Ṣafīyah bint ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib’s Bravery and Valor
By Bint Iqbal (4th Year ʿĀlimah Student, DarusSalam Seminary)
Allāh sent His messengers with scriptures as a guidance for mankind. Each had loyal followers who supported him despite the pain and abuse that the disbelievers inflicted on them. Our beloved messenger, Muḥammad (peace be upon him), was supported by a very special group of men and women who Allāh chose to be his noble Companions.
There are many incidents in our tradition in which Allāh’s Messenger praised his Companions and warned against harming them. Indeed, they were the first to benefit from his teachings and guidance. Allāh’s Messenger said:
لا تسبوا أصحابي لا تسبوا أصحابي فوالذي نفسي بيده لو أن أحدكم أنفق مثل أحد ذهبا ما أدرك مد أحدهم ولا نصفه
“Do not revile my Companions! Do not revile my Companions! By Him in whose hand is my life! If one of you would have spent the weight of Mount Uḥud in gold, it would not amount to even one mudd given by one of them nor half a mudd.”
The Companions had the best morals and character. In Sūrat al-Fatḥ, Allāh mentions them:
مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ أَشِدَّاءُ عَلَى الْكُفَّارِ رُحَمَاءُ بَيْنَهُمْ تَرَاهُمْ رُكَّعاً سُجَّداً يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلاً مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَاناً سِيمَاهُمْ فِي وُجُوهِهِمْ مِنْ أَثَرِ السُّجُودِ ذَلِكَ مَثَلُهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَمَثَلُهُمْ فِي الْأِنْجِيلِ كَزَرْعٍ أَخْرَجَ شَطْأَهُ فَآزَرَهُ فَاسْتَغْلَظَ فَاسْتَوَى عَلَى سُوقِهِ يُعْجِبُ الزُّرَّاعَ لِيَغِيظَ بِهِمُ الْكُفَّارَ وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ مِنْهُمْ مَغْفِرَةً وَأَجْراً عَظِيماً
“Muḥammad is Allāh’s Messenger, and those with him are hard on the disbelievers and compassionate among themselves. You will see them bowing down in prayer, prostrating, and seeking grace from Allāh and His good pleasure. Their distinguishing features are on their faces from the effect of their prostration. This is their description in the Torah; and their description in the Injīl is like a sown crop that brings forth its shoot making it strong, then it grows thick and stands straight on its stem, looking good to the farmers, so that He may enrage the disbelievers through them. Allāh has promised forgiveness and a huge reward to those of them who believe and do good deeds.”
The Prophet’s Companions are role models for us, and we can learn lessons from reading about their lives and sacrifices for Islām. In this paper, I will discuss one of his female companions, his aunt, Ṣafīyah bint ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib.
Her name is Ṣafīyah bint ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib al-Hāshimīyah al-Qurashīyah ʿAmmatu Rasūl Allāh. Born into a noble family, her father was ʿAbd al- Muṭṭalib, who was the Prophet’s grandfather. And her mother was the sister of the Prophet’s mother, Hālah bint Wahb.
She was first married to Ḥārith b. Ḥarb, the brother of Sufyān b. Ḥarb. After his passing, she remarried. This time was to ʿAwwām b. Khuwaylid, the brother of Khadījah bint Khuwaylid, the first and most beloved wife of Allāh’s Messenger (peace be upon him). Shortly thereafter, ʿAwwām passed away and left her widowed with a young boy named Zubayr.
Ṣafīyah spared no effort in raising Zubayr as a brave and courageous young man. The history books discuss her placing him in difficult situations for the purpose of him learn to fight and defend himself. Whenever she would sense any fear or hesitance from him, she would hit him. This led to some of her uncles scolding her, but Ṣafīyah replied beautifully with these couplets:
من قال قد أبغضته فقد كذب، وإنما أضربه لكي يلب ويهزم الجيش ويأتي بالسلب
“Whoever says I have despised him has lied. I only hit him so he becomes sensible and knows how to vanquish armies and take booty.”
She was from amongst the early believers and she was the only aunt of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to accept his message. When the Prophet began preaching openly, he addressed his immediate family saying:
يَا فَاطِمَةُ ابْنَةَ مُحَمَّدٍ، يَا صَفِيَّةُ ابْنَةَ عَبْدِ الْمُطَّلِبِ، يَا بَنِي عَبْدِ الْمُطَّلِبِ، لَا أَمْلِكُ لَكُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ شَيْئًا، سَلُونِي مِنْ مَالِي مَا شِئْتُمْ
“O Fatimah, daughter of Muḥammad! O Ṣafīyah bint ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib! O Banī ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib! I cannot avail you anything before Allāh; ask me for whatever you want of my wealth.”
Ṣafīyah was known amongst the Companions for her valor and bravery. In the Battle of Uḥud, when she saw the Muslims fleeing and deserting Allāh’s Messenger, and the disbelievers ready to attack him, she threw down the waterskin that was in her hands and ran into the battlefield. She charged through the enemy ranks, striking at their heads with her arrows.
When the Messenger saw her advancing deep into the battlefield, he feared that she might see her martyred brother, Ḥamzah, who had been killed in the battle and mutilated by the disbelievers. Her son attempted to divert her from the body saying: “Go away mother,” while trying to hide her brother’s mutilated corpse. She refused and stood at the corpse of her deceased brother and remarked:
إن ذلك في الله، لقد رضيت بقضاء الله والله لأصبرن ولأحتسبن إن شاء الله
“Verily, this was done for Allāh. I am pleased with His decree and will be patient hoping for His reward.”
During the Battle of Khandaq, she displayed both astuteness and bravery. As was the habit of the Prophet during battles, he would ensure the women and children remained at forts while the men fought. This time, they were in the fort of Ḥassān b. Thābit, the Prophet’s well-known poet.
While the men were busy preparing for war, Ṣafīyah saw a distant figure who was fast approaching the fort. She realized that it was a Jewish man who was sent as a spy. There was no one to defend the women and children. Quickly, she ran and grabbed a pillar and struck him on the head until she decapitated him. She then proceeded to throw the head over the fortress wall as to give the impression to the enemies that the fortress was being guarded by strong warriors.
– Ibn al-Athīr, ʿAlī b. Muḥammad. Usd al-Ghābah. Beirut: Dār Ibn Ḥazm, 2012.
– al-Dhahabī, Muḥammad b. Aḥmad. Siyar Aʿlām al-Nubalāʾ. Beirut: Muʾassasat al-Risālah, 1985.
– Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī, Aḥmad b. ʿAlī. Al-Iṣābah fī Tamyīz al-Ṣaḥābah. Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmīyah, 1995.
– Muslim, Abū al-Ḥusayn Muslim b. al-Ḥajjāj. Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim. Riyadh: Dār Ṭaybah, 2005.
– Pāshā, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān. Ṣuwar min Ḥayāt al-Ṣaḥābīyāt. Karachi: Maktabat al-ʿUlūm al-Islāmīyah, n.d.
 Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, #2540. A mudd being a unit of measure.
 The Meanings of the Noble Qurʾān, 957.
 Ṣuwar min Ḥayāt al-Ṣaḥābīyāt.
 Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, #205.
 Ṣuwar min Ḥayāt al-Ṣaḥābīyāt.