MARY THE COPT: MUHAMMAD’S SEX SLAVE

In this post I will show from some of Islam’s greatest and most reliable sources that Mary the Copt was Muhammad’s sex slave. I begin by quoting a very prominent Salafi website:

Question:

There is no doubt that Mariyah al-Qibtiyyah was the concubine of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and she bore him his son Ibraaheem. Can the title of “Mother of the Believers” be given to Mariyah al-Qibtiyyah or not?

Answer:

Praise be to Allaah.

The Prophet 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.

Ibn Sa’d said:

The Messenger of Allaah lodged her – meaning Mariyah al-Qibtiyyah and her sister – with Umm Sulaym bint Milhaan, and the Messenger of Allaah 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

Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr said:

Mariyah died during the caliphate of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab, in Muharram of 16 AH. ‘Umar gathered the people himself to attend her funeral, and he led the funeral prayer for her. She was buried in al-Baqee’.

Al-Isti’aab, 4/ 1912

Mariyah WAS ONE OF THE PROPHET’S CONCUBINES, NOT ONE OF HIS WIVES. The Mothers of the Believers are the wives of the Prophet. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“The Prophet is closer to the believers than their ownselves, and his wives are their (believers’) mothers (as regards respect and marriage)”

[al-Ahzaab 33:6]

The Prophet had four concubines, ONE OF WHOM WAS MARIYAH.

Ibn al-Qayyim said:

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

For more information of the wives of the Prophet – the Mothers of the Believers – please see the answer to question no. 47072 

And Allaah knows best.

Islam Q&A (www.islam-qa.com) (Question #47572: Was Mariyah al-Qibtiyyah one of the Mothers of the Believers? https://islamqa.info/en/answers/47572/was-mariyah-al-qibtiyyah-one-of-the-mothers-of-the-believers; bold and capital emphasis mine)

And here are Ibn al-Qayyim’s words taken from his own book:

The Prophet’s Slave-Girls

Abu ‘Ubaidah said that the Prophet had four slave girls, MARIYAH, who gave birth to Ibrahim, the Prophet’s last son, Ra’ihanah, another slave-girl he got during one of his battles and another slave-girl whom Zainab bint Ja’hsh gave to him as a gift. (Zad-ul Ma’ad, translated by Jalal Abualrub, edited by Alan Mencke & Shaheed M. Ali [Madinah Publishers & Distributors, Orlando Florida: First Edition, December 2000], Volume I, p. 178; capital emphasis mine)

The website Islamic Question Online with Mufti Ebrahim Desai says that:

Because of the prevalence of slavery in the initial stages of Islam the necessity of educating the people about the treatment of slaves also arose. Rasulullah taught his followers how the slaves should be treated with kindness, etc. In fact, Rasulullah himself possessed slave girls. In this way, he was able to demonstrate practically how kindly and politely the slave should be treated. Because it is relevant to the topic, it would be appropriate to mention here that Rasulullah also had four slave girls. One was Hazrat Maria Qibtiyya who was the mother of Rasulullah’s son, Ibrahim Alayhis Salaam who passed away in infanthood. The others were, Hazrat Rayhaan binte Samoon; Hazrat Nafisa and a fourth, whose name has not been recorded in History. (Question 17032 from South Africa: what is the Islamic law with regard to slave-women? Was It permissible to have relations with these slave-women without a formal marriage ceremony? (http://askimam.org/public/question_detail/17032; bold and underline emphasis mine)

And:

Maariya al-Qibtiyya was A SLAVE FEMALE and was given as a gift to Rasulullah by the Roman king. She bore the son of Rasulullah who passed away during infancy. (Question 1071, Maariya al-Qibtiyyah http://askimam.org/public/question_detail/1071; capital emphasis mine)

Another online Islamic Fatwa site also concurs with Mariyah being a slave whom Muhammad enjoyed:

Fatwa # 20780
Fatwa Title: His wives “Alayhi wa-Salat wa-Salam” who were slaves
Fatwa Date: 04 Jumady al-Thania 1423

Question

There are two slave women that the messenger married, who are they?

Fatwa

Thanks be to Allah and prayer and peace be upon the messenger of Allah and on his family and companions. As to this:

If the questioner meant that Allah’s messenger married two slave women while they were still slaves? This cannot be of the messenger of Allah, and this is not permitted in Islam except to those who cannot marry a free woman and fears immorality.

