Safiyyah Binti Huyaii
In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks are due to Allāh, the Lord of the al-ā’lamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, sallallāhu alayhi wa sallam, is His Messenger.
Safiyyah Binti Huyaii, (radiallāhu`anha) got married the Prophet Muhammad, (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) in seven AH, when the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) was sixty years old and she was seventeen years old. As in the case of Juwairiyyah binti Harith (radiallāhu`anha), this marriage occurred after one of the Muslims' decisive battles. Perhaps the marriage was intended to foster a bond between the Muslims and Banu Nadir.
At the Battle of Khaibar in which the Muslims defeated the Jews, two women were captured and brought before the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) by Bilal Ibn Rabab (radiallāhu`anhu), the famous black muezzin of Medinah. One of the two women was shrieking and screaming, and rubbing dust in her hair, while the other was mute with shock. The composed and silent one was Safiyyah, the daughter of Huyaii Ibn Akhtab, the chief of the Banu Nadir who were expelled from Medinah in 4 AH after plotting to kill the Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) by dropping a stone on his head as he sat talking with their leaders. It was the cousin of Safiyyah who was the noisy one.
Safiyyah Binti Huyaii (radiallāhu`anha) could trace her lineage directly back to Harun, the brother of the Prophet Moses, Alaihis Salam.
The Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) asked someone to look after the woman who was screaming and then took off his cloak and placed it over the shoulders of Safiyyah Binti Huyaii (radiallāhu`anha), whose husband had been killed in the battle. It was a gesture of pity, but from that moment, she was to be honored and given great respect in the Muslim community. Then the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) turned to Bilal Ibn Rabab (radiallāhu`anhu), and said, "Bilal, has Allah plucked mercy from your heart that you let these two women pass by those of their men folk who have been killed?" This was considered a severe reprimand, for the Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) rarely criticized the behavior of those who served him. Anas Ibn Malik (radiallāhu`anhu), for example once said, "I served the Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) for eight years. He never once scolded me for something that I had done or for something that I had not done."
Like Umm Habibah (radiallāhu`anha), Safiyyah Binti Huyaii (radiallāhu`anha) was the daughter of a great chief of the tribe. The only person who could save her from becoming a slave after having enjoyed such a high position was the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam). Although her father had planned to assassinate Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) after the Battle of Uhud, and had conspired with the Banu Quraizah to exterminate all the Muslims during the Battle of Al-Khandaq, it was characteristic of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) that he did not bear any grudges.
As for those who did wrong, he felt pity rather than anger, and for those who had done no wrong, he had even greater compassion.
The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) invited Safiyyah Binti Huyaii (radiallāhu`anha) to embrace Islam, which she did, and having given her, her freedom, he then married her. Some people may have wondered how it was that Safiyyah Binti Huyaii (radiallāhu`anha) could accept Islam and marry the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) when her father had been his bitter enemy, and when bloody battles had taken place between the Jews and the Muslims. The answer may be found in what she had related of her early life as the daughter of the chief of the Banu Nadir.
Safiyyah Binti Huyaii (radiallāhu`anha) said, "I was my father's favorite and also a favorite with my uncle Yasir. They could never see me with one of their children without picking on me. When the Messenger of Allah (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) came to Medinah, my father and my uncle went to see him. It was very early in the morning and between dawn and sunrise. They did not return until the sun was setting. They came back worn out and depressed, walking with slow, heavy steps. I smiled to them as I always did, but neither of them took any notice of me because they were so miserable. I head Abu Yasir asks my father, 'Is it him?' 'Yes, it is.' 'Can you recognize him? Can you verify it?' 'Yes, I can recognize him too well.' 'What do you feel towards him?' 'Enmity, enmity as long as I live!'
The significance of this conversation is evident when we recall that in the Torah of the Jews, it was written that a Prophet would come who would lead those who followed him to victory. Indeed before the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) came to Medinah, the Jews used to threaten the idol worshippers of Yathrib, as it was then called, that when the next Prophet came to the believers were going to exterminate them, just as the Jews had exterminated other tribes who refused to worship God in the past. As in any case, of the Prophet Jesus (‘alaihissalam) who had been clearly described in the Torah - but rejected by many of the Jews when he actually came - the next and last Prophet was accurately described in the Torah, which also contained signs by which the Jews could easily recognize him. Thus Ka'ab Al-Ahbar, one of the Jews of that time who embraced Islam, relates that this Prophet is described in the Torah as follows:
'My slave, Ahmad, the Chosen, born in Makkah, who will emigrate to Medinah (or he said Tayyibah - another name given to Yathrib); his community will be those who praise Allah in every state.'
