Two Issues Around Prophet Muhammad’s Marriage With Safiyya



Waqar Akbar Cheema

1. Introduction

Prophet Muhammad’s (ﷺ) marriage with Safiyya bint Huyayy from the Jewish tribe of Nadir has been of regular interest to modern Western critics, missionaries, and orientalists. The objections are mostly raised on two accounts:

(i) The marriage was solemnized in the aftermath of the conquest of the last Jewish stronghold in Arabia, Khaibar, during which Safiyya’s husband and other family members were killed, while her father had already been killed a couple of years earlier. How could, they wonder, then Safiyya willingly marry a person responsible for all the misery of her people?

(ii) The Prophet (ﷺ) married her well before the expiry of a waiting period of a woman whose husband passes away mentioned in the Qur’an (i.e. four months and ten days).[1] This fact is used to allege that the Prophet (ﷺ) violated the law he himself gave.

This criticism is obviously done at the cost of facts not conducive to the propaganda line. The instant write-up is meant to delve into reported facts and present the real picture in the light thereof and to answer unchecked scepticism by carefully highlighting the relevant details.

2. Who was Safiyya?

2.1 Her name

Contrary to the suggestion of some she was called Safiyya even before her marriage with the Prophet (ﷺ). The odd opinion that she was earlier called Zainab and that the Prophet (ﷺ) named her Safiyya because he chose her from captives of Khaibar has no sound basis.[2] There is no reason to believe reports about the eve of Khaibar mentioning her as Safiyya be considered as projecting a later name.[3] Moreover, Zainab was not a name that the Prophet (ﷺ) would have changed for two of his wives and a daughter also had this name. As for the idea that her name Safiyya was derived from the fact that he was chosen by the Prophet (ﷺ), it is usually based on the following narration;

عن عائشة، قالت: «كانت صفية من الصفي»

A popular translation for this goes as:

‘Aisha said: Safiyya was called after the word safi (a special portion of the Prophet).[4]

This, however, is not a definite translation especially as we have noted that she was called Safiyya even before being taken by the Prophet (ﷺ). A more plausible translation goes as;

Safiyyah was part of the safi.[5]

And al-Sha‘bi explained al-safi as;

كان للنبي صلى الله عليه وسلم سهم يدعى الصفي، إن شاء عبدا، وإن شاء أمة، وإن شاء فرسا يختاره قبل الخمس

The Prophet had a special share called As-Safi, which would be a slave or a slave woman or a horse, according to his wishes, and he would choose it before the khumus (lit. one fifth) was taken out.[6]

It is, therefore, clear that the resemblance between terms related to the Prophet’s (ﷺ) special share from the booty and the name Safiyya was only a coincidence.

2.2 Her Jewish family

Safiyya’s father Huyay b. Akhtab was the chief of the Jewish tribe of Nadir who were expelled from Madina following their breaking of the pact. Huyay incited Quraiza for treachery after the Battle of Ditch and was killed along with Quraiza.[7] Her mother Barra bt. Samwal also belonged to Quraiza. Safiyya too was first married to Sallam b. Mishkam from Quraiza before the two were separated and she married Kinana b. Abi Haqiq from the tribe of Nadir.[8]

Though her father and husband were killed, Safiyya had relatives and dear ones among Jews with whom she continued to have good terms even after coming to Islam. It is reported that she actually made the permissible will about one-third of her inheritance in favor of her nephew who was still a Jew. She had other Jewish relatives one of whom, it is reported, embraced Islam only after her death.[9] Likewise, she was said to have unapologetically pronounced her regard for her blood relations among Jews when one of her slave girls sought to misconstrue it.[10]

3. Safiyya’s marriage to the Prophet

3.1 The Prophet takes her from Dihya

In a lengthy report about the campaign of Khaibar recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari, we read:

