Safiyya Bint-e-Huyayy (R.A.)

Safiyya bint-e-Huyayy (R.A.) married the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in 7 AH. As in the case of Juwayriyya bint-e-Harith (R.A.), this marriage occurred after one of the Muslims decisive battles, in this case, it was the battle of Khaybar. After the battle of Khaybar in which the Muslims defeated the Jews, two women were brought before the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) by Bilal (R.A.) who was the black Muazzin of Medina whose beautifully piercing voice constantly called the Muslims to prayer right up until the Prophet’s (Peace be upon him) death after which he (R.A.) could not bring himself to call the Azan anymore, until he (R.A.) was present at the surrender of Jerusalem to the Khalifa (Caliph) Umar (R.A.) in 17 AH. They had passed by those who had been killed in the fighting. One of the two women was shrieking and screaming, and rubbing dust in her hair, while the other was mute with shock.
The silent one was Safiyya (R.A.), the daughter of Huyayy bin Akhtab, the chief of the Banu Nadir who had all been expelled from Medina in 4 AH after plotting to kill the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) by dropping a stone on his head as he sat talking with their leaders. The noisy one was Safiyya’s (R.A.) cousin. Safiyya (R.A.) could trace her (R.A.) lineage directly back to Harun (A.S.), the brother of the Prophet Musa (A.S.). The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) asked someone to look after the woman who was screaming and then took off his cloak and placed it over the shoulders of Safiyya (R.A.), whose husband had been killed in the battle. It was a gesture of pity, but from that moment she (R.A.) was to be honored and given great respect in the Muslim community. Then the Prophet (Peace be upon him) turned to Bilal (R.A.) 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 (Peace be upon him) rarely criticized the behavior of those who served him (Peace be upon him).
Anas bin Malik (R.A.), for example once said, “I served the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) for eight years. He (Peace be upon him) never once scolded me for something that I had done or for something that I had not done.”
Like Umm-e-Habiba (R.A.), Safiyya (R.A.) was the daughter of a great chief. The only person who could save her (R.A.) from becoming a slave after having enjoyed such a high position was the Prophet (Peace be upon him) .Although her (R.A.) father had planned to assassinate Muhammad (Peace be upon him) after the battle of Uhud, and had conspired with the Banu Qurayza to exterminate all the Muslims during the battle of Khandaq, it was characteristic of the Prophet Muhammad
(Peace be upon him) that he (Peace be upon him) did not bear any grudges. For those who did wrong, he (Peace be upon him) felt pity rather than anger, and for those who had done no wrong, he (Peace be upon him) had even greater compassion. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) invited Safiyya (R.A.) to embrace Islam, which she (R.A.) did, and having given her (R.A.), her (R.A.) freedom, he (Peace be upon him) then married her (R.A.). Some people may have wondered how it was that Safiyya (R.A.) could accept Islam and marry the Prophet (Peace be upon him) when her (R.A.) father had been his (Peace be upon him) bitter enemy, and when bloody battles had taken place between the Jews and the Muslims. The answer may be found in what she (R.A.) has related of her (R.A.) early life as the daughter of the chief of the Banu Nadir.
She (R.A.) said, “I was my father’s favorite and also a favorite with my uncle Abu Yasir. They could never see me with one of their children without picking me up. When the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) came to Medina, my father and my uncle went to see him (Peace be upon 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 ask 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 (Peace be upon him) would come who would lead those who followed him (Peace be upon him) to victory. Indeed before the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) came to Medina, the Jews used to threaten the idol worshippers of Yasrib, as it was then called, that when the next Prophet (Peace be upon him) 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 Esa (A.S.) who had been clearly described in the Torah – but rejected by many of the Jews when he (A.S.) actually came. The next and last Prophet (Peace be upon him) was accurately described in the Torah, which also contained signs by which the Jews could easily recognize him. Thus Kab Al-Ahbar (A.S.), 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 Medina (or he (R.A.) said Tayyiba – another name given to Yasrib); his community will be those who praise Allah in every state.’
And ‘Amr bin Al-As (R.A.) said that it is also said in the Torah:
‘O Prophet (Peace be upon him), 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 the crooked community has been straightened out by him and they say, “There is no god but Allah.” Through him, blind eyes, deaf ears and covered hearts will be opened.’
It was thanks to these descriptions in the Torah, that the most learned rabbi of the Jews, ‘Abdullah bin Salam (R.A.), had embraced Islam on seeing Muhammad
(Peace be upon him) and it was because of these descriptions that Huyayy bin Akhtab was also able to recognize him. However Huyayy, like most of the other Jews, was deeply disappointed that the last Prophet (Peace be upon him) was a descendant of Ismail (A.S.) and not of Ishaq (A.S.) (The two sons of the Prophet Ibrahim (A.S.)), since the Jews of that time claimed exclusive descent from Ishaq (A.S.), through the twelve sons of his son Yaqub (A.S.) (Who was also known as Israel), from whom the twelve tribes of Israel had originated. Not only did Huyayy resent the fact that the last Prophet (Peace be upon him) 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 Huyayy secretly decided to oppose and fight the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) 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 Safiyya (R.A.) was Huyayy’s daughter, she (R.A.) had a pure heart and had always wanted to worship her (R.A.) Creator and Lord, the One who had sent Musa (A.S.), to whom she (R.A.) was related, and Esa (A.S.), and finally Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Thus as soon as the opportunity arose, not only to follow the last Prophet (Peace be upon him) but also to be married to him (Peace be upon him), she (R.A.) accepted it. Safiyya (R.A.) had in Muhammad (Peace be upon him) a most kind and considerate husband.
When Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was in his (Peace be upon him) final illness, Safiyya (R.A.) felt for him (Peace be upon him) deeply and sincerely.
“O Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him),” she (R.A.) said, “I wish it was I who was suffering instead of you.”
Safiyya (R.A.) was with the Prophet (Peace be upon him) for nearly four years and lived as a widow for the next thirty nine years. She (R.A.) died in 50 AH at the age of sixty. May Allah be pleased with her.