Safiyya bt. Abd al-Muttalib

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Safiyya bt. Abd al-Muttalib
Personal Information
Full NameSafiyya bt. 'Abd al-Muttalib
LineageBanu Hashim
Well-Known Relativesthe Prophet (s) (cousin), al-Zubayr b. al-'Awwam (son)
Birth53 years before Hijra/571-72
Place(s) of ResidenceMecca, Abyssinia, Medina
Burial PlaceAl-Baqi' cemetery
Religious Information
Migration toAbyssinia, Medina

Șafīyya bt. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib (Arabic: صفيّة بنت عبدالمطّلب) (b. 53 BH/571 - d. 20/640-1) was the Prophet's (s) paternal aunt and al-Zubayr b. al-'Awwam's mother.

She helped Muslim fighters during the early battles after the emergence of Islam. She, also, killed a Jewish person who had come to fight Muslims in the Battle of Khandaq. She composed some poems as well.

She passed away in 20/641, during the caliphate of 'Umar b. al-Khattab and was buried in al-Baqi' cemetery.

The dome which was built on her tomb was destructed by Wahhabis.


Safiyya bt. 'Abd al-Muttalib was born in 53 BH/571 in Mecca. Her father was 'Abd al-Muttalib, and her mother was Hala bt. Wuhayb b. 'Abd Manaf b. Zuhrat b. Kilab b. Murra (the Prophet's maternal aunt). Saffiya had 10 brothers and 6 sisters. She, Hamza, Miqwam, and Hijl were born from the same parents.[1]


In the Era of Ignorance, she first married al-Harith b. Harb b. Umayya. Then she married al-'Awwam b. Khuwalid[2] (Khadija's brother) who was killed in the Battle of Fijar.[3] She had one daughter by her first husband named Sabqa'[4] or Safya'[5] and three sons by the later: al-Zubayr, Sa'ib, and 'Abd al-Ka'ba.[6]

It is also been said that she married 'Umayr b. Wahb b. 'Abd b. Qusay before al-'Awwam b. Khuwalid.[7]


All historians affirm that she embraced Islam, although their reports differ about the other paternal aunts of the Prophet (s).[8] There is no report about how she embraced Islam but it is certain that she converted to Islam in Mecca after his brother, Hamza, during the time that the Prophet (s) resided in Arqam b. Abi Arqam's house.[9]

She was among the Muslims who emigrated to Abyssinia. Afterward, she emigrated to Yathrib (the old name of Medina) with his son al-Zubayr.[10] It is also been narrated that she advised her brother, Abu Lahab, to believe in the Prophet (s), their nephew.[11]

Social Status

Safiyya bt. 'Abd al-Muttalib was one of the women who pledged allegiance to the Prophet (s),[12] supported him and narrated hadiths from him.[13]

She was involved in some important events happened to Banu Hashim's women, for instance, she said: "When Imam al-Husayn (a) was born, I was responsible for that child's birth affairs." She, also, undertook the ghusl al-mayyit of Umm Kulthum (the Prophet's daughter who passed away in 9/630).[14]

It has been narrated that she was present at the deathbed of the Prophet (s), and the Prophet (s) told her and the Lady Fatima (a): "O, Fatima! the daughter of the Apostle of God, and, O, Safiyya, the aunt of the Apostle of God, do good and pure deeds for the reckoning and responsibility that you have in front of Allah; I would neither be accountable in front of Allah for your actions nor I can protect you."[15]

Also, Ibn Qutayba reported that although al-Zubayr was from Banu Asad, he counted himself from Banu Hashim as his mother was from Banu Hashim, which is a clan of Quraysh.[16] (In Arabic culture affiliation to a tribe is paternally and not maternally).

In the Battle of Jamal, Ibn 'Abbas came to al-Zubayr and called him "O' son of Safiyya, daughter of 'Abd al-Muttalib" and said, "Do you fight Ali the son of 'Abd al-Muttalib?"[17]

Moreover, in the series of arguments that 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr (her grandson) had with 'Abd al-Malik b. Marwan through letters, 'Abd Allah b. al-Zubayr mentioned her name as one of the heavenly elderly women and took pride in it.[18]

Participation in Battles

According to historical sources, Safiyya participated in the Battle of Uhud in Shawwal 3, 3/March 19, 625. When Muslims were running away from the battlefield, She blocked them with a spear and rebuked them for leaving the Apostle of God (s) alone. After that, her brother, Hamza, was martyred by Wahshi and mutilated by Hind (Abu Sufyan's wife), Safiyya decided to shroud his body with two pieces of cloth.[19] The Prophet (s) told her son, al-Zubayr, to take her back to Medina so that she does not see the mutilated body of her brother. When al-Zubayr informed her of the Prophet's order, she said, "Why? I have been told that Hamza has been mutilated, and it was in Allah's way; so I am satisfied and submitted to his satisfaction. I will be steadfast and restrained if God wills." When the Prophet (s) knew that, he told al-Zubayr to leave her do want she had decided to do. So, she came to Hamza's body and prayed God to bless his soul. Then the Prophet (s) made an order for his body to be buried.[20]

