Muhammad’s Marriage to Safiyyah

A Case Study in Allah’s Mercy

Sam Shamoun

The Quran says that Muhammad was a mercy for mankind and that Allah made him gentle and compassionate towards believers:

Now there has come to you a Messenger from among yourselves; grievous to him is your suffering; anxious is he over you, gentle to the believers, compassionate. S. 9:128 Arberry

We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all creatures. S. 21:107 Y. Ali

It further asserts that Muhammad was the standard of moral excellence and that his followers should therefore emulate him:

There is a good example in God’s apostle for those of you who look to God and the Last Day and remember God always. S. 33:21 N. J. Dawood

And thou (standest) on an exalted standard of character. S. 68:4 Y. Ali

With such exalted claims one would think that Muhammad’s life was above reproach and that there would be nothing questionable about his conduct and dealings with others. However, when non-Muslims examine the extant Islamic records regarding his ministry we discover many troublesome aspects that cast great doubt on Muhammad being a mercy to humanity and of having a sublime moral character which others should imitate.

Safiyyah: Muhammad’s War Booty

An example of Muhammad’s questionable ethics is his marriage to a seventeen-year-old Jewish girl named Safiyyah whom he took from the plunder of Khaibar:

Narrated Abdul Aziz:
Anas said, "When Allah's Apostle invaded Khaibar, we offered the Fajr prayer there (early in the morning) when it was still dark. The Prophet rode and Abu Talha rode too and I was riding behind Abu Talha. The Prophet passed through the lane of Khaibar quickly and my knee was touching the thigh of the Prophet. He uncovered his thigh and I saw the whiteness of the thigh of the Prophet. When he entered the town, he said, ‘Allahu Akbar! Khaibar is ruined. Whenever we approach near a (hostile) nation (to fight) then evil will be the morning of those who have been warned.’ He repeated this thrice. The people came out for their jobs and some of them said, ‘Muhammad (has come).’ (Some of our companions added, ‘With his army.’) 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 Huyai. A man came to the Prophet and said, ‘O Allah's Apostle! You gave Safiya bint Huyai to Dihya and she is the chief mistress of the tribes of Quraiza and An-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 saw her, he said to Dihya, ‘Take any slave girl other than her from the captives.’" Anas added: "The Prophet then manumitted her and married her."

Thabit asked Anas, "O Abu Hamza! What did the Prophet pay her (as Mahr)?" He said, "Her self was her Mahr for he manumitted her and then married her." Anas added, "While on the way, Um Sulaim dressed her for marriage (ceremony) and at night she sent her as a bride to the Prophet. So the Prophet was a bridegroom and he said, ‘Whoever has anything (food) should bring it.’ He spread out a leather sheet (for the food) and some brought dates and others cooking butter. (I think he (Anas) mentioned As-Sawaq). So they prepared a dish of Hais (a kind of meal). And that was Walima (the marriage banquet) of Allah's Apostle." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 8, Number 367)

Muhammad was so captivated by her beauty that he gave up seven slaves for her!

(2991) Anas said: A beautiful slave-girl fell to Dihyah. The Apostle of Allah purchased her for seven slaves. He then gave her to Umm Sulaim for decorating her and preparing her for marriage. The narrator Hammad said: Safiyyah daughter of Huyayy should pass her waiting period in her (Umm Sulaim’s) house. (Sunan Abu Dawud, English translation with Explanatory Notes by Prof. Ahmad Hasan [Sh. Muhammad Ashraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters; Lahore, Pakistan, 1984], Volume II, Book XIII. Kitab al-Kharaj (Book of Tribute, Spoils & Rulership), Chapter 1109: On the Special Portion of the Prophet Taken Exclusively By Him From The Booty, p. 848)

The translator says at this point:

2414. As Safiyyah was already married and her husband had been killed, it was necessary for her to wait till she was purified for remarriage. (Ibid.)

The fact that she was married and that her husband was killed because of Muhammad is repeated elsewhere in the Sunan:

(2989) Anas b. Malik said: We came to Khaibar. When Allah bestowed the conquest of fortress (on us), the beauty of Safiyyah, daughter of Huyayy was mentioned to him (the Prophet). Her husband was killed (in the battle) and she was a bride. The Apostle of Allah chose her for himself. He came out with her till we reached Sadd al-Sahba, where she was purified. So he cohabited with her.

