Maria The Copt – Wife Of Prophet Muhammed

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Kaleef K. Karim

Content:

1. Introduction
2. Brief History On Captives
3. Mariyah: Captive Or No Captive
4. Mariyah The Wife – Sahih Muslim
5. Conclusion

1. Introduction

Previously in the article titled, “Prophet Muhammed’s Wife Mariyah (Maria)”, I presented a number of historical quotes showing that Mariya was married to Prophet Muhammed (p).

This article will further focus on Mariyah’s relationship to Prophet Muhammed (p), by giving new evidence that she was indeed the Prophet’s spouse.

2. Brief History On Captives

Historically speaking, there is no issue if Prophet Muhammed (p) or his companions brought women into their home(s) who were ‘malakat amainukum’ (those whom right-hand possess) to care for them, 1400 years ago.

Prisons didn’t exist in Madinah, nor Makkah in those days, 1400 years ago. When women were captured who were aiding enemies in war, the Muslim government would have allocated them to households to be servants. This was done only, vast majority of the time when the woman had no family left to cater for her needs. If the family of the woman came to ransom her, the government would have handed her back to her family, as long as she didn’t pose no threat to citizens in the society i.e., she wouldn’t take up arms against the State, she was set free immediately.

We have to understand also, that the men in those days were the breadwinners. The re-allocation of the female captives was the most humane thing to do, compared to how previous nations and religions would kill women captured in warfare. In Islam, such was categorically forbidden.

Similarly, another way to understand this – sometimes through war the husband may be killed. The wife may have no involvement in war, but since her husband was killed, who was going to provide for her and the kids? The man those days was the breadwinner, providing his wife and kids with food, clothing and shelter. It would have been inconceivable and inhumane for the Muslims then to leave a family alone to fend for themselves. The Muslim government was there to re-allocate her to a Muslim family’s home, so that she and the kids needs be catered for.

3. Mariyah: Captive Or No Captive

Coming back to Mariya: the issue in regards Mariya is that she was not captured in warfare. Egyptians and the Muslims, 1400 years ago had good relations. The Prophet (p) encouraged his companions to take care of the Egyptians and to be kind to them, since he had blood ties, and in-law relations. This report will be further discussed further down.

The late respected scholar Syed Abul Aala Maududi states the following in regards to female captives:

“…according to the Qur’an a slave girl is that woman who falls in the hands of Muslims as a prisoner during the course of war waged in the way of God” (Rasa’il wa Masa’il [3rd edition], volume 3, page 102).

This is the definition of ‘right hand possesses’ (Malakat amainukum), the problem that arises in relation with Mariya is that she was not captured through warfare. She wasn’t even a slave. Historical reports tell us that she came from a very respectable family:

“To Muhammad Ibn Abdullah from Muqauqis, the chief of Qibt. Peace to you. I have read your letter and have noted the contents. I knew this much that a Prophet was to come. But I had expected him to appear in Syria. I have extended an honourable welcome to your messenger and I am sending two girls (jariyyatun) who are highly respected among the Qibtis (Egyptians) and I offer as a present some cloth and a mule to ride on.” (Sirat-un-nabi, volume 2, page 131) [1]

We argued in previous article that the words used in the above report, by no means can refer to a ‘slave’, but rather to a free woman. The particular words used by the Egyptian King on Mariah, ‘who are highly respected among the Qibtis (or Egyptians)’, these are not the words that may possible be applied to a slave, as Shaykh Allama Shibli Nu’mani rightly pointed out too in his book.

Furthermore, the words ‘Jariyya’, some wrongly translated for the report as ‘slave’, historically referred to ‘young girl’. The same exact word is used by Aisha for herself in number of Hadith, we know that Aisha was never a slave. To impose such meaning on to the Hadith would distort the true intended meaning the Hadith wanted to convey.

Abu Nu’aym has a more explicit report wherein he mentions that Mariya was from the Egyptian royal family.

