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View Full Version : Safiyya Bint Huyayy (RadiAllahu Anha)

Ansar Al-'Adl
03-02-2005, 03:15 AM

Umm ul-Mukminin Safiyyah: The Jewish Wife of Muhammad(P)

Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi


There has been some criticism going around as to the nature of marriage of Safiyyah(R), the Jewish wife of Muhammad(P). A rabid missionary hostile to the Prophet Muhammad(P) had in fact the audacity to say that:

Muhammad forced himself on a captured woman on the same day that he killed her father, husband and many of her relatives. He was a rapist.
This statement made by this ignorant missionary is due not only to the gutter environment that he was brought up and subjected to, but also because of his inability to understand the circumstances surrounding this event. Insha'allah, our purpose here is to explain the circumstances and the nature of the marriage of Safiyyah to the Prophet(P).

The Marriage of the Prophet(P) to Safiyyah(R)

Safiyyah was the daughter of Huyayy ibn Akhtab, the undisputed leader of the Banu al-Nadir as well as a Jewish rabbi. Hence, she was of noble regal and rabbinical heritage. She became a captive of the Muslims when they seized al-Qamus, the fortress of Khaybar. When a Companion of the Prophet(P) heard of Safiyyah's captivity, he approached the Prophet(P) with a suggestion that since she was a lady of Banu al-Nadir, only the Prophet(P) was fit enough to marry her. The Prophet(P) agreed to this suggestion and hence granted her freedom and married her.

This significant act of marrying Safiyyah(R) was indeed a great honour for her, for this not only preserved her dignity, it also prevented her from becoming a slave. Haykal notes that:

The Prophet granted her freedom and then married her, following the examples of great conquerors who married the daughters and wives of the kings whom they had conquered, partly in order to alleviate their tragedy and partly to preserve their dignity.[1]

The marriage to Safiyyah(R) has a political significance as well, as it helps to reduce hostilities and cement alliances. John L. Esposito notes that

As was customary for Arab chiefs, many were political marriages to cement alliances. Others were marriages to the widows of his companions who had fallen in combat and were in need of protection.[2]
Indeed, when Bilal ibn Rabah(R), a Companion of the Prophet, brought Safiyyah along with another Jewess before him(P) by passing through the Jews that were slain in the battle, Muhammad(P) personally chided Bilal and said "Have you no compassion, Bilal, when you brought two women past their dead husbands?"[3]

As for the accusation that Safiyyah was coerced into marriage or taken advantage of, as alleged by a known Islamophobic, this claim has no basis at all. It is known that Safiyyah(R) remained loyal to the Prophet until he passed away.[4] We have in fact the Prophet(P) making the following offer to her, as recorded by Martin Lings:

He [the Prophet Muhammad - Ed.] then told Safiyyah that he was prepared to set her free, and he offered her the choice between remaining a Jewess and returning to her people or entering Islam and becoming his wife. "I choose God and His Messenger," she said; and they were married at the first halt on the homeward march.[5]
The other wives of the Prophet(P) used to show their jealousy of her by making slights upon her Jewish origin. But the Prophet(P) always defended her. Once Safiyyah was vexed to the extreme by the taunts of all the Arab wives of the Prophet(P). She took the complaint to the Prophet(P), who felt great compassion for her. He consoled and encouraged her. He equipped her with logic by saying: "Safiyyah, take courage and be bold. They are in no way superior to you. Tell them: I am a daughter of the Prophet Harun, a niece of the Prophet Musa, and a wife of the Prophet Muhammad". This is thus an excellent example of the Prophet Muhammad(P) trying to wipe out pre-Islamic anti-Semitism amongst the Arabs.


With the evidences laid bare before us, we do not see the justification of accusing the Prophet(P) of being a "rapist", as those anti-Islamic critics allege. That the Prophet(P) himself married Safiyyah(R) so as to avoid the certainty of her being a slave of the Muslims and helped her to defend herself from the taunts of her co-wives is enough proof that the Prophet(P) was a man of exemplary conduct and remained honourable even to relatives of his most bitter foes.

And only God knows best.


[1] Muhammad Husayn Haykal, The Life of Muhammad (North American Trust Publications, 1976), p. 373

[2] John L. Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, pp. 19-20

[3] A. Guillaume (trans.), The Life of Muhammad: A translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah (Oxford University Press, 1978), p. 515

[4] An account of how Safiyyah's loyalty was affirmed by the Prophet(P) himself is recorded in Muhammad Husayn Haykal, Op. Cit., p. 374, of which an online document can be found.

[5] Martin Lings, Muhammad: His Life Based On The Earliest Sources (George Allen & Unwin, 1983), p. 269



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wafa islam
11-06-2006, 08:56 PM


Safiyah was born in Medinah. She belonged to the Jewish tribe of Banu 'I-Nadir. When this tribe was expelled from Medinah in the year 4 A.H, Huyaiy was one of those who settled in the fertile colony of Khaibar together with Kinana ibn al-Rabi' to whom Safiyah was married a little before the Muslims attacked Khaibar. She was then seventeen. She had formerly been the wife of Sallam ibn Mishkam, who divorced her.