And further confirmed by both Imam al-Bukhari and renowned Muslim historian and exegete al-Tabari:

Narrated Anas bin Malik:
We arrived at Khaibar, and when Allah helped His Apostle to open the fort, the beauty of Safiya bint Huyai bin Akhtaq whose husband had been killed while she was a bride, was mentioned to Allah's Apostle. The Prophet selected her for himself, and set out with her, and when we reached a place called Sidd-as-Sahba,' Safiya became clean from her menses then Allah's Apostle married her. Hais (i.e. an 'Arabian dish) was prepared on a small leather mat. Then the Prophet said to me, "I invite the people around you." So that was the marriage banquet of the Prophet and Safiya. Then we proceeded towards Medina, and I saw the Prophet, making for her a kind of cushion with his cloak behind him (on his camel). He then sat beside his camel and put his knee for Safiya to put her foot on, in order to ride (on the camel). (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 522)

Safiyyah had been married to Sallam b. Mishkam al-Qurazi, who divorced her, whereupon she was married to Kinanah b. al-Rabi‘ b. Abi al-Huqayq al-Nadari. The latter was killed in the battle of Khaybar leaving her a widow. (The History of al-Tabari: Biographies of the Prophet’s Companions and Their Successors, translated by Ella Landau-Tasseron [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany 1998], Volume XXXIX (39), p. 185)

Safiyyah wasn’t the only booty that Muhammad took to be his bride; there were others such as Juwayriyyah:

Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu'minin:

Juwayriyyah, daughter of al-Harith ibn al-Mustaliq, fell to the lot of Thabit ibn Qays ibn Shammas, or to her cousin. She entered into an agreement to purchase her freedom. She was a very beautiful woman, most attractive to the eye.

Aisha said: She then came to the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) asking him for the purchase of her freedom. When she was standing at the door, I looked at her with disapproval. I realised that the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) would look at her in the same way that I had looked.

She said: Apostle of Allah, I am Juwayriyyah, daughter of al-Harith, and something has happened to me, which is not hidden from you. I have fallen to the lot of Thabit ibn Qays ibn Shammas, and I have entered into an agreement to purchase of my freedom. I have come to you to seek assistance for the purchase of my freedom.

The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said: Are you inclined to that which is better? She asked: What is that, Apostle of Allah? He replied: I shall pay the price of your freedom on your behalf, and I shall marry you.

She said: I shall do this. She (Aisha) said: The people then heard that the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) had married Juwayriyyah. They released the captives in their possession and set them free, and said: They are the relatives of the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) by marriage. We did not see any woman greater than Juwayriyyah who brought blessings to her people. One hundred families of Banu al-Mustaliq were set free on account of her. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 29, Number 3920)

It is rather difficult for a non-Muslim to see how Muhammad’s actions can be viewed as ethical or as displaying mercy when he was the one responsible for plundering these places and enslaving the women and children who lived there. If it hadn’t been for Muhammad, Safiyyah would not have been widowed at seventeen and then taken as a slave, nor would Juwayriyyah have felt the need to marry Muhammad in order to procure her freedom.

To add insult to injury, the name Safiyyah was given to her by Muhammad in honor of her being his specific portion of the booty which Muslims were required to give him in addition to his share of a fifth of the plunder:

(2987) Qatadah said: When the Apostle of Allah participated in a battle, there was for him a special portion which he took from where he desired. Safiyyah was from that portion. But when he did not participate himself in his battle, a portion was taken out for him, but he had no choice. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Volume II, p. 848)

One narration refers to this special portion as safi, from whence the name Safiyyah was derived:

Narrated Yazid ibn Abdullah:

We were at Mirbad. A man with dishevelled hair and holding a piece of red skin in his hand came.

We said: You appear to be a bedouin. He said: Yes. We said: Give us this piece of skin in your hand. He then gave it to us and we read it. It contained the text: "From Muhammad, Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him), to Banu Zuhayr ibn Uqaysh. If you bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah, offer prayer, pay zakat, pay the fifth from the booty, and the portion of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his special portion (safi), you will be under by the protection of Allah and His Apostle."

We then asked: Who wrote this document for you? He replied: The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him). (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 19, Number 2993)

Note these comments from the translator:

2417. This shows that the special portion (safi) of the Prophet was an additional share given to him by his choice in the beginning. He then took the fifth of the booty. This was a separate share. After taking out these two shares, the booty was divided among the warriors. (Ibid., p. 849)

Aisha, Muhammad’s child bride, stated that:

(2988) ‘A’isha said: Safiyyah was called after the word safi (a special portion of the Prophet). (Ibid., p. 848)

The translator has a note here where he says:

2409. Al-Nawawi is of the view that her name was Safiyyah before she was captivated [sic]. Some scholars hold that her name was Zainab, and she was called Safiyyah as the Prophet took her as his special portion (‘Awn al-Ma’bud, III, 112).