عن أنس بن مالك، أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم غزا خيبر، … فأصبناها عنوة، فجمع السبي، فجاء دحية الكلبي رضي الله عنه، فقال: يا نبي الله، أعطني جارية من السبي، قال: «اذهب فخذ جارية»، فأخذ صفية بنت حيي، فجاء رجل إلى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال: يا نبي الله، أعطيت دحية صفية بنت حيي، سيدة قريظة والنضير، لا تصلح إلا لك، قال: «ادعوه بها» فجاء بها، فلما نظر إليها النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: «خذ جارية من السبي غيرها»، قال: فأعتقها النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وتزوجها،

Narrated ‘Anas b. Malik: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) invaded Khaibar … 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 Huyay. A man came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! You gave Safiya bint Huyay to Dihya and she is the chief mistress of the tribes of Quraiza and 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 (ﷺ) saw her, he said to Dihya, ‘Take any slave girl other than her from the captives.’ Anas added: The Prophet (ﷺ) then manumitted her and married her.[11]

3.2 Was Safiyya forced into marriage for freedom?

The fact that the Prophet (ﷺ) took her as a slave, fed her, and then married her has made people conjecture that she was in a way forced into marriage. Put differently, it is suggested that to live as a free person she had no choice but to marry the Prophet (ﷺ). This, however, is totally wrong as evident from reports preserving the details of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) offer to her after he had her taken from Dihya.

Ja‘far b. Mahmud [b. ‘Abdullah b. Muhammad b. Maslama]’s report that has come to us through al-Waqidi presents the most detailed account in this regard;

لما دخلت صفية على النبي – صلى الله عليه 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 Prophet (ﷺ), 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 Prophet (ﷺ) said to her: ‘Make your choice, if you will chose Islam I will select you for myself and if you chose Judaism, I will 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 dearer to me than freedom returning to my people.”[12]

This is also confirmed in Anas b. Malik’s report about Hajjaj b. ‘Ilat informing the Prophet’s (ﷺ) uncle al-‘Abbas about the campaign of Khaibar that;

واصطفى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم صفية ابنة حيي فأخذها لنفسه، وخيرها بين أن يعتقها وتكون زوجه، أو تلحق بأهلها، فاختارت أن يعتقها وتكون زوجه

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) had chosen Safiyya, daughter of Huyay, for himself and offered her a choice between having her freedom and marrying him, or joining her family; she had chosen for him to free her and to be his wife.[13]

Both these reports confirm that Safiyya did not have to marry the Prophet (ﷺ) to save her from enslavement rather she was offered to join her Jewish family but she willingly chose the company of the Prophet (ﷺ) over everything else.

3.3 Safiyya’s feelings for the Prophet (ﷺ) vis-à-vis her father

We have already seen in the report of Ja‘far b. Mahmud above that the Prophet (ﷺ) mentioned to Safiyya what her father had been doing and how Safiyya too realized that her father had only found the fruits of his conduct.

Likewise, Ibn ‘Umar reported:

كان بعين صفية رضي الله عنها خضرة فقال لها رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «ما هذه الخضرة بعينك؟» فقالت: قلت لزوجي إني رأيت فيما يرى النائم قمرا وقع في حجري فلطمني وقال: تريدين ملك يثرب. قالت: فما كان أبغض إلي من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قتل أبي وزوجي، فما زال يعتذر إلي ويقول: «يا صفية إن أباك ألب علي العرب وفعل وفعل» حتى ذهب ذاك من نفسي

There was a green scar in an eye of Safiyya. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) asked her, ‘What is this scar in your eye?’ She said, “I mentioned before my husband my dream that a moon fell into my lap upon which he slapped me and said; ‘Do you long for the King of Yathrib [the Prophet].’” She said: ‘There was none more hateful to me than the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) as he had my father and husband killed. The Prophet (ﷺ), however, kept on explaining, ‘Safiya! Your father instigated the Arabs against me and did such and such.’ He kept doing so till all my harsh feelings for him vanished.’[14]

Abu al-Shaikh (d. 369/979) signally recorded this narration in his work Akhlaq al-Nabi wa Adabuhu (The Character and Etiquette of the Prophet).[15]

3.4 Why was there a guard at the nuptial camp?

Unaware of such an affectionate talk between the Prophet (ﷺ) and Safiyya inside the nuptial camp, one of the companions, Abu Ayub stood with a sword outside. The next morning when the Prophet (ﷺ) asked him as to why he remained there Abu Ayub mentioned how he feared that a girl whose closest relatives had been killed in the battle might try to harm him. The Prophet (ﷺ) simply laughed and said good words for him.[16] Since the companion had stood guard voluntarily and without the knowledge of the Prophet (ﷺ), it only shows how unfounded his apprehensions proved to be.