And if he meant that he [Muhammad] married those women after they were freed from slavery? Hence Juwayrah bint al-Harith al-Mustaliqia was from those who were enslaved (captured) from Bani al-Mustaliq (the tribe of Mustaliq), and she was the daughter of their leader, the prophet (SAW) freed her and married her. Same with Safiyah bint Huyay bin Akhtab who was one of the slaves of Khaybar, and the prophet freed her and married her.

But if he meant the slaves that the messenger used to enjoy (ya ta sarra behina), meaning sleeping with them by virtue of their being his right hand possession? It was said four: Mariyah al -Qibtiyah, and Rayhanah from Bani Quraytha (the tribe of Quraytha), and a third slave woman whom he slept with during her slavery, and a fourth one who was given to him by Zaynab bint Jahsh. (Arabic source; translated by Mutee’a Al-Fadi)

After mentioning his eleven wives, The Concise Encyclopaedia of Islam (ed. Cyril Glassé, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989), says under Wives of the Prophet, p. 419:

In addition, the Prophet had at least two concubines, Rayhanah, captured from the Banu Qurayzah, who was originally Jewish, and Maryah, a Christian slave wo was a gift from the Muqawqis, the Byzantine viceroy ruling the Copts in Egypt. She bore the Prophet a son, Ibrahim, who died before his second year. (Bold emphasis mine)

Here is a modern Muslim biographer who lists Mariyah as one of Muhammad’s slave women:

Besides these, he had two concubines. The first was Mariyah, the Coptic (an Egyptian Christian), a present gift from Al-Muqauqis, vicegerent of Egypt – she gave birth to his son Ibrâhim, who died in Madinah while still a little child, on the 28th or 29th of Shawwal in the year 10 A.H., i.e. 27th January, 632 A.D. The second one was Raihanah bint Zaid An-Nadriyah or Quraziyah, a captive from Bani Quraiza. Some people say she was one of his wives. However, Ibn Al-Qaiyim gives more weight to the first version. Abu ‘Ubaidah spoke of two more concubines, Jameelah, a captive, and another one, a bondwoman granted to him by Zainab bint Jahsh. [Za’d Al-Ma’ad 1/29] (Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum (THE SEALED NECTAR) Biography of the Noble Prophet, Saif-ur-Rahman al-Mubarakpuri [Maktaba Dar-us-Salam Publishers & Distributors, First Edition 1995], “The Prophetic Household”, p. 485; bold emphasis mine)

Another scholar who clearly listed Mariyah as Muhammad’s concubine was the late Mufti Shafi Uthmani:

…(And those (bond women) whom you own out of the captives Allah has given you as spoils of war)

The word… used here for the spoils of war is fai’ which in its technical sense is restricted to the wealth acquired from the enemy without actual fighting. But at times it is used for the spoils of war acquired through actual fighting. Here the word is used in a general sense. Moreover, it does not mean that only those slave-girls will be lawful for him who would come to him as a share in the spoils of war, but the permissibility covers those bondwomen also who were purchased by him. But, apparently, in this injunction, there is nothing particular for the Holy Prophet because this is a rule for all Muslims and the whole Ummah that those bondwomen whom they own as their share in the spoils of war or those who are purchased for a price are lawful for them. At the same time the style of the context indicates that the injunctions contained in these verses should have some special applications for the Holy Prophet. As such it is stated in Ruh ul-Ma’ani’ as a particularity of the Holy Prophet that just as the nikah of any of his wives with any other Muslim is not lawful after him, similarly any of his bondwomen is not lawful for any Muslim after him. Accordingly, the nikah of Sayyidah Mariyah al-Qibtiyyah who was sent by the Roman Emperor Muqauqis as gift to the Holy Prophet WAS NOT LAWFUL FOR ANYONE AFTER HIM.

At the age of fifty, after the death of Sayyidah Khadijah, he married Sayyidah Sawdah who was also a widow.

After the migration to Madina, at the age of fifty-four, in the second year of Hijrah, Sayyidah ‘A’isha came to the Holy Prophet’s home as a wife. He married Sayyidah Hafsah a year later and Sayyidah Zaynab bint Khuzaymah a few days after that, who expired a few months later. He married Sayyidah Umm Salamah, a widow with children, in the year 4 of Hijrah. In the year 5 when he was fifty eight years old, he marred Zaynab bint Jash in accordance with Allah’s order, as detailed in the beginning of the present surah. The rest of the blessed wives entered his house in the last five years. (Maariful Quran, Volume 7, pp. 191-192, 197-198: source; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Sunni Muslim scholar G.F. Haddad answers to the question:

Was Mariya al-Qibtiyya ever a spouse?

