The Prophet Marries Hz. Safiyya

Safiyya was among the captives of Khaybar.

Her real name was “Zaynab”; she was the daughter of Hu­yay b. Ahtab, the leader of Sons of Nadr Jews. Her mother Barra was the daughter of Samawal, one of the notables of Jews. She had just married Kinana, the son of Rabi’ b. Huqayq, one of the leaders of Khaybar Jews. When Rabi was killed during the conquest of Khaybar, she became a widow. She was held captive when the Fortress of Qamus was conquered.[1]

When the captives were gathered, Dihyatu’l-Kalbi went to the Messenger of God and asked for a female slave. The Prophet allowed him to choose a female slave. Thereupon, Dihya chose Safiyya.[2]

However, the Companions did not find it appropriate because Safiyya was the daughter-in-law of the leader of the Khaybar Jews and belonged to the most honorable family of Sons of Nadr.  They went to the Prophet and said, “O Messenger of God! It is not appropriate for Dihya to take Safiyya, the daughter of Huyay, the leader of Sons of Qurayza and Sons of Nadr Jews. Only you should take her.”[3]

It was definite that the Companions would feel uneasy if the Prophet did not do what they said. Therefore, the Prophet ordered Dihya to take another slave and sent Bilal to bring Safiyya to him.

Bilal Brings Safiyya

While Bilal was bringing Safiyya and her cousin, who was also a captive, they passed near the dead bodies of the Jews. When Safiyya’s cousin saw the dead bodies, she started to cry and tear her clothes; she also threw some soil at her own head.

When the Messenger of God saw the situation from a distance, he said to Bilal when he arrived, “O Bilal! Were you removed of the feelings of compassion and mercy? Why did you make the women pass near the dead bodies?”[4]

Bilal felt ashamed and apologized saying, “O Messenger of God! I did not think that you would be disturbed by it.”

The Messenger of God told the Companions to take Safiyya behind him and put his shawl over her. Thereupon, the Companions realized that the Prophet took Safiyya as safiy (the right of the commander-in-chief).[5]

Another principle of the Prophet after a war was to compromise with the enemy that he had defeated or he had forced to surrender. The family of Safiyya was an honorable family among the Jews. The maintenance of her rank would bring about good and useful outcomes for the Muslims. Another issue was that the Messenger of God took into consideration the political situation when he married someone. When he married the daughter of a notable or leader of an enemy tribe, he alleviated the enmity of that tribe against Islam and Muslims and when he married the daughter of a tribe that supported Islam, he strengthened the friendship between them. His marriages to Juwayriyah and Umm Habiba are clear examples of such marriages.

Safiyya’s Choice

The Messenger of God informed Safiyya about Islam and said to her, “If you agree to be a Muslim, I will marry you; if you choose to remain as a Jew, I will free you and you can go to your tribe.”[6]

Safiyya, who met the Messenger of God only once and who heard some blessed words from him, made a true choice, showing the purity of her heart and her deep understanding; she said, “O Messenger of God! When I arrived at the headquarters, I wanted to be a Muslim and approved your prophethood before you invited me to Islam. I have no relationship with Judaism now; I do not need it. I have no father or brothers in Khaybar. You let me free to choose unbelief or Islam. God and His messenger are better for me than becoming free and returning to my tribe. I prefer you.”[7]

Thereupon, the Prophet freed Safiyya and married her, giving her the honor of being one of the wives of the Prophet.[8]

The Messenger of God did not want to enter the nuptial chamber with Safiyya in Khaybar. When they arrived in Sibar, Safiyya did not want to enter the nuptial chamber there. However, when they arrived in Sahba, twelve miles away from Khaybar, she agreed to enter the nuptial chamber. When the Prophet asked her, “Why did you not accept to enter the nuptial chamber in Sibar, Safiyya said, “O Messenger of God! I feared that the Jews would harm you there. When we moved far away from them, I felt safer.”[9]

The Messenger of God became glad to hear what she said.

The Messenger of God entered the nuptial chamber with Safiyya in a tent belonging to him in the place called Sahba.  

