(the name means the one who tends to the weak and heals)
is considered to be
one of four great, noble, and pious women in
Islam. In the
Qur'an, she was the
wife of the
Pharaoh and was the one who adopted
he was found floating in the Nile River.
the Prophet Mohammed, she
will be among the first women to enter the
Paradise as she accepted Moses'
monotheism over the Pharaoh's beliefs.
Her belief in God was so strong that made her an
everlasting symbol throughout the centuries: “And Allah
sets forth, as an example to those who believe, the wife
Asiya, the Queen of Egypt, was of a noble line in Egypt
and belonged to Israelites. Other sources said she was
Egyptian. In any case, she lived in the palace of the
Pharaoh at the highest rank and most glorious position.
She could sink into her sea of pleasures and forget her
Lord and human values.
Her husband was Pharaoh, a tyrant who had spread about
his hegemony and injustice not only in the entire
territory of Egypt and its colonies but also within his
own palace. This was a fact, of which Asiya was well
The history of Egypt is divided into three major
periods: the Ancient Kingdom (2600-2280 BC), the Middle
Kingdom (2100-1800 BC) and the Modern Kingdom (1500-1000
BC). Moses was born in the third period.
In the period 1500-1200 BC, the Egyptians had a powerful
state. Their empire was so big that it extended to the
countries of Sudan and Syria. The pharaohs became
tyrannical. They ordained themselves as gods for people.
Among them were Tahtamis and Ramsis II. When Ramsis II
died, his son Minfitah succeeded him. Moses appeared at
the time of Minfitah.
Yokheved was descended of Prophet Jacob. The children of
Israel followed Joseph to Egypt when it was occupied by
the invading Heksus. They remained in Egypt, and after
several years they became a great population there. The
occupying power made the Israelites their proxies in
But the Egyptians revolted and expelled the Heksus and
so the pharaohs came back to rule Egypt. They persecuted
the people. And the children of Israel had the greatest
share of torture and oppression because of their former
relationship with the invaders. Egyptians regarded them
as strangers and slaves and punished them severely.
For this reason, the Israelites waited for someone to
save them from the oppression of the Pharaoh. They had
prophecies from the time of Joseph and waited patiently
for the birth of the person who would save them from
The Pharaoh heard about the promised savior and his
fortune-tellers confirmed this promise. They told him
that a baby-boy would be born and that the baby would
grow up and kill him.
The Pharaoh was afraid of this prophecy, thus he thought of a
way to eradicate the possibility. He decided to kill all
the baby-boys who would be born among the Israelites.
The Qur'an described their horrible life saying: "And We saved
you from Pharaoh's people, who tortured you severely,
killed your sons, and spared your women."
Allah wanted Moses to be born. Yokheved, the righteous woman,
was sad because she was about to give birth to a baby.
Yokheved had two children before the birth of Moses: a
daughter named Mary and a son named Aaron.
The soothsayers of Pharaoh had notified him that an
Israelite man would rise to overthrow him. They had
additionally warned him that the Israelite man shall put
an end to his life and that Pharaoh’s annihilation by
him would be inevitable.
To escape that terrible destiny, Pharaoh had ordered his
soldiers to slay all male newborns of Israelites.
From that day on Pharaoh’s men strictly watched
Israelite families who were considered the monotheists
of the time. As soon as a boy was born, he was
Under these horrible circumstances, Yokheved became
pregnant with Moses. When the time for her parturition
approached, she was involved in a serious worry; but her
faith in God calmed her down and caused her to beseech
God to save the life of her beloved baby.
When she gave birth to her son, she wondered what would
happen to him if the Pharaoh’s soldiers were informed of
him. At that critical moment, God sent down His
revelation. "So We sent this inspiration to the mother
of Moses: Suckle him, but when you have fears about him,
cast him into the river, but fear not nor grieve, for We
shall restore him to you, and We shall make him one of
The divine commandment cast a beam of light into the
heart of Moses’ mother that He will safeguard the baby.
The mother laid her little son in a wooden box and
pushed it into the Nile before the envoys of Pharaoh
appear and slay him.
As soon as Moses was driven away in the river, the
mother urged her daughter to go after the box: "And she
said to the sister: Follow him". So she watched him as a
stranger. “And they knew not.”
The Qur'an told us that Mary went after the box and saw
that Asia’s maids actually caught it.
Asiya, unlike her husband, was a humble woman. She was
displeased with her husband's wicked deeds. Asiya had no
child. Maybe God had reserved the motherly bosom of that
faithful lady to bring up a blessed child like Moses! Or
maybe she was divinely inspired to bear the affection
for little Moses in her heart, giving her the firm will
to resist Pharaoh in his order of killing that innocent
In that lovely morning, Asiya was sitting by the Nile.