No. Mariya al-Qibtiyya was never a spouse but rather a surriyya – with tashdid of the ra and its kasr – until the passing of the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, as explicitly stated by al-Zubayr ibn Bakkar in his al-Muntakhab min Kitab Azwaj al-Nabi salla Allahu `alyhi wa-Sallam (Risala 1983 ed. p. 60):

“Wa-tuwuffiya Rasulullah wa-Mariyatu fi mulkih, fa`ataqat, fa`taddat `alayhi thalatha hiyadin ba`dah.”

“The Messenger of Allah passed away as Mariya was in his possession (as a slavewoman), whereupon she became free then observed, after her widowhood of him, three menstrual periods of home seclusion.”

Important notes:

1- The Prophet made her wear hijab (contrary to the normal ruling for slaves).

2- At one time, because of one of his wives‘ complaint, he swore that he would stay away from Mariya then Allah Most High ordered him to cancel that oath without kaffara. (This may have been confused with a revocable divorce by some; in reality it confirms that a self-pronounced tahrim of mulk al-yamin is inconsequential. Imam Malik said: “Haram is halal with regard to slavewomen.”)

3- When Ibrahim was born the Prophet said of her: “Her son freed her.” (This may have been interpreted as a cancellation of her slavehood tantamount to a declaration of marriage but is confirmed by the narrations to apply to her status after the passing of the Holy Prophet.)

4- When the Prophet died she observed three menstrual periods of `idda in complete home seclusion (contrary to the normal ruling for slaves because at that time she became a freedwoman).

5- Our liege-lords Abu Bakr and  `Umar in their caliphates spent lavishly on her (in resemblance of the duty to support the Mothers of the believers) until she died in Muharram of the year 16. `Umar gathered the people himself, she was buried in al-Baqi`, and he prayed over her.

6- The Prophet did free and marry the surriyya Rayhana bint Zayd ibn `Amr of the Banu al-Nadir. This case may have been confused with that of Mariya. And Allah knows best.
Sources:

– The Hafiz, Qadi of Makka, and genealogist al-Zubayr ibn Bakkar (172-256) in his al-Muntakhab min Kitab Azwaj al-Nabi.

– Hafiz Sharaf al-Din al-Dimyati (613-708), Nisa‘ Rasul Allah salla Allahu `alayhi wa-Sallam.

– Hafiz Muhibb al-Din al-Tabari (615-694), al-Samt al-Thamin fi Manaqib Ummahat al-Mu‘minin.

– Hafiz Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Salihi (d. 942), Subul al-Huda wal-Rashad fi Sirat Khayr al-`Ibad.

gibril (Was Mariya al-Qibtiyya ever a spouse?; bold emphasis mine)

And:

12. Marya al-Qibtiyya, she was a surriyya (concubine). She gave birth to Ibrahim. (Who are Ahl al-Bayt?)

Here is what one modern commentary says regarding Q. 33:52:

74. It means handmaid. Two handmaids of the Holy Prophet are well known:

(i) Maria Qibtia … of whose womb Hazrat Ibrahim was born;

(ii) Rehana… (Noble Qur’an: Tafseer-E-Usmani by Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, English translation by Mohammad Ashfaq Ahmad, M.A.M.Sc. [Idara Isha’at-e-Dinyat (P) Ltd., New Delhi, India 1992], p. 1854)

In an article found at the Understanding Islam site, Mr. Amar Ellahi Lone says:

As far as the slave girl Hadhrat Maria Qibtia is concerned, the Prophet kept her as a slave girl because he was barred from marrying those slave girls who were not part of the booty of war, in the same verse that governed his marriage regulationsHadhrat Maria Qibtia was presented to the Prophet by the ruler of Egypt. He loved her very much and treated her very well, in order to set an example for the Muslims in treatment of their slaves.

