Her father was Huaiy bin Akhtab, the chief of the Banu Nazeer tribe, and traced his ancestry back to Haroon (A.S). Her mother was Barrah bint Samawal, and came from the Jewish tribe Banu Quraizah. Both tribes were considered of the more distinguished of Jews. Safiyyah (R.A) was married twice before she married Nabi (S.A.W). The first marriage ended in divorce, and her second husband, along with her father and brother, was killed in the Battle of Khaybar. Safiyyah (R.A) was taken prisoner in the same Battle.
She was short-statured, but beautiful. Safiyyah (R.A) was suave by nature, dignified in her behaviour, patient and polite. She was very generous and open handed. Some of Safiyyah (R.A)’s most prominent qualities were her qualities of intelligence, forbearance and nobility. She was also a woman of very strong will.
When the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W) saw Safiyah (R.A)’s eyes, he noticed that they were green (i.e. bruised). Nabi (S.A.W) asked her why this was so, to which she responded,
“When I was the wife of Kinanah ibn Abi al-Huqayq, I saw the sun (in a dream and it was) as if it had descended on my chest. I told my husband and he slapped me very hard and asked, ‘Are you wishing to be the wife of the King of the Arabs?'”
Safiyyah (R.A) married Muhammad (S.A.W) in 7 AH, when Nabi (S.A.W) was sixty years old and she was seventeen years old. As in the case of Juwayriyya bint Harith, this marriage occurred after one of the Muslims’ decisive battles [in this case, the battle of Khaybar].
Although Safiyyah (R.A) had in Muhammad (S.A.W) a most kind and considerate husband, she was not always favourably accepted by some of his other wives due to her Jewish background, especially when she had first joined Nabi (S.A.W)’s household. It is related by Anas (R.A) that on one occasion, Rasoolullah (S.A.W) found Safiyyah (R.A) weeping. When He (S.A.W) asked her what the matter was, she replied that she heard Ayesha (R.A) disparagingly describe her as ‘the daughter of a Jew’.
Nabi (S.A.W) responded by saying, “You are certainly the daughter of a Messenger (Haroon (A.S)), and certainly your Uncle was a Messenger (Moosa (A.S)), and you are certainly the wife of a Messenger (Muhammad (S.A.W)), so what is there in that to be scornful towards you?”
These consoling words relieved Safiyyah (R.A) and strengthened her to face her adversaries. Safiyyah (R.A), however, had very friendly relations with Hazrat Fathima (R.A), the youngest daughter of Nabi (S.A.W).
She still underwent difficulties after Nabi (S.A.W) passed away. Once a slave girl she owned went to the Umar bin Khattab (R.A.) and told him, “Ya Amir-al Mu’minin! Safiyyah loves the Sabbath and maintains ties with the Jews!” Umar (R.A) asked Safiyyah (R.A) about this and she replied, “I have not loved the Sabbath since Allah replaced it with Friday for me, and I only maintain ties with those Jews to whom I am related by kinship.” Safiyyah (R.A) then asked her slave girl what had possessed her to carry lies to Umar (R.A), to which the girl answered, “Shaytan!” Safiyyah (R.A) kept quiet, and then said to her, “Go, you are free.”
Safiyyah (R.A) was with Nabi (S.A.W) for nearly four years. She was only twenty-one when the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W) passed away, and lived as a widow for the next thirty-nine years. She passed away at the age of 60, in the year 50 AH, and is buried in Jannatul Baqi.
Don’t forget to recite as much Durood as you can!
Love and Duas,