From Merchant to Messenger
Wives of the Messenger
and revelations they inspired
#11 Safiyya b. Huyayy
In 628, after signing a short-lived ten-year “non-aggression” pact, the treaty of Hudaibiyah, with the Meccans, God’s Messenger attacked the mainly Jewish town of Khaybar about 153 km to the north of Medina.
Khaybar fell to the Muslims in just ten days.
Apart from a tribute of gold, silver and confiscation of arms, the Jews were allowed to continue to farm the oasis of Khaybar with half of whatever they produced going to the believers.
Safiyya was the second Jewish female after Rayhanah to join the Prophet’s collection of wives, concubines and slave-girls. She is said to have been the wife of an abusive general who was happy to become the wife of God’s Messenger and too convert to Islam. She allegedly came to the Prophet’s attention because of a dream where she is leaving her husband for God’s Messenger.
“He (Muhammad) had her brought to him and asked her [about] the dream and her willingness to embrace Islam. She answered that she chose Allah and His Messenger over freedom and returning to her people.”
God’s Messenger “married the small, lovely-looking girl” on his way back from Khaybar, but not before making her a free woman.
Allah's Apostle manumitted Safiyya and then married her, and her Mahr (dowry) was her manumission (freedom), and he gave a wedding banquet with Hais (a sort of sweet dish made from butter, cheese and dates).
A hadith on how believers ascertained if the Prophet had taken a wife or a slave-girl:
The Prophet stayed for three days between Khaibar and Medina, and there he consummated his marriage to Safiyya bint Huyai.
I invited the Muslims to the wedding banquet in which neither meat nor bread was offered. He ordered for leather dining-sheets to be spread, and dates, dried yoghurt and butter were laid on it, and that was the Prophet's wedding banquet.
The Muslims wondered, "Is she (Saffiyya) considered as his wife or his slave girl?" Then they said, "If he orders her to veil herself, she will be one of the mothers of the Believers; but if he does not order her to veil herself, she will be a slave girl.
So when the Prophet proceeded from there, he spared her a space behind him (on his she-camel) and put a screening veil between her and the people.
Safiyya outlived her husband by perhaps 40 years. She died in 670 or 672 and was buried with the other wives at Baqi cemetery.