It should be kept in mind that although Islam condemned slavery, it did not abolish it instantly. The institution of slavery was so deep rooted in the society that it was not possible to do away with it at once. In fact Islam adopted a gradual approach towards it by giving incentives to free slaves in return for reward in the hereafter or by treating them fairly and respectably. It was during this intermediary period that the Prophet set an example of good treatment of the slaves, in the case of Hadhrat Maria Qibtia, for the Muslims to follow. The other example of the he set in relation to slaves was in the case of Hadhrat Zayed, whom he freed and made his adopted son. There is no strong evidence of any other slave girl in the household of the Prophet. (The Marriages of the Prophet https://www.understanding-islam.com/the-marriages-of-the-prophet-pbuh/; bold emphasis mine)

Moiz Amjad of Understanding Islam writes:

Nevertheless, the Prophet  could indeed have freed Maria Qibtia and subsequently married her, yet this is not supported by the historical accounts. (Maria Qibtia https://www.understanding-islam.com/maria-qibtia-ra/; bold emphasis mine)

A companion of Mr. Amjad concurs:

Maria the Coptic

Question asked by Mumtaz Ahmad.
Posted on: Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Question:
I am confused about the Status of Maria the Coptic. She was a gift to the Prophet from Egypt. She gave birth to male children of the Holy Prophet. In books written about the Prophet or his wives, or on ‘Sahabiat’, Maria the Coptic is neither mentioned in the list of wives nor in the list of Sahabiat. Kindly explain the status of the lady.

Answer:
Please refer to: The Case of Maria the Coptic and http://www.understanding-islam.com/related/text.asp?type=question&qid=371


Maria the Coptic was not taken in marriage by the Prophet. However, she was, of course, a companion of his. She embraced Islam and lived with the Prophet as his slave girl for a considerable time. Some authors may have left her for they might have considered her in the list of his slaves. But we do not think that a slave girl or man cannot be considered a Companion of the Prophet.

Regards,
Tariq Mahmood Hashmi

Research Assistant, Studying Islam (Source; bold emphasis mine)

The famous Sunni commentator and historian al-Tabari wrote:

God granted Rayhanah bt. Zayd of the Banu Qurayzah to his Messenger [as booty]. Mariyah the Copt was presented to the Messenger of God, given to him by al-Muqawqis, the ruler of Alexandria, and she gave birth to the Messenger of God’s son Ibrahim. These were the Messenger’s wives; six of them were from the Quraysh. (The History of Al-Tabari: The Last years of the Prophet, translated and annotated by Ismail K. Poonawala [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany, NY 1990], Volume IX (9), p. 137)

At first sight, Tabari seems to suggest that Mariyah was Muhammad’s wife. Yet, this impression is wrong, and changes when we read his later comments:

An Account of the Messenger of God’s Slave Concubines

They were Mariyah bt. Sham‘un, the Copt, and Rayhanah bt. Zayd al-Quraziyyah who, it is said, was of the Banu al-Nadir. An account of them has been given above. (Ibid., p. 141; bold emphasis mine)

Again:

The Messenger of God also had a eunuch called Mabur, who was presented to him by al-Muqawqis WITH TWO SLAVE GIRLS, ONE OF THEM WAS CALLED MARIYAH, WHOM HE TOOK AS A CONCUBINE, and the other [was called] Sirin, whom he gave to Hassan b. Thabit after Safwan b. al-Mu‘attal had committed an offense against him. Sirin gave birth to a son called ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Hassan. Al-Muqawqis had sent this eunuch with the two slave girls in order to escort them and guard them on their way [to Medina]. He presented them to the Messenger of God when they arrived. It is said that he was the one [with whom] Mariyah was accused of [wrongdoing], and that the Messenger of God sent ‘Ali to kill him. When he saw ‘Ali and what he intended to do with him, he uncovered himself until it became evident to ‘Ali that he was completely castrated, not having anything left at all of what men [normally] have, so [Ali] refrained from killing him. (Ibid., p. 147; bold emphasis mine)

Finally:

Mariyah, the Prophet’s CONCUBINE and the mother of his son, Ibrahim.

Al-Muqawqas, lord of Alexandria, gave her with her sister Sirin and other things as a present to the Prophet.

According to Ibn ‘Umar [al-Waqidi] – Ya‘qub b. Muhammad b. Abi Sa‘sa‘ah – ‘Abdallah b. ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Abi Sa‘sa‘ah: In the year 7/May 11, 628-April 30, 629, al-Muqawqas, lord of Alexandria, sent to the Prophet Mariyah, her sister Sirin, a thousand gold coins, twenty fine robes, his mule Duldul, and his donkey ‘Ufayr, or Ya‘fur. With them was Mariyah’s brother, a very old eunuch called Mabur. Al-Muqawqas sent all this [to the Prophet] with Hatib b. Abi Balta‘ah. The latter suggested to Mariyah that she embrace Islam and made her wish to do so; thus she and her sister were converted, whereas the eunuch adhered to his religion until he was [also] converted later in Medina, while the Prophet was [still] alive.