3.5 Her Previous Impression of the Prophet

Safiyya’s prior impression of the Prophet (ﷺ) was not all about the dream she mentioned to the Prophet (ﷺ). She had in fact heard her elders recognize that Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was indeed the prophet mentioned in their scriptures whom they awaited. She recounted:

كنت أحب ولد أبي إليه، وإلى عمي أبي ياسر، لم ألقهما قط مع ولد لهما إلا أخذاني دونه. قالت: فلما قدم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم المدينة، ونزل قباء، في بني عمرو بن عوف، غدا عليه أبي، حيي بن أخطب، وعمي أبو ياسر بن أخطب، مغلسين. قالت: فلم يرجعا حتى كانا مع غروب الشمس. قالت: فأتيا كالين كسلانين ساقطين يمشيان الهوينى. قالت: فهششت إليهما كما كنت أصنع، فو الله ما التفت إلي واحد منهما، مع ما بهما من الغم. قالت: وسمعت عمي أبا ياسر، وهو يقول لأبي حيي بن أخطب: أهو هو؟ قال: نعم والله، قال: أتعرفه وتثبته؟ قال: نعم، قال: فما في نفسك منه؟ قال: عداوته والله ما بقيت.

I was the favorite child of my father and my uncle Abu Yasir. When I was present they took no notice of their other children. When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was staying in Quba’ with Banu ‘Amr b. ‘Auf, the two went to see him before daybreak and did not return until after nightfall, weary, torn out, drooping and feeble. I went up to them in childish pleasure as I always did, and they were so sunk in gloom that they took no notice of me. I heard my uncle say to my father, “Is he he? Do you recognize him, and can you be sure?” [My father replied,] “Yes! By Allah he is!” [My uncle then asked] “And what do you feel about him?” [My father replied,] “By Allah I shall be his enemy as long as I live!”[17]

With such memories and impressions, it was hardly unusual for a just-minded person to realize that the Prophet (ﷺ) was not a man to be loathed rather he was to be loved and followed and that those who opposed him were doomed anyway. Safiyya simply proved that she was not just lucky she was just-minded and open to truth as well.

4. Were the rule of ‘iddah (waiting period) violated?

Critics say that whereas the Qur’an prescribes a waiting period of four months and ten days for women whose husbands pass away i.e. they are allowed to remarry only after the lapse of this period,[18] in the case of Safiyya, on the other hand, we see that soon after the death of her husband the Prophet (ﷺ) married her which, it is argued, means the said rule of waiting period was not observed.

In reality, however, the rules of the waiting period do not apply in cases like that of Safiyya. Waiting Period (‘iddah) is an implication of a marriage valid in the eyes of Islamic law. Whereas Safiyya had been taken as a slave after a conquest, her marriage was rendered nullified because her husband had not come along. While her husband Kinana was actually killed even if he had escaped death and captivity his marriage with Safiyya would have been deemed nullified under Islamic law.[19]

In this case, therefore, the relevant rule was not of ‘iddah (waiting period) but rather that of istibra’. Istibra’ (lit. to free) means to assure that the womb of a woman is empty. This assurance could be reached through one menses as well which authentic reports say did happen in the case of Safiyya.

عن أنس بن مالك رضي الله عنه، … فاصطفاها النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم لنفسه، فخرج بها حتى بلغنا سد الصهباء حلت، فبنى بها رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم

Narrated Anas bin Malik: … the Prophet (ﷺ) selected her for himself, and set out with her, and when we reached a place called Sadd al-Sahba’, Safiya became lawful (i.e. clean from her menses) and the Messenger of Allah went to her in marriage.[20]

In another report from Anas it is clearly spelled out;

عن أنس أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم استبرأ صفية بحيضة

Narrated Anas: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) avoided (intimacy with) Safiyya till she was free from her menstrual course.[21]

This was not an exceptional case. In fact the Prophet (ﷺ) pronounced it for similar cases on another occasion as well.

