More discussion on Mary the Copt, Muhammad’s concubine

Sam Shamoun

Umar has come out with round five in his series of responses to the question of whether Mariyah the Copt was Muhammad’s wife or his concubine. Although we had stated that our fourth response would be our final one since Umar didn’t introduce anything new or relevant to the discussion, but merely repeated himself ad nauseam, we have decided to address some aspects of his current rebuttal since he did manage to introduce a few new arguments.

But before addressing his new claims we want to first expose Umar’s deliberate misrepresentation of our purpose in writing an article that discussed the status of Mariyah. Sensing that he is fighting a losing battle Umar gets desperate and decides to attack a straw man:

In this article, we will ignore the usual "He Wrote" "My Response" arguments and just focus on the facts. First however, I should make clear that in all of Sam Shamoun's rebuttals to me, nowhere could he help and defend the original argument of the alleged story of Hafsa (R) running into the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S) with Mariyah (R). Instead, he rather argues from the view that Mariyah (R) is the Holy Prophet (S) slave. We never denied that there is evidence that Islamic sources say Mariyah (R) was a slave of the Prophet (S), however, I would like to apologize firstly because I made it look as if that evidence never mattered. It was not good for me to do that, and the Muslim thing to do was admit one was wrong, and I have no problem to admit infront of the masses that I made a mistake.


We will prove new evidence in this article that was never provided in the older ones, as well as the previous sources cited to prove our point. Please note again, nowhere in Sam Shamoun's articles does he defend the story of Hafsa running into the Holy Prophet (S), rather he argues by just saying Mariyah was the Prophet (S) concubine. Allah SWT only knows why Sam Shamoun would have a problem with this seeing that even YHWH told the Jews to take the spoils for themselves (the slaves), and David (A) had many concubines. Thus, Sam Shamoun not only insulted his own God by arguing its wrong to have a slave (after throwing a lot of negative image on Mariyah), but he insulted the Prophets of God. So we thank Shamoun, for proving our point that the story in Ibn Sa'd's work cited by Ali Sina is false, since he couldn't prove otherwise. Now continuing with the article.

Umar is deceiving his readers by distorting the facts of the matter. The readers may recall that Umar was responding to this article.

Here is what I said regarding my purpose in writing this rebuttal:

It has become quite popular for Muslims to slander Ali Sina, the founder of, by accusing him of being a liar or an Islamophobe because he supposedly distorts Muslim sources. For example, this following article was written to "expose" Ali Sina’s "lie" that Muhammad had intercourse with Mariyah the Copt, "one of the prophet’s wives’ maids", specifically Hafsa’s maid(*), without being properly married to her: …

So this Muslim ADMITS that if Mr. Sina were right that Mariyah was ONLY A MAID, then there would be a problem, thereby vindicating Mr. Sina. Fair enough.

Another Muslim writes (quite passionately I might add): …

However, both of these Muslim reactions PROTEST AGAINST THE STATEMENT THAT SHE WAS ONLY A SLAVE OR MAID, and instead claim that she was Muhammad’s wife. Sina made a mistake. Mariyah was not Hafsa’s maid, she was Muhammad’s slave girl. But those Muslims do not attack this mistake, i.e. whose maid she was, but attack the claim that she was only a concubine and not a proper wife.

Are these Muslims correct that Mariyah WASN’T A MAID AT ALL? Is it true that Mariyah was Muhammad’s wife AND NOT HIS CONCUBINE? Or could it be THAT THESE MUSLIMS ARE NOT REVEALING EVERYTHING by quoting only partially what is found in the early sources of Islam? …

Since we have documented that Mariyah was indeed Muhammad’s maid, his slave or concubine, this means that we certainly do have a problem. Mr. Sina stands vindicated at least in regard to her status as a maid, even though he mistakenly assumed that she was Hafsah’s maid. (Emphasis added)

As the readers can clearly see, I never claimed that I was setting out to prove whether the story of Hafsa catching Muhammad sleeping with Mariyah on the day designated to her was true. Rather, my purpose was to show that the accusations of these Muslims that Ali Sina was somehow lying or distorting the facts for claiming that Mariyah was a slave was itself a distortion since there are plenty of Islamic sources that say she was Muhammad’s concubine. I even repeated this in my first rebuttal to Umar:

Finally, EVEN IF Muhammad had set her free at some later time he still slept with her while she was a slave for a considerable time. He did not marry her and then have intercourse with her, but FIRST had intercourse with her without being properly married. The original claim was that Muhammad slept with a maid. And that is true, even if Muhammad changed the matter of her status later on. However, reading the Muslim sources carefully, it seems that he never set her free while alive, but she only became free after his death. Yet, what did that freedom mean if she was not able to marry and have a family? …

  1. Umar writes a response citing references to show that Mariyah was Muhammad’s wife, as if this somehow is relevant in refuting my article even though I never denied that there were sources stating this point. In fact, my article was written to balance out the one sided Muslim presentations of Bahagia and Zawadi who chose to focus only on those sources affirming Mariyah’s status as a wife. Therefore, Umar's response is nothing more than a red herring, a straw man. (Source; our emphasis)

As if this wasn’t clear enough I repeated it again in my third response:

Moreover, despite the fact that the data overwhelmingly supports the position that Mariyah was Muhammad’s slave, not his wife, that is still not the real issue. As we have seen throughout these series of exchanges there are Muslim sources which do say that Muhammad married Mariyah.

Here is the real issue: Recall that in our initial and first rebuttal we were addressing the assertions of two Muslims who DENIED that Mariyah was Muhammad’s slave… Hence, the issue at hand is whether there is evidence from Islamic sources which emphatically say that Muhammad never married Mariyah and that she remained his slave until he died. As we have demonstrated, and as Umar himself had to concede, there is plenty of evidence for this view. These Muslims were therefore wrong for claiming otherwise or for selectively choosing data which supported their position while ignoring other references which disagreed with their claim. THAT WAS THE POINT OF OUR REBUTTAL. Whether Mariyah was Muhammad’s slave or his wife, or even a slave whom he later married, is beside the point. (Source; emphasis ours)

Even more, in my first article I did not condemn Muhammad for having a slave whom he had sex with. I did not say that Muhammad could not be a prophet because he had a concubine. It was actually one of the Muslims I was responding to who asserted that what Muhammad did would be a problem if in fact Mariyah were his slave.(1) See the above quotes for the details.

