Maria bint Sham'ûn, better known as Maria al-Qibtiyya (Arabic: مارية القبطية) (alternatively, "Maria Quptiyah"), or Maria the Copt, (died 637) was an Egyptian Coptic slave who was gifted to the Islamic prophet Muhammad in 628 by Muqawqis the Copt, the Christian ruler of Egypt at the time. She converted to a religion called Islam on the way to Al-Madinah to marry the prophet and later bore a son, Ibrahim who died in childhood, and then she died almost five years later.
She was not the prophet's wife, but his concubine. As Islamic law allows marital relations with ones wives who are given their dowry, and legally-acquired concubines, as both wives and concubines are considered part of one's household. She is also not mentioned in Ibn-Hisham's notes on Ibn-Ishaq's biography where he lists the wives of Muhammad. Despite this, she enjoyed a special status in the prophetic Household, in that she followed the same laws of modesty and hijab as the Mothers of the believers (wives) did, she later observed the same etiquette and lifestyle as a widow, and was treated in a similarly generous way by the Caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar. According to Sunni Islam, all of the prophet's wives in this world, and Mariya the Mother of his son, are eternally his wives in paradise. Her sister, Sirin, was also sent to Muhammad, who gave her to his follower Hassan ibn Thabit.
Year of the deputations
In the Islamic year 6 AH (627 – 628 CE), Muhammad is said to have had letters written to the great rulers of the Middle East, proclaiming the new Faith and inviting the rulers to join. Texts of some of the letters are found in Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari's History of the Prophets and Kings. Tabari writes that a deputation was sent to an Egyptian governor named as al-Muqawqis.
Tabari recounts the story of Maria's arrival from Egypt:
In this year Hātib b. Abi Balta'ah came back from al-Muqawqis bringing Māriyah and her sister Sīrīn, his female mule Duldul, his donkey Ya'fūr, and sets of garments. With the two women al-Muqawqis had sent a eunuch, and the latter stayed with them. Hātib had invited them to become Muslims before he arrived with them, and Māriyah and her sister did so. The Messenger of God, peace and blessings of Allah be upon Him, lodged them with Umm Sulaym bt. Milhān. Māriyah was beautiful. The prophet sent her sister Sīrīn to Hassān b. Thābit and she bore him 'Abd al-Rahmān b. Hassān.— Tabari, History of the Prophets and Kings.
|Wives of Muhammad|
Multiple Scholars and authors have mentioned Maria al-Qibtiyya as one of the Concubines (out of four) of Muhammad. Islamic Law allows marital relations with free women who are taken as wives in marriage, and legally-acquired bondswomen (concubines), as both kinds of ladies are considered part of one's household.
And who guard their modesty - Save from their wives or the (slaves) that their right hands possess, for then they are not blameworthy, But whoso craveth beyond that, such are transgressors.— Qur'an 23:5-7
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not marry Mariyah al-Qibtiyyah, rather she was a Concubine who was given to him by al-Muqawqis, the ruler of Egypt. That took place after the treaty of al-Hudaybiyah. Mariyah al-Qibtiyyah was a Christian, then she became Muslim (may Allaah be pleased with her).— Ibn Saad, The Life of Prophet
The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) lodged her – meaning Mariyah al-Qibtiyyah and her sister – with Umm Sulaym bint Milhaan, and the Messenger of Allaah (SallAllahu 'alayHi waSallam) entered upon them and told them about Islam. He took Mariyah as a concubine and moved her to some property of his in al-‘Awaali… and she became a good Muslim.— Al-Tabaqaat al-Kubra, 1/134-135
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) had four concubines, one of whom was Mariyah.— Ibn al-Qayyim , Biography
Abu ‘Ubaydah said: He had four (concubines): Mariyah, who was the mother of his son Ibraaheem; Rayhaanah; another beautiful slave woman whom he acquired as a prisoner of war (Whom He later freed and married); and a slave woman who was given to him by (His wife) Zaynab bint Jahsh.— Zaad al-Ma’aad, 1/114
Maria in Biography of Muhammad
Maria is mentioned with detail in Martin Lings' Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. According to this biography:
Muhammad sent a letter to Muqawqis, summoning him to Islam, was answered evasively; but with his answer the ruler of Egypt sent a rich present of a thousand measures of gold, twenty robes of fine cloth, a mule, a she-ass and, as the crown of the gift, two Coptic Christian slave girls escorted by an elderly eunuch. The girls were sisters, Mariyah and Sirin, and both were beautiful, but Mariyah was exceptionally so, and the Prophet marvelled at her beauty. He gave Sirin to Hassan ibn Thabit, and lodged Mariyah in the nearby house where Safiyyah had lived before.— Abu Bakar Sirajuddin, Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources, LXXI/277-278
The author, in later chapters, gives details of Muhammad's son (with Maria) Ibrahim and his passing away.
In honor of Maria and Their son Ibrahim, the Prophet of Islam esteemed the people of Egypt.
Abu Dharr reported Allah's Messenger, peace and blessings of Allah be upon Him, 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 031, Number 6174
- Ibn Ishaq, translation by A. Guillaume (1955). The Life of Muhammad. Oxford University Press.
- Tabari (1997). Vol. 8 of the Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk. State University of New York Press.
- Ibn Saad The Sira of Muhammad.
- SeekersHub, Faraz Rabbani