“A King of the Byzantine patriarchs (sic) called al-Muqawqis presented a Coptic girl of ROYAL DESCENT named Mariya, along with a young male cousin of hers. The Messenger of God (SAAS) went in to see her one day when he would go to his private room and consummated with her. (Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya, volume 4, page 433) [2]

This report tells us clearly that when Mariya was sent over to Prophet Muhammed, she was part of the Egyptian royal family, most probably a Princess.

4. Mariyah The Wife – Sahih Muslim

There are explicit Hadith wherein Prophet Muhammed (p) ordered his companions to treat Egyptians well. Why did he say this? According to the statement made, he said so because he was married to a woman from Egypt.

Sahih Muslim:

“Abu Dharr reported Allah’s Messenger as saying: You would soon conquer Egypt and that is a land which is known (as the land of al-qirat). So when you conquer it, treat its inhabitants well. For there lies upon you the responsibility because of blood-tie or relationship of MARRIAGE (WITH THEM). And when you see two persons falling into dispute amongst themselves for the space of a brick, than get out of that. He (Abu Dharr) said: I saw Abd al-Rahman b. Shurahbil b. Hasana and his brother Rabi’a disputing with one another for the space of a brick. So I left that (land). (Sahih Muslim Book 31, Hadith 6174)

Riyad as-Salihin:

“Abu Dharr (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah said, “You will soon conquer a land where people deal with Qirat.” And according to another version: Messenger of Allah said, “You will soon conquer Egypt where Al-Qirat is frequently mentioned. So when you conquer it, treat its inhabitants well. For there lies upon you the responsibility because of blood ties or MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP (with them)“. (Riyad as-Salihin Book 1, Hadith 328)

Abd al-Hakam:

“Omar, the Commander of the Faithful, told me that he heard the Apostle of God say: ‘God will open Egypt to you after my death. So take good care of the Copts in that country; for they are YOUR KINSMEN and under your protection. Cast down your eyes therefore, and keep your hands off them.” [3]

Al-Mahasin:

“The Copts are the noblest of foreigners; the gentlest of them in action; the most excellent of them in character, and the nearest of them in KINSHIP to the Arabs generally, and to the tribe of Kuraish in particular.” (Al-Mahasin, volume 1, page 33) [4]

Abd al-Hakam, Futuh Misr:

“‘When you conquer Egypt take charge [of the inhabitants], for truly they may claim your protection, AND KINSHIP WITH YOU. (Abd al-Hakam, Futuh Misr… As-Suyuti, Husn al-Muhadarah, vol. 1, p. 50. Cf. Ibn Hisham, Sirah Muhammad, vol. 1, p. 5, and Abu l-Mahasin, vol.1, p. 50) [5]

As-Suyuti:

”…The Apostle of God fell sick and swooned, and when he recovered, he said: Take charge of the men with curling hair. Then he swooned a second time, and when he recovered said the same words. Again he swooned for the third time, and he said the same words. So the bystanders said: Apostle of God commits to our charge the men with curling hair; and when he recovered they asked him his meaning. So he said: The Copts of Egypt are OUR UNCLES AND OUR BROTHERS-IN-LAW, and they shall be your auxiliaries against your enemy and on behalf of your religion. …” (Al-Muhadarah, As-Suyuti, volume 1, page 7) [6]

This woman who Prophet Muhammed (p) is speaking about is none other than Mariya the Copt, who was from Egypt.

Classical Scholars in the past to contemporary times have recognised and acknowledged that these reports (especially Sahih Muslim) clearly tell us that Prophet Muhammed (p) married Mariya.