The thesis of that article was very simple. Some Muslims denied that Mariyah was a slave and claimed she was his wife, and they accused Ali Sina to be a liar for claiming that she was a concubine. I responded to that attack by providing plenty of evidence from the Islamic sources that Mariyah had the status of a slave, not a proper wife. My response had only the purpose of giving a clarification of this fact. I have written many articles where I present reasons why Muhammad could not be a prophet from God. This article is not one of them. The point of the article was not that I had a problem with Muhammad having a concubine, but that I had a problem with some Muslims calling Ali Sina a liar for claiming Mariyah was a slave despite the fact that this is stated all over the Muslim sources. Despite the claim of Umar, in my response I did not make any argument that it is wrong to have a maid. Thus, Umar’s charge is a misrepresentation of my article, and it is a straw man argument to bring up the question of David’s concubines and the existence of slaves in the Old Testament.

But since Umar wants me to prove that Hafsa did catch Muhammad with Mariyah I am only too willing to oblige. Here is a host of Muslim sources that affirm that Hafsah caught Muhammad in her house with Mariyah, with some of them also claiming that Q. 66:1-5 was "revealed" in connection with this event:

O Prophet! Why do you prohibit what God has made lawful for you, in terms of your Coptic handmaiden Mariya - when he lay with her in the house of Hafsa, who had been away, but who upon returning [and finding out] became upset by the fact that this had taken place in her own house and on her own bed - by saying, 'She is unlawful for me!', seeking, by making her unlawful [for you], to please your wives? And God is Forgiving, Merciful, having forgiven you this prohibition. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; bold and italic emphasis ours)

Verily God has prescribed, He has made lawful, for you [when necessary] the absolution of your oaths, to absolve them by expiation, as mentioned in the surat al-Ma'ida [Q. 5:89] and the forbidding of [sexual relations with] a handmaiden counts as an oath, so did the Prophet (s) expiate? Muqatil [b. Sulayman] said, 'He set free a slave [in expiation] for his prohibition of Mariya'; whereas al-Hasan [al-Basri] said, 'He never expiated, because the Prophet (s) has been forgiven [all errors]'. And God is your Protector, your Helper, and He is the Knower, the Wise. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; bold and italic emphasis ours)

And, mention, when the Prophet confided to one of his wives, namely, Hafsa, a certain matter, which was his prohibition of Mariya, telling her: 'Do not reveal it!'; but when she divulged it, to 'A’isha, reckoning there to be no blame in [doing] such a thing, and God apprised him, He informed him, of it, of what had been divulged, he announced part of it, to Hafsa, and passed over part, out of graciousness on his part. So when he told her about it, she said, 'Who told you this?' He said, 'I was told by the Knower, the Aware', namely, God. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; bold and italic emphasis ours)

If the two of you, namely, Hafsa and 'A’isha, repent to God … for your hearts were certainly inclined, towards the prohibition of Mariya, that is to say, your keeping this secret despite [knowing] the Prophet's (s) dislike of it, which is itself a sin (the response to the conditional ['if the two of you repent to God'] has been omitted, to be understood as, 'it will be accepted of both of you'; the use of [the plural] qulub, 'hearts', instead of [the dual] qalbayn, 'both [your] hearts', is on account of the cumbersomeness of putting two duals together in what is effectively the same word); and if you support one another (tazzahara: the original second ta' [of tatazahara] has been assimilated with the za'; a variant reading has it without [this assimilation, tazahara]) against him, that is, the Prophet, in what he is averse to, then [know that] God, He (huwa, [a pronoun] for separation) is indeed his Protector, His supporter, and Gabriel, and the righteous among the believers, Abu Bakr and 'Umar, may God be pleased with both of them (wa-Jibrilu wa-salihu'l-mu'minina is a supplement to the [syntactical] locus of the subject of inna [sc. 'God']), who will [also] be his supporters, and the angels furthermore, further to the support of God and those mentioned, are his supporters, assistants of his, in supporting him [to prevail] over both of you. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said regarding the interpretation of Allah's saying (O Prophet!): '(O Prophet!) i.e. Muhammad (pbuh). (Why bannest thou that which Allah hath made lawful for thee) i.e. marrying Maria the Copt, the Mother of Ibrahim; that is because he had forbidden himself from marrying her, (seeking to please thy wives) seeking the pleasure of your wives 'A'ishah and Hafsah by forbidding yourself from marrying Maria the Copt? (And Allah is Forgiving) He forgives you, (Merciful) about that oath. (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn ‘Abbs; source; bold and italic emphasis ours)

(Allah hath made lawful for you (Muslims) absolution from your oaths (of such a kind)) and so the Prophet (pbuh) absolved himself from his oath and married Maria the Copt, (and Allah is your Protector) and Helper. (He is the Knower) He knows that you forbade yourself Maria the Copt, (the Wise) in that which He enjoined about the expiation of oaths. (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn ‘Abbs; source; bold and italic emphasis ours)

(When the Prophet confided a fact unto one of his wives) i.e. Hafsah (and when she afterward divulged it) Hafsah divulged to 'A'ishah what the Prophet (pbuh) told her in confidence (and Allah apprised him thereof) and Allah informed him that Hafsah informed 'A'ishah, (he made known (to her) part thereof) part of what she said to 'A'ishah regarding the leadership of Abu Bakr and 'Umar; and it is said: about seeing Maria the Copt on his own (and passed over part) he did not mention making forbidding Maria the Copt on himself nor what he told her concerning the leadership of Abu Bakr and 'Umar after him, for he did not reproach him for this. (And when he told it her) when the Prophet (pbuh) informed Hafsah about what she said to 'A'ishah (she said) Hafsah said: (Who hath told thee) that I informed 'A'ishah? (He said) the Prophet (pbuh) said: (The Knower, the Aware hath told me) what you divulged to 'A'ishah. (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn ‘Abbs; ; bold and italic emphasis ours)

Their Rebellion

One day Hafsah went to her father's house complaining about this situation. While the Prophet was in her room, Mariyah came to him and stayed with him some time. Upon Hafsah's return she found the Prophet and Mariyah in her quarters and, as she waited for them to come out, her jealousy broke all bounds. When, finally, Mariyah left the quarters and Hafsah entered, she said to the Prophet: "I have seen who was here. By God, that was an insult to me. You would not have dared do that if I amounted to anything at all in your eyes." At the moment Muhammad realized that such deep-lying jealousy might even move Hafsah to broadcast what she had seen among the other wives. In an attempt to please her, Muhammad promised that he would not go unto Mariyah if she would only refrain from broadcasting what she had seen. Hafsah promised to comply. However, she could not keep her promise as jealousy continued to affect her disposition. Hence, she intimated the secret to `A'ishah, who in turn reported it to the Prophet. He took it as evidence of Hafsah's failure to keep her promise. Perhaps the affair did not stop with Hafsah and `A'ishah but spread to the other wives. Perhaps, too, all of them had noticed the high esteem in which Mariyah was held and sympathized with `A'ishah and Hafsah's opposition to the Prophet. There is nothing unusual in the whole story, such gossip and petty jealousies being commonplace between man and his many wives. A man's affection belongs where he puts it within his household, and the controversy which the daughters of Abu Bakr and 'Umar had woven around the Prophet's affection for Mariyah was utterly groundless. Previously we had seen that some disaffection had risen between the Prophet and his wives on various occasions because of the pocket money he allocated to them, or because of the honey Zaynab used to serve. Therefore, they had all the more reason to feel slighted and no little alienated when they discovered their husband's inclination toward 'A'ishah or his esteem for Mariyah.