Safiyya Tells the Prophet about her Dream

The Prophet saw a bruise on the face of Safiyya and asked about it. Safiyya said,

“On the first night when I married Kinana, b. Rabi, I saw a dream. I saw that the moon came from the direction of Madinah and fell onto my lap. When I told Kinana about it, he got angry saying, ‘You want to marry Muhammad, the king of Hejaz’ and slapped me. It is the mark of his slap.”[10]

The Sacrifice of Abu Ayyub

Abu Ayyub al-Ansari held his sword and walked around the tent of the Prophet all night.

When the Messenger of God came out of the tent early in the morning, Abu Ayyub said,   “Allahu Akbar!” When the Prophet saw him holding his sword, he asked, “O Abu Ayyub! What is the matter?” 

The self-sacrificing Companion, who did not sleep a wink that night, said, “O Messenger of God! I feared that this woman, who lost her father, brother, husband, uncle and her relatives and who had just become a Muslim, might harm you. That is why, I waited around the tent.”[11]

The Messenger of God smiled and said, “May God lead you to good things.” Then, he prayed for Abu Ayyub as follows:

“O God! Protect Abu Ayyub as he protected me all night without sleeping.”[12]

The Mujahids Miss the Morning Prayer

The Messenger of God and the Companions had approached Madinah. There was little time for the time for the morning prayer to start. Upon the order of the Prophet, the mujahids stopped in order to rest a bit because they had walked all night.

The Messenger of God said to the Companions, Who will wait for the morning prayer? We might oversleep.”

Bilal stood up and said, “I will wait, O Messenger of God!”

Thereupon, the Messenger of God and the mujahids started to sleep.

Meanwhile, Bilal started to pray. He performed prayers for a long time. Then, he leaned on the camel that was sitting on the ground and started to watch for the time of the morning prayer. Just then, he fell asleep. He woke up when the mujahids shouted, “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun.” The sun had risen and it was bright everywhere.  

The Messenger of God asked Bilal a bit angrily, “O Bilal! What did you do?” 

Bilal said, “O Messenger of God! May my mother and father become sacrificed for you! The power that prevented you from waking up prevented me too.  The Messenger of God smiled and said, “You are right”[13]

When they left the valley that they had overslept, the Messenger of God said, “It is a valley that devils live in.” After making wudu, he said to Bilal, “O Bilal! Recite the adhan!”

When the adhan was called, the Muslims gathered.

The Prophet said to them, “Perform the sunnah of the morning prayer.”

After the sunnah was performed, the Prophet said to Bilal, “O Bi­lal! Recite the iqamah.”

Bilal recited the iqamah.

After leading the prayer, the Prophet turned to the Companions and said, “If you oversleep or forget and miss the prayer, perform it later as if you perform it on time.”[14]

Returning to Madinah

Then, the Messenger of God and the mujahids proceeded toward Madinah. When Mount Uhud was seen, the Prophet said, “We love Uhud and Uhud loves us.” While entering Madinah, the Prophet prayed as follows: “O Lord! There is no god but you. You have no partners. All sovereignty belongs to you. All praise belongs to you. O God! We have turned to you. We repent for our sins. We worship only our Lord, prostrate only before our Lord and praise only our Lord. Our Lord fulfilled His promise, helped His slave (Muhammad) and defeated all of the enemy groups alone.”[15][16]


[1]Ibn Hisham, Sirah, Vol. 3, p. 350; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, Vol. 8, p. 120.

[2]Abu Dawud, Sunan, Vol. 3, p. 153.

[3]Ahmad-i Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, Vol. 3, p. 102.

[4]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 351.

[5]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 351.

[6]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 3, p.123.

[7]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 3, p.121-123.

[8]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 3, p.121-125.

[9]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 3, p.122-123.

[10]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p.351; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 8, p. 121.

[11]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p.351; Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 8, p. 126.

[12]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 354-355.

[13]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 355.

[14]Ibn Hisham, ibid, Vol. 3, p. 355; Ibn Qayyim, Zadu’l-Maad, Vol. 2, p. 163.

[15]Ibn Sa’d, ibid, Vol. 8, p. 123-124.

[16]Whenever the Prophet returned from an expedition, hajj or umrah, he stood on the top of a mountain or a high flat land and recited the prayer above after uttering takbir three times.

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