by R Yitzhak · 2007 · Cited by 8 — She had been married to a man named al-Hakim from. Banu Qurayza and had now become a widow. Islamic sources say that she was so young and beautiful that
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1 Journal of Religion & Society Volume 9 (2007) The Kripke Center ISSN 1522 -5658 MuhammadÕs Jewish Wives Rayhana bint Zayd and Safiya bint Huyayy in the Classic Islamic Tradition Ronen Yitzhak, Western Galilee College, Israel Abstract During his life, the Pr ophet Muhammad (570 -632) married 12 different wives among whom were two Jewish women : Rayhana bint Zayd and Safiya bint Huyayy. These t wo women were widows whose husband s had been killed in wars with Muslims in Arabia. While Rayhana refused to convert to I slam at first and did so only after massive pressure, Safiya converted to Islam immediately after being asked. Rayhana died a few years before Muhammad, but Safiya lived on after his death. Classic Islamic sources claim that the Muslims did not like Rayhan a because of her beauty and so made an issue of her Jewish origin, with Muhammad being the only one to treat her well. After MuhammadÕs death, Safiya lived among his other wives in Mecca, but did not take part in the political intrigues at the beginning of Islam , in contrast to the other wives, especially the most dominant and favorite wife, Aisha. Introduction  According to Islamic tradition, the Prophet Muhammad married 12 different wives and had even more concubines. The custom of taking concubines wa s widespread in ancient times and therefore also was practiced in Arabia. Concubines were often taken in the context of war booty, and it seems that this is the reason for including in the QurÕan: Ò(you are forbidden) the married women, but not the concubi nes you, ownÓ (Q 4:24; al -Qurtubi: 5.106). The reason for MuhammadÕs polygamy, like that of other Muslims at that time, was a concern for the fate of Muslim concubines. Their husbands had died for their faith during the Jihad conducted by the Prophet Muham mad, and so after four months and ten days Ð the minimal time needed to know if a woman was pregnant Ð the QurÕan allowed the concubines to remarry (Q 2:234). Besides the important social aspect of its regulation, polygamy had great importance in the devel opment and modeling of Muslim society at its
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MuhammadÕs Jewish Wives Journal of Religion & Society 2 9 (2007) starting -point by expressing the social values of the religious principles the Prophet tried to bestow on his followers (Levy: 244).  As opposed to other men, the Prophet himself, being a religious and politi cal leader, enjoyed great freedom in choosing the women he wanted for wives. In addition to the widows he married, the Prophet married for both political (e.g., his marriage to Aisha bint Abu Bakr and Hafsa bint Umar) and practical reasons. The most promin ent of these marriages was, undoubtedly, the ProphetÕs first marriage to Khadija bint Khuwaylid (Worrbll: 136; Bennett: 252). MuhammadÕs marriage to Khadija occurred in 595 when he was 25 years old and she was about 40. Khadija was the most important of hi s wives; she was a wealthy and respected woman of high standing. She was also the first to believe in his mission when he started to prophesy in 610, encouraged him to carry on, thereby, raising his self -confidence, and for this she attained the title of Ò Mother of the BelieversÓ Ð a title that was later applied to all the ProphetÕs other wives. Even though this title is in the QurÕan (ÒThe Prophet is worthy of being a protector of the believers more than they are themselves and his wives are mothers to the m . . .Ó [Q 33:6]), one can assume that its origin was, in fact, from Khadija. Most likely, after her death, when arriving at Medina in 622, the Prophet made use of this title for the rest of his wives and only then was it included in the QurÕan. In any ca se, it seems that the ProphetÕs intention, when calling his wives ÒMother of the BelieversÓ was to differentiate them from other Muslim women (ÒThe wives of the Prophet are not like other womenÓ [Q 33:32]) and, according to Ascha, perhaps even to prevent t hem from marrying other men after his death (85 -103). The premise is simple: if the wives of the Prophet are not as all women, then they are not worthy of any Muslim man.  