An explosion was soon to come. One day, while the Prophet was staying with 'A'ishah, his other wives delegated Zaynab, daughter of Jahsh, to go in and, in their name, to accuse him of injustice and unfairness to them, and to plead that his love for `A'ishah was a violation of the code which he himself had set down of a day and night for each of his wives. On the other hand, realizing that the Prophet did not care very much for her charms, and being no longer anxious to please him, Sawdah had given up her day and night to `A'ishah. But Zaynab was not satisfied with expressing the other wives' indignation at this apparent injustice. She attacked `A'ishah personally. The latter was anxious to defend herself, but kept still in response to the Prophet's reconciliating pleas. Seeing that `A'ishah was defenseless, Zaynab went to excess in her accusations, and the Prophet finally had to permit his favorite wife to take her defense into her own hands. `A'ishah spoke out with great eloquence in refuting Zaynab's claims. The Prophet listened with obvious satisfaction and admired the perspicacity of Abu Bakr's daughter.

Indeed, favoritism for some of his wives had created such controversy and antagonism among the "Mothers of the Believers" that Muhammad once thought of divorcing some of them, but they soon agreed to let him distribute his favors as he pleased. When Mariyah gave birth to Ibrahim, their jealousy was at its strongest, especially in the case of `A'ishah. Certainly, Muhammad's leniency and gentleness encouraged rebellion, and the new status which he had conferred upon women in society fanned their vanity. Muhammad, however, was not free to spend his time dealing with household problems. The need soon came to be felt for a decisive lesson to reestablish discipline and to liberate him for teaching the message and fulfilling the mission of his prophethood. Hence, he decided to ignore his wives and, indeed, to threaten them with divorce. A lesson had to be taught to them, and the time had apparently come for a decision. Either these women were to return to reason or they would be given their freedom in a mutually convenient divorce.

The Prophet's Separation from His Wives

Muhammad isolated himself from all his women for a full month and refused to talk about them to anyone. Nor did anyone dare talk to him concerning them. During this month, his mind was absorbed by his mission and the requirement of carrying the message of Islam beyond the Arabian Peninsula. Abu Bakr, `Umar, and his other in-laws as well, were deeply concerned over the sad fate that awaited the "Mothers of the Believers" now that they had exposed themselves to the anger of the Prophet and the consequent punishment of God. It was even said that Muhammad had divorced Hafsah, `Umar's daughter, after she had divulged the secret she had promised to keep. The marketplace of Madinah hummed with rumors about the impending divorce of the Prophet's wives. The wives, for their part, were repentent and apprehensive. They regretted that their jealousy of one another had carried them away, that they had abused and harmed their gentle husband who was to each one of them at all times an elder brother, a compassionate father, a nearest kin, and the best of everything that might be hoped for in this life and the next. Muhammad spent most of his time in a storeroom he owned, placing his servant Rabah at its doorstep as long as he was inside. Therein he used to sleep on a very hard bed of coarse date branches. (Muhammad Husayn Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, tran. Isma'il Raji al-Faruqi [American Trust Publications, USA 1976; Malaysian edition by Islamic Book Trust], pp. 436-438; source)


The Judgment of Critical Historiography

In my opinion, the foregoing is the true account of the story of Muhammad's self-imposed isolation from his wives, of the choice he gave them, of the incidents which led to his isolation as well as of its causes and consequences. This account is confirmed by all the evidence of the books of Qur'anic exegesis and of Hadith, as well as by the accounts of various biographies. The fact remains, however, that not one of these biographies has presented all these data in the proper sequence, beginning with the causes and ending with the consequences in the manner we have done here. Most of the biographers have passed by this matter too quickly and too simplistically. They give the impression that they found the material too rough to handle. Some accounts have pondered the story of the honey and maghafir at length but have omitted to point to the affair of Hafsah and Mariyah. As for the Orientalists, they regard the story of Hafsah and Mariyah and the former's divulgence to `A'ishah of the secret she promised to keep as the cause of all that had happened. Their purpose is precisely to add to their already alienated readers further occasion to condemn the Arab Prophet by presenting him as a shameless runner after women. It is also my considered opinion that the Muslim historians are not justified in ignoring these incidents, or in omitting to examine all the data available with a view to giving them an objective interpretation. That is what we have sought to do here, though only in part. While the mistake of the Muslim historians was to underestimate the importance of these events, that of the western Orientalists is to exaggerate their importance, to violate historiographic precision, and to vent their Christian prejudice. Genuine historical criticism will not attribute to any man as great as Muhammad such a petty conduct as would be implied by referring his self-imposed exile solely to Hafsah's divulgence of a domestic secret to `A'ishah. In fact, Muhammad had nothing to hide since the women in question were all his own legitimate wives. Indeed, whatever the nature of that domestic secret, it is too insignificant to cause Muhammad to threaten to divorce all his wives. Genuine historical criticism would also refuse to explain these events as due to the "honey" affair. A man as great, forbearing, and compassionate as Muhammad, as all historians and biographers acknowledge, would not regard such incidents as justifying a whole month's isolation, let alone divorce. The critical attitude is satisfied only when all these incidents are arranged in such historical sequence as would not violate the causal interrelationships between them. Only such history-writing satisfies the requirements of objectivity and presents its data as elements in factual interrelationships acceptable to reason. The arrangement we have given these events seems to us to have achieved precisely this, and to accord perfectly with what is known of Muhammad's wisdom, greatness, determination and farsightedness. (Ibid., 440-441)