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 al-Khudri traced to Prophet (ﷺ) the following statement regarding the slave captives taken at Awtas, “There must be no intercourse with a pregnant woman till she gives birth to her child or non-pregnant one till she menstruates once.”[22]

It is likewise narrated by another companion.

عن رويفع بن ثابت الأنصاري، قال: قام فينا خطيبا، قال: أما إني لا أقول لكم إلا ما سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: يوم حنين … لا يحل لامرئ يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر أن يقع على امرأة من السبي حتى يستبرئها

Narrated Ruwaifi‘ b. Thabit al-Ansari: Should I tell you what I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say on the day of Hunain: …  it is not lawful for a man who believes in Allah and the Last Day to have intercourse with a captive woman till she is free from a menstrual course.[23]

The ‘iddah (waiting period) rules mentioned in the Qur’an, therefore, do not apply to cases that do not involve formally recognized intimate relations.[24]

Elaborating on this point, al-Jassas (d. 370/980) writes:

ليس بين فقهاء الأمصار خلاف في وجوب استبراء المسبية على ما ذكرنا إلا أن الحسن بن صالح قال عليها العدة حيضتين إذا كان لها زوج في دار الحرب وقد ثبت بحديث أبى سعيد الذي ذكرنا الاستبراء بحيضة واحدة وليس هذا الاستبراء بعدة لأنها لو كانت عدة لفرق النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بين ذوات الأزواج منهن وبين من ليس لها زوج لأن العدة لا تجب إلا عن فراش فلما سوى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بين من كان لها فراش وبين من لم يكن لها فراش دل ذلك على أن هذه الحيضة ليست بعدة فإن قيل قد ذكر في حديث أبي سعيد الذي ذكرت إذا انقضت عدتهن فجعل ذلك عدة قيل له يجوز أن تكون هذه اللفظة من كلام الراوي تأويلا منه للاستبراء أنه عدة وجائز أن تكون العدة لما كان أصلها استبراء الرحم أجري اسم العدة على الاستبراء على وجه المجاز

There is no difference among jurists from across the regions that it is mandatory that a captive woman be free from one menstrual course (before establishing conjugal relations). Only al-Hasan b. Salih differed holding that she must have gone through two menstrual courses if she had a husband in non-Islamic territory. The Hadith of Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri already mentioned, however, establishes that the requirement is freeing from one menstrual course. This freeing from menstrual course is not regular waiting period (‘iddah) for had it been waiting period that the Prophet (ﷺ) would have treated women who had husbands previously and those who did not have, differently. This is for the fact that waiting period is not observed except for the right of the bed (firash).[25] Since the Prophet (ﷺ) treated women who had been under the right of bed and those who had not been the same way, it confirms that this requirement of lapse of one menstrual course was not the regular waiting period (‘iddah). If it be argued that (in some narrations of) hadith of Abu Sa‘id it says, “when they completed their waiting period (‘iddah)” thus referring to it as ‘iddah, he will be told that it could simply be a rendering by a narrator by the way of interpretation of passing of a menstrual course. As the essence of waiting period (‘iddah) [even for a woman with under formally recognized right to intimacy] is confirmation of the freeing of womb, the word ‘iddah accordingly might be proverbially used for the freeing from a menstrual course [in case of a woman taken as a captive] as well.[26]

As for a narration of the report about Safiyya mentioning that she spent her waiting period with Umm Sulaim (wa ta‘taddu fi baitiha) – even if proven by an eye-witness[27] – means she stayed with Umm Sulaim till the end of her menstrual course.[28] In other words, it was a case of use of the word ‘iddah in a loose proverbial sense.[29]