While Muhammad was married to Khadija, he did not marry another woman according to an agreement that probably existed between them. However, after the death of Khadija in 619, the Prophet was freed of any previous marital obligations and began to take more wives, and so became married to a number of women simultaneously. In the followi ng years, he married six new women, two of whom were Jewish: Rayhana bint Zayd and Safiya bint Huyayy. In marrying Jewish women, the Prophet was not deviating from Islamic laws, which permit a Muslim man to marry a Jewish or a Christian woman (after she co nverts to Islam; Q 5:5), but prohibit the marriage of a Muslim woman with a non -Muslim man. Sunni Islamic interpreters saw no problem in these marriages, while Shiite interpreters opposed them (Levy: 138; al -Qurtubi: 6.79; al -Halli and Jalal: 136).  The purpose of this article is to examine the Prophet MuhammadÕs marriage to the two Jewish women according to the Islamic classical traditions. In addition, the article will examine what brought Muhammad to marry them, whether they received decent conditions from the Prophet and his wives, and what implications these marriages had on Islamic society, if indeed there were any implications at all. I do not intend to explore the ProphetÕs relations with his wives in general, nor do I intend to discuss the relati ons existing between him and the Muslims or between the Muslims and the Jews in the Arabia. Rayhana bint Zayd  In 627, Muhammad decided to destroy the third Jewish tribe residing in Medina, Banu Qurayza. The two other Jewish tribes in the town, Banu Qay nuqa and Banu Nadir had already been forced to leave. Part of the Jews from Banu Nadir arrived at Khaybar, where
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MuhammadÕs Jewish Wives Journal of Religion & Society 3 9 (2007) there was a large Jewish settlement of Banu Nadir, while others continued north and reached the Syrian area. The reason given for eliminating B anu Qurayza was the ProphetÕs contention that they had collaborated with people from Mecca during the siege on Medina (battle of al -Khandaq in 627) and so were not loyal to the Muslims in Medina. This is attested in the QurÕan: ÒWith these people, you have arranged a contract under oath, and they violated it without any fear each timeÓ (Q 8:56; al -Halli and Jalal: 236; Faizer: 470).  The incentive for a war against the Muslims in Medina came from Banu Nadir leaders at Khaybar, who had succeeded in establ ishing an anti -Muslim coalition, which included the people of Quraysh in Mecca, Banu WaÕil (a sub -tribe of Banu al -Khazraj that had connections with the Jews), and Banu Ghatafan. Overall, the anti -Muslim force included about 10,000 men against 3,000 Muslim s (al -Waqidi: 2.441 -43). The Muslims succeeded in driving the attack away by means of trenches they had built. During the siege on Medina, Abu Sufyan, the leader of the people of Quraysh, suggested to Huyayy b. Akhtab, one of the Banu Nadir leaders, that h e should contact the Banu Qurayza in order to join them in the alliance and so achieve a decisive victory in the war. After talks between the Jewish leaders, the leader of Banu Qurayza, KaÔb b. Asad, decided to join the anti -Muslim alliance, violating his commitment to remain neutral and thereby infuriating the Muslims (Ibn Hisham: 2.690; al -Waqidi: 2.456; Ahmad: 70; Faizer: 472).  After the attack failed, Muhammad decided to focus the war effort on the Banu Qurayza. When they heard that MuhammadÕs army was arriving, they managed to entrench themselves in their fortresses. After 25 days of siege, their leader, KaÔb b. Asad, asked the Prophet to consult Abu Lubabah. Abu Lubabah was one of the leaders of Banu Aws and an ally of Banu Qurayza. Abu Lubabah adv ised the Banu Qurayza to surrender, but at the same time, he pointed at his throat to warn them that the meaning of this surrender was death. Despite this warning, they decided to surrender, probably because they believed that their fate would be similar t o that of the two previous Jewish tribes Ð deportation (Ibn Hisham: 2.690; Lings: 229 -33).  