Muhammad's personal and family life were not always smooth. His wives sometimes bickered amongst themselves and even once engaged in a petty plot against him. A'ishah, for example, disliked her Jewish co-wife, Safiyah, and insulted her periodically. Muhammad had to defend her status and honor a number of times and scold the youthful A'ishah. Hafsah became jealous of her co-wife, Maria, when she found her and Muhammad resting[sic] in her apartment one day. Sawdah gave up her allotted day with the Prophet when she realized he was not really attracted to her. As for the conspiracy, A'ishah agreed with two other co-wives to convince the Prophet that eating honey made him unpleasant to be around. When Muhammad vowed to never eat honey again, she privately repented to her co-conspirators. Though these incidents were not the norm, they demonstrate that the women in Muhammad's life were as human as the rest of us. (Yahiya Emerick, Critical Lives: Muhammad [Alpha Books, A Member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2002], p. 263; underline emphasis ours)

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.") (Shaykh Gibril F Haddad, Was Mariya al-Qibtiyya ever a spouse?; source; bold an italic emphasis ours)

And now our final quote:

'Umar told the whole story (about his wife). "On that the Prophet smiled." 'Umar further said, "I then said, 'I went to Hafsa and said to her: Do not be tempted to imitate your companion ('Aisha) for she is more beautiful than you and more beloved to the Prophet.' The Prophet smiled again. When I saw him smiling, I sat down and cast a glance at the room, and by Allah, I couldn't see anything of importance but three hides. I said (to Allah's Apostle) "Invoke Allah to make your followers prosperous for the Persians and the Byzantines have been made prosperous and given worldly luxuries, though they do not worship Allah?' The Prophet was leaning then (and on hearing my speech he sat straight) and said, 'O Ibn Al-Khattab! Do you have any doubt (that the Hereafter is better than this world)? These people have been given rewards of their good deeds in this world only.' I asked the Prophet . 'Please ask Allah's forgiveness for me. The Prophet did not go to his wives because of the secret which Hafsa had disclosed to 'Aisha, and he said that he would not go to his wives for one month as he was angry with them when Allah admonished him (for his oath that he would not approach Maria). When twenty-nine days had passed, the Prophet went to Aisha first of all. She said to him, 'You took an oath that you would not come to us for one month, and today only twenty-nine days have passed, as I have been counting them day by day.' The Prophet said, 'The month is also of twenty-nine days.' That month consisted of twenty-nine days. 'Aisha said, 'When the Divine revelation of Choice was revealed, the Prophet started with me, saying to me, 'I am telling you something, but you needn't hurry to give the reply till you can consult your parents." 'Aisha knew that her parents would not advise her to part with the Prophet. The Prophet said that Allah had said:-- (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 43, Number 648)

The parenthetical comments of Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, the translator of al-Bukhari’s work in English, presupposes that this hadith refers to the incident between Hafsah and Mariyah. Khan obviously accepts that Muhammad did make a promise to Hafsah after she had caught him with Mariyah.

Moreover, Umar must have forgotten that we had actually quoted his own article to show that Ali Sina’s assertion (*) regarding Mariyah being Hafsa’s maid was essentially correct:

What makes this all the more interesting is that Umar, in his latest rebuttal, has actually come to vindicate Sina and provided support for his statements. Umar quotes his brother Karim who says:

Brother Karim replies to this already, here is his response:

" Actually Shamoun doesn't understand that the Prophet was fair in dealing with his wifes[sic], since the Quran commands Muslim men who are married to more then one wife, to deal fair/equal and just with them. The Prophet's wifes[sic] had each an own house/ livingroom, and the Prophet gave each wife a day of the week, for example the Prophet spend time with aicha[sic] together on friday, and on saterday[sic] he spend time with Safiyya. So the prophet could very well for example on sunday spend his time with his wife Mariyah. So the fact that a wife doesn't live in the same street of the prophet doesn't mean she can never be his wife. Actually a slave has to work for the household, which means for the man and woman of the house (many hadith bear witness to this) , so if Mariyah was slave, IT MEANS SHE ALSO HAD TO WORK FOR THE PROPHET’S WIFES[SIC], IF THEY AKSED[SIC] HER TO DO SOMETHING IN THE HOUSE OR ON THE LAND. So Mariyah could never be the Prophet's slave, since she couldn't do any work for the prophet and his wifes[sic]. However the prophet as her husband could easily spend one day of the week with mariya, as her husband"

We repeat the relevant portion for all to see the slip made by the authors:


What this essentially means is that Mariyah was not only Muhammad’s slave but the servant of all of his wives as well, WHICH BASICALLY IMPLIES THAT SHE WAS ALSO HAFSA’S SLAVE! These authors have now vindicated Ali Sina, proving that he was correct to identify Mariyah as Hafsa’s maid! After all, if she were obligated to serve his wives then she would have been a servant of Hafsa as well. (Source)

In light of the foregoing we want to personally thank Umar for allowing us another opportunity to expose him and to help vindicate Ali Sina.

As far as Yahweh sanctioning concubinage and captive women as spoils of war are concerned, these points have already been thoroughly addressed:

In fact, when we compare what the Bible has to say about these issues with the teachings of Muhammad:

We find that Muhammad once again fails the moral and ethical standards of the true God of the Holy Bible.

Umar makes another accusation:

(NOTE: It is indeed rather interesting that on the same page Sam Shamoun quotes, the author of the fatwa even refutes the baseless lie paraded by Shamoun and his crowd that Mariyah (R) is a sex slave by saying:

However, to regard Maariya al-Qibtiyyah as the sex slave of Rasulullah
(Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) as is presented by the west is a gross
misrepresentation of the noble personality of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi
Wasallam). Such statements are motivated by hatred and animosity
. Kindly
refer to the Polygamous Marriages

and Allah Ta'ala Knows Best

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

No explanation is given as to why this part of the Fatawa was cut off)

I am quite perplexed as to how the Mufti’s comments help Umar’s case when the former candidly admitted that Mariyah was Muhammad’s slave:

Maariya al-Qibtiyya WAS A SLAVE FEMALE and was given as a gift to Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) by the Roman king. She bore the son of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) who passed away during infancy.

However, to regard Maariya al-Qibtiyyah as the sex slave of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) as is presented by the west is a gross misrepresentation of the noble personality of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam). Such statements are motivated by hatred and animosity.

Now did Muhammad have sex with his slave Mariyah? Yes he did.

Wouldn’t this make her his sex slave? Yes it would, unless Umar wants us to believe that having a slave for sex doesn’t mean that she is a sex slave!