Scholar Abu Zakariya Yahya Bin Sharaf An-Nawawi Dimashqi (1233 – 1277 AD):

“In this Hadith, the Prophet PBUH) had urged his Companions to treat the Egyptians nicely for the reason of maintaining the ties of kinship and for the fact that Egypt was the country OF HIS IN-LAWS (Mariyah, the mother of Ibrahim, and one of the Prophet’s wives was from that place). This is why this Hadith has been included in the present chapter which deals with the subject of maintaining the ties of kinship. This Hadith is also a Prophecy of the Prophet (PBUH) due to the fact that the Prophecy he had made came true. A short time after his death, Egypt became part of the Muslim empire.” [7]

And

“The scholars say, “The ties of kinship come from the fact that Hajar, the mother of Isma’il, was one of them, and the TIES OF MARRIAGE COME FROM THE FACT THAT MARIA THE MOTHER OF IBRAHIM, the son of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was one of them.” (Riyad as-Salihin (The Meadows of the Righteous) 40. Chapter: On dutifulness to parents and maintaining ties of kinship, by An-Nawawi, Aisha Bewley translation, online source)

According to 13th century scholar Imam Nawawi, this hadith tells us that Prophet Muhammed (p) had a wife from Egypt, the only woman who was from Egypt was Mariya.

Similarly, later scholars acknowledged that the Hadith explicitly gives proof that Prophet Muhammed (p) had married Mariya.

The late Pakistani scholar, in his commentary on Sahih Muslim, Abdul Hameed Siddiqui (1923 – 1978) states:

“…The reference in this Hadith is to Maria the Copt, Allah be pleased with her, who was the WIFE of the Messenger of Allah and was a native of Egypt.” [8]

Dr. Muhammad Ali al-Hashimi:

“The Ulama explained that rahm here referred to Hajar, the mother of Isma’il, and sihr referred to MARYAH, the mother of Prophet’s son Ibrahim – both of whom came from Egypt. What a display of loyalty, faith found good treatment, which extends to the kinsfolk and countrymen of those two noble women down throughout the ages! The Muslim woman who hears these teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) cannot but uphold her ties with her relatives, offering them her sincere love, keeping constant contact with them and treating them with kindness and respect.” [9]

James Robson, D. Litt., D.D. Emeritus Professor of Arabic comments on this particular Hadith under discussion:

“The reference is to Abraham’s son Ishmael having Hagar as mother, and to MARIYA THE COPT who was sent to the Prophet.” [10]

Dr. Okasha El-Daly:

“…The Prophet of Islam was himself MARRIED TO AN EGYPTIAN NAMED MARIA who was sent to him from Egypt, accompanied by her sister and a servant, carrying with them various gifts. About a dozen of the Prophet’s Hadith (sayings attributed to him) are reported as being in praise of Egypt itself, its produce and its people (Ibn Zahira Mahasin: 74f). According to this tradition, the Copts had kinship (silat Rahim …) with the Arabs and hence enjoyed a close relationship with the new regime (Bashear 1997: 69). The Prophet’s Hadith on the subject of Egypt and its inhabitants probably played an important role in forming the general Moslem view of the country and its people.
The number of Hadiths relating to Egypt and attributed to Prophet varies from one authority to another. Ibn Zahira (Mahazin: 75-77) narrated 10 Hadiths on the virtues of Egypt. An example of this is:

‘You are going to enter Egypt a land where qirat (money unit) is used. Be extremely good to them as they have with us close ties and MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP (dhimah wa Rahim…).

The Prophet is referring here to ties between Arabs and Egyptians that go back to the marriage of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to the Egyptian woman Hajar, the mother of Ismael. Ismael is regarded as Father of the Arabs, whilst Hajar is seen as their mother. It was Ismael and his father who were credited with building the Ka’aba, the most holy place in Islam (Q2:127) and Moslem sources refer to Egyptian craftsmen rebuilding it (Al-Kindi Fadail: 14:12). The Prophet is widely quoted in Moslem sources (eg Al-Kindi Fadail: 14; cf; Gottheil 1907) as having uttered these five Hadiths:

When you enter Egypt after my death, recruit many soldiers from among the Egyptians because they are the best soldiers on earth, as they and their wives are permanently on duty until the day of Resurrection.

Be good to the copts of Egypt; you shall take them over, but they shall be your instrument and help.

Egypt has the best soil on earth and its people are the most generous of all people.

Blessing (al-baraka) was divided into ten parts, nine for Egypt and one for the other lands. This will be always manifest (Baraka…) in Egypt more than other lands.