However, this time Muhammad was much more determined and decided to destroy them. So, that people would not perceive him as being the one who issued the order t o murder the people of the Jewish tribe, he decided to appoint an advisor, an ally of Banu Qurayza, SaÔd b. MuÔath. Muhammad asked him to decide what to do with the Jews. SaÔd answered, ÒKill the men and take the children and women as captives.Ó This advic e was then carried out. MuhammadÕs men executed about 700 men of the tribe, but the children and women were sold into slavery and their property was distributed among the Muslims that had participated in the battle. Later, the Jewish captives (the children and women) were redeemed by Banu Nadir from Khaybar (Ibn Hisham: 2.684 -89; Ahmad: 72; Lings: 233). The Muslims executed only one Jewish woman, who had tried to kill a Muslim soldier. Her execution was ordered by Muhammad, who also ordered a trench to be d ug in which she was then beheaded (Anwar: 48 -50; Ibn al -Athir: 2.128; al -Tabari: 3.1496).  Islamic interpreters believe the punishment of Banu Qurayza was to be expected and was foreseen in the QurÕan: ÒAllah brought down in a flash from their fortresse s the book owners that helped them [those of the nonbelievers] and cast a fear onto their hearts. A group of them you shall kill and another group you shall take into captivityÓ (Q 33:26; al –
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MuhammadÕs Jewish Wives Journal of Religion & Society 4 9 (2007) Halli and Jalal: 553; al -Tabarsi: 12.128 -30). However, it should be noted that the custom of capturing women and children while killing men was part of the rules of war introduced by the Jews, as stated in Deuteronomy 20:10 -14. It is clear that Muhammad, who considered himself a Prophet as those who came before him and as continuing their prophecies, agreed with AllahÕs word as given in the QurÕan and treated the Jewish captives the same way that the Jews had treated their enemies in the Bible.  Amongst those who had lost their husbands in the massacre was Rayhana bi nt Zayd b. Umar b. Khinafa of Banu Nadir. She had been married to a man named al -Hakim from Banu Qurayza and had now become a widow. Islamic sources say that she was so young and beautiful that she impressed Muhammad, who immediately offered her the opport unity of converting to Islam and marrying him. ÒIf you chose Allah and his Messenger,Ó the Prophet told her, ÒI shall take you for myself.Ó However, Rayhana had loved and respected her husband very much and said, ÒI will not exchange him for any other manÓ (Ibn SaÔd: 8.129 -30; al -Salihi, 231 -32). Furthermore, she clung to her Judaism, refusing to convert to Islam, saying that she preferred to live the life of a slave as long as she stayed a Jew. Nevertheless, Muhammad did not relent and she agreed to consid er his offer (Ibn SaÔd: 8.131; Ibn Hisham: 2.693).  It did not take long for Rayhana to decide that she was better off converting to Islam than living the life of a slave in Hijaz. Ibn SaÕiya informed the Prophet, when he was sitting with his friends, that Rayhana had converted to Islam. The Prophet commanded her release and married her immediately. The hasty marriage of Muhammad to Rayhana contradicts the QurÕan, which commands widows to wait for four months and ten days before remarrying in order to e nsure that they were not pregnant. Some modern historians, who noticed this discrepancy, claimed that Muhammad waited the required time (Hisham and Bakhtiar: 393; Lings: 233; Anwar: 51); classic historians did not pay any attention to this issue.  An e xamination of the period indicates that it is unlikely that Muhammad waited the required time before marrying Rayhana (al -Tabari: 3.1359 -64; al -ÔAsqalani: 4.309: Ibn Hisham: 2.693). The siege on the city of Medina began in March ÐApril 627 and the massacre of Banu Qurayza was carried out immediately after its completion (Ahmad: 68). The ProphetÕs wedding to Rayhana was in the month of the Muharram in the sixth year of the Hijra (May -June 627) (al -Salihi: 232; Hisham and Bakhtiar: 392). This means that the ti me that had passed from the massacre until MuhammadÕs wedding to Rayhana was at the most two months and that there is no doubt that Muhammad did not wait the required time before the wedding.  