In light of this, isn’t it rather apparent that the Mufti’s denial that Mariyah was a sex slave is based more on wishful thinking and embarrassment rather than on the facts of the situation? It seems obvious that this is indeed the case, at least to those of us who have not been programmed into believing that Muhammad was a paradigm of moral virtue.

With this now behind us we can proceed to examine some of the new points Umar raised to support his view that Mariyah was Muhammad’s wife.

He says that:

In Islam, if a slave reverts to Islam, he or she is automatically freed. We know this because it is reported:

Sahih Muslim

Book 8, Number 1094:

Mu'awiya b. al-Hakam said: While I was praying with the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him), a man in the company sneezed. I said: Allah have mercy on you! The people stared at me with disapproving looks, so I said: Woe be upon me, why is it that you stare at me? They began to strike their hands on their thighs, and when I saw them urging me to observe silence (I became angry) but I said nothing. When the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) had said the prayer (and I declare that neither before him nor after him have I seen a leader who gave better instruction than he for whom I would give my father and mother as ransom), I swear that he did not scold, beat or revile me but said: Talking to persons is not fitting during the prayer, for it consists of glorifying Allah, declaring his Greatness, and recitation of the Qur'an or words to that effect. I said: Messenger of Allah. I was till recently a pagan, but Allah has brought Islam to us; among us there are men who have recourse to Kahins. He said: Do not have recourse to them. I said. There are men who take omens. That is something which they find in their breasts, but let it not turn their way (from freedom of action). I said: Among us there are men who draw lines. He said: There was a prophet who drew lines, so if they do it as they did, that is allowable. I had a maid-servant who tended goats by the side of Uhud and Jawwaniya. One day I happened to pass that way and found that a wolf had carried a goat from her flock. I am after all a man from the posterity of Adam. I felt sorry as they (human beings) feel sorry. So I slapped her. I came to the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) and felt (this act of mine) as something grievous I said: Messenger of Allah, should I not grant her freedom? He (the Holy Prophet) said: Bring her to me. So I brought her to him. He said to her: Where is Allah? She said: He is in the heaven. He said: Who am I? She said: Thou art the Messenger of Allah. He said: Grant her freedom, she is a believing woman.

Umar also quoted Abdul Hameed Siddiqui who stated that some captives who embraced Islam were set free. Umar wishes to conclude from this that Mariyah couldn’t have been a slave since she embraced Islam, or that she was freed after converting.

The readers will recall our repeated assertion that Umar’s rebuttals introduce more problems than solutions since he manages to expose how truly chaotic and contradictory the sources of Islam happen to be. His claim that Muslims were to set free any of the captives that converted is another example of this point.

After all, if converts had to be freed by the Muslims then how does Umar explain the fact that the Quran refers to believing slaves, that there were Muslims who were slaves to other Muslims? Note, for instance, the following quotes:

And do not marry the idolatresses until they believe, and certainly a believing maid is better than an idolatress woman, even though she should please you; and do not give (believing women) in marriage to idolaters until they believe, and certainly a believing servant (la‘abdum-mu’minun) is better than an idolater, even though he should please you; these invite to the fire, and Allah invites to the garden and to forgiveness by His will, and makes clear His communications to men, that they may be mindful. S. 2:221 Arberry

Any one of you who has not the affluence to be able to marry believing freewomen in wedlock, let him take believing handmaids that your right hands own; God knows very well your faith; the one of you is as the other. So marry them, with their people's leave, and give them their wages honourably as women in wedlock, not as in licence or taking lovers. But when they are in wedlock, if they commit indecency, they shall be liable to half the chastisement of freewomen. That provision is for those of you who fear fornication; yet it is better for you to be patient. God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. S. 4:25 Arberry

The Quran is making it lawful for Muslims to marry a slave who happens to be a believer, i.e. one can marry a Muslim slave. But in order for a Muslim to be able to choose a spouse from among believing slaves there must have been Muslims who were slaves to begin with! Otherwise, how could anyone marry them if there were no Muslim slaves?

This is where the problem lies for Umar. Why would Muhammad automatically set free any slave who converted without demanding the same for the Muslim slaves? Isn’t this unfair and cruel to these Muslims? Why didn’t he exhort the free Muslims to release their believing slaves? It is to be noted that neither the Quran nor the Sunna of Muhammad make it mandatory to set slaves free:

A Muslim can choose to do so, but isn’t required to release their slaves.

Umar may wish to say that this rule only applied to the spoils of war, that only those slaves who were taken captive could be set free upon their conversion. But this, too, introduces problems for his entire position since Mariyah wasn’t from the spoils of war, she wasn’t a captive. Rather, she was a gift, a present, which al-Muqawqis of Egypt sent to Muhammad. Hence, if Umar does wish to raise this objection then this would only refute his claim that by converting to Islam Mariyah would have been set free since this rule only applies to captives of war.

Moreover, here is the real reason why the slave girl was set free:


Zadhan Abi Umar reported: I came to Ibn 'Umar as he had granted freedom to a stave. He (the narrator further) said: He took hold of a wood or something like it from the earth and said: It (freedom of a slave) has not the reward even equal to it, but the fact that I heard Allah's Messenger (way peace be upon him) say: he who slaps his slave or beats him, THE EXPIATION FOR IT IS THAT HE SHOULD SET HIM FREE. (Sahih Muslim, Book 015, Number 4078)

Zadhan reported that Ibn Umar called his slave and he found the marks (of beating) upon his back. He said to him: I have caused you pain. He said: No. But he (Ibn Umar) said: You are free. He then took hold of something from the earth and said: There is no reward for me even to the weight equal to it. I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: He who beats a slave without cognizable offence of his or slaps him (without any serious fault), THE EXPIATION FOR IT IS THAT HE SHOULD SET HIM FREE. (Sahih Muslim, Book 015, Number 4079)

Mu'awiya b. Suwaid reported: I slapped a slave belonging to us and then fled away. I came back just before noon and offered prayer behind my father. He called him (the slave) and me and said: Do as he has done to you. He granted pardon. He (my father) then said: We belonged to the family of Muqarrin during the lifetime of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him. and had only one slave-girl and one of us slapped her. This news reached Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) and he said: Set her free. They (the members of the family) said: There is no other servant except she. Thereupon he said: Then employ her and when you can afford to dispense with her services, then set her free. (Sahih Muslim, Book 015, Number 4081)

Hilal b. Yasaf reported that a person got angry and slapped his slave-girl. Thereupon Suwaid b. Muqarrin said to him: You could find no other part (to slap) but the prominent part of her face. See I was one of the seven sons of Muqarrin, and we had but only one slave-girl. The youngest of us slapped her, and Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) commanded us to set her free. (Sahih Muslim, Book 015, Number 4082)

Suwaid b. Muqarrin reported that he had a slave-girl and a person (one of the members of the family) slapped her, whereupon Suwaid said to him: Don't you know that it is forbidden (to strike the) face. He said: You see I was the seventh one amongst my brothers during the lifetime of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him), and we had but only one servant. One of us got enraged and slapped him. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) commanded us to set him free. (Sahih Muslim, Book 015, Number 4084)

Sidenote: Notice how the above two reports conflict with one another since they are unable to decide whether the slave was male or female!