5. Conclusion

The above details discreetly show that following her community’s defeat and punishment at the hands of the Prophet (ﷺ), Safiyya’s impulsive impression of hatred for him quickly changed into love and respect. Childhood memory of her elders secretly conceding that Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was indeed sent by Allah, her dream just before the campaign of Khaibar, and most importantly Prophet’s (ﷺ) graciously behaviour towards her made her fall in love with the Prophet (ﷺ) which is why she chose to stay with him as his wife rather than go over to her Jewish relatives. Thus, the Prophet (ﷺ) married her after she had become clean from menses as was required in such a case. There was accordingly no question of inconsistency or indecency on the part of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ).[divider]

References & Notes:

[1] Qur’an 2:234

[2] al-Zurqani, Abu ‘Abdullah, Sharh ‘ala Mawahib al-Laduniya, (Beirut: DKI, 1996) Vol.3, 271; he says to the majority Safiyya was her original name.

[3] Al-Bukhari, Muhammad b. Isma‘il, al-Sahih, Translated by Muhsin Khan (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers, 2007) Hadith 371; along with Al-Halabi, Abu al-Faraj, Insan al-‘Uyun fi Sirat al-Amin al-Ma’mun, (Beirut: DKI, 1427 AH) Vol.3, 64

[4] Al-Sijistani, Abu Dawud, al-Sunan, Hadith 2994; translated in Hasan, Ahmad, Sunan Abu Dawud: English Translation with Explanatory Notes, (Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1984) Vol.2, 848 Hadith 2988

[5] Al-Khattab, Nasiruddin & Abu Khaliyl, English Translation of Sunan Abu Dawud, (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers, 2008) Hadith 2994

[6] Al-Sijistani, Abu Dawud, al-Sunan, Translated by Nasiruddin al-Khattab (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers, 2008) Hadith 2991

[7] Al-Waqidi, Muhammad b. ‘Umar, al-Maghazi, (Beirut: Dar al-A‘lami, 1989) Vol.2, 516

[8] Ibn Sa‘d, Muhammad, Tabaqat al-Kubra, (Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyya, 1990) Vol.8, 95

[9] Ibn Sa‘d, Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol.8, 101-102

[10] Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, al-Isti‘ab fi Ma‘rifat al-Ashab, (Beirut: Dar al-Jil, 1992) Vol.4, 1872

[11] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 371

[12] Ibn Sa‘d, Muhammad, Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol.8, 97. The source for this report is Ja‘far b. Mahmud b. ‘Abdullah b. Muhammad b. Maslama. For details about him, see al-Mizzi, Jamal al-Din, Tahdhib al-Kamal, Edited by Dr. Bashar Awad Ma‘ruf (Beirut: Al-Resalah Publishers, 1980) Vol.5, 107-108. This is, however, not to say that Safiyya did not have any Jewish relatives. See section 2.2 above.

Lest one doubt this narration as to how could Safiyya have known before embracing Islam that Allah says in His book ‘No one will take anyone else’s burden’, it needs to be clarified that it could actually be a reference to similar teachings in the Jewish scriptures. Ezekiel 18:20, for instance, says the same.

[13] al-San‘ani, ‘Abdul Razzaq, al-Musannaf, Edited by Habib al-Rahman al-A‘zami (Dabhel: Majlis al-‘Ilmi, 1983) Hadith 9771; Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, Edited by Shu‘aib al-Arna’ut (Beirut: Al-Resalah Publishers, 2001) Hadith 12409, graded as sahih according to the conditions of Bukhari and Muslim.

To some scholars, these reports shed light on the issue of Safiyya’s dower (mahr) as well for her freedom was agreed even if she were to choose to go back to her Jewish family. This suggests against reports mentioning that her freedom itself was her dower. The issue will be discussed separately for it is beyond the scope of the instant study.