The Prophet gave Rayhana a dowry before the wedding, as he had given all the other women he had married Ð 12 head of cattle. He also instructed her to cover her face with a hijab (veil), just as he had instructed the rest of his wives (Ibn SaÔd: 8: 130; al -Salihi: 232). The hijab also distinguished the wives of th e Prophet from the rest of the Muslim women and bestowed them with a special position, as is attested in the QurÕan, Òwhen you borrow (from the wives of the Prophet) any object, ask for it over the screenÓ (Q 33:53). However, the hijab originated only in 6 26, when the Prophet married Zaynab bint Jahsh. Prior to this, the ProphetÕs wives did not wear a hijab. When Muhammad realized that his tactless and impolite friends sat with him alongside his wife, he preferred to draw her away from them by
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MuhammadÕs Jewish Wives Journal of Religion & Society 5 9 (2007) means of a hi jab and then instructed the rest of his wives to wear it (Mernissi: 86 -87; al -Bukhari: 7.49).  Even though Rayhana kept declaring her love to Muhammad before his friends and saying that she would not take another man in his place, Muhammad decided to d ivorce her because she was very jealous. After a short time, he relented because of his love for her and agreed to bring her back to his house (Hisham and Bakhtiar: 392 -93; al -Salihi: 232). The reason for this was his great love for Rayhana and his growing yearning for her during the time she had been banished. Therefore, he was ready to forgive and have her return to him (Hisham and Bakhtiar: 392).  RayhanaÕs behavior Ð her banishment and her return Ð was not typical of the wives of the Prophet. Some of the Islamic historians and others claimed that RayhanaÕs position was more that of a concubine than of the ProphetÕs wife and remained such until the day of her death (Ibn SaÔd: 8.130; Bennett: 251; Ascha: 90). They maintained this even though other his torians, including the writer of the ProphetÕs biography, Ibn Ishaq, claimed that RayhanaÕs position was similar to that of the rest of MuhammadÕs wives (Ibn Hisham: 2.693). In 631, about a year before the death of Muhammad, Rayhana died and was buried at al -BakÕi Ð the principal cemetery in Medina (Ibn SaÔd: 8.131).  In contrast to the paucity of knowledge about Rayhana, knowledge about MuhammadÕs second Jewish wife, Safiya bint Huyayy is much greater. Safiya bint Huyayy  After the Hudaybiyya trea ty in 628, which began a ceasefire that lasted for 10 years between Muhammad and the people of Mecca, Muhammad decided to go into battle against the Jews of Khaybar. Islamic sources recount that a punitive expedition against the Banu Nadir encouraged Quray sh and Ghatafan to wage war against Medina. Muhammad and his men probably thought that they would gain large plunder from the Jews residing there, because Khaybar was known as a rich and fertile oasis (Lings: 263).  Rumors concerning the intentions of the Muslims to attack Khaybar had been heard before, but the Jews there refused to believe these rumors and therefore did not ask for help from their allies. In June 628, the Jews were entrenched in their fortresses and after 14 days their leader Kinana, the owner of the al -Qamus fortress, decided to carry out negotiations with the Prophet concerning surrender. According to the agreement, the Jews were to surrender without any of them being killed or taken into captivity and their property was to be given to the Muslims. The agreement would be annulled if the Jews were to hide any property. After the conditions were agreed upon, the Muslims found out that the Jews were hiding the treasure that they had brought from Medina and it was in the hands of their le ader Kinana. When asked where the treasure was, he denied that any treasure still existed. He insisted that he had sold it on arriving at Khaybar in order to buy weapons and armor. A short while after the treasure was found, Kinana was executed and his fam ily taken captive. After the fall of the al -Qamus fortress, the Jews in two other fortresses agreed to surrender under the same conditions. Eventually, the Prophet decided to leave them in Khaybar so that they would be able to cultivate their lands and in return give half of the yearly crop to the Muslims (al -Baladhuri: 37; Ibn al -Athir: 2.148 -49; Muir: 375 -77).
