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By Habtoor Information & Research Department

  Asiya (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 Moses after he was found floating in the Nile River. According to 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 of Pharaoh.”

  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 aware.

  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 Egypt.

  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 torture.

  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 immediately slain.

  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 Our messengers."

  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 baby.  

  In that lovely morning, Asiya was sitting by the Nile. Suddenly, she saw a small box heading for the green bank.

  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 a son."

  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 before.

  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 promises.

  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 poor subjects.

  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 wife."

  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.


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