Maria al-Qibtiyya

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Marya bint Sham'ûn, better known as Maryam al-Qubtiyyah (Arabic: مارية القبطية‎) (alternatively, "Marya Quptiyah"), or Maria the Copt, (died 637) was an Egyptian Coptic Christian slave who was sent as a gift from Muqawqis, a Byzantine official, to the Islamic prophet Muhammad in 628.[1] Early sources, including Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya claim that she was only a concubine.[2][3] She is also not mentioned in Ibn-Hisham's notes on Ibn-Ishaq's biography where he lists the wives of Muhammad.[4] She was the mother of Muhammad's son Ibrahim, who died in infancy. Her sister, Sirin, was also sent to Muhammad. Muhammad gave her to his follower Hassan ibn Thabit.[5] Maria never married after Muhammad's death in 632, and died five years later. Her birthdate is unknown. No primary source mentions her age.

Year of the deputations[edit]

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. What purports to be texts of some of the letters are found in Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari's History of the Prophets and Kings, which was written some 250 years after the events it chronicled. 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 eununch, 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 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.[5]

Concubine Status[edit]

Multiple Scholars and authors have mentioned Maria al-Qibtiyya as one of the concubines (out of four) of Muhammad.

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 (S) 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; and a slave woman who was given to him by Zaynab bint Jahsh.

Zaad al-Ma’aad, 1/114

Maria in Biography of Muhammad[edit]

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 death.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), p. 653.
  2. ^ Exegesis (Tafsir) of Quran by ibn Kathir for Chapter 66, verses 1-5 of Quran
  3. ^ Zaad al-Ma’aad, 1/103
  4. ^ Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, p. 792.
  5. ^ a b Tabari, p. 131.

References[edit]