Abu Mas'ud al-Ansari reported: When I was beating my servant, I heard a voice behind me (saying): Abu Mas'ud, bear in mind Allah has more dominance over you than you have upon him. I turned and (found him) to be Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). I said: Allah's Messenger, I set him free for the sake of Allah. Thereupon he said: Had you not done that, (the gates of) Hell would have opened for you, or the fire would have burnt you. (Sahih Muslim, Book 015, Number 4088)

Abu Mas'ud reported that he had been beating his slave and he had been saying: I seek refuge with Allah, but he continued beating him, whereupon he said: I seek refuge with Allah's Messenger, and he spared him. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: By Allah, God has more dominance over you than you have over him (the slave). He said that he set him free. This hadith has been narrated on the authority of Shu'ba with the same chain of transmitters, but made no mention of (these words) of his: I seek refuge with Allah, I seek refuge with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). (Sahih Muslim, Book 015, Number 4089)

In light of the foregoing we can now see why Muhammad demanded that Mu'awiya b. al-Hakam set his female slave free, not because she had converted to Islam but because he had abused a believing slave by slapping her in the face. (In order to be fair we must admit that this practice of Muhammad is admirable and shows that he had some concern for slaves, at least for the believing ones. It is rather unfortunate, however, that he didn’t extend that same concern to others, especially to those whom he took to be his enemies for rejecting his prophetic ambitions (1; 2).)

Unless Umar wants to argue that Muhammad similarly had to set free Mariyah because he had been beating her, the above traditions are simply not applicable to the case of Mariyah.

Umar then tries to use Muhammad commanding Mariyah to veil herself as further proof that she was his wife:

Mariyah (R) just like the other Mother of Believers was told to cover up. We know that the Mother of Believers did this because:

Sahih Muslim

Book 8, Number 3328:

Anas (Allah be pleased with him) reported: I was sitting behind Abu Talha on the Day of Khaibar and my feet touched the foot of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him), and we came (to the people of Khaibar) when the sun had risen and they had driven out their cattle, and had themselves come out with their axes, large baskets and hatchets, and they said: (Here come) Muhammad and the army. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Khaibar is ruined. Verily when we get down in the valley of a people, evil is the morning of the warned ones (al-Qur'an, xxxvii. 177). Allah, the Majestic and the Glorious, defeated them (the inhabitants of Khaibar), and there fell to the lot of Dihya a beautiful girl, and Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) got her in exchange of seven heads, and then entrusted her to Umm Sulaim so that she might embellish her and prepare her (for marriage) with him. He (the narrator) said: He had been under the impression that he had said that so that she might spend her period of 'Iddah in her (Umm Sulaim's) house. (The woman) was Safiyya daughter of Huyayy. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) arranged the wedding feast consisting of dates, cheese, and refined butter, and pits were dug and tiers were set in them dining cloths, and there was brought cheese and refined butter, and these were placed there. And the people ate to their fill, and they said: We do not know whether he (the Holy Prophet) had married her (as a free woman), or as a slave woman. They said: If he (the Holy Prophet) would make her wear the veil, then she would be a (free married) woman, and if he would not make her wear the veil, then she should be a slave woman. When he intended to ride, he made her wear the veil and she sat on the hind part of the camel; so they came to know that he had married her. As they approached Medina, Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) drove (his ride) quickly and so we did.' Adba' (the name of Allah's Apostle's camel) stumbled and Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) fell down and she (Radrat Safiyya: also fell down. He (the Holy Prophet) stood up and covered her. woman looked towards her and said: May Allah keep away the Jewess! He (the narrator) said: I said: Aba Hamza, did Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) really fall down? He said: Yes, by Allah, he in fact fell down. Anas said: I also saw the wedding feast of Zainab, and he (the Holy Prophet) served bread and meat to the people, and made them eat to their heart's content, and he (the Holy Prophet) sent me to call people, and as he was free (from the ceremony) he stood up and I followed him. Two persons were left and they were busy in talking and did not get out (of the apartment).He (the Holy Prophet) then proceeded towards (the apartments of) his wives. He greeted with as-Salamu 'alaikum to every one of them and said: Members of the household, how are you? They said: Messenger of Allah, we are in good state 'How do you find your family? He would say: In good state. When he was free from (this work of exchanging greetings) he came back, and I also came back along with him. And as he reached the door, (he found) that the two men were still busy in talking. And when they saw him having returned, they stood up and went out; and by Allah ! I do not know whether I had informed him, or there was a revelation to him (to the affect) that they had gone. He (the Holy Prophet) then came back and I also returned along with him, and as he put his step on the threshold of his door he hung a curtain between me and him, and (it was on this occasion) that Allah revealed this verse: ("O you who believe), do not enter the houses of the Prophet unless permission is given to 'you" (xxxiii. 53).

This hadith also says clearly that if she were to wear a veil, then she would be a freed woman, and married woman. Sheikh GF Haddad himself says:

1-     The Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, made her wear hijab (contrary to the normal ruling for slaves). (Source)

Sam Shamoun's own source even admits that Mariyah (R) wore a veil,

845. That is, Mariyah was ordered to veil herself as did the Prophet's wives, BUT HE DID NOT MARRY HER . (Ibid., p. 194) (Quoting from History of Al-Tabari)

Yet then concludes that "HE DID NOT MARRY HER"??!! This is another reason to believe that Mariyah (R) was most likely a freed woman, and a Wife of the Holy Prophet (S).

