Asiya bint Muzahem, her life is indeed a great lesson for all seekers of truth
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
The glimpses from the life of a lady who despite being the wife of bloodthirsty tyrant was a picture of piety, virtue and complete faith in the One and Only God. Yes, we are referring to Asiya bint Muzahem, who was the wife of the arrogant and self-styled god of Egypt, Pharaoh Ramses II. She is the lady whom the holy Qur’an has introduced as an exemplary woman not only for women but also for men.
Asiya's greatness lies in her receptive attitude to the monotheistic message of Prophet Moses, and her firm conviction that what is important is obedience to God and not feeling proud on such superficial and transient factors as wealth, beauty and status. God had chosen her to provide refuge to the infant Moses when her tyrannical husband, fearful of the prophecy of his imminent downfall at the hands of a messenger of God, had ordered the slaughtering of all babies born that particular year to the Israelites.
The Qur’an informs us of how God inspired the mother of Moses to build a casket and set afloat her infant in the River Nile so as to be safe from certain death at the hands of soldiers of the Pharaoh. Thus, one fine morning while sitting beside the Nilethat flowed past the staircase leading to her royal palace, she suddenly saw a straw casket afloat in the waters. She ordered that it be brought to her and to her surprise she saw a lovely baby inside it. At once the issueless Asiya became attached to the strange baby body. The Pharaoh was furious on seeing the infant fished out of the river, but, as ayah 9 of Surah Qesas of the holy Qur’an informs us, she said: "‘[This infant will be] a [source of] comfort to me and to you. Do not kill him. Maybe he will benefit us, or we will adopt him as a son.’ And they were not aware."
Asiya had declared her faith in the message of God after witnessing the miracle of Moses in the Court of Pharaoh; and after witnessing the death of another believing, woman under torture. Pharaoh tried to turn her away from the God of Moses but Asya refused to reject the God of Moses. On Pharaoh's order, she was tortured to death.
The holy Qur'an says in Surah Tahrim, Ayah 11: "Allah draws another example for those who have faith: the wife of Pharaoh, when she said, ‘My Lord! Build me a home near You in paradise, and deliver me from Pharaoh and his conduct, and deliver me from the wrongdoing lot."
Asiya indeed was one of the supreme examples of self-sacrifice. By marrying Pharaoh, she became the queen of Egypt and gained everything that she wanted in this worldly life, such as the finest clothes, the best food, ornate palaces, expensive jewelry, servants, maids, etc. Yet she chose to discard all such luxuries of life in bringing up Moses and later believing in his message as the Prophet of God. Moses grew up in the royal palace and the masses viewed him as the Pharaoh's son, and thus a prince.
He, however, was not the least arrogant, and despised the atmosphere of pomp, pleasure, and polytheism of the Pharaoh's court. Years later, after escaping from Egypt on killing an Egyptian in defence of one the oppressed Israelites, he was summoned by God on Mount Toor in Sinai, where he was bestowed with prophet-hood. When as commanded by God he returned to Egypt to invite the Pharaoh and the people to monotheism, Asiya, who had earlier concealed her monotheistic faith, openly acknowledged the path that leads to the One and Only God.
For years she had secretly worshipped only God Almighty, but now her secret was disclosed and the Pharaoh became angry. At first he pressured her to give up her belief in God. He tried to entire her through presents and promises, but when neither threats nor promises worked, he decided to torture her. Asiya was not afraid of her cruel husband, and having failed to guide her erring husband towards monotheism, she resigned herself to her fate. Having witnessed the miracles of Moses, she did not fear death, and only longed for the bliss of the Hereafter.
The holy Qur’an informs us ayah 11 of Surah Tahrim: "Allah draws another example for those who have faith: the wife of Pharaoh, when she said, ‘My Lord! Build me a home near You in paradise, and deliver me from Pharaoh and his conduct, and deliver me from the wrongdoing lot."
Thus, according to narrations, it is said the Pharaoh ordered that the virtuous Asiya be nailed to the ground and exposed to the scorching heat of the midday sun, with a heavy boulder place on her chest. This way she achieved martyrdom. Her life is indeed a great lesson for all seekers of truth.