Asiyah bint Muzahim (RA), commonly known as the pious wife of the Pharaoh (Firaun) and the adoptive mother of Musa (AS) is one of the four greatest women of all time. Asiyah’s story is one of the most empowering and powerful stories in the Qur’an. She was a true symbol of strength, bravery and faith who will forever remain an example for mankind.
Despite being married to the greatest tyrant and worst human of all time, Firaun, Asiyah (RA) was an extraordinary woman who preserved through her hardships and perfected her Imaan (faith). Asiyah (RA) was born in a wealthy family and continued to live a life of royalty after her marriage to the Firaun. Like other royal wives of the Middle East, Asiyah (RA) also lived a secretive life which is why we don’t know much about her family, childhood or life before her marriage to the Firaun. We do know that Asiyah (RA) was a beautiful and generous woman and was married to the Firaun through an arranged marriage.
We all know the story of Firaun ordering his men to execute all the Bani Israel boys because he was told by a fortune teller that a man from Bani Israel was going to overthrow him. Musa (AS)’s mother feared for his life when he was born and out of her fear and reassurance from Allah (SWT), she placed Musa (AS) in a crate and let him go in the Nile River.
Asiyah (RA)’s story starts the day she found baby Musa (AS) in a crate along the Nile River who she fell in love with at first sight. Asiyah (RA) had no children of her own so this baby was even more special to her. Asiyah (RA) convinced Firaun to let her keep the baby and to raise and love him as her own. Years went by and the day came when Musa (AS) revealed that he is a Prophet and called to Tawhid. Asiyah (AS) immediately believed in his message and started practising Islam. She carried such strong faith that she was willing to give up her life for it.
Like the people around her, Asiyah (AS) was also afraid of the oppression and wrath of the Firaun. He would threaten people into worshipping him and him alone. If anyone was to go against him, they would be severely tortured and punished. Some examples of his punishments included cutting limbs and crucifying people on tree trunks.
Modesty Through Bravery & Perseverance
After accepting Islam, Asiyah (RA) began practising behind Firaun’s back. She lived as a secret Muslim in the house of Fiarun for years and continued to practice her deen for years until one day when one of the daughter’s of Firaun (not through Asiyah), overheard Asiyah (RA)’s hairdresser saying ‘bismillah’. Upon giving this news to her father, Firaun ordered to burn the entire family of the hairdresser in front of the city to set an example for those who go against him. After witnessing this cruelty, Asiyah (RA) had seen and witnessed enough injustice. That same night she stood up against the Firaun’s injustice, and revealed her secret faith and expressed her belief in Allah (SWT).
Despite being aware of her husband’s barbaric, vicious and cruel mindset, Asiyah (RA) was brave enough to reveal her faith to her husband for the sake of Allah (SWT). This was a man who had no problem killing children every year nor ruthlessly torturing or burning people alive. He was a man who continued to ignore the signs of Allah (SWT) only to raise himself to the level of God. On the other hand, she was a generous woman who grew up with luxuries and regardless of her being confined and oppressed by her husband, she had never actually faced any adversities. Nonetheless, she remained brave and steadfast in her decision to uproot everything she was used to for the sake of Allah (SWT).
After hearing this, Firaun was so furious that he dragged her to the desert and had her chained to the ground. He deprived her of water, food, shade her dignity and her honour. People would come to laugh and taunt her. After enduring this torture for so long, Asiyah (RA) looked to the skies and asked Allah (SWT) to build her a palace with him in Jannah. Allah (SWT) opened the skies for her to show her the palace she would be granted in Jannah. But notice here, how she did not ask for a better husband in Jannah, rather she asked for Allah (SWT)’s company. Her goal was the akhirah, the hereafter.
The angels shaded Asiyah (RA) while she was being whipped and tortured. The more she was tortured, the more her Imaan grew. She would look up to the skies to see her palace in Jannah and smile. She would laugh so much that Firaun got annoyed and ordered for her to be taken to a mountain and tied up beneath a cliff. He ordered his guards to drop the largest boulder they could find over her body but before they could throw the boulder Allah (SWT) took her soul and had given her a place in Jannah as he promised.
Subhan Allah, what bravery, courage and patience would it take to endure this kind of torture. What we can learn from this is that when Allah (SWT) is with you, even your most difficult hardships can become easier. If you are a true believer and if you could see what Allah (SWT) has waiting for you in Jannah, you would be able to withstand any difficulty in this world. And what better example of that than the woman who was tortured by the worst man of all time. She was a Queen who lived in a palace, yet, she was able to bear being tortured because she had more attachment to her home in Jannah than her home in this temporary world.
Modesty Through Self-worth
The second lesson we can learn from Asiyah (RA)’s life, is that regardless of being married to a tyrant, she was not defined by him or her royal status. She did not let her circumstances or her marriage define or limit her. Asiyah (RA) was a Queen who lived a life of luxurious but she never let her wealth or status make her arrogant, proud or selfish like her tyrant husband. She remained steadfast in her beliefs, character and her morals.
When we look to define our self-worth, we go to several places, but usually, we measure it by society’s trends and acceptance. We let society dictate our self-worth by how we look, our status, wealth and power. What we can learn is that our self-worth should develop from only one relationship, our relationship with our creator, Allah (SWT). Our relationship with our Creator should define how we feel about ourselves and who we are.
Asiyah (RA) has given us one of the most powerful and empowering stories in the Qur’an. Allah (SWT) described her in the Qur’an saying, “that Allah (SWT) has given an example to those who believe of the wife of Firaun” (66:11). Asiyah (RA)’s strength, bravery and status will forever remain unsurpassed. She will be amongst the first women to enter Paradise.
Asiyah (RA) set an everlasting example of how a woman can choose the hereafter over all the luxuries of this world. Asiyah (RA) was a woman whose love for Allah (SWT) was so great that it inspired her to take on the greatest tyrant of all time. Subhan Allah! What a phenomenal woman. She faced a great test of faith which she passed with flying colours.