Maria al-Qibtiyya

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Maryam al-Cibtiya (Arabic: مريم القِبطية‎) (Mary the Copt) (died 637) was a Coptic bondswoman who was gifted to the Islamic prophet Muhammad in 628 by Muqawqis, the ruler of Egypt at the time. She accepted Islam on the way to Al-Madinah and bore the Prophet a son, Ibràheem, who died during his childhood, and was later a free woman until she died almost five years later. [1]

Maryam was born Maryam bint Sham'un  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 gave birth to a son in 9 AH, the same year that his daughter Zaynab died, and the Prophet named his new son Ibrahim, after the ancestor of both the Jews and the Christians, the Prophet from whom all the Prophets who came after him were descended. Unfortunately, when he was only eighteen months old, Ibrahim became seriously ill and died. Maria was honored and respected to be one of the wives of the Prophet and accepted by Prophet's family and Companions. She spent three years of her life with the Prophet, until his death, and died five years later in 16 AH. From another source, She was not the Prophet's wife, but His bondswoman, as Islamic Law allows marital relations with ones wives who are given their dowry, and legally-acquired bondswomen, as both kinds of ladies are considered part of one's household.[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] 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 Omar [Allah be pleased with them]. According to Islamic Belief, all of the Prophet's Wives in this world, and Mariya the Mother of His Son, are eternally His Wives in Paradise.[5] Her sister, Sirin, was also sent to Muhammad, Who gave her to His follower Hassan ibn Thabit.[6]

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. 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 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, 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.[6]

Concubine Status[edit]

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.

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[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. Mariya clearly loved the Prophet, as after He died, she refused to leave her House except to visit His Grave and the Grave of Their Son Ibrahim.

Her Merits[edit]

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

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. ^ SeekersHub, Faraz Rabbani
  6. ^ a b Tabari, p. 131.

References[edit]