Al-Tabari provides further corroboration:

The Messenger of God married Safiyyah bt. Huyayy b. Akhtab b. Sa‘yah b. Tha‘labah b. ‘Ubayd b. Ka‘b b. al-Khazraj b. Abi Habib b. al-Nadir. Previously, she was married to Sallam b. Mishkam b. al-Hakam b. Harithah b. al-Khazraj b. Ka‘b b. al-Khazraj. After his death she was married to Kinanah b. al-Rabi‘ b. Abi al-Huqayq, who was killed by Muhammad b. Maslamah at the Prophet’s orders. He was struck on the neck until he died. When the Prophet scrutinized the captives on the day of Khaybar, he threw his cloak over Safiyyah. Thus she was his chosen one (safiyyah) on the day of Khaybar. Then he proposed Islam to her and she accepted, so he freed her. That was in the year 6/627-28. (The History of al-Tabari: The Last Years of the Prophet, translated and annotated by Ismail K. Poonawala [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany 1990], Volume IX (9), pp. 134-135)

Poonawala, the translator, tells the reader to turn to the following page and footnote for the meaning and significance of the name safiyyah:

898. See Tabari, above, I, 1718, n. 509. (p. 135)

This is what we find when we turn to the referred footnote and page number:

The Messenger of God wrote to them [the kings of Himyar] … "Now then: Your messenger reached us on our return from Byzantine territory and met us in Medina. He conveyed your message and told us your news and informed us of your [acceptance of] Islam and your killing of the polytheists. Indeed, God has guided you with His guidance. If you [wish to] do well and obey God and His Messenger [you must] perform prayers, pay the zakat tax, give God’s fifth of booty, the share of His Messenger, his selected portion (safiyy), and alms (sadaqah) to the poor, which is incumbent on the faithful…" (The History of Al-Tabari, pp. 74-75)

509. It signifies the portion of the spoils, which the chief chooses for himself before the division. It could be anything from armor to a horse, a camel, or a slave, and it is taken out before the khums. Baladhuri, Ansab, I, 514-18; Lane, Lexicon, s.v. s-f-y. (p. 75)

Again, Safiyyah wasn’t the only female captive whose name Muhammad changed:

Ibn Abbas reported that the name of Juwairiya (the wife of the Holy Prophet) was Barra (Pious). Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) changed her name to Juwairiya and said: I did not like that it should be said: He had come out from Barra (Pious). The hadith transmitted on the authority of Ibn Abi 'Umar is slightly different from it. (Sahih Muslim, Book 025, Number 5334)

It seems that Muhammad’s conscious was bothering him and that the name Barra, which means pious, made him quite uncomfortable since he knew that what he had done to her was anything but pious!

Responding to Some Muslim Polemics

It is a sad fact that there are Muslims who are aware of these events in their prophet’s life but think nothing about them and/or are not troubled in the least by what Muhammad did. What is sadder still is the attempt of some Muslim polemicists who try to justify Muhammad’s cruel and inhumane acts in the eyes of non-Muslims. One such polemicist is Bassam Zawadi:

Many anti Islamics attack the marriage of Prophet Muhammad to Safiyyah. They claim that the Prophet was brutal and unfair in marrying Safiyyah. This article is not for giving a biography of Safiyyah. This article's only purpose is to show that there was absolutely nothing wrong [sic] with the Prophet's marriage to Safiyyah. This article is only providing sources that may be beneficial for the Muslims. If any Muslim happens to come across any anti Islamic site which criticizes the Prophet's marriage to Safiyyah, then you should find the material in this article to be very useful. I have collected information from different sources and they have been all referenced appropriately. (Zawadi, Safiyyah, the Wife of Muhammad; source)

Zawadi even has the audacity to say:

This significant act of marrying Safiyyah(R) was indeed a great honour for her, for this not only preserved her dignity, it also prevented her from becoming a slave. Haykal notes that:

He is merely parroting the statements of Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi (MENJ) from one of his responses that Bassam references in his article:

This significant act of marrying Safiyyah(R) was indeed a great honour for her, for this not only preserved her dignity, it also prevented her from becoming a slave. Haykal notes that… With the evidences laid bare before us, we do not see the justification of accusing the Prophet(P) of being a "rapist", as those anti-Islamic critics allege. That the Prophet(P) himself married Safiyyah(R) so as to avoid the certainty of her being a slave of the Muslims and helped her to defend herself from the taunts of her co-wives is enough proof that the Prophet(P) was a man of exemplary conduct and remained honourable even to relatives of his most bitter foes. (Source)

These gents have overlooked the fact that the reason why Safiyyah was in the predicament of being enslaved was because of what Muhammad and his henchmen did to her tribe, i.e. they had killed the men and enslaved the women and children. Putting it simply, Safiyyah would not have needed protection from enslavement had Muhammad not attacked her people and killed her family. Hence, Safiyyah really needed to be protected from Muhammad’s brutality and bloodlust since he was the one that actually caused her dire situation in the first place.

Moreover, Zawadi and MENJ are clearly confused since they both quote the following statements:

He [the Prophet Muhammad - Ed.] then told Safiyyah that he was prepared to set her free, and he offered her the choice between remaining a Jewess and returning to her people or entering Islam and becoming his wife. "I choose God and His Messenger," she said; and they were married at the first halt on the homeward march.

Muhammad offered to free Safiyyah without requiring her to marry him. This means that she really was in no danger of being enslaved by anyone once Muhammad decided to release her.

But this leads us to another major problem. These Muslim sources would want us to really believe that a woman whose husband, father and brother were killed, within a couple of days gladly and voluntarily chose to marry and have sex with the very man who caused the deaths of her family members! Even Muhammad’s companions were leery of this union in light of the recent tragedies:

Ibn ‘Umar [al-Waqidi] – Kathir b. Zayd – al-Walid b. Rabah – Abu Hurayrah: While the Prophet was lying with Safiyyah Abu Ayyub stayed the night at his door. When he saw the Prophet in the morning he said "God is the Greatest." He had a sword with him; he said to the Prophet, "O Messenger of God, this young woman had just been married, and you killed her father, her brother and her husband, so I did not trust her (not to harm) you." The Prophet laughed and said "Good". (The History of al-Tabari, Volume XXXIX (39), p. 185; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Not only were some of the companions troubled, but one of Muhammad's wives was also disturbed by the fact that a woman would want to marry her family's murderer:

According to al-Waqidi: In this year the Messenger of God married Mulaykah bt. Dawud al-Laythiyyah. One of the Prophet's wives came to Mulaykah and said to her, "Are you not ashamed to marry a man who killed your father?" She therefore "took refuge [in God]" from him. She was beautiful and young. The Messenger of God separated from her. He had killed her father the day of the conquest of Mecca. (The History of al-Tabari: The Victory of Islam, Translated by Michael Fishbein, Volume VIII (8), p. 187; underline emphasis ours)

This shows us that even those close to Muhammad saw that there was something morally wrong with their prophet marrying women whose family he had killed.

With the foregoing in mind, is it reasonable that a woman would want to sleep with her captor seeing that her family was brutally killed upon his orders? What woman would not be repulsed at the idea of sleeping with the very person responsible for the death and plundering of her family and tribe? Isn’t it obvious that the Muslims made up the story of Safiyyah agreeing to be Muhammad’s wife within a few days after the murder of her family in order to salvage their prophet’s reputation, in order to avoid having to admit that this union was forced and thus basically nothing more than rape?

Safiyyah’s Marriage in light of the Torah

Bassam Zawadi quotes a source which tries to justify Muhammad’s mistreatment of the Jews, specifically his murdering Safiyyah’s family and husband, on the grounds that they knew that he was the prophet mentioned in the Torah but chose to disbelieve and oppose him anyway. Here is a part of that quote:

The significance of this conversation is evident when we recall that in the Torah for the Jews, it was written that a Prophet would come who would lead those who followed him to victory. Indeed before the Prophet Muhammad came to Madinah, the Jews used to threaten the idol worshippers of Yathrib, as it was then called, that when the next Prophet came to the believers were going to exterminate them, just as the Jews had exterminated other tribes who refused to worship God in the past. As in any case, of the Prophet Jesus, who had been clearly described in the Torah - but rejected by many of the Jews when he actually came - the next and last Prophet was accurately described in the Torah, which also contained signs by which the Jews could easily recognize him. Thus Ka'b al-Ahbar, one of the Jews of that time who embraced Islam, relates that this Prophet is described in the Torah....