[14] Ibn Abi ‘Asim, Abu Bakr, al-Ahad wa al-Mathani, (Riyadh: Dar al-Rayah, 1991) Hadith 3113; al-Busti, Ibn Hibban, al-Sahih, Edited by Shu‘aib al-Arna’ut (Beirut: al-Resalah Publishers, 1993) Hadith 5199; classified as sahih. al-Tabarani, Abu al-Qasim, al-Mu’jam al-Kabir, (Cairo: Maktaba Ibn Taimiya, 1994) Vol.24, 67 Hadith 177; Al-Albani also graded it as sahih in Silsala al-Ahadith al-Sahiha, (Riyadh: Dar al-Ma‘rif, 1996) Vol.6, Hadith 2793; a shorter version of the report is found in Al-Mawsali, Abu Ya‘la, al-Musnad, Edited by Hussain Salim Asad (Damascus: Dar al-Ma’mun lil-Turath, 1984) Hadith 7114, wherein she says her feelings for the Prophet (ﷺ) changed rather quickly.

A report from Abu Barza adds that after the dream Safiyya longed for the Prophet (ﷺ) till they were united after Khaibar fell to Muslims. See, Ibn Abi ‘Asim, al-Ahad wa al-Mathani, Hadith 3112; al-Tabarani, al-Mu’jam al-Kabir,  Vol.24, 67 Hadith 176

[15] Abu al-Shaikh, ‘Abdullah b. Muhammad, Akhlaq al-Nabi wa Adabuhu, (Riyadh: Dar al-Muslim, 1998) Hadith 160

[16] Al-Waqidi, al-Maghazi, Vol.2, 708; whereas al-Waqidi mentions no source in his own work, his isnad for the report was preserved by his student Ibn Sa‘d. See  Ibn Sa‘d, Muhammad, Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol.8, 99-100; for another isnad for the report see, Ibn Sa‘d, Muhammad, Tabaqat al-Kubra, Vol.2, 89; al-Hakim, Abu ‘Abdullah, al-Mustadrak, (Beirut: DKI, 1990) Hadith 6787

[17] Ibn Hisham, ‘Abd al-Malik, al-Sirah al-Nabawiyya, Edited Mustafa Saqa, (Cairo: Mustafa Babi, 1955) Vol.1, 518-519; translated in Guillaume, Alfred, The Life of Muhammad – Translation of [Ibn] Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) 241-242 (emended here); With Ibn Ishaq the original source for this is ‘Abdullah b. Abu Bakr b. Muhammad b. ‘Amr b. Hazm (d. 135/752-753) but another source tells us that it had come from ‘Abdullah’s grandfather Muhammad b. ‘Amr b. Hazm (d. 63/683). See, al-Isbahani, Abu Nu‘aim,  Dala’il al-Nabuwwah, (Beirut: Dar al-Nafa’is, 1986) Vol.1, 77; Al-Soyani graded the isnad as qawi (strong); al-Soyani, Muhammad b. Hamd, al-Sahih min Ahadith al-Sirah al-Nabawiyya, (Riyadh: Madar al-Watan, 2011) 170

[18] Qur’an 2: 234-235

[19] Al-Jassas, Abu Bakr, Ahkam al-Qur’an, (Beirut: Dar Ihya’ al-Turath al-‘Arabi, 1405 AH) Vol.5, 328-331; also see, al-Sarakhsi, Muhammad b. Ahmad, al-Mabsut, (Beirut: Dar al-Ma‘rifa, 1993) Vol.5, 50-53; ‘Uthmani, Zafar Ahmad, I‘la’ al-Sunan, (Karachi: Idara al-Qur’an wa ‘Ulum al-Islamiaya, 1415 AH) Vol.11, 107-109; Usmani, Muhammad Taqi, Takmila Fath al-Mulhim, (Beirut: Dar  Ihya’ al-Turath, 2006) Vol.1, 83-87

[20] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 2893, 4211, with al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, (Beirut: Dar al-Ma‘rifa, 1379 AH) Vol.7, 480

[21] al-San‘ani, ‘Abdul Razzaq, al-Musannaf, Hadith 12898, 13109; al-Baihaqi, Abu Bakr, Sunan al-Kubra, (Cairo: Markaz Hijr, 2011) Hadith 15688; al-Haithami, Nur al-Din, Bughyah al-Bahith ‘an Zawa’id Musnad al-Harith, (Madina: Markaz Khidmat al-Sunnah, 1992) Hadith 502, 1005, with Ibn al-Turkamani, Abu al-Hasan, Al-Jawhar al-Naqi ‘ala Sunan al-Baihaqi, (Beirut: Dar al-Fekr, n.d.) Vol.7, 450