The Prophet admired Umm Ibrahim [“Mother of Ibrahim,” Mariyah’s title], who was fair-skinned and beautiful. He lodged her in al-‘Aliyah, at the property nowadays called of Umm Ibrahim. He used to visit her there and ordered her to veil herself, [but] he had intercourse with her BY VIRTUE OF HER BEING HIS PROPERTY… (The History of Al-Tabari: Biographies of the Prophet’s Companions and Their Successors, translated by Ella Landau-Tasseron [State University of New York Press (SUNY) Albany, NY 1998], Volume XXXIX (39), pp. 193-194; bold, capital and comments within brackets mine)

845. That is, Mariyah was ordered to veil herself as did the Prophet’s wives, BUT HE DID NOT MARRY HER … (Ibid., p. 194; bold emphasis mine)

It is obvious what Tabari meant when saying that Mariyah was one of Muhammad’s wives. He wasn’t denying she was his slave girl, his concubine, but was using “wife” in the sense of one whom Muhammad slept with and who mothered his child.

The Tafsir al-Jalalayn (“Commentary of the Two Jalals”) is another source which states that Mariyah was a concubine. Here is what the commentary states in reference to Q. 33:52:

Women are not lawful for you read lā tahillu or lā yahillu beyond that beyond the nine that have chosen you as their husband nor is it lawful for you to change tabaddala one of the two original tā’ letters of tatabaddala has been omitted them for other wives by divorcing them or some of them and marry in place of those whom you divorce even though their beauty impress you except those whom your right hand owns of slavegirls which is in contrast lawful for you. In addition to these slavegirls the Prophet came to own Māriya the Copt. She bore for him Ibrāhīm who died during his lifetime. And God is Watcher over Preserver of all things. (Source: https://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=74&tSoraNo=33&tAyahNo=52&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2; bold emphasis mine)

Jalalayn aren’t the only ones:

(It is not allowed thee to take (other) women) to marry other women (henceforth) after explaining these criteria; it is also said this means: after your nine wives: ‘A’ishah the daughter of Abu Bakr, Hafsah the daughter of ‘Umar, Zaynab Bint Jahsh al-Asdiyyah, Umm Salamah Bint Abi Umayyah al-Makhzumi, Umm Habibah Bint Abi Sufyan Ibn Harb, Safiyyah Bint Huyayy Ibn Akhtab, Maymunah Bint al-Harth al-Hilaliyyah, Sawdah Bint Zam’ah Ibn al-Aswad and Juwayriyyah Bint al-Harith al-Mustaliqiyyah, (nor that thou shouldst change them for other wives) among those I explained amongst the daughters of your uncles and aunts (even though their beauty pleased thee) you are not allowed to marry them, (save those whom thy right hand possesseth) Maria the Copt. (And Allah is Watcher over all things) and Allah is Guardian over all things. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs, https://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=73&tSoraNo=33&tAyahNo=52&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2; bold emphasis mine)

(O Prophet! Why bannest thou that which Allah hath made lawful for thee…) [66:1]. Muhammad ibn Mansur al-Tusi informed us> ‘Ali ibn ‘Umar ibn Mahdi> al-Husayn ibn Isma’il al-Mahamili> ‘Abd Allah ibn Shabib> Ishaq ibn Muhammad> ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar> Abu’l-Nadr, the client of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd Allah> ‘Ali ibn ‘Abbas> Ibn ‘Abbas> ‘Umar who said: “The Messenger of Allah entered the house of Hafsah along with the mother of his son, Mariyah. When Hafsah found him with her [in an intimate moment], she said: ‘Why did you bring her in my house? You did this to me, to the exception of all your wives, only because I am too insignificant to you’. He said to her: ‘Do not mention this to ‘A’ishah; she is forbidden for me [i.e. Mariyah] if I ever touch her’. Hafsah said: ‘How could she be forbidden for you when she is YOUR SLAVE GIRL?‘ He swore to her that he will not touch her and then said: ‘Do not mention this incident to anyone’. But she went ahead and informed ‘A’ishah. The Prophet decided not to go to his wives for a month. He stayed away from them twenty nine days when Allah, glorious and exalted is He, revealed (O Prophet! Why bannest thou that which Allah hath made lawful for thee, seeking to please thy wives?)”… (‘Alī ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi, Asbab al-Nuzul https://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=86&tSoraNo=66&tAyahNo=1&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2; bold and capital emphasis mine)