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MuhammadÕs Jewish Wives Journal of Religion & Society 6 9 (2007)  Safiya (or Habiba) bint Huyayy b. Akhtab was born in Medina in 611 to a Jewish family of Banu Nadir (al -Salihi: 213 -14; Anwar: 64). When the Muslims banished the Banu Nadir from Medina in 626, some of them, including SafiyaÕs family, arrived at Khaybar and settled there alongside the Jews already living there. By the battle of Khaybar in 628, Safiya, although being only 17 years old, had alread y been married twice : to Salam b. Mishkim who she divorced quite soon afterwards and then to Kinana b. al -RabÕi b. Abi al -Huqayq, who was killed in the battle of Khaybar. Safiya did not have a child with either of them (Ibn SaÔd: 8.120; Hisham and Bakhtiar : 393).  According to the story by Anas b. Malik, after Safiya was caught with her family, Dahya b. Khalifa (or al -Kalbi) asked the Prophet for one of the prisoners and the Prophet told him: ÒGo and take yourself a slave girl.Ó He then went and took S afiya (Ibn Hisham: 2.763; Ibn Kathir: 4.197). Soon afterwards a man arrived and told the Prophet about the beauty of Safiya. He claimed that she Òwas not suitable for Dahya, and should be with you.Ó The Prophet then asked for her to be brought to him and w hen she arrived, her beauty so impressed him that he immediately paid Dahya seven head of cattle for her (al -Qushayri: 9.219 -21; al -Salihi: 215).  This story is repeated in various versions in classical Arabic literature, with each version recounting that Muhammad was impressed by the beauty of Safiya and therefore chose her. However, this story seems quite strange. She may indeed have been beautiful, as the stories said, but certainly Muhammad knew Safiya beforehand. Safiya, as mentioned before was th e daughter of Huyayy b. Akhtab, one of the Jewish leaders at that times, and the wife of Kinana, the leader of the Jews at the al -Qamus fortress.  It is difficult to believe that Muhammad had not run into her, seen her, or knew her before that. It is m ore reasonable to assume that when Muhammad negotiated with Kinana concerning the surrender of the Jews, he saw her, and when Kinana was executed after lying about the treasure, his family members, including her, were captured. Muhammad knew that and so se nt Bilal to search for her. Bilal found her with Dahya and brought her to Muhammad (Muir: 377; Anwar: 63). It may be that immediately after the battle, Muhammad devised a plan to humiliate the Jews further by marrying one of them, as Worrbill believed (Wor rbill: 146).  After the Prophet saw Safiya, he decided to marry her. Knowing he could not marry her unless she converted to Islam, he agreed to release her in return for marrying him. ÒIf you do not accept Islam, but prefer to remain Jewish,Ó Muhammad threatened her ÒYou will join the fate of the rest of your people.Ó SafiyaÕs answer was that she had nothing to loose, as all her family had been killed and there was no memory left of them. Therefore, she was willing to convert to Islam (Ibn SaÔd: 8.123).  SafiyaÕs quick conversion to Islam, as opposed to RayhanaÕs hesitation, raises the question whether she had agreed to convert to Islam and marry him only because her relatives were dead, or whether other motives brought her to do so. Ibn Kathir argue d that her conversion derived from a feeling of respect and esteem for Islam (Ibn Kathir: 4.197), but her choice to convert to Islam and marry Muhammad was not necessarily because of this or the high respectable position that she could acquire as a ÒMother of BelieversÓ among the Muslims. This was likely the reason that other women married Muhammad and did not leave
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MuhammadÕs Jewish Wives Journal of Religion & Society 8 9 (2007) Muhammad acted differently than with Rayhana. Here, he waited the time required by Islamic law (four months and ten days), before marrying her (Hisham and Bakhtiar: 393; Anwar: 64).  Umm Salam prepared Safiya for the wedding with the Prophet. She hid Safiya from the rest of the women with a cloth. She combed her hair, oiled, and decorated her for the ceremony. According to Anas b. Malik, the Muslims, even in the early times of Islam, well understood the ProphetÕs customs concerning his wives. He recounted that people did not know what was the ProphetÕs intention concerning SafiyaÕs future Ð whether he would take her as a wife or to leave her as a concubine. They did know that if he commanded Safiya to cover her face with a veil (hijab), then he would take her for himself. Immediately after the wedding, h e told Safiya to cover her face with a veil, which more than anything else symbolized the fact that she had become his wife just like the rest of his wives (al -Qushayri: 9.224).  