Be Righteous to Allah about the Copts (itaqu Allah fi al-qibt…)

The Arabs’ respect for and appreciation of these ties with the Copts was not merely an emotional response to the Prophet’s praise, but certainly this very early interest in Egypt on the part of no less an authority than the Prophet would have encouraged writers an travellers not only to observe its monuments, but also to study its history, and contemporary knowledge and practice. This is often explained by the writers themselves in the introduction to their works (eg Ibn Abd Al-Hakam Futuh; Al-Idrisi Anwar; Al-Suyuti Husn). [11]

Besides the above commentaries on the Hadith, other classical scholars in the past to contemporary times have also said that Mariya was a wife of Prophet Muhammed (p), not a concubine.

Ismail Ibn Kathir (1301 – 1373 AD) [12]:

“He also had two WIVES donated to him. The first of these were MARIYA AL-QUBTIYYA al-Misriyya, from Kawrat Ansina, who was the mother of his son Ibrahim, upon whom be peace. The second was Rayhana al-Quraziyya, daughter of Sham’un; she accepted Islam and he manumitted her. She then rejoined her family. …” (Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya, volume 4, page 415 – 416) [13]

Ahmad Muhammad El Hawfy (Al-Hufi), Ph.D.,

“Maria was sent to him personally and the Prophet could neither send her back nor offer her to somebody else. Had he done that, he would have hurt the feelings of al Muqawqas and Maria; he would be either refusing the present or too haughty to accept it. HE HAD TO MARRY HER to please them both, and to be an example of a Muslim marrying a believer in the scriptures; such marriage would be an advantage to Islam and an effective means to its propagation.” [14]

Mahmood Ahmad Ghadanfar:

“The Prophet had three sons, two by Khadijah and Ibrahim, a third son by Maria Qabtiiyah. The first son was named Qasim and the Prophet came to be known as Abu Qasim. The second son, Abdullah was also known as Tahir (the pure) or Tayyab (the good). Both died in their childhood and the disbelievers were overjoyed that the Prophet had no heirs to carry on his noble mission. The third son, Ibrahim was born by HIS WIFE, MARIA QABTIYYA. He also died in infancy. When he saw Ibrahim dieing, he gently picked him up and said that he was helpless and cloud do nothing before the Will of Allah.” [15]

Salem Al-Hasi:

“Mariya was honored and respected by the prophet (pbuh), as well as his family and companions. She also gave birth to the prophet’s son Ibrahim. As any of the prophet’s wives, she is known as Um al-Mo’meneen (Mother of the believers). She spent three years of her life with the prophet, until his death, and died five years later in 16 AH.” (Fatwa – Salem Al-Hasi – online source)

Christopher James Wright:

“…Hatib goes on to say that he remained there several nights and then had a friendly exchange with the Patriarch. As a result of the meeting, the Patriarch sent him back with guards to protect him on his journey home and three slave girls. One of these slaves was MARYA, also known as Umm Ibrahim, who BECAME A WIFE to the Prophet and bore him his favorite son, Ibrahim. 69 (Ibn Abd al-Hakam, page 50) [16]

Encyclopaedia Of Islam:

“836. Ibrahim was the Prophet’s son by his Coptic WIFE Mariyah.” (Encyclopaedia Of Islam, new ed. Ed. H. A. R. Gibb et al. Leiden, 1960) [17]

Professor Paul Gwyne:

“Marriage is considered to be of the utmost importance in Islam and there is extensive material in both the Qur’an and the Hadith on the vital role it plays in the life of faith. It is often described as having both a vertical and a horizontal dimension. On the vertical plane, marriage is understood as an act of worship in that it is pleasing to Allah and fulfils the divine plan. According to tradition, Muhammad declared that no institution is more loved by Allah. Moreover, when a person marries he has completed ‘half of his religious obligations.’ On the horizontal plane, marriage is a legal contract between two individuals. In this sense, it requires the usual elements of any contract: mutual consent between the parties, specified conditions, and public witness.
Box:6.1
THE WIVES OF MUHAMMAD
Khadijah – Widow and Muhammad’s employer who bore him four daughters and two sons but only the girls survived infancy.
Sawda – Widow and early convert to Islam.
Aisha – Daughter of Abu Bakr.
Hafsa – Widowed daughter of Umar.
Zainab bint Khuzayama – Widow from the battle of Badr.
Umm Salama Hind – Widow from the battle of Uhud. …
Juwairiya – Daughter of the leader of the Mustaliq leader. …
Safiyah – Daughter of the leader of the Jewish Nadir tribe. …
MARIA AL-QIBTOYAH – Coptic Christian sent to Muhammed, who bore him a son who died in infancy.” [18]

Dr. Ragheb Elsergany:

MARIA AL-QIBTIYYA (may Allah be pleased with her) is said to have MARRIED THE PROPHET (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and certainly everyone gave her the same title of respect as the Prophet’s wives, ‘Umm al Muminin’ ‘Mother of the Believers’. Maria was born in upper Egypt of a Coptic father and Greek mother and moved to the court of the Muqawqis when she was still very young. She arrived in Medina to join the Prophet’s household just after the Prophet returned from the treaty with Quraish which was contracted at al-Hudaybiyya. (MARIA al-Qibtiyya by Dr. Ragheb Elsergany – online source)

Conclusion:

We want to conclude our discussion from this article that the evidences presented historically show that Mariyah was married to Prophet Muhammed (p).

In light of the foregoing evidences presented it supports and concludes that Mariyah was Muhammed’s spouse, not a ‘concubine’ as some claim. [19]

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References:

[1] Sirat-Un-Nabi (The Life Of The Prophet) [Rendered into English by M. Tayyib Bakhsh Budayuni, Idarah-I Adabiyat-I Delli, 2009 Qasimjan St. Delhi (India)] by Shaykh Allama Shibli Nu’mani, volume 2, page 153
[2] This report cited from Abu Nu’aym is “weak”, as one brother informed me. Cited from: The Life of the Prophet Muhammed (‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya’) [Translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick, Garnet Publishing – Copyright 2000, The Center for Muslim Contribution To civilization], by Ibn Kathir, volume 4, page 433
[3] The Arab Conquest Of Egypt And The Last Thirty Years Of The Roman Dominion [Oxford – At The Clarendon Press, 1902] by Alfred J. Butler, D. Litt., F.S.A., Fellow Of Brasenose College, Author Of ‘The Ancient Coptic Churches Of Egypt’. Etc., page 436
[4] The Churches And Monasteries Of Egypt And Some Neighbouring Countries, Attributed to Abu Salih, The Armenian, [Edited And Translated: B. T. A. Evetts, M. A., With Added Notes: Alfred J. Butler, M. A., F.S.A., – Oxford: At The Clarendon Press, 1895], page 99 – 100
[5] The Churches And Monasteries Of Egypt And Some Neighbouring Countries, Attributed to Abu Salih, The Armenian, [Edited And Translated: B. T. A. Evetts, M. A., With Added Notes: Alfred J. Butler, M. A., F.S.A., – Oxford: At The Clarendon Press, 1895], page 99
[6] The Churches And Monasteries Of Egypt And Some Neighbouring Countries, Attributed to Abu Salih, The Armenian, [Edited And Translated: B. T. A. Evetts, M. A., With Added Notes: Alfred J. Butler, M. A., F.S.A., – Oxford: At The Clarendon Press, 1895], page 99
[7] Riyad Us-Saliheen: The Paradise Of The Pious, by Imam Abu Zakaruya Yahya Bin Sharaf An-Nawawi Dimashqi, page 110 http://www.2muslims.com/books/2discoverislam_com_riyad_us_saliheen.pdf
[8] The Qur’an And Slavery [Translated by Dr. Kaubab Siddique, America; BOOK Review In The ‘New Trend’, America, volume 5, No. 4 January 1983 – Rabiul Awwal 1402, Maudoodi’s Serious Error in Quranic Commentary], by Hafiz Muhammad Sarwar Qureshi, page 3
[9] The Ideal Muslimah: The True Islamic Personality Of The Muslim Woman [Translated into English: Nassrudin Al-Khattab], by Dr. Muhammad Ali al-Hashimi, page 107
[10] Mishkat Al-Masabih: English translation with Explanatory notes [Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, Publishers, Bookselleres & exporters – 7-Aibak Road (New Anarkali) Lahore, 1991] by Professor James Robson, volume 2, Page 1289
[11] Egyptology: The Missing Millennium: Ancient Egypt in Medieval Arabic Writings [2016, Routledge] by Dr. Okasha El-Daly, [Chapter 2] page 17 – 18
[12] Ibn Kathir went as far as to say that Mariya was above and among the ‘mother of the believers’, an honorific title given to the wives of Prophet Muhammed:
“Mariya al-Qubtiyya, the mother of Ibrahim, was one of them; she has been considered ABOVE among ‘THE MOTHER OF THE BELIEVERS’.”
The Life of the Prophet Muhammed (‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya’) [Translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick, Garnet Publishing – Copyright 2000, The Center for Muslim Contribution To civilization], by Ibn Kathir, volume 4, page 467
[13] The Life of the Prophet Muhammed (‘Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya’) [Translated by Professor Trevor Le Gassick, Garnet Publishing – Copyright 2000, The Center for Muslim Contribution To civilization], by Ibn Kathir, volume 4, page 415 – 416
[14] Why the Prophet Muhammed married more than one: A study, [Translated by Ahmad Ibrahim El Orfaly, Cairo, 1414 – 1993 – AD.] by Ahmad Muhammad El Hawfy (Al-Hufi), Ph.D., page 46
[15] Great Women Of Islam: Who were given the good news of Paradise [Translated by Jamila Muhammad Qawi, and Revised by. Sheikh Safur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri, Darussalam, Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia], by Mahmood Ahmad Ghadanfar, page 27
[16] Ibn ‘Abd al-Hakam’s “Futuh Misr” : an analysis of the text and new insights into the Islamic conquest of Egypt[A dissertation submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree Doctor Of Philosophy. University Of California, Santa Barbara, 2006], by Christopher James Wright, page 58
[17] The History of al-Tabari: ‘Abbasid Authority Affirmed: The Early Years of al-Mansur A.D. 753-763/A.H. 136-145 [Translator: Jane Dammen McAuliffe, SUNY series in Near Eastern Studies – State University of new York, 1995]. Volume 28, page 171, footnote 836
[18] World Religions in Practice: A Comparative Introduction [Blackwell Publishing, 2009] by Professor Paul Gwynne, [Chapter 6] page 174
[19] Some have claimed that the latter part of Sahih Muslim in regards to Mariya’s marriage to Prophet Muhammed is doubtful. The claim is, that when ‘aw’ (‘or’) it gives doubt to if Muhammed (p) said the latter part. ‘aw’ also means ‘and’, ‘aw qala’ has been used in a number of Hadith as, ‘And he said’. For the sake of argument, even if we were to dismiss the latter part of the Hadith, the first part where it mentions ‘rahim’ (rahm) gives us proof that Prophet Muhammed had a wife from Egypt. The Arabic word used denotes, ‘in-Laws’ and ‘relatives on the maternal side’, as the following Arabic-English Lexicons/dictionaries explain:
Lanerahma
And

Hansrahm

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4 Responses »

  1. As salamu Alaykum, BarakAllahu feek for the great article. Do you have an email address I could send an email to with a question regarding this topic?

  2. Ismail Ibn Kathir: “He also had two WIVES donated to him … The second was Rayhana al-Quraziyya, daughter of Sham’un; she accepted Islam and he manumitted her. She then rejoined her family.”
    How is she donated if many Muslims claim Rayhana al-Quraziyya was freed and then married the Prophet?

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