Safiyyah bint ‘Abd al-Muttalib

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Saffiyah binte ‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib (Arabic: صفية بنت عبدالمطلب‎; c. late 560s – c. 640)[1] was a Sahaba and a prominent person in Islamic history.


Safiyyah was the daughter of Abdulmuttalib ibn Hashim and Halah bint Wahb ibn Abdmanat ibn Zurah,[2][3] hence the full sister of Hamza and an aunt of Muhammad and Ali.[4]

She was first married to Harith ibn Harb,[5] and their son was Safi ibn Harith. Her second husband was Awwam ibn Khuwaylid, to whom she bore Al-Zubayr, Al-Saayib and Abdulkaaba.[6] Awwam died while their children were young.[7]

Safiyyah used to beat her son Al-Zubayr severely. When people said, "You have killed him! You have wrenched his heart. Will you destroy the boy?" she replied, "I beat him so that he will be intelligent and will be bold in the battle."[8]

She became a Muslim and took the oath of allegiance to Muhammad.[9] She joined the general emigration to Medina in 622.[6]

When the Muslims fled from Uhud in 625, Safiyyah met them with a spear in her hand, accusing them of deserting their prophet. Her son Al-Zubayr warned her, "Mother, keep back!" but she retorted, "Go away! You have no mother!" She approached and looked at what her son had tried to hide from her: the mutilated corpse of her brother Hamza.[6] An elegy for Hamza is attributed to her: "God the true, the Lord of the Throne, called him to live in Paradise in joy ... I'll never forget thee as long as the east wind blows, in sorrow and weeping, whether at home or in travel ... Would that my limbs and bones were there for hyenas and vultures to visit ..."[10]

During the Battle of the Trench in 627, Safiyyah was among the Muslim women who were placed for safety in Fari, the fortress of Hassan ibn Thabit. Safiyyah noticed a Jew in the grounds of the fortress and "feared that he would discover our weakness and inform the Jews who were in our rear while the apostle and his companions were too occupied to help us."[11] She told Hassan to go down and kill him. When Hassan hesitated, she went down "stealthily", opened the door "little by little"[6] until she could creep up behind the supposed spy, then hit him with a club and killed him. She then told Hassan to strip the corpse, but Hassan still refused to act.[11] (Note that Ibn Saad attributes this episode to the Battle of Uhud.[6])

In 628 Muhammad assigned Safiyyah an income of 40 wasqs of grain and dates from Khaybar.[12][6]

Safiyyah died during the caliphate of Umar (634-644) and was buried in Al-Baqi' "in the courtyard of the house of Al-Mughira ibn Shuba at the wudu place."[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Ibn Hisham note 97.
  3. ^ Muhammad ibn Saad, Tabaqat vol. 8. Translated by Bewley, A. (1995). The Women of Madina, p. 29. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
  4. ^ Imamate: The Vicegerency of the Prophet [1]
  5. ^ Becons of light on [2]
  6. ^ a b c d e f Bewley/Saad vol. 8 p. 29.
  7. ^ Muhammad ibn Saad, Tabaqat vol. 3. Translated by Bewley, A. (2013). The Companions of Badr, p. 76. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
  8. ^ Bewley/Saad vol. 3 p. 76.
  9. ^ Al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Rusul wa'l-Muluk vol. 39. Translated by Landau-Tasseron, E. (1998). Biographies of the Prophet's Companions and Their Successors, p. 199. New York: State University of New York Press.
  10. ^ Muhammad ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah. Translated by Guillaume, A. (1955). The Life of Muhammad, p. 425. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  11. ^ a b Guillaume/Ishaq p. 458.
  12. ^ Guillaume/Ishaq p. 522.
  13. ^ Bewley/Saad vol. 8 p. 30.

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