Suddenly, she saw a small box heading for the green
The small box anchored as a beautiful boat. She rose and
ordered her guard to bring her the box and when she saw
the baby, she became attached to him.
Much furious was Pharaoh to see that little baby. But
his wife, according to the Qur'an, said: "(Here is) a
joy of the eye, for me and for you: slay him not. It may
be that he will be of use to us, or we may adopt him as
Pharaoh accepted at the end and his envoys started their
search for a nurse to suckle the baby. But Moses refused
the breasts of all women. It was due to the divine will
which prohibited him from accepting them.
Mary could enter the palace with her good sense and
braveness and, as the Qur'an told us, suggested: "Shall
I point out to you a household that will nourish and
bring him up for you and be sincerely attached to him?"
The God said in the Qur'an: "And We ordained that he refused to suck any
foster mother before."
Finally, by the grace of God, the child was returned to
his mother by the guidance of Mary. Moses grasped her
breast and reposed in her bosom and that way, the divine
promise was fulfilled: "So We restored him to his mother
that she might be comforted and not grieve, and that she
might know that the promise of Allah is true; but most
of them do not understand."
Moses grew up. He was a wise young man. All the people
regarded him as the Pharaoh's son. He loved the weak and
had mercy on them and hated the Pharaoh's manners.
Moses knew that he was not the son of the Pharaoh, that he was
not an Egyptian, and that he was the son of Omran
household, who belonged to the Jacob. And he knew that
Joseph had saved Egypt from famine hundreds of years
Now the children of Israel became the slaves of the Pharaoh.
Thus, the Pharaoh punished them severely. He killed
their babies and enslaved their men. He ordered all the
people to worship him only.
When Moses was appointed by the Almighty as his prophet,
Asiya acknowledged her faith in the new creed and
converted to Moses’ religion. At first she concealed her
faith. For years she worshipped the one God and kept her
faith under the guidance of Prophet Moses. But finally
her secret was disclosed and Pharaoh blazed with anger.
At the first stage he tried to prevent Asiya from
believing in God. For this purpose he resorted to any
means he thought; once he threatened her, and once he
tempted her with fascinating assurances and sweet
But neither threats nor promises worked. Asiya’s soul
was linked to someone else. She cared for no one except
her Creator and whatever Moses said. She was neither
afraid of her cruel husband nor was she happy with her
position as the Queen of Egypt.
She thought of one thing only: how to guide her husband
to the straight path, make him believe in the true God,
and push him to give up his unjust behavior towards his
At last, Pharaoh offered his wife two choices: either to
accept Moses’ religion and be ready for any kind of
torture or to regard her husband as god and continue her
life as the Queen of Egypt.
Witnessing the miracles of Moses, she put her strong
faith in the One God. She knew that Pharaoh was but a
tyrant who would perish some day. She knew that living
in the magnificent palace should end sooner or later,
while the blessings of her God would last forever.
When Pharaoh could not make her wife surrender to his
will, he ordered his men to nail her to the ground and
put a heavy boulder on her chest under the hot sunshine.
At the very last seconds of her life, Asiya was talking
to her God. The Holy Qur'an cites her invocation as
follows. “When she said: My Lord, Build for me a home
with thee in the paradise, and deliver me from Pharaoh
and his work, and deliver me from evil-doing folk!”
Mohammad, the Prophet of Islam (PBUH) said about her:
“There are three persons who never, even not for a
single moment, disbelieved in the divine revelation: …
and Asiya, Pharaoh’s wife.”
He also said: "Among the women of world, the following
are the best: Maryam Bint Imran (Mary), Khadija Bint
Khowailid, Fatima Bint Muhammad, and Asiya-Pharaoh's
Pharaoh, seeing the face of little Moses as well as
other omens such as leaving him in a box and pushing it
in the Nile River, might realized that the baby belonged
to Israelites. The nightmare of a man uprising from
among Israelites awakened within him, and asked his men
to execute the baby.
Courtiers encouraged Pharaoh in his decision to slay the
little baby. But Asiya was filled with the love for that
little baby. Relying on her Lord, she stood against the
vicious plot of courtiers. Asiya’s victory over the
courtiers was not just because of her influence on
Pharaoh, as Pharaoh was merciless tyrant.
Having in mind the prediction of his stargazers about
the birth of a child from Israelites who would overthrow
him from his throne, it was not probable that he would
be influenced by the words of his wife. No doubt, it was
the power of Asiya’s faith that supported her. Being
inspired by God, she relied on her prudence and, at the
end, Pharaoh accepted the baby to grow in his palace.