By Sh. Muhammad Khalfan
Asiya (‘a) bintu Muzahim, the wife of Pharaoh is mentioned by Allah in the Holy Qur’an as an example for believers, both men and women (mathalan lilladhina aamanu) (66:11).
Despite having access to so much of material benefits, which can easily blindfold and ruin the spiritual lives of so many, she prefers belief and proximity of Allah over the pleasures of the world. After Prophet Musa (‘a) had openly proclaimed the Message of Allah, Asiya brought faith in him and was a monotheist.
This remained a secret until one day Pharaoh came to learn about her real faith. So he forced her to abandon her faith and believe him as the ultimate God, but she never accepted.
Thereafter he informed her mother-in-law (Asiya’s mother) to explain to her daughter to relinquish her faith, otherwise he would punish her. Asiya’s mother talks to her daughter, but she is unwavering in her stance. So Pharaoh starts torturing her. He orders her first to be nailed down and crucified. Thereafter he orders a very huge rock to be thrown on her.
Before the rock descends on her she prays: “O Lord build for me near You a house in Paradise...”(66:11)
Exegetes of the Qur’an say that she did not merely say “build for me a house in Paradise (ibni li baytan fil Janna)” nor did she say “build for me A HOUSE near you in Paradise” (ibni li - BAYTAN ‘indaka- fil Janna) but rather she said “build for me NEAR YOU a house in Paradise” (ibni li -‘INDAKA baytan- fil Janna) mentioning the phrase “NEAR YOU” before the house thus alluding to her extreme preference of proximity to Allah over the house.
When the Holy Qur’an narrates such incidents it is not for the mind to seek pleasure and get satisfied. It is rather an invitation to wake up from our slumber and begin the journey!