This argument backfires against Zawadi since this presupposes that the Torah that the Jews had at the time of Jesus and Muhammad was a valid book that could be used to verify whether Muhammad (or even Jesus for that matter) was a prophet or not. The Quran itself accepts this principle:

And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scripture (that was) before thee. Verily the Truth from thy Lord hath come unto thee. So be not thou of the waverers. S. 10:94 Pickthall

Moreover, the Quran attests that one of Jesus’ functions was to confirm the authenticity and authority of the Torah in his possession:

"and to attest the Law WHICH IS BETWEEN MY HANDS (Wa musaddiqan lima bayna yadayya mina alttawrati). And to make lawful to you part of what was (Before) forbidden to you; I have come to you with a Sign from your Lord. So fear God, and obey me." S. 3:50

And We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, confirming that WHICH IS BETWEEN HIS HANDS of the Torah (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi mina alttawrati), and We bestowed on him the Gospel wherein is guidance and light, confirming that WHICH IS BETWEEN HIS HANDS of the Torah (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi mina alttawrati) - a guidance (wa hudan) and an admonition unto those who ward off (evil). S. 5:46

We know what that Torah looked like which both Jesus and Muhammad had access to, thanks chiefly to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 which contained copies of all of the OT books with the exception of Esther. An examination of these scrolls demonstrated that the OT has been preserved with remarkable accuracy, and that Jesus and Muhammad would have been reading the very same OT in our possession today.

This, therefore, proves that both Jews and Christians can still use the Hebrew Scriptures to determine whether Muhammad was a true messenger of God. But unfortunately for both Bassam and MENJ, these Scriptures do not support the Muslim contention that Muhammad was sent by the God of Abraham since Islam’s prophet contradicted the core essential teachings of the OT books, i.e. God’s uniplurality, vicarious atonement, the deity and humanity of the Messiah etc.

In fact, Muhammad contradicted the rules of the Torah concerning the treatment and marriage of captive women. Here is what God’s true Word, the Torah, says regarding marrying captives:

"When you go to war against your enemies and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her." Deuteronomy 21:10-14

A man could not rape a captive but had to marry her, and only after she had been given time to mourn for a full month. Not only did Muhammad not give Safiyyah a full month to mourn for her dead, he also didn’t make it mandatory for his men to marry the captive women. Instead, Muhammad allowed them to rape their captives, even if they were still married, and then sell them off as chattel!

Forbidden to you are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your paternal and maternal aunts, the daughters of your brothers and sisters, your foster-mothers, your foster-sisters, the mothers of your wives, your step-daughters who are in your charge, born of the wives with whom you have lain (it is no offence for you to marry your step-daughters if you have not consummated your marriage with their mothers), and the wives of your begotten sons. You are also forbidden to take in marriage two sisters at one and the same time: all previous such marriages excepted. God is forgiving and merciful. Also married women, except those whom you own as slaves. Such is the decree of God. All women other than these are lawful to you, provided you seek them with your wealth in modest conduct, not in fornication. Give them their dowry for the enjoyment you have had of them as a duty; but it shall be no offence for you to make any agreement among yourselves after you have fulfilled your duty. God is all-knowing and wise. S. 4:23-24 Dawood

The ahadith document the manner in which Muhammad and his men implemented this ruling:

Abu Sirma said to Abu Sa'id al Khadri (Allah he pleased with him): O Abu Sa'id, did you hear Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) mentioning al-'azl? He said: Yes, and added: We went out with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) on the expedition to the Bi'l-Mustaliq and took captive some excellent Arab women; and we desired them, for we were suffering from the absence of our wives, (but at the same time) we also desired ransom for them. So we decided to have sexual intercourse with them but by observing 'azl (Withdrawing the male sexual organ before emission of semen to avoid conception). But we said: We are doing an act whereas Allah's Messenger is amongst us; why not ask him? So we asked Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him), and he said: It does not matter if you do not do it, for every soul that is to be born up to the Day of Resurrection will be born. (Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3371)

Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri said: The Apostle of Allah sent a military expedition to Awtas on the occasion of the battle of Hunain. They met their enemy and fought with them. They defeated them and took them captives. Some of the Companions of the Apostle of Allah were reluctant to have intercourse with the female captives in the presence of their husbands who were unbelievers. So Allah, the Exalted, sent down the Quranic verse: "And all married women (are forbidden) unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess." That is to say, they are lawful for them when they complete their waiting period. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Volume II, Book V. Kitab Al-Nikah (Book of Marriage), Chapter 711: To Have Intercourse With Female Captives Of War, Number 2150, p. 577)