In the Battle of Khandaq, Safiyya and a group of children and women accompanied by Hassan b. Thabit -the famous poet at the Prophet's time- were staying in the castle of Fari' when a Jew from their enemies got near the castle. As the Prophet (s) and Muslims were busy fighting in the battlefield, they did not know that, so Safiyya told Hassan b. Thabit, "By God! we are not safe with this Jew here, so get out and kill him." Hassan said, "O, daughter of 'Abd al-Muttalib! God bless you! by God, you know well that I can not do that." When she heard this answer form him, she prepared herself, took a club, went out and killed the Jew. After that she was done, she came back to the castle and said to Hassan, "O, Hassan! now go and take his clothes and weapon." Hassan said, "O, daughter of 'Abd al-Muttalib! I do not need his clothes and weapon."[21] Some historians said that she was the first woman who has killed an enemy of the Prophet (s).[22] After the Battles of Khandaq and Banu Qurayza, the Prophet (s) allocated a specific portion of fay' to her and some other women who had participated in these battles.[23]

Also, Safiyya and some other women participated in the Battle of Khaybar.[24] The Prophet (s) allocated a portion from fay' (not from war booties) to her and other women who had participated in the battle.[25]


She has composed poems about digging the well of Zamzam by her family,[26] lament of her father 'Abd al-Muttalib,[27] lament for her brother Hamza, after Uhud,[28] lament for her brother, al-Zubayr b. 'Abd al-Muttalib, and a lament for her son Sa'ib. She, also, has composed laments for the Prophet (s). The Lady Fatima (a) used to read her laments for the Prophet (s) at the Prophet's grave.

After the Prophet (s)

Not much has been reported about her life during the two first Caliphs reign. 'Umar allocated an annuity of 6 thousand dirhams to her as the Prophet's aunt and one of the Banu Hashim women.


She passed away in 20/640-1, during the caliphate of 'Umar and was buried in al-Baqi'.[29] Asma' bt. 'Umays washed her body as ghusl al-mayyit.[30]


After her demise, 'Uthman, gave the land next to her grave to al-Mughira b. Shu'ba, who built a house on the land.[31]

Al-Matari reported that architects failed to build a dome on her grave, due to the house which was built near it.[32]

Al-Samhudi talked about a building on her grave that did not have a dome. In 1255/1839-40, Sayyid Isma'il Marandi has written in his travel book that there was a dome on her tomb. According to this, the dome must have been built between the tenth/sixteenth and thirteenth/nineteenth century.

Until the second half of the fourteenth/twentieth century, her grave was located out of al-Baqi' in an alley on its west.[33]

In 1373/1953-4, the municipality of Medina removed the wall between al-Baqi' and the alley -in which her grave was- and added the alley and the nearby land (totally 3494 square meters) to al-Baqi'.[34]


  1. Ibn Athīr, Usd al-ghāba, vol. 6, p. 172.
  2. Ibn Qutayba al-Dīnawarī, al-Maʿārif, p. 128.
  3. Muqaddasī, al-Bidaʾ wa l-tārīkh, vol. 5, p. 83.
  4. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 11, p. 194.
  5. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 11, p. 620.
  6. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 11, p. 620.
  7. Ibn Ḥabīb al-Baghdādī, al-Muḥabbar, p. 63.
  8. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 7, p. 105.
  9. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 4, p. 284.
  10. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 1, p. 202.
  11. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 1, p. 119.
  12. Ibn Ḥabīb al-Baghdādī, al-Muḥabbar, p. 406.
  13. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 8, p. 351; Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī, al-Iṣāba, vol. 8, p. 214.
  14. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 3, p. 124; Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 8, p. 31.
  15. Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 3, p. 39; Maqrizī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʿ, vol. 2, p. 134.
  16. Ibn Qutayba al-Dīnawarī, al-Imāma wa l-sīyāsa, vol. 1, p. 28.
  17. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 9, p. 430; Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 3, p. 81.
  18. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 7, p. 132.
  19. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 3, p. 11.
  20. Ibn Athīr, Usd al-ghāba, vol. 6, p. 173; Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 4, p. 41-42; Maqrizī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʿ, vol. 1, p. 167; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 2, p. 529.
  21. Ibn Athīr, Usd al-ghāba, vol. 1, p. 484; Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 4, p. 108; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 2, p. 577.
  22. Bayhaqī, Dalāʾil al-nubuwwa, vol. 3, p. 443.
  23. Wāqidī, al-Maghāzī, vol. 2, p. 522.
  24. Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa l-mulūk, vol. 3, p. 11; Wāqidī, al-Maghāzī, vol. 2, p. 685.
  25. Ibn Saʿd, al-Ṭabaqāt al-kubrā, vol. 8, p. 34; Maqrizī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʿ, vol. 1, p. 321.
  26. Balādhurī, Ansāb al-ashrāf, vol. 1, p. 78.
  27. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-nabawīyya, vol. 1, p. 169.
  28. Ibn Hishām, al-Sīra al-nabawīyya, vol. 2, p. 167; Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 4, p. 59.
  29. Dhahabī, Tārīkh al-Islām, vol. 3, p. 221; Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istīʿāb, vol. 4, p. 1873.
  30. Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī, al-Iṣāba, vol. 8, p. 460.
  31. Ibn Shubba, Tārīkh al-Medina, vol. 1, p. 126-127.
  32. Maṭarī, al-Taʿrīf bi-mā ānasat al-hijra, p. 121.
  33. Najmī, Tārīkh-i ḥaram-i aʾimma-yi baqīʿ, p. 394.
  34. Ḥāfiẓ, Fuṣūl min tārīkh al-Medina, p. 173.


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