[22] Al-Sijistani, Abu Dawud, al-Sunan, Hadith 2157; graded as sahih by al-Albani and Shu‘aib al-Arna’ut’ it is reported from Ibn ‘Abbas in quite similar wording. See, Al-Tahawi, Abu Ja’far, Sharh Mushkil al-Athar, (Beirut: al-Resalah Publishers, 1994) Vol.8, Hadith 3050; for more reports of the kind see Ibid., Vol.8, 53-55 (footnotes)

[23] Al-Sijistani, Abu Dawud, al-Sunan, Hadith 2158; graded as hasan by al-Albani and Shu‘aib al-Arna’ut;

The waiting period, technological advancements, and modernists’ misgivings: This command with regards to captive women highlights the problem with certain modernists’ contention that the purpose of the waiting period was simply to confirm that a woman was not pregnant which in our times can be checked through ultrasound and other tests, therefore, the waiting periods for the different situation of women stipulated in the Qur’an are now redundant. Had the sole purpose of the waiting period been to confirm the conception or otherwise the same would have been commanded in the case of captive women as well. This command shows that had the clarity with regard to pregnancy been the sole concern, the waiting period of a single menstrual cycle would have been enough. While the clarity on pregnancy might remain the primary concern even for longer periods stipulated in the Qur’an, in light of the captive women case we can be sure that the objectives of the waiting period go well beyond it.

[24] Al-Tahawi, Abu Ja‘far, Sharh Mushkil al-Athar, Vol.10, 83

[25] The word comes from a maxim reported from the Prophet (ﷺ); “al-walad lil-firash” explaining which Imran Ahsan Nyazee writes; “Literally: The child belongs to the bed … The phrase actually means that paternity is attributed to the person who has legal access to the woman for sexual intercourse.” He also notes that the relationship with female slaves is included in the maxim. See, Ibn Rushd, The Distinguished Jurist’s Primer: Bidayat al-Mujtahid wa Nihayat al-Muqtasid, Translated by Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, (Garnet Publishing, 2000) Vol.2, 144

[26] Al-Jassas, Ahkam al-Qur’an, Vol.3, 85; see note 23 above

[27] These words are reported only in the narration that has come to us through Hammad b. Salama – Thabit link and that too with Hammad frankly adding the disclaimer “I think he [Thabit] said” before it. See, Muslim b. Hajjaj, al-Sahih, (Riyadh: Darussalam Publishers, 2007) Hadith 1365-87; al-Sajistani, Abu Dawud, al-Sunan, Hadith 2997

The actual word used “bait” ordinarily means “house.” That Safiyya stayed at Umm Sulaim’s house obviously could not be the case as it happened on the way from Khaibar to Madina. Here it simply means a raised space or perhaps a tent thereon (suffah). For such understanding of the word “bait” in a different context see, al-Qari, Mullah ‘Ali, Sharh al-Shifa’, (Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-‘Ilmiyya, 1421 AH) Vol.1, 611

[28] Ibn al-Jawzi, Abu al-Faraj, Kashaf al-Mushkil min Hadith al-Sahihain, (Riyadh: Dar al-Watan, n.d.) Vol.3, 218; Ibn al-Mulaqqan, Siraj al-Din, al-Tawdih li Sharh al-Jami‘ al-Sahih, (Damascus: Dar al-Nawader, 2008) Vol.5, 333

[29] al-‘Asqalani, Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, Vol.7, 480

About the author

Waqar Akbar Cheema


  • assalam o alaikum the notion i get by reading your article was that safiyah was captive of War so for captive of wars for marying Iddah is not required only mensturous cycle. but there comes a problem. when khalid bin waleed killed malik bin nuwera in Ridda wars .he married to her wife without completing idda but the latter was dealt severely by aby bakar and umar. and umar want him to be suspended for this act of marrying her iddah being completed. but abu bakar only scolded khalid. so it appears to me that for war captive according umar and abubakar completing the iddah was obligatory