The story of ‘Aṭāʼ ibn Yasār and the bedouin woman

Ibn al-Jawzi, in his famous work iffah al-afwah, mentions the following story about the taabi’ ‘Aṭāʼ ibn Yasār. ‘Abdur-Rahmān bin Zayd bin Aslam narrated:

 وعن عبد الرحمن بن زيد بن اسلم قال خرج عطاء بن يسار وسليمان بن يسار حاجين من المدينة ومعهما أصحاب لهم حتى إذا كانوا بالأبواء نزلوا منزلا فانطلق سليمان وأصحابه لبعض حاجتهم وبقي عطاء بن يسار قائما في المنزل يصلي  قال فدخلت عليه إمرأة من الأعراب جميلة فلما رآها عطاء ظن أن لها حاجة فأوجز في صلاته ثم قال ألك حاجة قالت نعم قال ماهي قالت قم فأصب مني فإني قد ودقت ولابعل لي فقال إليك عني لاتحرقيني ونفسك بالنار

‘Aṭāʼ and (his brother) Sulayman bin Yasār went to run an errand outside al-Madinah along with some companions of theirs. When they reached the outskirts of the city, they stopped at a house to rest. Sulayman and his companions went to see to some of their needs, and ‘Atāʼ stayed in the house alone, praying. Suddenly, a beautiful bedouin woman entered upon him, so when ‘Aṭāʼ saw her, he assumed that she needed something from him, so he sped up his prayer a little and then asked her, “Is there something you need?” She answered, “Yes.” He said, “And what is that?” She replied, “Come and have your share of me, for I am filled with desire and I am without a spouse.” So, he said to her, “Get away from me, and do not cause me to burn in the Fire along with you!”

 ونظر إلى إمرأة جميلة فجعلت تراوده عن نفسه ويأبى إلا ما يريد قال فجعل عطاء يبكي ويقول ويحك إليك عني قال اشتد بكاؤه فلما نظرت المرأة إليه وما داخله من البكاء والجزع بكت المرأة لبكائه قال فجعل يبكي والمرأة بين يديه تبكي فبينما هو كذلك إذا جاء سليمان من حاجته فلما نظر إلى عطاء يبكي والمرأة بين يديه تبكي في ناحية البيت بكى لبكائهما لايدري ما أبكاهما وجعل أصحابهما يأتون رجلا رجلا كلما أتى رجل فرآهم يبكون جلس يبكي لبكائهم لايسألهم عن أمرهم حتى كثر البكاء وعلا الصوت فلما رأت الأعرابية ذلك قامت فخرجت

She then continued to entice ‘Aṭāʼ until he started weeping and repeating, “Woe be to you! Get away from me!” and his weeping intensified until the woman herself saw his weeping and the grief that was inside of him, so she herself began to weep because of his weeping. While they were both sitting and weeping, his brother Sulayman returned from seeing to his needs, and when he saw his brother ‘Aṭāʼ weeping and the woman on the other side of the house weeping, he himself began to weep as a result of their weeping without asking them about anything. When the weeping intensified and grew louder, the woman got up and left the house.

 قال فقام القوم فدخلوا فلبث سليمان بعد ذلك وهو لا يسأل أخاه عن قصة المرأة إجلالا له وهيبة قال وكان أسن منه

Their companions, who were standing outside of the house, then got up and came in, and Sulayman remained after that without ever asking his brother about the woman out of respect for him, as he (Sulayman) was younger the younger of the two.

 قال ثم إنهما قدما مصر لبعض حاجتهما فلبثا بها ماشاء الله فبينا عطاء ذات ليلة نائم إذ استيقظ وهو يبكي فقال سليمان مايبكيك يا أخي قال فاشتد بكاؤه قال ما يبكيك يا أخي قال رؤيا  رأيتها الليلة قال وماهي

They then proceeded to Egypt to see to their errand, and they remained there as long as Allah willed. One night, ‘Aṭāʼ was sleeping and woke up crying, so Sulayman said to him, “Why are you crying, brother?” So, ‘Aṭāʼ’s weeping intensified, and he said, “Because of a dream that I had tonight.” Sulayman asked him, “And what was it?”

قال لاتخبر بها أحدا ما دمت حيا رأيت يوسف النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم في النوم فجئت أنظر إليه فيمن ينظر إليه فلما رأيت حسنه بكيت فنظر إلي في الناس فقال ما يبكيك أيها الرجل فقلت بأبي أنت وأمي يا نبي الله ذكرتك وإمرأة العزيز وما ابتليت به من أمرها وما لقيت من السجن وفرقة يعقوب فبكيت من ذلك وجعلت أتعجب منه قال فهلا تعجبت من صاحب المرأة البدوية بالأبواء فعرفت الذي أراد فبكيت واستيقظت باكيا

‘Aṭāʼ said, “Do not inform anyone of it as long as I am alive! I saw Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) in my dream, so I went to look at him along with others who were looking at him. So, when I saw his beauty, I wept. He then looked at me out of all the people and said, ‘Why are you weeping?’ I replied, ‘May my father and mother be ransomed for you, O Prophet of Allah! I remembered the wife of al-‘Aziz and how you were tested with her, and what you experienced of imprisonment and separation from Ya’qub; I remembered all of this and wept and was amazed by it all.’ So, he (Yusuf) said, ‘Will you not then be even more amazed by the one who was with the beautiful bedouin woman on the outskirts of the city but rejected her?’ I realized to whom he was referring, so I wept and woke up weeping.”

 قال سليمان اي اخي وما كان من حال تلك المرأة فقص عليه عطاء القصة فما أخبر بها سليمان أحدا حتى مات عطاء فحدث بها بعدة امرأة من أهله قال وما شاع هذا الحديث بالمدينة إلا بعد موت اسماعيل ابن يسار رضي الله عنهما

At that point, Sulayman asked, “My brother, and what was the situation with this woman?” So, ‘Aṭāʼ told him the story, and Sulayman did not tell anyone about it until ‘Aṭāʼ had died, where he informed a woman of their family who later said, “And this story did not spread in al-Madinah except after the death of Sulayman bin Yasār.”

[Siffah al-Safwah 2/82-84]

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