On miles from Khaibar. Here the Prophet married Safiyah. She was groomed and made-up for the Prophet by Umm Sulaim, the mother of Anas ibn Malik. They spent the night there. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari guarded the tent of the Prophet the whole night. When, in the early dawn, the Prophet saw Abu Ayyub strolling up and down, he asked him what he meant by this sentry-go; he replied: "I was afraid for you with this young lady. You had killed her father, her husband and many of her relatives, and till recently she was an unbeliever. I was really afraid for you on her account". The Prophet prayed for Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (Ibn Hisham, p. 766)

Safiyah had requested the Prophet to wait till he had gone a stage away from Khaibar. "Why?" asked the Prophet. "I was afraid for you on account of the Jews who still happened to be near at Khaibar!" The next day a Walima (wedding-feast) was arranged on behalf of the Prophet. The feast consisted of hats, a dish of dates, akit (butter-milk) and butter, to which, according to some traditions was added Sawiq (parched barley); and according to another tradition, the Prophet used on this occasion another Mudd and a half of the finest quality of 'Ajwa dates.

The other wives of the Prophet showed their jealousy by making slights upon her Jewish origin. But the Prophet always defended her. Once safiyah was vexed to the extreme by the taunts of all the Arab wives of the Prophet. She took the complaint to the Prophet, who felt great compassion for her. He consoled her. He encouraged her. He equipped her with logic. He said: "Safiyah, take courage and be bold. They are in no way superior to you. Tell them: I am a daughter of the Prophet Harun, a niece of the Prophet Musa, and a wife of the Prophet Muhammad".

When she was brought along with other prisoners-of-war, the Prophet said to her, "Safiyah, your father always maintained enmity with me until Allah made the final decision." She said, "But Allah does not catch one for the sins of another," The Prophet then gave her the choice of joining her people after freedom or accepting Islam and coming into a matrimonial relationship with him. She was very intelligent and gentle and said, "O Allah's Messenger, I had hoped for Islam, and I confirmed you before your invitation. Now when I have the honour to be in your presence, I am given a choice between kufr and Islam I swear by Allah, that Allah and His Messenger is dearer to me than my own freedom and my joining with my people." (Tabaqat). The Prophet then

When Safiyah was married, she was very young, and according to one report she was hardly seventeen years old and was extremely beautiful.

Once A'isha said a few sentences about her short stature, at which the Prophet said, "You have said a thing that if it were left in the sea, it would mix with it (and make its water dirty). " ( Abu Dawud).

She not only deeply loved the Prophet but also greatly respected him as Allah's Messenger, for she heard the conversations of her father and uncle after they went to Medinah. When the Prophet migrated to Medinah, they came to see him and find out whether he was the true Messenger of Allah spoken of in the Scriptures. When they got back and talked together that night, Safiyah was in her bed listening to them. One of them said, "What do you think about him?" He replied, "He is the same Prophet foretold by our Scriptures." Then the other said, "What is to be done?" The reply came that they must oppose him with all their might. So Safiyah was convinced of the truth of the Prophet. She spared no pain to look after him, care for him and provide every comfort that she could think of.

This is evident since she came into his presence after the fall of Khaibar. When a camel was brought for him to ride, the Prophet lifted his thigh to act as steps for Safiyah to get on the camel, but she refused to ride in this way for she thought it against proper decorum. However, she put her knee on his thigh and rode on the camel. The Prophet had a slight grievance against her for she had refused when the Prophet wanted to have privacy with her at the previous stage (of the journey). At the next halt, the Prophet had privacy with her and spent all night with her. When she was asked by Umm Sulaim, "What did you see in Allah's Messenger?" She said he was very pleased with her and did not sleep at all but was talking to her all night. He had asked her, 'Why did you refuse at the first stage when I desired privacy with you?' She had said, 'I was afraid for you because of the nearness of the Jews. "'This thing further increased my merit in his eyes." (Tabaqat).

Safiyah had many good moral qualities.

According to Zarqani, she was intelligent, learned and gentle. In fact, gentleness and patience were. her dominant qualities. She died in the year 50 or 52 A.H. and was buried in al Baqi cemetry. She was then sixty years old. She left property worth one hundred thousand dirhams leaving one-third for her nephew, and the rest was given in charity. (Tabaqat)

Source: http://www.pbuh.us/prophetMuhammad.php?f=Re_Wives


11-11-2006, 04:15 AM

*Threads Merged*

Jazakallah khair brother Ansar and sis wafa. :thumbs_up

11-11-2006, 04:38 AM
salaamu calikum,

manshallah! jazakuallahu kheran

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10-24-2010, 03:47 AM

09-22-2011, 06:56 PM
bumpity bump.. we don't have many good threads like this floating to the top anymore..^o)

joyous fairy
09-23-2011, 04:53 PM
JazakAllah khair for posting and bumping.

MashaAllah, that was nice to read.

09-24-2011, 03:11 PM
Jazakallahu Khyran for the beautiful thread and precious Information.

To add,Safiyah was not her real name. She was a captive of war and there was a tradition in Arab to call the best part of spoils of war " which was for the King or the leader "Safiyah" thats why she was famous as "Safiyah" other wise her real name was "Zainab" RA.(Peace and blessings be fall upon Muhammad SAW and His Noble family).

Safiyah RA was a great cook and Muhammad SAW like to eat the meals She RA cook so much.Once,when our beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW was in the house of Ayesha RA,she cooked something for Muhammad SAW and sent it to Him SAW through a slave.Ayesha RA snatched the bowl of meal from the slave and emptied it on the ground and broke it (because of the jealousy between the Noble wives of Prophet Muhammad SAW).Muhammad SAW put the broken bowl and collect the pieces and brought a new bowl for Safiyah RA.

These incidents always fill my heart with love and respect of Muhammad and His cute family :statisfie

Information taken from "Seerat Al-Nabi SAW by " Mulana Shibli Noumani Rahmatullah Aleyh".

09-24-2011, 04:15 PM
^^ that's wonderful thanks so much for sharing..

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