Mother of the believers Safiyyah
(may Allah be pleased with her)
Safiyyah’s (may Allah be pleased with her) Family
Father: Huyayy bin Akhtab
Mother: Barra bin Samwail
Tribe: Banu Qurayza / Banu Nadhir (Jewish tribe of Harun ibn Imran)
Safiyyah’s (may Allah be pleased with her) was born in the year 612, 10 years before the migration.[i]
In the seventh year of the Hijra after the victory of Khaybar he married Safiyyah (former name was Zaynab) daughter of Hayy ibn al-Akhtab who was one of the leaders of the Jews of Banu Nadhir. The story of his marriage to her began when she was taken along with other captives which the Muslims seized from the fortress of Khaybar. Saffiya’s (may Allah be pleased with her) husband was killed in the battle of Khaybar. She was first married to Salaam bin Mishkam al-Qurazi and then to Kinana bin al-Rabi al Nadiri. Some of the Muslims advised the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace): “Safiyya is a noble lady of Banu Qurayza and Banu Nadhirr, she is not suitable for anyone other than you,” hence the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) freed and married her. This was therefore done for her protection and to free her from the captives of slavery and as well to raise her status.
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was 58 and Safiyyah (may Allah be pleased with her) was 17.[ii]
Safiyyah was the daughter of a very prominent Jewish chief, Huyyay ibn Akhtab. The individuals of this tribe were descendants of Prophet Harun (upon whom be peace). In consideration of her family status she could not be merged into an ordinary household. So the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) himself married her. After this marriage, the Jews did not dare to revive their opposition of the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and his mission.
As a direct result of this marriage, the attitude of many Jews changed as they came to see and know the Prophet closely. It is also worth noting here that it is through such close relations with others that Muslims can come to understand how those others think, feel and live. And it is through understanding that Muslims can learn how to influence and guide, if God wills, those others. Without a degree of trust established by such generous actions as the Prophet’s marriage to Safiyyah (may Allah be pleased with her) neither mutual respect nor tolerance can become social norms.
She has narrated 10 traditions from the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) from which one is in the Sahih of Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim and the other nine in other books of hadith.
There is a difference in opinion concerning the year in which she passed away, as Waadqi states that it was during 50 AH, while ibn Sa’d states in 52 AH. She was 60 years of age at the time of her demise and lies buried in Jannatul-Baqi in Madinah.[iii]
[i] Azwaj-e-Mutahrat, p.96
[ii] Mawahib Ladunya; Vol: 1; Page: 205. Madarijun Nabuwwah
[iii] Zarqani, Vol. 3, Pg. 259 & Madaarij, Vol. 2, Pg. 483