For more on this issue please consult the following:

The Torah further told men to be fair with all their wives and commanded that the husbands grant equal conjugal rights to all of their spouses:

"If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as menservants do. If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money." Exodus 21:7-11

Muhammad, on the other hand, was permitted by his god to put aside any of his wives, thereby robbing some of them of their conjugal rights:

You (O Muhammad SAW) can postpone (the turn of) whom you will of them (your wives), and you may receive whom you will. And whomsoever you desire of those whom you have set aside (her turn temporarily), it is no sin on you (to receive her again), that is better; that they may be comforted and not grieved, and may all be pleased with what you give them. Allah knows what is in your hearts. And Allah is Ever AllKnowing, Most Forbearing. S. 33:51 Hilali-Khan

One wife in particular, Sauda bint Zamah, suffered as a result of this command. Muhammad wanted to divorce her because she had gotten old and was no longer attractive to him. In order to stay married to him Sauda worked out a deal where she would forfeit her visitation day to Aisha, which Muhammad happily accepted. For the details please see the following article:

We also recommend these files:

What this basically means is that Muhammad came under the condemnation of the Torah as a false prophet whom the Jews and Christians had to shun (cf. Deuteronomy 13:1-10; Matthew 24:23-24). With this being the case it is highly improbable that any Jew would have made the following statements about Muhammad:

Saffiyah says, "I was my father's and my uncle's favorite child. When the Messenger of Allah came to Madinah and stayed at Quba, my parents went to him at night and when they looked disconcerted and worn out. I received them cheerfully but to my surprise no one of them turned to me. They were so grieved that they did not feel my presence. I heard my uncle, Abu Yasir, saying to my father, 'Is it really him?' He said, 'Yes, by Allah'. My uncle said: 'Can you recognize him and confirm this?' He said, 'Yes'. My uncle said, 'How do you feel towards him?' He said, 'By Allah I shall be his enemy as long as I live.'" (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah an-Nabawiyyah, vol. 2, pp. 257-258, Cited in Muhammad Fathi Mus'ad, The Wives of the Prophet Muhammad: Their Strives and Their Lives, p.162)

How could any Jew admit that Muhammad was a prophet of God and then avow to oppose him when Muhammad clearly violated the commands of the Torah?

Moreover, how could a Jew accept Muhammad as a prophet in light of the latter’s admission that Jesus was the Messiah who was to come? After all, the Jews realized that the Messiah would be God’s supremely appointed agent who would consummate all revelation and prophecy and that his rule would last forever. As the late Muslim scholar Martin Lings noted:

‘Abd al-Muttalib knew four of the Hunafa, and one of the more respected of them, Waraqah by name, was the son of his second cousin Nawfal, of the clan of Asad. Waraqah had become a Christian; and there was a belief among Christians of those parts that the coming of a Prophet was imminent. This belief may not have been widespread, but it was supported by one or two venerable dignitaries of eastern churches and also by the astrologers and soothsayers. As to the Jews, for whom such a belief was easier, since for them the line of Prophets ended with the Messiah, they were almost unanimous in their expectancy of a Prophet. Their rabbis and other wise men assured them that one was at hand; many of the predicted signs of his coming had already been fulfilled; and he would, of course, be a Jew, for they were the chosen people. The Christians, Waraqah amongst them, had their doubts about this; they saw no reason why he should not be an Arab. The Arabs stood in need of a Prophet even more than the Jews, who at least still followed the religion of Abraham inasmuch as they worshipped the One God and did not have idols; and who but a Prophet would be capable of ridding the Arabs of their worship of false gods? … (Lings, Muhammad: His Life based on the earliest Sources [Inner Traditions International, Ltd., Rochester, Vermont 1983], p. 16; italic and underline emphasis ours)

Thus, if Jesus were the Messiah then the Jews could not accept Muhammad as a prophet since he portrayed their Messiah as one of many other messengers and prophets of God (albeit one of the greatest messengers and prophets according to Muhammad). See the following for more on this subject:

Safiyyah’s Loyalty to Islam

Both Zawadi and MENJ claim that Safiyyah remained a faithful Muslimah until she died as a way of proving that what Muhammad did to her wasn’t barbaric or inhumane. There are a couple of problems with this reasoning, the first of which is that Safiyyah’s "loyalty" is irrelevant to the issue at hand, namely, the fact that Muhammad condoned the plundering and raping of women. Raping and murdering people are evil acts regardless of whether the victims of these crimes come to accept their situation or not.

