Aasiya bint Mazahim, Queen of Egypt

Aasiya, the Queen of Egypt during the time of Prophet Musa (Moses), was a woman with faith and determination so strong that the greatest tyrant could not shake her values. Centuries later, the Prophet Muhammad named her as one of the best women of Paradise, and in the Qur’an she is an example to which all of humankind is to aspire. She never permitted herself to be confined or subjugated by her disheartening and demoralizing situation, and she was so resilient that she was willing to die for what she believed. Neither her wealth, nor her husband, established her character or defined her.

When the Pharaoh, one of the most powerful—and evil—men to have ever lived heard a prophecy that he would be overthrown by one of the children of Israel, he ordered that all male children would be executed. The rest he enslaved so that their punishments and tasks were inhumane and harsh. Queen Aasiya, finding the child on the shore after his mother had cast him down a river to protect him, was overcome with compassion, as her heart was gentle and pure, and she convinced her fearful husband to allow her to keep him as her adopted son, assuring him that the child was a joy and a comfort to the eye and may be of use to them in the future.

Under her protection, Moses grew to be a Messenger of God. The Pharaoh was domineering, cruel, and oppressive, and he proclaimed to the people that he was their Lord and threatened to torture anyone who disbelieved that he was the one true God or rejected his claim to divinity. Magicians challenged Moses’s miracles on the Pharaoh’s command, and when they could not argue with the signs of God, they submitted to the truth they knew in their hearts. The Pharaoh threatened them with the punishment he had designated to those who believed: he would cut off their hands and feet on opposite sides and crucify them on the logs of trees.

For this crime, Aasiya was severely and cruelly tortured.

After the Pharaoh discovered her faith, he had her tortured in the same manner, and during her torture she cried, “My Lord, build for me with you a house in Paradise and save me from the Pharaoh and his transgressions, and save me from this injustice!” She suffered excruciating pain, but beautiful angels often were sent down to protect her, and they covered her with their wings and she saw the palace for her in Paradise, and she would smile as she endured the torture. A hadith narrates that suddenly during her torture, the inflictions became painless, and she began to smile. In amazement, the torturers stopped immediately, and called the Pharaoh to witness. By the time he arrived, Aasiya had died.

Aasiya lived in incomparable luxury and was married to the most tyrannical man alive, who claimed to be God and committed genocide and unthinkable torture, and she stood up to him alone. She gave up all the wealth she had, endured his persecution for what she believed and did not allow her husband to limit her. In the process she lost her life; she died for what she believed and never accepted her husband’s outrageous assertions to divinity or his right over her. For her resolve, her compassion, her love, and her strength she will be remembered for all times to come.

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