By Samuel Smith, CP Reporter, MARCH 03, 2020
During a trip to France to promote her new book, Christian mother Asia Bibi opened up about how prayer and Scripture sustained her throughout a decade of imprisonment over allegations that she insulted Islam and its prophet.
Bibi, whose real name is Aasiya Noreen, spoke with several news outlets last week and shed more light on what was going through her mind and dreams as she endured what she called a “trial sent by God.”
“When a human being is tested, the desire to succeed, to overcome the trial, is extremely strong,” Bibi was translated as saying during an interview with the Catholic news website Aleteia. “I knew that prayer would help me in this sense and many signs encouraged me to pray.”
The farmworker from Sheikhupura was accused of blasphemy by Muslim laborers in 2009 and imprisoned. She maintained her innocence but was eventually convicted. Since blasphemy is a crime that is punishable by death or life imprisonment in Pakistan, Bibi was sentenced to death by hanging in 2010.
Bibi, who has five children, explained that one night in prison she had a dream about a priest who made her recite verses from the Bible.
“When I opened my eyes, I remember being amazed that I no longer saw him,” Bibi said through a translator. “I thought that maybe God was sending me a sign that I should try to learn those verses which would help sustain me. So that’s what I did. I read the Gospels very regularly.”
Bibi told Aleteia that the phrase “The Lord is your refuge” kept coming back to her.
“Over and over again, it was the first psalm I came across,” Bibi explained.
She didn’t specify which psalm she was referencing. However, Psalm 46 states: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Additionally, Psalm 91 reads: “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”
In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation, Bibi explained that she always believed that one day she would be released no matter how hard imprisonment was for her.
“I cried so much,” Bibi recalled. “I kept crying for a week. I kept thinking, ‘what is happening to me?’”
Bibi shared that her children’s future was “very badly affected” by her imprisonment because they could no longer go to school. At the time of her imprisonment, two of her children were in the early stages of education.
But for Bibi and her family, God eventually delivered her freedom.
After much international pressure, Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted her in October 2018 and she finally fled to Canada with her husband and two daughters in May 2019.
“It was so strange after I met my husband and kids after so long. I couldn’t understand my emotions,” she told the BBC. “When I hugged my children, I cried. I kept thinking about their childhood. I can’t forget their childhood. When the past comes to mind, I can see my little daughters crying. That bit of past I haven’t been able to forget.”