Mernissi also argues that the people were interested in SafiyaÕs fate and therefore wondered if Muhammad would take her as a wife or leave her as a concubine, that is, as an Umm al -Walid (a mother of his children). This question had more significance for Safiya than for her children. ÒUmm al -WalidÓ was a new institution Islam c reated enabling men to take concubines the children of whom were free, enjoying all privileges. Therefore, whether Safiya became a lawful wife of Muhammad or not, her children with Muhammad, would, in any case, be free (Mernissi: 176 -77; Levy: 64; al -Salih i: 216).  MuhammadÕs marriage to Safiya was considered strange, as Muhammad was already married to four women: Aisha, Hafsa, Zaynab bint Jahsh, and Juwayriya. He kept on marrying more women till he was married to nine women simultaneously, according t o Anas b. Malik (al -Bukhari: 7.4). Apparently, Muhammad went against what is written in the QurÕan: ÒAnd if you are afraid that you will not do justice with the orphans, marry the women that please you, two and three and four. And if you fear that you can do no justice, marry only one, or make do with concubines that you ownÓ (Q 4:3). This is not the place to discuss the question of MuhammadÕs polygamy, but it seems that exceeding the number of women allowed by the QurÕan was not acceptable even in the clas sic period and this was the reason that various excuses were made among Islamic historians and interpreters of the QurÕan.  The prevailing argument among Islamic historians was that the verse was put into the QurÕan later and was therefore not valid in the days of the Prophet (Stowasser: 86; Bennett: 252). In contrast, Muslim interpreters of the QurÕan and the supporters of the classic tradition claim that the Prophet had a natural right, as part of the rights that Allah had bestowed on him, to marry a large number of women. This, they claim, is similar to the Biblical kings David and Solomon, who also married a large number of women. The reason for this, they maintained, was that a large number of women was good for the soul of every Prophet and therefo re Muhammad the Prophet also had permission (al -Halli and Jalal: 110; al -Baydawi: 1.195; Armstrong: 207; Anwar: 64).  Stowasser argues that the followers of the classic school rely among other things on the verse in the QurÕan, in which there supposedl y is permission for the Prophet to marry a large number of women: ÒOh Prophet, we hereby allow you to have your wives, for whom you
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MuhammadÕs Jewish Wives Journal of Religion & Society 9 9 (2007) paid a dowry and the maid servants you own, from the plunder that Allah gave you and your cousins from your fatherÕs side an d the girls . . . and every woman that believes, who gives herself to the Prophet. If the Prophet asks to marry her, this privilege will be given only to you of all the believersÓ (Q 33:50; Stowasser: 86). However, the interpreters of the QurÕan did not in terpret this as permission for polygamy, rather they agreed that the verse speaks about allowing a woman to offer herself to the Prophet Ð a right reserved for the Prophet alone (see al -Qurtubi: 14.210; al -Halli and Jalal: 110).  In the accepted versio n of the legend, Muhammad and Safiya spent the first night after the marriage together in MuhammadÕs tent. According to Abu Hurayra, MuhammadÕs bodyguard, Abu Ayub did not sleep the whole night guarding Muhammad. Abu Ayub was afraid that Safiya, whose enti re family Muhammad had killed, would take revenge and kill him in his sleep. Neither did Muhammad sleep that night, out of excitement and happiness, spending the whole night speaking with her, according to Umm SulaymÕs recounting of SafiyaÕs words (Ibn SaÔ d: 8.126; Hisham and Bakhtiar: 392).  The legend continues that after the wedding, the Prophet arranged a meager meal for his guests and formally introduced Safiya to his wives (al -Bukhari: 8.8). According to Umm Sinan, when the ProphetÕs wives saw Saf iya, they were amazed by her beauty and started to whisper about her. ÒI am afraid,Ó said Zaynab bint Jahsh to her friends, Òthat this woman will be with Muhammad more than we will be.