It is narrated on the authority of Anas that The Messenger of Allah had A SLAVE-GIRL WITH WHOM HE HAD SEXUAL INTERCOURSE. Hafsah kept asking him importunately to leave her till he made her unlawful for himself. On that occasion, Allah revealed this Qur’anic Verse. [Al-Hakim and An-Nasa’i with an authentic chain of narrators]

It is narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that he said: The Messenger of Allah had sexual intercourse with Mariyyah, HIS SLAVE-GIRL, in the house of Hafsah. When she came, she found her with him. She said: “O Messenger of Allah! Do you do so in my house from among all your wives?” He replied: “She then is unlawful for me to approach O Hafsah; and conceal this story for me”. She came out and went to ‘A’ishah and told her. On that occasion, Allah revealed those Qur’anic Verses [1-4]. [At-Tabarani with a weak chain of narrators] (Jalal Al-Din Al-Suyuti, Reasons and Occasions of Revelation of the Holy Qur’an (Lubab An-Nuqul Fi Asbab An-Nuzul), translated by Dr. Muhammad Mahdi Al-Sharif [Dar Al-Kotob Al-Ilmiyah, Beirut 2015], p. 409; bold and capital emphasis mine)

And here is what another renowned Muslim expositor, Ibn Kathir, wrote in regards to Mariyah’s status:

<those (slaves) whom your right hand possesses whom Allah has given to you,> means, ‘the slave-girls whom you took from the war booty are also permitted to you.’ He owned Safiyyah and Juwayriyah, then he manumitted them and married them, AND HE OWNED Rayhanah bint Sham`un An-Nadariyyah AND MARIYAH AL-QIBTIYYAH, the mother of his son Ibrahim; THEY WERE BOTH AMONG THE PRISONERS. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 33:50 https://www.alim.org/quran/tafsir/ibn-kathir/surah/33/50; capital emphasis mine)

Note that Ibn Kathir expressly states that whereas Muhammad owned and then married Safiyyah and Juwayriyah, he didn’t marry Mariyah. He simply claims that Mariyah was one of those prisoners whom he owned.

In fact, Ibn Kathir in his biography of Muhammad reiterated his position that Mariyah was a concubine, not a wife:

Besides these, the Prophet HAD TWO CONCUBINES. The first was Mariyah Bintu Sham’un the Coptic, Umm Ibraheem. She was a present from Al-Muqawqis, the commander of Alexandria and Egypt, along with her sister Shereen, a horse named Mabur and a mare named Adduldul. The Prophet offered Shereen to Hassan Ibn Thabit and she gave birth to their son Abderahman. Mariyah died in the month of Muharram in year 16 A.H. and it was Omar Ibn Al-Khattab who assembled people for her funeral, performed Salat for her and buried her in Al-Baqee’. As for the second concubine, she was Rahanah Bintu ‘Amru, and it was said Bintu Zaid, he chose her among the captives from Bani Quraidha, and he later set her free to join her people. (The Seerah of Prophet of Muhammad (S.A.W.), abridged by Muhammad Ali Al-Halabi Al-Athari [Al-Firdous Ltd., London, 2001: First Edition], Part II, pp. 32-33; bold and capital emphasis mine)

After mentioning Khadijah, Muhammad’s first wife, this next Muslim site lists his wives at ten, a number which excludes Mariyah:

AFTER 50 YEARS
He married Hadhrat Sawdah and Ãaisha. Sawda lived with him immediately but Ãaisha came to live with him in the year 2 AH. when he was approximately 54 years of age.

55 YEARS (3 AH.)
He married Hadhrath Hafsa. After a few months, he married Hadhrat Zaynab bin Khuzaymah who lived with him for only 3 or 18 months (as recorded in different narrations) before she passed away.

