. “Death with honor is better than a life of peace with dishonor.”
Abdullah went forward to fight against Marwan’s commander Hajaj bin Yusuf and kept fighting until he was martyred. The cruel Hajaj beheaded him and hanged his body on a tree. He declared, “No one should take down his body except Asma. She must come to me and ask my permission. Asma refused to go. Eventually Hajaj came to her and asked, “What do you say about this matter?” She boldly replied, “Verily, you have destroyed him and you have ruined his life, and with that you have ruined your Hereafter.”
She added that she had heard the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) saying that “A man would appear from the tribe of Banu Thaqif who would be a liar and a cruel and ignoble barbarian. Today she has seen him for herself.” Hajaj bin Yusuf left silently.
Later Hajaj dropped the body into the graveyard. She arranged for its bathing, funeral prayer and buried with her hands her son Abdullah bin Zubair in Makkah.
Asma died a few days after burying her son, in 73AH. She was 100 years old but never lost her memory and had a full set of teeth. She took part in the Battle of Yarmuk in 636AC and fought bravely which drove the Roman Empire out of Syria. She is the narrator of 58 Hadith, and many leading men related Hadith from her. In a corner of Jannatul Muala a small grave indicates toward this great lady. Asma bint Abu Bakr was really a great role model for the Muslim women.
While proceeding to Jabal Thawr you will find a sign on the road named Zu Nataqain Street. And this is the path which was trodden by this great lady to carry the provisions to Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) to Thawr Cave. Just wait for a moment in this place and pray for these noble souls. May Almighty Allah grant them the highest ranks in Paradise.