Slanders about Prophet's (PBUH) marriage with Safiya (RA)

Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) marriage with Sayyidah Safiya (RA) is another topic that critics of Islam often take up. They say:

1-Holy Prophet (PBUH) married a woman after killing her husband and father, so how could she be happy or even willing for it?
2-The rules of Iddah were violated in this marriage.


In the following lines we explain the whole issue in detail. Ahadith in Sahih Bukhari explain as to what actually happened.

فَأَصَبْنَاهَا عَنْوَةً فَجُمِعَ السَّبْيُ فَجَاءَ دِحْيَةُ الْكَلْبِيُّ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ فَقَالَ يَا نَبِيَّ اللَّهِ أَعْطِنِي جَارِيَةً مِنْ السَّبْيِ قَالَ اذْهَبْ فَخُذْ جَارِيَةً فَأَخَذَ صَفِيَّةَ بِنْتَ حُيَيٍّ فَجَاءَ رَجُلٌ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ يَا نَبِيَّ اللَّهِ أَعْطَيْتَ دِحْيَةَ صَفِيَّةَ بِنْتَ حُيَيٍّ سَيِّدَةَ قُرَيْظَةَ وَالنَّضِيرِ لَا تَصْلُحُ إِلَّا لَكَ قَالَ ادْعُوهُ بِهَا فَجَاءَ بِهَا فَلَمَّا نَظَرَ إِلَيْهَا النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ خُذْ جَارِيَةً مِنْ السَّبْيِ غَيْرَهَا قَالَ فَأَعْتَقَهَا النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَتَزَوَّجَهَا فَقَالَ لَهُ ثَابِتٌ يَا أَبَا حَمْزَةَ مَا أَصْدَقَهَا قَالَ نَفْسَهَا أَعْتَقَهَا وَتَزَوَّجَهَا حَتَّى إِذَا كَانَ بِالطَّرِيقِ جَهَّزَتْهَا لَهُ أُمُّ سُلَيْمٍ فَأَهْدَتْهَا لَهُ مِنْ اللَّيْلِ فَأَصْبَحَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَرُوسًا فَقَالَ مَنْ كَانَ عِنْدَهُ شَيْءٌ فَلْيَجِئْ بِهِ وَبَسَطَ نِطَعًا فَجَعَلَ الرَّجُلُ يَجِيءُ بِالتَّمْرِ وَجَعَلَ الرَّجُلُ يَجِيءُ بِالسَّمْنِ قَالَ وَأَحْسِبُهُ قَدْ ذَكَرَ السَّوِيقَ قَالَ فَحَاسُوا حَيْسًا فَكَانَتْ وَلِيمَةَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ

"We conquered Khaibar, took the captives, and the booty was collected. Dihya came and said, 'O Allah's Prophet! Give me a slave girl from the captives.' The Prophet said, 'Go and take any slave girl.' He took Safiya bint Huyai. A man came to the Prophet and said, 'O Allah's Messenger! You gave Safiya bint Huyai to Dihya and she is the chief mistress of the tribes of Quraiza and An-Nadir and she befits none but you.' So the Prophet said, 'Bring him along with her.' So Dihya came with her and when the Prophet saw her, he said to Dihya, 'Take any slave girl other than her from the captives.' Anas added: The Prophet then manumitted her and married her." Thabit asked Anas, "O Abu Hamza! What did the Prophet pay her (as Mahr)?" He said, "Her self (i.e. freedom) was her Mahr (dower) for he manumitted her and then married her." Anas added, "While on the way, Um Sulaim dressed her for marriage (ceremony) and at night she sent her as a bride to the Prophet. So the Prophet was a bridegroom and he said, 'Whoever has anything (food) should bring it.' He spread out a leather sheet (for the food) and some brought dates and others cooking butter. (I think he (Anas) mentioned As-Sawiq). So they prepared a dish of Hais (a kind of meal). And that was Walima (the marriage banquet) of Allah's Messenger (pbuh)." (Bukhari, Hadith 358)

Were the rules of Iddah violated?

