Asma’ Bint Abu Bakr: A Woman of Peace

Assalamu alaykum and Happy New Year!

Today is the first day of Muharam – a month of peace. How significant that the year would start and end with months of peace. Peace is not the absence of war or fighting, it is not a vacuum; rather it is an active choice one makes in the face of a difficult situation or one that has potential for needless conflict.
Islam differentiates between conflict that occurs when one is standing up for the principles of virtue or in support of someone weak, and conflict that occurs when one is adamant about a personal opinion or in defense of her ego. Hence, it is interesting to ponder upon Asma’ (may Allah be pleased with her) and her active pursuit of peace.
Asma’ was the elder daughter of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) and a member of the unique team that facilitated the Prophet’s (saw) migration to Medina. She was young, yet she was wise and brave beyond her years. Her confidence was bolstered by her father’s trust in her and emboldened by her trust in God. She was let in on the secret of the Messenger’s hijrah (saw), and from there on she knew what to do.
One can only imagine what it was like for a young woman to make the nightly trip to the cave – a trip on such rough terrain that men found it difficult in daylight. One can only imagine what fueled those nightly walks – fear for the Messenger and her father’s safety, concern for their hunger and a longing to bring ease to them? One catches a glimpse of her personality as she tells us of Abu Jahl and members of Quraish, who come to the door shortly after the Messenger (s) left with Abu Bakr. In his coarse and aggressive manner, Abu Jahl asks her about her father’s whereabouts, and when she defiantly answers she doesn’t know, he slaps her so that her earring flies off.
It is concerning how she actively keeps peace in the household that I wish to speak. When her grandfather, who was a disbeliever, angrily objected to his son, Abu Bakr’s departure, she chooses to keep his heart at peace toward his son. She says, “My grandfather, Abu Quhafah, who had lost his eyesight, came over to us, and said, ‘by God I believe he has bereaved you of his money, too.’ I said, ‘No, Father, he has left so much for us.’ So, I took pebbles and I put them in a niche in the wall that my father used to put his money in and covered it with a cloth, then I took my grandfather’s hand and said, ‘O Father, put your hand on this money,’ and he did then he said, ‘Not bad, if has left this for you he has done well.’ Nay by God he had not left anything for us, but I did that, hoping to calm the old man.”
Again, on another occasion she chooses to keep the peace in her household, over personal comfort and the honor of accepting a special offer. The Messenger (s) and a group of his companions saw her walking a distance away from her house, carrying fodder for her husband’s horse on her head. He stopped for her to ride, but she declined remembering al-Zubair’s jealousy.
What draws our attention in these two incidents is not only the choices she makes, but how tuned in to the other person’s feelings she is. One could argue that she didn’t owe her polytheist grandfather any explanation for what her father was doing for the sake of God. One could argue that accepting the Prophet’s offer (s) was more important than her husband’s wrong feelings. But neither choice would have resulted in a peaceful household. We are not in the process of upbringing our parents, grandparents or husbands. What we cannot love and admire in them we try to understand; what we cannot understand we accept as the way they are; and we try to spread calm or at least not give rise to conflict.
This requires deep reserves of peace from within, manifested in patience and understanding. Such a reaction is not one motivated by fear or a sense of dutiful submission. It is a tender, considerate choice to not stir one’s loved ones to anger but rather to strive actively to keep the home a place of peace.
May this year be one of growth, strength, success and peace for you and your loved ones – ameen.


2 responses to “Asma’ Bint Abu Bakr: A Woman of Peace”

  1. qurat mir

    “We are not in the process of upbringing our parents, grandparents or husbands. What we cannot love and admire in them we try to understand; what we cannot understand we accept as the way they are; and we try to spread calm or at least not give rise to conflict.”

    These words strike me as *so* important… sometimes it seems like we need to ‘fix’ the people around us, but that is a huge mistake- like Asma ‘alayha salaam’s example in your post describes- we can only control ourselves, keeping in mind the realities of the personalities around us… baarik Allahu feeki Ya Khale. This kernal has been in my mind everyday since I read it and knocks on my heart every time i start trying to “fix” 🙂

    May Allah fix me through you!

  2. Sheza Mansoor

    Assalaamu ‘alaykum wrwb,

    This is a great post! There’s so much that I can comment on but for the sake of length I will keep it brief. We, as human beings, are designed to react to things immediately. We give responses right away without needing to think about it, we forget to re-focus our minds on Allah (SWT) before acting, and especially when something displeasing happens to us – we don’t say ‘alhamdulilah’, instead we don’t hesitate to give a negative response. The life of Asma bint Abu Bakr (radiAllahu ‘anha) has set an example of a beautiful balance. She knew when she should remain silent and when was the right time to give a pleasing response. She was a woman of ‘aql when it came to dealing with situations in her household. I think of her as the “calm one” – always trying to keep calm and keep others calm in any given situation. She was an optimistic that knew her reward lies with Allah (SWT) alone. May Allah (SWT) bless us by shedding some of her light upon us.

    Wa ‘alaykum assalaam wrwb.

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