One of the best women in Islam to set an example for us in the characteristic of shyness was Asma bint Abu Bakr, ra. Who was this woman one may ask?
She was one of the most noble women of Arabia.
The daughter of the pure and the noble Abu Bakr, the leader of his tribe, and the first Caliph of Islam.
The sister-in-law of the best of mankind. Rasool Muhammad saaw, who named her “Thatun-Nitaqayn” (the one with two belts), for her heroic act during the Hijrah [migration] of the Prophet and Abu Bakr, from Makkah to Madinah.
The sister of the most knowledgeable woman, ‘Aishah ra who is among the only seven Companions of the Prophet who narrated more than a thousand ahadith.
The wife of az-Zubair Ibn al-‘Awwaam, one of the ten people promised Paradise by the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). Az-Zubair was brave, courageous and defended the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) with his sword.
The mother of amirul-mu’minin ‘Abdullah Ibn az-Zubair who was given bay’a in Hijaz and was killed by al-Hajjaaj(3): and
The mother of ‘Urwah, who when he entered in prayer he would forget about this life. It was ‘Urwah who when his leg had to be cut, was told to drink wine as an anesthesia but refused to drink wine and instead, gave instructions to cut it while he was in prayer. They did, and he did not feel anything until he woke up.
Asma’ was one of the most noble personalities, yet was veiled and shy in front of men. She refused to be with men, mingle with them, ride among them or go with them – and by Allah, the men being talked about were no ordinary men! They were the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companions. She served her husband as a true wife should. She was very careful at guarding and preserving her honor, and the honor of her husband. Did she ever pressure az-Zubair by reminding him of her honorable lineage as the daughter of the noble Abu Bakr? She was patient for the hardship she went through, and was loving and respectful towards her husband. Can a woman be richer than Asma’?
Her father, Abu Bakr, was a rich merchant. Yet, she carried stones of dates on her head, and walked miles to get water and date seeds. She also dealt with horses and camels [which she did not do in her father’ s house], baked bread, pleased her husband, yet would not take decisions without him, even if it were an obvious decision for the pleasure of Allah.
Narrated Asma bint Abu Bakr ra: ”
“As I was one day carrying the stones of dates upon my head I happened to meet Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) along with a group of his Companions. He called me and said to the camel to sit down so that he should make me ride behind him. I felt shy to go with men and I remembered az-Zubair and his ghirah(1), and he was the man having the most ghirah. When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) understood my shyness, he left. I came to az-Zubair and said: ‘The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) met me as I was carrying the stones of the dates on my head, and there was with him a group of his Companions, he said to the camel to sit down so that I mount it, I felt shy from him, and remembered your ghirah.’ Whereupon he (az-Zubair) said: ‘By Allah, the carrying of dates’ stone upon your head is more severe a burden on me than riding with him.’ [And I led this life of hardship] until Abu Bakr sent afterwards a female servant who took upon herself the responsibility of looking after the horse and I felt as if she had emancipated me.” Remember that Asma’ was the sister in law of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)…
Asma’ reported: “I performed the household duties of az-Zubair and he had a horse, I used to look after it. Nothing was (more) for me than looking after the horse. I used to bring grass for it and looked after it, then I got a servant as Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) had some prisoners of war in his possession. He gave me a female servant. She then began to look after the horse and thus relieved me of this burden. A person came and he said: ‘Mother of Abdullah, I am a destitute person and I intend that I should start business under the shadow of your house.’ I (Asma’) said: ‘If I grant you permission, az Zubair may not agree to that, so you come and make a demand of it when az-Zubair is also present there.'”
MashaAllah sisters, the shyness and modesty and virtue of Asma ra is one we should all try to work towards in our own life inshaAllah. Let her life be a lesson to better yours for the sake of Allah subhana wa ta’ala. We should constantly encourage one another to be better tomorrow than we are today.