“[Tell them] how you could fare better than me, while Prophet Aaronas was my father, prophet Mosesas was my uncle and Muhammadsa is my husband!” (The Holy Prophetsa)
Awais Rabbani, Missionary Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat
Name: Safiyyah bint Huyayy
Father’s Name: Huyayy bin Akhtab
Tribe: Banu Nazir
Hazrat Safiyyahra bint Huyayy belonged to a noble and influential family. Her father, Huyayy bin Akhtab was the chief of the Jewish Tribe Banu Nazir. She was the descendant of prophet Aaronas, brother of Mosesas. In this sense, after her marriage to the Holy Prophetsa, she was the only wife who had the privilege to have familial relationship with three prophets. Even the Holy Prophetsa recognised this distinction and on one occasion told her to respond to anyone who ridicules her for having a Jewish heritage in the following words:
“How could you fare better than me, while Prophet Aaronas was my father, Prophet Mosesas was my uncle and Muhammadsa is my husband!” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi)
Battle of Khayber and marriage to the Prophetsa
Despite manifest signs in support of the Holy Prophetsa, the Jews resolved to oppose the Prophetsa of Islam and continued to conspire against him. Among them was the father of Hazrat Safiyyah, Huyaiyy bin Akhtab. Owing to the actions of his tribe, which were synonymous with instigating war, the Messengersa of Allah had no choice but to confront them.
Before the war, Hazrat Saffiyahra saw a dream that the moon had fallen in her lap. When she narrated this to her father, he admonished her for wanting to marry the king who had come to besiege them i.e. the Holy Prophetsa.
Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmadra narrates this in the following words:
“Safiyyahra, the daughter of a Jewish Cheiftain of Khayber, Huyayy bin Akhtab, saw a dream that the moon had fallen into her lap. Her father also interpreted that one day, Safiyyahra would come into the matrimonial tie of an Arab Ruler.” (The Life & Character of the Seal of Prophets, Vol. 1, p. 236)
After Banu Nazir was defeated, Hazrat Safiyyahra became a prisoner of war. When the Holy Prophetsa learnt of her, he offered to marry her. With this, he intended to relieve the tension between the Jews and Muslims. When Banu Nazir would see their princess married to the Prophetsa, it was likely that their animosity would fade away and both parties could live in harmony and peace.
The great exemplar
Her marriage to the Holy Prophetsa was proof of the truth and high morals that the Prophetsa of Islam held. She lost her husband and father during the war and one can fathom the hatred she might have had against the Muslims at first. However, she was so impressed by the kindness and affection the Holy Prophetsa demonstrated to her and the survivors, that on her own accord, she agreed to the marriage.
It is narrated on the authority of Hazrat Anasra bin Malik:
“When we proceeded to return to Medina from Khayber and it was time for Saffiyahra to mount upon the camel, He [the Holy Prophetsa] prepared the howdah and folded the [cloak] that he was wearing and laid it down to further soften it for her.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
On another occasion, while returning from a place called Asfaan, the camel on which the Holy Prophetsa was riding slipped. Hazrat Safiyyahra was also seated beside him and both of them fell off. Hazrat Anasra relates:
“While returning from Asfaan, the camel on which the Prophetsa and Safiyyahra bint Huyayy were sitting on slipped and they fell off. Abu Talha jumped from his camel and said, “O Allah’s Messenger! May I be sacrifice unto thee. The Prophetsa replied, ‘Take care of the lady first.’ So, Abu Talha veiled his face with a garment and went to Safiyyahra and covered her.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
The Holy Prophetsa acknowledged her heritage and the family she was from and hence it was only befitting that he would marry the woman of such noble origin to accord her the proper respect and treatment she deserved.
When she observed purdah, the companionsra too understood that she had now become one of the mothers of the faithful, which was her rightful place. It was such gestures of affection and care that won her heart over and forsook any hostility she held before and became a devout Muslim and a devoted wife.
When the Prophetsa of Islam was ill before his demise, Hazrat Safiyyahra, for the loyal wife she was, was extremely upset and said:
“I wish it was I who was suffering instead of you.”
Her compassion Despite coming from an influential family, she was a humble woman and always sought to help others during duress. During Hazrat Usman’sra Khilafat, when his house was under siege from the rebels, she headed straight into the face of danger to defend him and to calm the crowd. Although she was turned away, it was an extremely brave act of selflessness. She continued to supply provisions to him and rendered her support as much as she could.
She passed away during the reign of Hazrat Muawiyyahra and was buried in Jannatul-Baqi.