Saturday, January 26, 2008

Safiyyah bint Abd al-Muttalib al-Qurshiyah

When I came to Islam in 1998, Alhamdulillah, like many new Muslims, I decided to choose a "Muslim" name. Although changing a name is not a requirement for new Muslims, it is certainly an option.

I began to read Islamic books so I could carefully choose a name. Since I was re-verting to Islam from Judaism, I was happy to read that our Prophet (saw) had two wives who came from Judaism: Juwariyyah and Safiyyah (ra). I decided to call myself Juwariyyah, but Alhamdulillah, I could not even pronounce my own new name! So I told all my new Muslim sisters that I was changing my name to Safiyyah. Although I can now pronounce the name Juwariyyah, I remain Safiyyah.

Insha Allah, this post will be a work-in-progress, because in researching other topics relevant to Islam, I discovered other righteous Muslim women who also bear the beautiful name of Safiyyah. For example, a group of my sisters at our masjid is currently seeking knowledge about how to wash and shroud deceased Muslims (will write another post about this, Insha Allah). We are a tiny masjid, Alhamdulillah, and a few of us sisters are approaching advanced age, Alhamdulillah (including yours truly!).

Researching washing/shrouding, I discovered that the Messenger (saw) had an aunt Safiyyah (ra). She is mentioned in the context of the lack of sufficient number of shrouds to cover those killed in the Battle of U`hud.

Az-Zubair ibn al-`Awwam, (ra) said, "During the battle of U`hud, a woman was walking and almost reached where the martyrs were said. The Prophet (saw) disliked her seeing the dead, so he said, 'The woman! The woman!' I thought that it was my mother Safiyyah, so I rushed to her side and reached her before she reached the corpses. She struck me in my chest, and she was a strong woman, saying, 'Go away from me, may you have no land to carry you!' I said, 'Allah's Messenger, salla allahu `alaihi wa-sallam, strongly wants you to stop.' She stopped.* She held two garments that she brought with her, saying, 'I brought these two garments for my brother `Hamzah, because I heard that he was killed. Use them as shrouds for him.' (Ahmad, 1418, Baihaqi, 3:401 - quoted in Zad-u Ma'ad 4, Provisions for the Hereafter, Ibn Qayyim al-Jauziyyah, English verision, Pg. 71) translated by Jalal Abualrub).

During this discussion, the authors make an interesting observation about the character of Safiyyah (ra):

*Contemplate how obedient and faithful Safiyyah was. She was the Prophet's aunt and the sister of `Hamzah, his uncle. `Hamzah was so beloved to the Prophet, peace be upon him, that when he saw his dead, mutilated body, he stated that never before did he suffer a loss like his loss in `Hamzah, who was the Lion of Allah and the Lion of Allah's Prophet and the strongest man in the tribe of Quraish. Yet, Safiyyah, may Allah be pleased with her and with `Hamzah, did not move towards his dead body when she heard the Prophet's order. She did not wail, tear her clothes or shave her hair. Do women still give birth to those who are remotely similar to Safiyyah? (Ibid, Pg. 72)

Along side the body of `Hamzah (ra) was a dead Ansar. Because the Ansari man had no shroud, a lottery was conducted between the two deceased men and each was then covered with the garment (shroud) that was his share.

The Prophet (saw) felt compassion for Safiyyah (ra). Anas (ra) reported, "During the battle of Uhud, Allah's Apostle (saw) passed by (the dead body of his uncle) Hamzah ibn Abdul Muttalib who was mutilated. He (saw) said, 'If I did not fear that Safiyyah might feel sad (in her heart), I would have left him exposed (so that beasts and birds eat his body), until Allah resurrects him from the stomachs of birds and beasts.'" (Al-Albani, A`hkamu al-Jana-iz, Pg. 79-85, as quoted in Zad-u Ma'ad 4, Provisions for the Hereafter, Ibn Qayyim al-Jauziyyah, English version, Pg. 78) translated by Jalal Abualrub).

May Allah (swt) grant us daughters remotely similar to Safiyyah, aunt of our Messenger (saw) and sister of the Lion of Allah/Ameen.


Fruitful Fusion said...

Assalaamu Alaykum,

Ameen to your du'aa. When I first came across your blog I had actually thought this (that you took the name Safiyyah as she reverted from Judaism to Islam - well one of them). Ma sha Allah it is such a beautiful name!

Unknown said...

Assalaamu alaikum warahmatullah.

maashaallah, i have never read these ahadeeth before. They are really beautiful jazakAllahukhairan and thought provoking.

may Allah make you like your namesakes, the aunt of rasoolullah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam safiyyah bint abdul muttalib, and his wife the mother of the believers safiyyah bint huyayy, radhiyAllahu 'anhum ajma'een.


your brother,

Anonymous said...

Mash'Allah, I was wondering about your name when I first "met" you and lo and behold, the next day, at jumu'a, a portion of the khutba was dedicated to talking about Safiyyah bint Abu Mutallib (ra). It was about how strong she was like a man and how she protected the women and children of Islam. She saw a spy come towards the house where the women and children were while the men were preparing to fight. She closed her outer garment with a belt so that it wouldn't flap open and struck the man repeatedly in the head til he died. Then she cut off his head and threw it over the fence/partition and it caused the disbelieving warriors that were heading their way to turn back on their heels. They thought there must be some men guarding the women and children! Have you heard this story before?!