56 YEARS (4 AH.)
He married Umme Salma

57 YEARS (5 AH.)
He married Zaynab

58 YEARS (6 AH)
He married Hadhrat Juwayriyah

59 YEARS (7 AH.)
First he married Umme Habibah then Safiyyah then Maymoonah in one year. (Polygamy in Islam, Jamiatul Ulama: source)

One final point. Al-Tabari’s date poses major problems for those who wish to assert that Muhammad married Mariyah. According to Q. 33:52 Muhammad was forbidden from taking on anymore wives with the exception of concubines:

It is not allowed to you to take women afterwards, nor that you should change them for other wives, though their beauty be pleasing to you, except what your right hand possesses and Allah is Watchful over all things. Shakir

According to the late scholar Sayyid Abu Ala’ Maududi this Sura was compiled in A.H. 5 or A.D. 627/628:

Period of Revelation

The Surah discusses three important events which are: the Battle of the Trench (or Al-Ahzab: the Clans), which took place in Shawwal, A. H. 5; the raid on Bani Quraizah, which was made in Dhil-Qa’dah, A. H. 5; and the Holy Prophet’s marriage with Hadrat Zainab, which also was contracted in Dhil-Qa’dah, A. H. 5. These historical events accurately determine the period of the revelation of this Surah. (Source: https://www.englishtafsir.com/Quran/33/index.html)

Tabari stated that al-Muqawqis sent Mariyah as a gift to Muhammad in the year A.H. 7, or roughly two years after the composition of Sura 33. The following online source places Mariyah’s arrival to Medina after the signing of the treaty of Hudaibiyah, thereby implying that she arrived roughly around the time of A.H. 7:

Maria al-Qibtiyya 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 gave birth to a healthy 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. Even though he knew that his small son would go to the Garden, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) could not help shedding some tears. When some of his Companions asked him why he was weeping, he replied, “It is my humanness.” (Muhammad’s Life: The Wives of the Prophet Muhammad, “MARIA al-Qibtiyya” https://web.archive.org/web/20040829120622/weneedtounite.com/maria.htm; bold emphasis mine)

Thus, if Muhammad did marry Mariyah he did so in clear violation of the Quranic command forbidding him from taking any more wives!

Al-Maududi even emphatically denied that Mariyah was Muhammad’s wife:

(1) The woman who came into his possession from among the slave-girls granted by Allah. According to this the Holy Prophet selected for himself Hadrat Raihanah from among the prisoners of war taken at the raid against the Banu Quraizah. Hadrat Juwairiyyah from among the prisoners of war taken at the raid against the Bani al-Mustaliq, Hadrat Safiyyah out of the prisoners captured at Khaiber, and Hadrat Mariah the Copt who was presented by Maqauqis of Egypt. Out of these he set three of them free and married them, but had conjugal relations with Mariah on the ground of her being his slave-girl. In her case THERE IS NO PROOF that the Holy Prophet set her free and married her. (Maududi, The Meaning of the Qur’an, English rendered by the Late Ch. Muhammad Akbar, edited by A.A. Kamal, M.A. [Islamic Publications (Pvt.) Ltd., Lahore Pakistan, 4th edition, August 2003], Volume IV, fn. 88, p. 124 https://www.englishtafsir.com/Quran/33/index.html#sdfootnote88sym; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Sufi scholar G.F Haddad explains that a sex slave that has given birth to her master’s child doesn’t result in her being freed or being granted the status of a wife:

His and her desires, yes, but within certain parameters including rights. This will be detailed insha Allah. However, it seems that intercourse with slaves was probably considered a method of contraceptive sexual enjoyment through coitus interruptus (`azl), since the slave owner could practice `azl without prior permission from his slave mate while he could not do so with his free wife without prior permission from her. And if the contraception intended by this `azl failed and the slave woman still bore a child from her master, her child was automatically freed and obtained a son or daughter’s rights including inheritance. In addition, the mother herself could no longer be sold and was freed upon the owner’s death.

Yes, the word concubine literally means bed-mate and applies to any female slave that shares the bed of her master. The man is liable to support any child of his and whatever need of its mother that is related to that liability. He is not obliged to marry her but is definitely held to the responsibilities of a father including inheritability whether the mother is a Muslim or not, her child being Muslim. Nor is she entitled to any inheritance unless he decides to marry her AND she is Muslim. Allah knows best.

And:

I read that the Prophet had a male child from his slave (Mariah). Why should a married man have sex with a salve woman? Aren’t there limitations to sexual desire?

Precisely, these limitations are those mentioned by the Qur’an.

Doesn’t the slave have any rights?