Ó Juwayriya tried to calm her saying. ÒDo not worry; she is not the Prop hetÕs typeÓ (Ibn SaÔd: 8.126). It was important to Muhammad to hear the opinion of the woman he loved more than all others, Aisha. When Muhammad introduced Safiya to Aisha, she turned and went out of the room. Muhammad ran after her and asked her opinion. Aisha answered that Safiya was Jewish. The Prophet was angry at AishaÕs words and told her, ÒDo not say that she is Jewish, as she has already converted to Islam and is now a good MuslimÓ (Ibn SaÔd: 8.126).  Most likely AishaÕs response, even though it reminded Muhammad of SafiyaÕs Jewish origins, was not directed against her personally. It probably was a response given in anger at Muhammad marrying yet another woman. According to Ghassan Ascha, Aisha led the group of wives who had tried to prevent Muha mmad from marrying more wives (Ascha: 97). Nevertheless, close relations between Aisha and Safiya developed to such an extent, that Safiya asked her more than once to speak on her behalf with Muhammad when she felt that she had fallen out of favor. Safiya promised to give Aisha her ÒturnÓ with Muhammad in return. This indicates that personal background was not the reason for any animosity between them, and if indeed there was such an animosity, it did not last for long (Abbott: 43).  Despite this, Safiy aÕs Jewish origins were an obstacle for her in her relations with the ProphetÕs other wives. Every time that they wanted to anger her, they would remind her about her origin, which also angered Muhammad. Therefore he taught her to answer back ÒHow can you condemn me when Aaron is my father, Moses is my uncle and Muhammad is my husbandÓ (according to Arab historians, she was directly connected to Aaron, the son of Amram, the brother of Moses) (al -Salihi: 213). MuhammadÕs wife Zaynab bint Jahsh hated Safiya m ore than his others wives did. The reason was probably the death of ZaynabÕs family
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MuhammadÕs Jewish Wives Journal of Religion & Society 10 9 (2007) in the battle of Khaybar, which was fought against the Jews, and ZaynabÕs blaming Safiya directly for it (Muir: 379).  The hatred between the two women is well describ ed in the Hadith that Aisha told, according to which during the journey of the ProphetÕs convoy, SafiyaÕs camel weakened and the Prophet saw this and became worried. Because Zaynab had additional camels, he asked her to give Safiya one of them. Zaynab refu sed firmly, and claimed, ÒDo I have to give something to a Jewess?Ó He was very angry with her and therefore refused to visit her for two to three months (Ibn SaÔd: 8.127; Hisham and Bakhtiar: 405). As opposed to his wives, Muhammad did not deprive Safiya of anything and treated her as he did the rest of his wives (al -Salihi: 213).  Safiya was married to Muhammad for four years, during which she bore him a daughter Ð Fatima. According to Islamic sources, the love between them was great and Muhammad aske d Allah to bless Safiya. On the eve of his death in 632, when all his wives gathered around his bed, Safiya was the only one who expressed her loyalty to him. She talked about her admiration for him: ÒI wish that I had what is in you,Ó she told him, result ing in hostile looks from the rest of his wives. SafiyaÕs admiration to Muhammad was constant and lasted through out their shared life. She used to say that she had never seen a man as good as he (al -Salihi: 213).  After the death of the Prophet, Safiy a continued to live in Mecca with the rest of his wives and received a yearly pension of 5000 derham , according to the pension law Caliph Umar instituted in the year 641 (Abbott: 95). SafiyaÕs life after MuhammadÕs death was not easy despite the money, as the abuse against her continued. Abu Umar related the story that one of SafiyaÕs slave girls went to the Caliph Umar and told him. ÒSafiya is observing the Sabbath and keeping good relations with the Jews.Ó Umar called Safiya and asked her if this were tru e and she answered, ÒI do not keep the Sabbath since Allah changed it for me with Friday, and my relations with the Jews are only those with my family.Ó Afterwards, Safiya asked the slave girl what had made her lie to Umar and the slave girl answered, Òthe devil!Ó (al -Salihi: 213).  