Thursday, January 10, 2008

Asma of the Two Belts: A Mainstay of Hijrah

Asma  The Two Belts

Dalia Salaheldin

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;

All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of the al-‘ālameen. There is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu alayhi wasallam, is His Messenger.

She of the Two Belts: A Mainstay of Hijrah

Being born a Muslim Arab woman who has lived all her life trying to be a dedicated Muslim, I never stopped to think about my being a Muslim woman. That is simply because, when a Muslim thinks from where he or she stands, and that is from inside the world of Islam (and I mean of Islam, not of Muslims) he or she does not stop and say, "I am a Muslim man," or, "I am a Muslim woman."

A Muslim simply stops and says, "I am a Muslim," thus, a Muslim says, "I have a mission in this life for which I have a certain vision; thus, I have to implement my vision in order to accomplish my mission."

This is not to deny that there are differences between men and women in Islam, but these differences are never related to status, preference, role, duties, or rewards. The difference might only exist in "how" each goes on with his or her role in this life. This similarity of roles, duties, and rewards is obviously clear in the Quranic verse which simply says what means:

“For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise, for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward.” (Al-Ahzab 33:35)

Here, the verse shows that expectations are the same and rewards are the same.

Question: In relation to the coming of the new Islamic year, a celebration for Muslims, many speak about the heroic process of Hijrah. Yet, as usual, you find that all heroes in Islam are men. In your site, you say women are equal to men, but this doesn't show in practical doings. Muslims speak all time about how the first caliph was a good friend during the journey of Hijrah and how all Muhajirun were heroic, but were all Muhajirun men?

The point that I am trying to say from this long introduction is that since Muslim men and women both have the same duties and rewards, both have tried to accomplish their mission since day one.

According to Islam, man's mission in this life is to serve God. When I use the word "man" I do not mean the masculine kind, but I mean the race of mankind. I would have much preferred to use the Arabic word insan, which indicates both sexes—male and female. Anyway, as I have mentioned that since both men and women have the same mission, both have worked to serve God since day one Islam.

History tells us that the first Muslim was a woman, Khadijah, Mother of Believers. Moreover, the first martyr was a woman, Sumayyah, mother of `Ammar b. Yasir.

Also, the greatest teacher of Prophetic Hadith was a woman, Aishah, Mother of Believers. History tells so much and so many stories about great women who lived to serve God and died in commitment to their mission. May Allah be pleased with them all.

Life is a long, contorted path that cannot be survived by women on their own, nor can it be survived by men on their own. The beauty of worship in Islam is that as you can practice it individually, you can also share it with your beloved ones. Hand in hand, men and women are to share their duties in order to achieve their mutual goal—God's pleasure.

This was of course what took place during the journey of Hijrah, as it has taken place and should always take place in any other worship. Men of the Muhajirun migrated from Makkah to Madinah and women of the Muhajirun did the same.

Both left their beloved Makkah, along with their belongings, memories, beloved ones, and families, and immigrated to the land where they could survive with their faith of Oneness. It was tough on the men and might have been even tougher on the women. Simply letting go of everything you have ever loved and been attached to just to perpetuate an idea that has convinced both your heart and mind could not have been easy.

From your question, I understand you need me to narrate a story of one of the women. I chose to narrate the story of a woman whose deed was a mainstay in the success of the migration of the Prophet of Islam. In fact, each Muslim owes her gratefulness and appreciation until this very day. This woman is Asma of the two belts.

She was Asma, daughter of Abu Bakar the first caliph and Companion of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). She was known for her noble descent and bravery. She chose Islam when she was nearly fourteen and she was the 18th person to accept Islam.

Her role during Hijrah was not only that of one of the Muhajirun who left their past behind, seeking a land where freedom of worship was guaranteed, but she was one who helped guarantee the success of the Prophet's Hijrah along with that of his companion Abu Bakar.

During the very first days of the Prophet's Hijrah, he (the Prophet) and Abu Bakar had to hide for a couple of days in a small cave known as the Cave of Thur in a rocky mountain of the same name. Only the chosen knew where the two great men were hiding. Among those chosen was Asma (may Allah be pleased with her).

Each night, oblivious of the dreariness of the rocky dark desert, Asma would take food and drink to her father and his blessed companion. A young woman of her age should not have taken the risk of being in such a rocky, mountainous, deserted place at night, especially with the political threats that were leveled at them due to the status of her father.

Yet Asma went. How else would the two great men receive nutrition if not because of Asma? They had to hide until the men of Quraish gave up looking for them. Asma knew this and knew the importance of her mission to help keep those two men alive. It was the mission of keeping faith alive.

She received her well-known title of "She of the Two Belts" for a gesture she made during her mission. Wanting to carry both food and drink, she had no alternative but to tear her belt into two parts; a part for the food and a part for the water. Prophet Muhammad named her "Asma of the Two Belts." He then promised her that God would give her two belts in Paradise.

In his search for the two runaway men, Abu Jahal (a major enemy of the Prophet) went to Asma, asking her about her father. Asma gave him no information and her punishment was a slap on her face that broke her earrings. A woman of her dignity and self-respect would not have tolerated such an incident except for the sake of a respected cause and a more dignified goal.

Narrating the life of Asma would take pages of detailed heroic incidents. She lived to be one hundred with the same dignified sincerity for the cause and with the same strength of character and strength of belief. The small incident that I narrated is but one example of how many great women served Islam.

Whether Muslim or non-Muslim, woman is a great creation of God, just as man is a great blend of emotions, thoughts, logic, and feelings that are to be interpreted into deeds and history. If either men or women choose to serve God, the greatness is in the One served and never in the kind that serves.

And Allāh Almighty Knows best.

[Via Islam Online]

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