Of course the slave has rights as we have already mentioned. In addition, in Islam, the slave even has rights to bring his or her owner before a law-court.

what happened to human rights in this whole scenario?

As we mentioned already, slavery and ransom were the alternatives to killing in war, but the slaves had to be fed and clothed with the same food and clothing as their owner, they could not be burdened with inhumane tasks, they could buy their freedoms, sue for their rights, and had other human rights that place Islamic ethics in the context of slavery above anything comparable in the ancient and modern worlds.

and when the slave gets pregnant there why doesn’t the man have to marry her?

She and her child do obtain other rights as already mentioned but this is not one of them. (Haddad, Sex with slaves and women’s rights https://web.archive.org/web/20040529103538/http://mac.abc.se/home/onesr/f/Sex_w.slaves.a.women.html; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Pay careful attention a sex slave isn’t freed just because she gives birth, only the child is free. She only becomes free when her master dies, a position which is supported by the following Islamic narrations:

Section: Idda of an Umm Walad when Her Master Dies Yahya related to me from Malik that Yahya ibn Said said that he had heard al-Qasim ibn Muhammad say that Zayd ibn Abd al-Malik separated some men and their wives who were slave-girls who had borne children to men who had died, because they had married them after one or two menstrual periods. He separated them until they had done an idda of four months and ten days. Al-Qasim ibn Muhammad said, “Glory be to Allah! Allah says in His Book, ‘Those of you who die, leaving wives, THEY ARE NOT WIVES.’” (Malik’s Muwatta, Book 29, Number 29.30.91https://sunnah.com/urn/512540; capital emphasis mine)

Since umm walads (“mother of children”) are not wives they do not have to observe the iddah, or waiting period, prescribed by the Quran for widows:

108 Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that the Messenger of Allah visited Umm Salama while she was in mourning for Abu Salama and she had put aloes on her eyes. He said, “What is this, Umm Salama?” She said, “It is only aloes, Messenger of Allah.” He said, “Put it on at night and wipe it off in the daytime.”

Malik said, “The mourning of a young girl who has not yet had a menstrual period takes the same form as the mourning of one who has had a period. She avoids what a mature woman avoids if her husband dies.”

Malik said, “A slave-girl mourns her husband when he dies for two months and five nights like her idda.”

Malik said, “An umm walad does not have to mourn when her master dies, and a slave-girl does not have to mourn when her master dies. Mourning is for those with husbands.” (Malik’s Muwatta, Book 29, Number 29.33.108 https://sunnah.com/urn/512720; bold emphasis mine)

Note that because an umm walad wasn’t married to the father of her child she wasn’t required to mourn his death.

This next narration says that an umm walad only goes free when her master dies:

Section: Freeing Slaves who are Umm Walad and a General Chapter on Freeing

Malik related to me from Nafi from Abdullah ibn Umar that Umar ibn al-Khattab said, “If a slave-girl gives birth to a child by her master, he must not sell her, give her away, or bequeath her. He enjoys her and when he dies she is free.” (Malik’s Muwatta, Book 38, Number 38.5.6  https://sunnah.com/urn/514700)

The foregoing presupposes that a man wasn’t required to marry a concubine that had mothered his child, but could continue to keep her as a slave until he died. Basically this means that Mariyah didn’t automatically become free when she birthed Muhammad’s son, and could still be kept as his slave until he died.

Yet even after he died Mariyah was still not free to remarry since the Quran prohibited any man from marrying or sleeping with Muhammad’s women:

O you who believe! do not enter the houses of the Prophet unless permission is given to you for a meal, not waiting for its cooking being finished — but when you are invited, enter, and when you have taken the food, then disperse — not seeking to listen to talk; surely this gives the Prophet trouble, but he forbears from you, and Allah does not forbear from the truth And when you ask of them any goods, ask of them from behind a curtain; this is purer for your hearts and (for) their hearts; and it does not behoove you that you should give trouble to the Apostle of Allah, nor that you should marry his wives after him ever; surely this is grievous in the sight of Allah. S. 33:53 Shakir

Although the text says wives, this would also include his female slaves since no Muslim would dare sleep with women whom their prophet had been sexually intimate with.

FURTHER READING

MORE PROOFS THAT MARIYAH WAS MUHAMMAD’S SEX SLAVE

Mary, Muhammad’s concubine 

Round Two 

Round Three 

Round Four

Round Five

One thought on “MARY THE COPT: MUHAMMAD’S SEX SLAVE

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