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Safiyyah

    Safiyyah (may Allah be pleased with her) was the daughter of Huyai, chieftain of the Jewish clan of the Bani Nadir, which traced its lineage back to Musa (peace be upon him). Because of their animosity towards the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), the Bani Nadir had been banished to Khaibar. But Huyai continued to work against the Muslims. He formed an alliance with the Quraish and he was the person who persuaded the Jewish clan of the Bani Quraizah of Madina to break their treaty with the Muslims during the Battle of the Trench. For this treachery he had been put to death by the Muslims.

    Safiyyah’s (may Allah be pleased with her) husband of just a few months also met his death at the hands of the Muslims during the siege against Khaibar. Safiyyah (may Allah be pleased with her) was one of many captives taken by the victorious Muslims.

    Safiyyah (may Allah be pleased with her), unlike her father and husband, was a deeply pious person. From her early childhood she had heard talk of the prophet whom the learned men among the Jews expected to come. Then she had heard of the man in Makkah who claimed to be that prophet. She had memories of that man’s arrival at Madinah, when she was about ten years old. Her father and uncle had set out to see him, to reassure themselves that he was just an imposter. But they had returned convinced that he was not an imposter. It perplexed Safiyyah (may Allah be pleased with her) that they still seemed determined to oppose him.

    Now, seven years later, she was a captive of the people who had been so vehemently opposed by her father and husband. She had fallen to the lot of a Muslim named Dihyah (may Allah be pleased with him). When she was brought before the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), he was touched by her unfortunate circumstances and arranged for her ransom from Dihyah (may Allah be pleased with him). He then offered to set her free and gave her a choice of remaining among her own people as a Jewess or entering Islam and becoming his wife. She went with the second choice. She and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) were married at the first night’s stop on the return march from Khaibar to Madinah.

    Safiyyah’s (may Allah be pleased with her) adjustment to life in Madinah was not easy. She was different from the other wives, having come from a non-Arab background. One day Safiyyah (may Allah be pleased with her) was crying because one of the wives had called her a Jew’s daughter. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) entered as she wept and asked why she was crying. When she told him, he instructed her on how to respond to such taunts. He pointed out to her that she was the daughter of a prophet (i.e. Musa (peace be upon him)), her uncle was a prophet (i.e. Harun (peace be upon him)), and that she was married to a prophet. What did the other wives have to boast about, who were all descended from infidels?

Bonnie L. Hamid

 

Published: February 2007

 


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