Unlike the rest of MuhammadÕs wives, Safiya did not interfere in the politics of the Arab Muslims, except for one case mentioned in Islamic sources where she tried to help the Caliph Uthman b. Affan in 656 when rebels surrou nded his house. Safiya died about the year 670 and was buried in the cemetery in al -BakÕi (Ibn SaÔd: 8.129). She ordered her property, estimated at about a hundred thousand derham , to be left to her sisterÕs son. However, when they found out that the perso n about to inherit was a Jew, the Muslims refused to give him the inheritance. Only due to the intercession of Aisha, did the nephew of Safiya receive a third of the amount. Caliph MuÕawiya sold SafiyaÕs house for 180 derham and the money was transferred t o the treasury of the Islamic empire (Ibn SaÔd: 8.129).  It is difficult to know why Aisha interceded for SafiyaÕs Jewish relative. Perhaps it was because of her good relations with Safiya, some humanitarian feeling, or Islamic scripture (based on the words of the Prophet Muhammad) as told by ÔAbdallah b. Umar b. al -Kattab that Òthe Muslim ruler is obliged to help people in his jurisdiction even if they are Jewish or ChristiansÓ (al -Bukhari: 3.77).
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MuhammadÕs Jewish Wives Journal of Religion & Society 11 9 (2007)  There is no reference in the inheritance laws of the QurÕan (4:7 -12, 33) of a case where a Muslim leaves property to a Jew; it is difficult to understand the position of Muslim law in such cases. In actuality, it is illegal for Muslims to inherit from non -Muslims, but non -Muslims can inherit property fro m Muslims, if the Muslim ordered this before his death (Levy: 322; al -Jinn: 5.48). There is no doubt that SafiyaÕs nephew was eligible to inherit SafiyaÕs property and AishaÕs intervention was because she knew this. The decision to give him only a third of the property was probably not because he was Jewish, but was based on MuhammadÕs advice to leave only a small part of oneÕs property to oneÕs beneficiaries so that they would not waste it. The rest of the property had to be left to the Islamic state as wa qf (al -Jinn: 5.48). Conclusions  Muhammad chose Rayhana and Safiya, his two Jewish wives, mainly because of their beauty, as Islamic sources indicate. Nevertheless, he loved them: he returned Rayhana even though he divorced her and he comforted Safiya when the other wives abused her. He did not discriminate between the status of the two Jewish women the status of his other wives. They received fair treatment and all the privileges the other wives received. They received the appellation ÒMother of the B elievers,Ó wore a hijab, and received a pension after MuhammadÕs death. When Muhammad married them, they received a dowry identical to that of the other wives. It is possible that Safiya did not receive any dowry, as a few Islamic sources mention, as her r elease from captivity could be interpreted as her dowry.  Despite the apparent similarity between Rayhana and Safiya Ð both were Jewish widows Ð it seems that there is nevertheless a difference between them. Rayhana did not convert to Islam immediately , but kept her Judaism, indicating her piety. In contrast, Safiya immediately converted to Islam, indicating that she was an opportunistic or pragmatic woman. In contrast to Rayhana, whom Muhammad married immediately without waiting the necessary time fixe d in the QurÕan for marriage with widows (four months and ten days), he waited the necessary period before marrying Safiya.  Despite the claim that Rayhana was a concubine and not a wife of Muhammad, this was not so, in light of the status and the priv ileges that Rayhana had (the appellation of ÒMother of the Believers,Ó wearing a hijab). These indicate she was a wife like the rest of his wives. As for Safiya, there was no such doubt and she was thought to be a lawful wife in all ways, even though she w as his fifth wife. It seems that Muhammad committed the crime of taking more than four wives. The Islamic religious solution to this problem can be found in an interpretation of the QurÕan that claims that Muhammad, by being a Prophet, was entitled to take more women, as prophets before him did. Bibliography Abbott, Nabia 1985 Aisha – The Beloved of Mohammed . London: al -Saqi Books. Anwar, Hekmat 1997 Women and the QurÕan . New York: Prometheus Books.
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