'Amr Ibn Al-'As (radiallāhu`anhu) said that it also says in the Torah:
'O Prophet, We have sent you as a witness, a bringer of good news and a warner and a refuge for the illiterate. You are My slave and My messenger. I have called you the one on whom people rely, one who is neither coarse nor vulgar, and who neither shouts in the markets nor repays evil with evil, but rather pardons and forgives. Allah will not take him back to Himself until he has straightened out the crooked community and they say, "There is no god but Allah." Through him, blind eyes, deaf ears, and covered hearts will be opened.'
It was these descriptions in the Torah, that the most learned rabbi of the Jews, 'Abdullah Ibn Sallam (radiallāhu`anhu) had embraced Islam on seeing Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam), and it was because of these descriptions that Huyaii Ibn Akhtab was also able to recognize him.
Huyaii Ibn Akhtab, like most of the other Jews, was deeply disappointed that the last Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) was a descendant of Isma'il and not of Ishaq, (the two sons of the Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon them), since the Jews of that time claimed exclusive descent from Ishaq, through the twelve sons of his son Ya'qub (who was also known as Israel), from whom the twelve tribes of Israel had originated. Not only did Huyaii resent the fact that the last Prophet had appeared amongst the Arabs, but also he did not want to lose his position of power and leadership over his people.
It was for these reasons that Huyaii Ibn Akhtab, secretly decided to oppose and fight the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) while in public he and the other leaders of the Jews made peace treaties with the Muslims and the Jews broke as soon as it seemed a favorable time to do so.
Although Safiyyah was Huyaii's daughter, she had a pure heart and had always wanted to worship her Creator and Lord, the One who had sent Moses, to whom she was related, and Jesus, and finally Muhammad, may Allah be pleased with all of them. Thus, as soon as the opportunity arose, not only to follow the last Prophet, but also to be married to him, she took it.
Although Safiyyah Binti Huyaii had in Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) a most kind and considerate husband, she was not always favorably accepted by some of his other wives, especially when she had first joined the Prophet's household. It was related by Anas Ibn Malik (radiallāhu`anhu) that on one occasion, the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) found Safiyyah weeping. When he asked her what the matter was, she replied that she heard that Hafsah had disparagingly described her as 'the daughter of a Jew'.
The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) responded by saying, "You are certainly the daughter of a Prophet (Harun), and certainly your uncle was a Prophet (Moses), and you are certainly the wife of a Prophet (Muhammad), so what is there in that to be scornful towards you?" Then he said to Hafsah, "O Hafsah, fear Allah!"
Once the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) was accompanied on a journey by Safiyyah and Zainab binti Jahsh when Safiyyah’s camel went lame. Zainab had an extra camel and the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) asked her if she would give it to Safiyyah. Zainab retorted, "Should I give to that Jewess!" The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) turned away from her in anger and would not have anything to do with her for two or three months to show his disapproval of what she had said.
Some three years later, when Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) was in his final illness, Safiyyah felt for him deeply and sincerely. She said "O Messenger of Allah, I wish it was I who was suffering instead of you." Some of the wives winked at each other, which made the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) felt irritated, and he exclaimed, "By Allah, she spoke the truth!"She still underwent difficulties after the death of the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam). Once her slave girl went to the Amirul-Mu’minin Umar Al-Khattab (Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) and said, "Amirul-Mu’minin! Safiyyah loves the Sabbath and maintains ties with the Jews!"
Umar asked Safiyyah about that and she said, "I have not loved the Sabbath since Allah replaced it with Friday for me, and I only maintain ties with those Jews to whom I am related by kinship."
She asked her slave girl what had possessed her to carries lie to 'Umar and the girl replied, "Syaitan!" Safiyyah said, "Go, you are free."
Safiyyah Binti Huyaii (radiallāhu`anha) was with the Prophet(Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) for nearly four years, she was only twenty-one when the Prophet(Sallallāhu 'alaihi wa sallam) died, and lived as a widow for the next thirty-nine years, died in 50 AH, at the age of sixty .May Allah be pleased with her.
Allah Knows Best