Asiya bint Muzahim (Arabic: آسِيَة بِنْت مُزَاحِم) was, according to the Qur'an and Islamic tradition, the wife of the Pharaoh of the Exodus and adoptive mother of Moses, identified as Bithiah in the Jewish tradition.[2] She is revered by Muslims as one of the four greatest women of all time, and according to a prophetic narration in Sahih al-Bukhari, the second ever.[3][4]

Asiya (depicted with long black tresses) and her servants, having finished bathing, find baby Moses in the Nile.[1] Their clothes hang in the trees. The river waves and crests are done in the Chinese style. Illustration from the Persian Jami' al-tawarikh
Asiya bint Muzahim name in Islamic calligraphy

She is believed to have secretly accepted monotheism after witnessing the miracle of Moses. The tradition holds that Asiya worshipped God in secret and prayed in disguise fearing her husband. She adopted Moses and convinced her husband not to kill him. She died while being tortured by her husband, who had discovered her monotheism and retaliated to her rebellion against his tyranny.[5]

NarrativeEdit

Asiya's marriage to the Pharaoh was arranged. Unlike her husband, she was humble and accepted the faith that Moses and Aaron were preaching. Although she had exceeding wealth, she was not arrogant like the Pharaoh. She realized that faith was far more important and was thus exalted by God amongst the women of her generation.

Asiya and her maids found a crate floating in the Nile river. Asiya ordered that the crate be drawn ashore. The maids thought there was a treasure inside, but instead found a baby boy, Moses. Asiya instantly felt motherly love towards him. She told the Pharaoh about the baby. The incident has been described in the Quran.

And Pharaoh's wife said: A refreshment of the eye to me and to thee – slay him not; maybe he will be useful to us, or we may take him for a son. And they perceived not.

— Quran: Sura Al-Qasas, verse 9[6]

Asiya offered Moses's biological mother to live in their household as his wet nurse and paid her for her services, unaware of their relationship.[7][8]

When she witnessed the death of a believing woman under her husband's torture, Asiya declared her faith before the Pharaoh. He tried to turn her away from the faith, but Asiya refused to reject the God and the teaching of Moses. On Pharaoh's orders, she was tortured to death.[9]

VenerationEdit

Asiya is one of the four most respected women of all time, and is highly honored by Muslims.[10] It is said that Asiya was a sincere believer and that she fully submitted herself to Allah, despite being the wife of Pharaoh. According to Hadith, she will be among the first women to enter Paradise because she accepted Moses's monotheism over Pharaoh's beliefs. The Qur'an mentions Asiya as an example to all Muslims:[8][11][12] Her supplication is mentioned in the Quran.

And Allah citeth an example for those who believe: the wife of Pharaoh when she said: "My Lord! Build for me a home with thee in the Garden, and deliver me from Pharaoh and his work, and deliver me from evil-doing folk."

— Quran: Sura At-Tahrim, verse 11[13]

Abu Musa Ashaari narrated that once the Islamic prophet, Muhammad stated:

There are many persons amongst men who are quite perfect but there are none perfect amongst women except Mary, daughter of Imran, Asiya wife of Pharaoh, and the excellence of Aisha as compared to women is that of Tharid over all other foods.

— Sahih Muslim Hadith 2431[3]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Avner Gilʻadi (1999). Infants, Parents and Wet Nurses: Medieval Islamic Views on Breastfeeding and Their Social Implications. Brill Publishers. ISBN 9789004112230.
  2. ^ "Daughter of Pharaoh: Midrash and Aggadah". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 2022-03-19. The midrash calls the daughter of Pharaoh “Bithiah,” identifying her with the woman mentioned in I Chron 4:18: “And his Judahite wife bore Jered father of Gedor, Heber father of Soco, and Jekuthiel father of Zanoah.
  3. ^ a b Muhmmad al-Bukhari. Sahih Al-Bukhari Translated into English Prose by Muhammad Muhsin Khan.Hadith 7.329
  4. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an. Leidan: Brill, 2001. Print.
  5. ^ Stowasser, B.F. (1994). Women in the qur’an, traditions, and interpretation. New York: Oxford University Press. 57
  6. ^ Quran 28:9:(Here is) joy of the eye, for me and for thee: slay him not. It may be that he will be of use to us, or we may adopt him as a son." And they perceived not (what they were doing)
  7. ^ Ṭabarī; Brinner, William M. (1991). The children of Israel. SUNY Press. ISBN 0-7914-0688-1.
  8. ^ a b Wheeler, Brannon M. (2002). Prophets in the Quran: an introduction to the Quran and Muslim exegesis. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8264-4957-3.
  9. ^ Renard Although the Quran says that she prayed to God to save her from Pharaoh and some Muslim traditions even say that she was migrated when Moses was delivering the Israelites., John (1998). Windows on the house of Islam: Muslim sources on spirituality and religious life. University of California Press: Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0-520-21086-7.
  10. ^ "4 Women of Paradise". www.muslim.sg. Retrieved 2021-08-11.
  11. ^ Renard, John (1998). Windows on the house of Islam: Muslim sources on spirituality and religious life. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21086-7.
  12. ^ Turfe, Tallal Alie (1996). Patience in Islam: sabr. TTQ, INC. ISBN 1-879402-32-7.
  13. ^ Quran 66:11:And Allah citeth an example for those who believe: the wife of Pharaoh when she said: "My Lord! Build for me a home with thee in the Garden, and deliver me from Pharaoh and his work, and deliver me from evil-doing folk."