Safwaan bin Muhriz (rahimahullah) was one of the illustrious Tabi‘een. His calibre in the science of hadeeth was such that his narrations appear in the famous compilations of hadeeth, including Saheeh Bukhaari and Saheeh Muslim.

On one occasion, the ruler, ‘Ubaidullah bin Ziyaad (unjustly) imprisoned the nephew of Safwaan bin Muhriz (rahimahullah). This had a profound impact on Safwaan (rahimahullah), who thus assumed the responsibility of trying to free his nephew. He left no stone unturned in trying to free him, to the extent that he had appealed to every notable person in Basrah to assist him.

He could however not make any headway in his endeavour. Struck with grief, he spent the night engaged in salaah. Whilst on his musalla (place of salaah), he ended up falling asleep and dreamt that a person came to him and said, “O Safwaan! Stand up and seek the fulfilment of your need from the correct avenue (i.e. from Allah Ta‘ala).” Safwaan (rahimahullah) awoke with a shock and proceeded to make wudhu. He then performed salaah and earnestly made du‘aa to Allah Ta‘ala.

During that very night, ‘Ubaidullah bin Ziyaad awoke and his sleep had vanished. It dawned upon him that (this insomnia was the result of his oppression and that) he should attend to the need of Safwaan (rahimahullah) and free his nephew. He thus instructed, “Bring the nephew of Safwaan bin Muhriz to me!” Soon thereafter the guards and police arrived (at the jail), lanterns were brought, and the steel doors of the prison were opened in the middle of the night. The nephew of Safwaan (rahimahullah) was released and brought to ‘Ubaidullah bin Ziyaad, who addressed him saying, “You are free to go, without a guarantor or anything at all!”

Safwaan bin Muhriz (rahimahullah) was unaware of what had transpired until his nephew knocked on his door. Safwaan (rahimahullah) asked “Who is there?”. When his nephew informed him who it was, Safwaan (rahimahullah) was startled and responded, “What time is it?”. His nephew thereafter recounted the entire incident to him, explaining how he had been freed because of ‘Ubaidullah bin Ziyaad losing his sleep.

(Mujaabud Da‘wah – Ibnu Abid Dunya #52 and Hilyatul Awliyaa vol. 2, pg. 109) 


1. The real and most effective solution to any problem that one may face is to turn to Allah Ta‘ala by means of salaah and du‘aa. It was through the power of salaah and du‘aa that Allah Ta‘ala subjugated the ruler; keeping him awake at night and compelling him to finally free the nephew of Safwaan (rahimahullah).

2. Whilst the world is a place of means, the means can only have an effect if Allah Ta‘ala allows it to be effective. Although the apparent means will be adopted (within the limits of sharee‘ah), one has to keep in mind at all times that these means will not bring the desired outcome if they are not accompanied by the real means – the obedience of Allah Ta‘ala and earnestly turning towards Him. These are the real things which draw down the divine assistance. Therefore, they are of greater importance and should be given more attention.

3. Du‘aa is indeed the solution to every difficulty, and has even been termed the “essence” of worship in a hadeeth. Thus, even if Allah Ta‘ala has blessed one with relative ease, daily a portion of one’s time should be dedicated to this noble cause – sincerely begging from Allah Ta‘ala for ones worldly needs as well as those needs related to the Hereafter.

4. Our relatives, neighbours, as well as fellow Muslims have a right over us. When they are in distress, it is a religious duty upon us to attempt to alleviate their suffering as far possible. So too did Safwaan (rahimahullah) try his level best to free his nephew from prison.