Some of the stories of the female companions really inspire me and stick in my head, and the story of Safiyyah is one of them, as she seems so different from the way the ideal Muslimah is portrayed today! She was strong and feisty and brave.
She was related to the Prophet sas as she was his fathers sister and also her mother was sisters with the Prophet sas mother. She was Hamza ra’s sister.
Her son was Zubair ra, who was one of the Sahabah promised jannah.
After Zubayrs father died she brought him up.
Whenever he came home complaining of being bullied by children of his age, she would sternly rebuke him, tie him and beat him up so as to make him strong and firm.
When one of the members of her husband’s family once passed by her while she was treating her son in this way, he requested her to be kind to the poor orphan. She replied that she wants to make a man out of her son; a man that would be undefeatable and insuppressible, a man that would never surrender to any of Allah’s creatures.
This is so different to the way we bring up our sons today, we jump up at every knock and fall, try to wrap them in cotton wool, are we making the soft? are we bringing them up in a way that enables them to defend and protect our Ummah?
It was reported that Az-Zubayr engaged in a duel with someone who slandered him and Az-Zubayr was so strong, that he broke the hand of the slanderer and severely beat him up. This man, with his pains was brought to Safiyah and she asked him what had happened to him, to which was told,
“He fought with Az-Zubayr and he [Az-Zubayr] did to him that which you can see.”
When she heard thise, she proudly recited the following poetical verses :
How did you find Zubayr?
Did you find him a cottage cheese or a date fruit?
Or did you find him a raving falcon?
He is not as simple to overcome or an easy food that be eaten effortlessly!
Safiyah achieved what she wanted; Az-Zubayr grew strong in body and soul, with no lassitude or sluggishness.
So many of us would warn our sons not to fight, to use words and chastise them for these same things!
And Safiyyah also showed her eloquence, she was able to talk in verse and use the literary nuances of the time for emphasis and attention.
The Battle of The Trench
“When the Messenger of Allah (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) went out to the Battle of the Trench, he put the women of his household in a fortress called Fari’ and assigned Hassan ibn Thabit to look after us. A Jewish man then came and climbed the fortress until he was able to see us. I asked Hassan to rise up and kill him but he said that if he could do so, he would have been with the Prophet (peace be upon him) and would not have been assigned to look after the women. I then rose up and killed him and cut his head off. I then asked Hassan to drag the head of the invader to the Jews who were at the bottom side of the fortress. He swore by Allah that he would not do so. So I took the head and threw it at them. The Jews then said, ‘We know that this man [meaning the Prophet (peace be upon him)] would not leave behind his family without someone to look after them.’ So they dispersed….”
This shows her quick thinking and bravery. She could have run and hid, and protected herself, but she realised her duty to protect the dignity of the Ummah. When the men werent there to protect the women, she demonstrated that the women should do it themselves. She also showed cunning and intelligence, and knowledge of military, she knew that she could not just kill him, but had to send a message to those waiting for him, and she was prepared to conquer her own fears in order to do so.
It could not have been an easy job, to kill a man with a tent peg, and cut of his head with a pocket knife, it would have been gruesome and bloody and strenuous.
As Muslimahs it is part of our deen to know how to protect ourselves, and the others around us if the situation arises, we should not be damsels in distress or wilting flowers, we should be strong, a force to be reckoned with, even if our men are not around, or unable.
The Battle of Uhud
Hammad narrated on the authority of Hisham that ‘Urwah said:
“Safiyah came on the day of (the battle of) Uhud while the Muslims were vanquished holding a spear in her hand and striking the faces of the polytheists with it. When the Messenger of Allah [sallallahu a’lyhi wa sallam] saw her, he called her son to take hold of her lest she be harmed, for she was his [i.e. the Prophet’s] aunt.”
She went out and fought! and not only that, she admonished the men who were running away “You left the Holy Prophet alone and sought flight!” She wasn’t afraid of telling the men they were doing wrong, or of speaking in public in front of men, or that is was not her place!
This was also the battle in which Hamza ra died, a horrible death.
When Safiyah heard of the martyrdom of her brother Hamzah, whom she dearly loved, she advanced to look at him and see how he was mutilated with a pierced-open belly, a cut-off nose and severed ears… Zubayr stood in her way out of concern for her and told her,
“My mother, Allah’s Messenger is ordering you to go back!”
She told her son Zubayr,
“Why should I go back since I have heard that my brother was mutilated in the cause of Allah? We are not pleased with what has happened but I will bear it with patience and I hope to get the reward from Allah, if He so Wills.”
Az-Zubayr came back to the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam) and informed him of what she had said.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) then said, “Let her go [to see her brother].”
She then went to Hamzah (may Allah be pleased with him) and stood beside his corpse. She shed tears, sought Allah’s forgiveness and said:
“Inna lillahi wa inna ilahi raaji’oon [Certainly we belong to Allah and to Him we are to return].”
This sister knew what she could handle, she wasn’t afraid to tell even the Prophet of Allah sas, that she could handle seeing her brother and didn’t want to be prevented, and the Prophet of Allah took her thoughts in to consideration and gave her permission. Then at this time she addressed the Prophet sas in verse;
“Today a day has dawned on you when the sun has darkened although it was bright and shining before hand!
again demonstrating her gift in speaking, her intelligence, education and eloquence
May we all benefit from the stories from the life of Safiyyah, and draw good from it that we can implement in our own lives. May Allah be pleased with her and grant her jannatul firdaus.