This argument, much like the prior one, also introduces some problems for Umar’s case. The Quran commands all the women of believers to cover themselves, not just the wives:

O Prophet! Tell your wives (li-azwajika) and your daughters and the women of the believers (wa nisa-i al-mumineena) to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever OftForgiving, Most Merciful. S. 33:59 Hilali-Khan

Note that the text refers to two distinct groups, i.e. Muhammad’s wives (azwaj) and the women (nisa) of believers, which can also be understood as a reference to believing women:

O Prophet, say to thy wives and daughters and the believing women, that they draw their veils close to them; so it is likelier they will be known, and not hurt. God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. Arberry

Now nisa, unlike azwaj, can refer to any women, whether wives, daughters, slaves etc., which implies that by women of the believers the Quran means the believers’ wives, daughters, concubines and so on. In fact, if the author of the Quran wanted to insure that the readers understood from this that only the wives of believers were being referred to then he could have applied the same term he used earlier in reference to Muhammad’s wives, i.e. azwaj. That he used a different word in the same context, as opposed to employing the identical word for wife which he had just used, strongly implies that by nisa the author intended to include all believing women irrespective of whether they are married or not. What this, therefore, implies is that the above passage is commanding all believing women to be covered, which would obviously include believing slaves as well.(2)

To show that this is not merely our interpretation note what the Muslim scholar Mufti Shafi Uthmani says here:

On the one hand, the Shari‘ah of Islam has maintained a difference between free women and bondwomen in the matter of Hijab. The limits of Hijab prescribed for bondwomen are the limits observed by the free women before their mahrams (marriage with whom is forbidden), for example, as leaving the face open before their mahrams is permissible for free women, the same was permissible for bondwomen even when they went out of their homes, because their job was to serve their masters, an occupation that took them out of the home repeatedly which made it difficult for them to keep their face and hands hidden. (Uthmani, Maariful Quran, Volume 7, p. 239; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

The Mufti basically admits that, even though there are some differences in ruling, both free and bondwomen are required to wear the veil or hijab. And since Mariyah was a believing slave who belonged to Muhammad she would also have to observe hijab without this necessarily implying that she had become his wife.

Now if the hadiths are teaching something contrary to the above, namely that slaves were not required to wear veils, then this only shows that Muhammad taught something contrary to the express teachings of the Quran. It provides further attestation that Muhammad didn’t follow the directives of his own Quran, see this section.

Interestingly, Umar provides another plausible explanation for the veiling of Mariyah which serves to refute his own case:

Let's even argue for arguments sake that Mariyah (R) was a slave. If this is the case, then she became an umm walad, and was freed. And the fact that she was even a slave woman, and she was possessed, it is amounted to marriage. Infact [sic], this is the view that Maududi, the same scholar which Sam Shamoun quoted supports:

"The proper granting of the rights of possession by the State is just as legal an action as marriage.  Therefore, a person who does not show the slightest aversion to marriage, there is no reasonable ground for him to show unnecessary aversion to living with a slave girl" (Tafhim-ul-Qur'an, Vol.1, under verse 4:24, p.340)


"He has, however, given fair chance to Maulana Maududi to present his case, who (Maududi) believes that when one becomes the owner of a slave girl, the mere fact of one's possessing her amounts to marriage with her-no formal matrimonial ceremony is needed at all."


Basically, what Maududi’s claim shows is that by being Muhammad’s intimate slave Mariyah would be treated as a wife, not that she became or was his spouse, and therefore explains why she would be commanded to observe the veil.

And since Umar again raises the issue of the status of an umm walad (a slave who mothers a child), an issue which we had addressed already in our previous rebuttals, we will briefly respond to it here. As we had documented elsewhere (*), Islamic law doesn’t make it obligatory for the master to marry a slave that gives birth to his child:

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 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. (Sex with slaves and women's rights, answered by Shaykh Gibril F Haddad; source; bold and italic emphasis ours)

Then what does it mean when certain Islamic narrations say that Mariyah’s son freed her? We will let the following Muslim answer that:

The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, mentioned two signs of the Hour. First, "That the female slave should give birth to her mistress." What is meant by mistress is her lady and her female owner. In the hadith of Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, there is, "her lord". This is an indication of the conquest of the lands and the great number of slaves gained so that female slaves and their children are in great numbers. The female slave is owned by her master, but his children by her are of his status, for the child of a master has the status of the master, and thus the female slave's child's status is that of her [his mother's] lord and master.
Al-Khattabi mentioned that some find a proof for the position they take that the slave-mother of the master's child is only set free at the expense of her child out of his portion from the inheritance of his father, and that her ownership is transferred to her children by inheritance and she is freed by them, and that she may be sold before the death of her owner, but he said, "There are views on this proof."

I say that some of them try to prove the opposite, that the slave-mother of the child is not sold and that she is freed on the death of her owner IN EVERY CASE, because he made the child of the slave-woman her owner, so that it is AS IF her child is the one who frees her and her becoming free is ascribed to him, because it is AS IF he were the cause of her being set free and so becomes AS IF he were her mawla [the master who had set her free]. This is like what is related of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, that he said about Mariyah, the mother of his child, when she gave birth to Ibrahim, peace be upon him, "Her son set her free."

Imam Ahmad sought a proof in this, for he said in the narration of Muhammad ibn al-Hakam from him, "That the slave woman gives birth to her mistress: i.e. there will be a great number of slave-mothers of children by their masters," saying, "When she gives birth she is freed because of her child," and he said, "In it there is a proof that the slave-mothers of children by their masters may not be sold."
His words, "The slave-woman gives birth to her mistress" has been explained as meaning that trade in slaves will increase so much that a daughter will be transported for the sake of trade and later freed, and then later her mother will be transported for the sake of trade and the daughter will buy her and make use of her services unaware that she is her own mother, and this has indeed happened in Islam. (The Jibril Hadith Explained - Essentials of Islam, Iman & Ihsan, answered by Imam Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali; source; bold, capital and italic emphasis ours)

This explains what Mariyah’s son setting her free means, i.e. she gave birth to a free child who could use his inheritance to emancipate her.

Others took this to mean that the birth of the child meant that Mariyah could not be sold and would automatically go free upon the death of her master. In the words of Shaykh G.F. Haddad:

3- When Ibrahim, alyhi as-Salam, was born the Prophet said of her, upon him blessings and peace: "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, upon him blessings and peace.) (Haddad, Was Mariya al-Qibtiyya ever a spouse?; source; bold, capital and italic emphasis ours)

Moreover, the very fact that Mariyah’s son Ibrahim is said to have freed her proves that she wasn’t Muhammad’s wife, but his slave for all those years leading up to the birth of the child!

What makes this rather amusing is that Umar quotes the Muslim translator of Ibn Sa‘ad’s work Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir:

"Handmaids gained the status of wedded wives if they bore children. They were called umm walad and became free."