Morality is not based on the feelings or acceptance of individuals, but on God’s righteous standards. After all, abortion and homosexuality are freely embraced as acceptable acts or behavior in many modern societies, yet many Jews, Christians and Muslims would view these acts as immoral.

It is therefore irrelevant to mention that Safiyyah remained a loyal Muslimah when the issue is whether acts such as plundering, raping and murdering are morally acceptable behaviour.

Second, it is not hard to see why Safiyyah would choose to remain a "faithful" Muslim when we realize that Islam calls for the killing of any and all apostates:

Narrated ‘Abdullah:
Allah's Apostle said, "The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 83, Number 17)

Narrated 'Ikrima:
Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to ‘Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event reached Ibn ‘Abbas who said, "If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah's Apostle forbade it, saying, ‘Do not punish anybody with Allah's punishment (fire).’ I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.’" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 84, Number 57)

Narrated Abu Musa:
A man embraced Islam and then reverted back to Judaism. Mu'adh bin Jabal came and saw the man with Abu Musa. Mu'adh asked, "What is wrong with this (man)?" Abu Musa replied, "He embraced Islam and then reverted back to Judaism." Mu'adh said, "I will not sit down unless you kill him (as it is) the verdict of Allah and His Apostle." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 89, Number 271)

According to some sources, this judgement also applies to female apostates:

II. The ruling on the male and female apostate and asking them to repent

Ibn 'Umar, az-Zuhri and Ibrahim said that a female apostate is killed.

Allah Almighty says, "How can Allah guide a people who have become unbelievers after having believed? They bore witness that the Messenger was true and that the Clear Signs had come to them. Allah does not guide people who are wrongdoers. The repayment of such people is that Allah's curse is on them and that of the angels and of all mankind. They will be under it for ever. Their punishment will not be lightened. They will be granted no reprieve. Except for those who after that make tawba and put things right. Truly Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Those who disbelieve after having believed and then increase in their unbelief, their tawba will not be accepted. They are the misguided." (3:86-90)

"You who believe! if you obey a group of those given the Book, they will make you revert to being unbelievers after you have believed." (3:100)

He says: "As for those who believe and then return to unbelief, and then again believe and then return to unbelief, and then increase in unbelief, Allah will not forgive them or guide them on any path." (4:137)

He says, "If any of you renounce your deen, Allah will bring forward a people whom He loves and who love Him, humble to the believers, fierce to the unbelievers" (5:54)

He says, "But those whose breasts become dilated with unbelief, anger from Allah will come down on them. They will have a terrible punishment. That is because they prefer the life of this world to the Next World, and because Allah does not guide unbelieving people. Those are the people whose hearts, hearing and sight. Allah has sealed up. They are the unaware. There is no doubt that in the Next World they will be the losers." ... to His words… "your Lord is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (16:106-110)

"They will not stop fighting you until they make you revert from your deen, if they are able. As for any of you who revert from their deen and die unbelievers, their actions will come to nothing in this world and the Next World. They are the Companions of the Fire, remaining in it timelessly, for ever." (2:217) (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 92. Book of Asking apostates and those who separate themselves in obstinate rebellion to repent and fighting them; source)

Please read the following material for a more thorough discussion regarding the punishment of apostates in Islam:

Now can you imagine what would have happened to Safiyyah if she had decided to return to the religion of her fathers in light of her being one of Muhammad’s wives and a mother of the believers?

The Prophet has a greater claim on the faithful than they have on each other. His wives are their mothers. S. 33:6 Dawood

She would have been brutally tortured, if not killed, for her apostasy since the Quran warns Muhammad’s wives that:

Prophet, say to your wives: ‘If you seek this nether life and all its finery, come, I will make provision for you and release you honourable. But if you seek God and His apostle and the abode of the hereafter, know that God has prepared a rich reward for those of you who do good works (Note the implicit threat here to Muhammad’s wives that by seeking the pleasures of this life they would forfeit their hope of eternal life. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t know that by following Muhammad they would end up forfeiting eternal bliss anyway.).’

Wives of the Prophet! Those of you who commit a proven sin shall be DOUBLY punished. That is easy enough for God. But those of you who obey God and His apostle and do good works shall be doubly rewarded; for them We have made a generous provision.

Wives of the Prophet, you are not like other women. If you fear God, do not be too complaisant in your speech, lest the lecherous-hearted should lust after you. Show discretion in what you say. Stay in your homes and do not display your finery as women used to do in the days of ignorance! Attend to your prayers, give alms and obey God and His apostle.