Following Hadith needs a careful reading;

عن أبي سعيد الخدري ورفعه أنه قال في سبايا أوطاس لا توطأ حامل حتى تضع ولا غير ذات حمل حتى تحيض حيضة

Abu Sa’id Khudri narrated the following statement from Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) regarding the captives of Awtas: “There must be no intercourse with a pregnant woman till she gives birth, or with one who is not pregnant till she has had one menstrual period.” (Abu Dawud, Hadith 2157. Albani classified it as Sahih)

This Hadith lays down a rule that a man is not allowed to have intimate relations with a captive woman till she is clean from menses. This is to avoid any confusion in the lineage.

Now considering the fact that Sayyidah Safiya (RA) was actually a captive woman who was then freed and married to by the Holy Prophet (pbuh), in the light of the above Hadith the Prophet (PBUH) was to wait for her being clean from a menstrual course before consummating the marriage and this is exactly what he did. We read in Sahih Bukhari:

عَنْ أَنَسِ ...فَاصْطَفَاهَا النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لِنَفْسِهِ فَخَرَجَ بِهَا حَتَّى بَلَغْنَا سَدَّ الصَّهْبَاءِ حَلَّتْ فَبَنَى بِهَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ

Narrated Anas bin Malik: …The Prophet (pbuh) selected her for himself, and set out with her, and when we reached a place called Sadd-as-Sahba’, Safiya became clean from her menses then Allah's Messenger married her. (Bukhari, Hadith 3889)

Was Sayyidah Safiya willing for the marriage?

As to the question whether Sayyidah Safiya (RA) was willing for the marriage or not, no body’s conjecture but her own words can make things clear. The following narration explains in detail:

لما دخلت صفية على النبي، صلى الله عليه وسلم، وسلم قال لها: لم يزل أبوك من أشد يهود لي عداوة حتى قتله الله. فقالت: يا رسول الله إن الله يقول في كتابه ولا تزر وازرة وزر أخرى. فقال: لها رسول الله: اختاري، فإن اخترت الإسلام أمسكتك لنفسي وإن اخترت اليهودية فعسى أن أعتقك فتلحقي بقومك. فقالت: يا رسول الله لقد هويت الإسلام وصدقت بك قبل أن تدعوني حيث صرت إلى رحلك وما لي في اليهودية أرب وما لي فيها والد ولا أخ، وخيرتني الكفر والإسلام فالله ورسوله أحب إلي من العتق وأن أرجع إلى قومي

When Safiya came to the Holy Prophet (pbuh), he said to her; ‘Among the Jews your father did not stop in his enmity towards me until Allah destroyed him.’ She said: ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Indeed Allah says in His book, ‘No one will take anyone else’s burden’. So the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said to her: ‘Make your choice, if you will chose Islam I’ll select you for myself and if you chose Judaism, I’ll set you free and send you to your people.’ She said; ‘O Allah’s Messenger indeed I longed for Islam and testified for you even before you gave me this invitation when I came to you. I have no guardian among the Jews, neither father nor brother and I prefer Islam over disbelief. Allah and His Messenger are dear to me then freedom and to return to my people.” (Ibn Saad 8/123)

Lest one should doubt this narration as to how did Sayyidah Safiya (RA) know before embracing Islam that Allah says in His book ‘No one will take anyone else’s burden’, it needs to be clarified that even in the Jewish scriptures the same is mentioned e.g. in Ezekial 18: 20 and it is comprehendible that she coming from a Jewish background knew it.

About a Companion standing armed outside their camp and Sayyidah Safiya’s feelings:

Unaware of such an affectionate talk between Holy Prophet (PBUH) and Sayyidah Safiya(RA) , one of the pious Companions, Sayyidina Abu Ayub (RA), stood armed outside their camp for the fear that Sayyidah Safiya, whose father and brother were killed in the battle, may try to harm the Prophet (pbuh) (Ibn Saad 8/126). Some Missionaries refer to this happening giving an impression as if Sayyidah Safiya (RA) was forced into marriage and was really unhappy. While the very conversation quoted above belies such a notion, it must also be known that Abu Ayub (RA) was standing there voluntarily and Holy Prophet (PBUH) had not made him to stand there as he knew the actual position of Sayyidah Safiya. The pious companion in his innocence didn’t know and the cunning polemicists in their evil designs run away from the fact that much before Holy Prophet (PBUH) reached Khyber the All-Wise, the Almighty had sown the seeds of the love of the Prophet in the heart of Sayyidah Safiya (RA).

نَزَلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ خَيْبَرَ وَصَفِيَّةُ عَرُوسٌ فِي مَجَاسِدِهَا، فَرَأَتْ فِي الْمَنَامِ كَأَنَّ الشَّمْسَ نَزَلَتْ حَتَّى وَقَعَتْ عَلَى صَدْرِهَا، فَقَصَّتْ ذَلِكَ عَلَى زَوْجِهَا، فَقَالَ: وَاللَّهِ مَا تَمَنَّيْنَ إِلا هَذَا الْمَلِكَ الَّذِي نَزَلَ بنا، فَفَتَحَهَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَضَرَبَ عُنُقَ زَوْجِهَا صَبْرًا، وَتَعَرِّضَ مِنْ هُنَاكَ مِنْ فِتْيَةِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لِيَتَزَوَّجَهَا

When Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) reached Khyber while Safiya was a bride at her place. She saw in her dream that a sun came into her lap. She mentioned it before her husband. He said; ‘By Allah you do not wish for anyone except the King who has come upon us.’ Allah’s Messenger conquered Khyber and her husband was killed. From that time (of dream) she loved that the Prophet (pbuh) may marry her. (Tabarani Kabeer, Hadith 19667)

عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ، قَالَ: كَانَ بِعَيْنَيْ صَفِيَّةَ خُضْرَةٌ، فَقَالَ لَهَا النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ:مَا هَذِهِ الْخُضْرَةُ بِعَيْنَيْكِ؟فَقَالَتْ: قُلْتُ لِزَوْجِي: إِنِّي رَأَيْتُ فِيمَا يَرَى النَّائِمِ قَمَرًا وَقَعَ فِي حِجْرِي فَلَطَمَنِي، وَقَالَ: أَتُرِيدِينَ مَلِكَ يَثْرِبَ؟ قَالَتْ: وَمَا كَانَ أَبْغَضُ إِلَيَّ مِنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ، قَتَلَ أَبِي وَزَوْجِي، فَمَا زَالَ يَعْتَذِرُ إِلَيَّ، فَقَالَ:يَا صَفِيَّةُ إِنَّ أَبَاكِ أَلَّبَ عَلَى الْعَرَبَ، وَفَعَلَ وَفَعَلَحَتَّى ذَهَبَ ذَاكَ مِنْ نَفْسِي

Ibn Umar narrates: In the eye of Sayyidah Safiya was a scar. Holy Prophet (pbuh) said to her, ‘What is this scar in your eye?’ She said, ‘I mentioned before my husband that I saw a moon falling into my lap in a dream so he slapped me and said; ‘Do you long for the King of Yathrib [i.e. Holy Prophet pbuh]’ She said: ‘There was none more hateful to me then Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) as he killed my father and husband. [But] the Prophet (pbuh) explained, ‘O Safiya your father instigated the Arabs against me and did so and so…’ He kept on explaining until that feeling (of hatred) vanished from me.’
(Tabarani Kabeer, Hadith 19668. Albani classified it as Sahih in his Silsala Sahiha H. 2793)

Taking together all the narrations above we come to know that Sayyidah Safiya (RA) had a feeling of affection for the Prophet (pbuh) before they met (Tabarani 19667). When her father and husband were killed in the battle she developed some feeling of hatred for the Prophet (PBUH) for natural reasons but when the Prophet (PBUH) explained to her what all her father did to him (Tabarani 19668) she realized that her father met such an end because of his own deeds (Ibn Saad 8/123) and so her ill feelings for the Prophet (PBUH) completely vanished and she was left with the feelings of love for the Prophet (pbuh) that the All-Wise and Almighty had put in her heart through a dream (Tabarani 19667 & 19668).
Truly unique and inscrutable are the ways of My Lord!


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    1. Jazakallah. Have you ever come across this site?

      It gives biographies of various narrators and scholars over the years, including what scholars said on them, narrator's grading, etc. Hope this will help in future articles.

    2. Thx jamal Allah kheer brother can u also include that saw after marring our mother Sofia the Sahara lit go our marred thaires coz they said how can we slave our mother family