Women of the Household, God seeks only to remove uncleanness from you and to purify you. Commit to memory the revelations of God and the wise sayings that are recited in your dwellings. Benignant is God and all-knowing. S. 33:28-34 Dawood

With such instructions did Safiyyah even stand a chance of keeping her life intact in the case that she decided to renounce Islam? In fact, Zawadi himself provides indirect evidence that had Safiyyah abandoned Islam she would have been killed since he quotes the following:

She still underwent difficulties after the death of the Prophet. Once a slavegirl she owned went to the Amir Al Muminin Umar and asked, "Amir al Muminin! Safiyya loves the Sabbath and maintains ties with the Jews!" UMAR ASKED SAFIYYA ABOUT THAT and she said, "I have not loved the Sabbath since Allah replaced it with Friday for me, and I only maintain ties with those Jews to whom I am related by kinship." She asked her slavegirl what had possessed her to carries lie to Umar and the girl replied, "Shaitan!" Safiyya said, "Go, you are free."

This shows and proves that Safiyyah remained a loyal Muslim even after the Prophet's death. (Capital and underline emphasis ours)

Notice that Safiyyah suffered hardships just on the mere suspicion that she may have been observing Sabbath worship as opposed to the Muslim day of Friday! What this shows is that if Safiyyah had decided to leave Islam for Judaism she would have been murdered. It is little wonder that she chose to accept her circumstances and remain in the religion of the one who both murdered her family and caused her to marry him.

Safiyyah’s Life after Muhammad: Where is the Mercy?

To top this all of, Muhammad’s Quran prohibited anyone from ever marrying any of his widows:

O you who believe! Enter not the Prophet's houses, except when leave is given to you for a meal, (and then) not (so early as) to wait for its preparation. But when you are invited, enter, and when you have taken your meal, disperse, without sitting for a talk. Verily, such (behaviour) annoys the Prophet, and he is shy of (asking) you (to go), but Allah is not shy of (telling you) the truth. And when you ask (his wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen, that is purer for your hearts and for their hearts. And it is not (right) for you that you should annoy Allah's Messenger, nor that you should ever marry his wives after him (his death). Verily! With Allah that shall be an enormity. S. 33:53 Hilali-Khan

This command meant that Safiyyah could never again marry another person once Muhammad died. What makes this so tragic is that Safiyyah was seventeen when Muhammad married her and roughly twenty when he died. She eventually died at the age of sixty:

According to Muhammad b. Musa – ‘Umarah b. al-Muhajir – Aminah bt. Abi Qays al-Ghifariyyah: I was one of the women who led Safiyyah as a bride to the Prophet. I heard her say: I was not even seventeen, or I was just seventeen, the night I entered the Prophet’s [room].

Safiyyah died in the year 52/January 8, 672–December 26, 672, during the caliphate of Mu‘awiyah, and was buried in al-Baqi‘. (The History of al-Tabari: Biographies of the Prophet’s Companions and Their Successors, Volume XXXIX (39), p. 185; bold and underline emphasis ours)

The foregoing shows that Safiyyah remained a childless widow for approximately forty years! Far from being an act of mercy, this was one of the worst curses a young maiden could ever experience in her life. To think that Safiyyah never had the joy of raising her own children or of having a husband to comfort her and meet all her needs for the rest of her life is truly heart wrenching to say the least.

Worse still is that Safiyyah, by following a false prophet, lost any hope of salvation and ended up in eternal darkness as a result:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." John 3:16-18

"for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10

"and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you." 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10

Thus, not only did Muhammad destroy her earthly life he also destroyed her eternal soul, consigning her to eternal judgment, which is the greatest tragedy of all.

What makes this rather unfortunate is that Muslims such as Bassam Zawadi and MENJ would prefer to justify Muhammad’s cruel, barbarous acts and treatment of others instead of exposing him for what he truly was. Since they have erroneously been raised to believe the lie that Muhammad was God’s prophet they will accept just about everything Muhammad said or did, irrespective of how inhumane and uncivil his words and deeds may have been. But we pray and hope that, by the grace of the risen and immortal Lord Jesus, other Muslims who are open to the truth will see that what Muhammad did to individuals such as Safiyyah was anything but an act of mercy.

Further Reading

The discussion on Muhammad and Safiyyah continues here.

Rebuttals to Answering-Christianity
Articles by Sam Shamoun
Answering Islam Home Page