(Source: Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir by Ibn Sa'd, translated by S. Moinul Haq p. 152, Vol. I, Parts I&II)

But didn’t bother to produce what Ibn Sa‘ad himself said regarding this matter:

He (Ibn Sa‘d) said: Muhammad Ibn ‘Umar informed us: Ya‘qub Ibn Muhammad Ibn Abi Sa‘sa‘ah informed us on the authority of ‘Abd Allah Ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman Ibn Abi Sa‘sa‘ah; he said: The Apostle of Allah liked Mariyah who was of white complexion and curly hair and pretty. The Apostle of Allah lodged her and her sister with Umm Sulaym Bint Milhan. Then he went there and asked them to embrace Islam, and they joined the fold of Islam. Then he cohabited with Mariyah AS A HANDMAID and sent her to al-‘Aliyah to his property which he acquired from Banu al-Nadir; here she lived in summer. She also lived at Khurafat al-Nakhl. He (Prophet) visited it her there and she was faithful in her (new) creed… and Mariyah bore a male child to the Apostle of Allah… He gave him the name of Ibrahim… The wives of the Apostle of Allah became jealous and it was unbearable for them that she gave birth to a male child. (bn Sa‘ad's Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, Volume I, Parts I & II, English translation by S. Moinul Haq, M.A., PH.D assisted by H.K. Ghazanfar M.A. [Kitab Bhavan Exporters & Importers, 1784 Kalan Mahal, Daryaganj, New Delhi - 110 002 India], pp. 151-152; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

Ibn Sa‘ad expressly stated that Mariyah was a handmaid, not a wife! It is little wonder that Umar didn’t bother quoting him.

Umar erroneously assumes that since Mariyah’s grave was located in the same place where Muhammad’s wives were buried this somehow proves that she too was his wife:

It is reported that the graves for the Wives of the Holy Prophet (S) were at a place called Al-Baqi:

Sahih al-Bukhari

Volume 2, Book 23, Number 474:

Narrated 'Urwa:

When the wall fell on them (i.e. graves) during the caliphate of Al-Walid bin 'Abdul Malik, the people started repairing it, and a foot appeared to them. The people got scared and thought that it was the foot of the Prophet. No-one could be found who could tell them about it till I ('Urwa) said to them, "By Allah, this is not the foot of the Prophet but it is the foot of Umar." Aisha narrated that she made a will to 'Abdullah bin Zubair, "Do not bury me with them (the Prophet and his two companions) but bury me with my companions (wives of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) ) in Al-Baqi as I would not like to be looked upon as better than I really am (by being buried near the Prophet)."

Yet, we also know that Mariyah (R) was also buried there, as Sheikh GF Haddad says:

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. Allah be well-pleased with her. (Source)

And, the scholars of say:

After her death, `Umar ibn al-Khattab - the second caliph -led her funeral prayer and she was buried in al-Baqi, like many other companions and the rest of the wives of the prophet. Because she was the prophet's wife and the mother of his son Ibrahim, Caliph Mu`awiyah ibn abi-Sufyan exempted her hometown in Egypt from taxation, as a sign of honor. (Source)

Umar’s point is simply non sequitur since, as even the above quotes show, Muhammad’s wives weren’t the only ones buried at this location; so were some of his companions:

Al-Baqi` is the principal cemetery of the people of Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah and has been so since the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Of all of the historic places in Madinah, it is the closest to Al-Masjid An-Nabawi (the Prophet’s Mosque). It is located opposite the southeastern section of the wall of the masjid. Recently, some contiguous property was added to it to increase the land area available for burials… This cemetery has been the final resting place of the residents of Madinah, as well as those of nearby neighboring areas and of visitors, since the time of Hijrah. It was the preferred final resting place of the noble Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all). This is evidenced by the fact that about ten thousand of the noble Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) are buried within. Among the notable Muslims interred there are the Mothers of the Believers (the Prophet’s wives), with the exclusion of Khadijah and Maymunah (may Allah be pleased with them all). Also buried there are the Prophet’s daughters, the Prophet’s son Ibrahim, the Prophet’s uncle `Abbas, the Prophet’s aunt Safiyyah, and the Prophet’s grandson Al-Hasan ibn `Ali (may Allah be pleased with them all). There are many, many other respected Muslims from throughout the history of Islam buried here who are too numerous to mention. (Al-Baqi`: The Madinah Cemetery; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Does this, therefore, mean that the companions of Muhammad were also married to him simply because they happened to be buried there? Of course not! Thus, just because Mariyah happened to be buried there doesn’t prove that she was a spouse anymore than the companions being laid to rest there proves that they too were his wives!

Moreover, at least one of Muhammad’s wives was buried in some other place:

Narrated 'Ata:
We presented ourselves along with Ibn 'Abbas at the funeral procession of Maimuna at a place called Sarif. Ibn 'Abbas said, "This is the wife of the Prophet so when you lift her bier, do not Jerk it or shake it much, but walk smoothly because the Prophet had nine wives and he used to observe the night turns with eight of them, and for one of them there was no night turn." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 5)

'Ata related that when they were with Ibn 'Abbas (Allah be pleased with them) at the funeral of Maimuna in Sarif, Ibn 'Abbas (Allah be pleased with them) said: This is the wife of Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him); so when you lift her bier, do not shake her or disturb her, but be gentle, for Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) had nine wives, with eight of whom he shared his time, but to one of them, he did not allot a share. 'Ata said: The one to whom he did not allot a share of time was Safiyya, daughter of Huyayy b. Akhtab. (Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3455)

By employing Umar’s reasoning we could argue that Maimuna wasn’t Muhammad’s spouse since she wasn’t laid to rest in the place where the rest of his wives were buried, which would be nonsensical.

What the above example shows is that just because a woman was buried in al-Baqi this doesn’t necessarily prove that she was Muhammad’s wife anymore than Maimuna being buried somewhere else disproves that she was married to Muhammad.

It is obvious why Mariyah would be buried in that location, not because she was a spouse, but because she had been intimate with Muhammad and had conceived his son.

Now if the sources had said that this was a place where only Muhammad’s wives could be buried then Umar would have had a rather strong case. But unfortunately for him, this isn’t what the Muslim sources say.

Here is the final point of Umar’s rebuttal we want to address.

The Holy Prophet (S) said concerning the People of Egypt:

Book 31, Number 6174:

Abu Dharr reported Allah's Messenger (may peace 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).

Imaam Nawawi commenting on this hadith says:

328. Abu Dharr reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "You will conquer a land in which the qirat will be mentioned."

In one variant, "You will conquer Egypt which is a land in which the qirat is used, so command its people to good. They have right to security and ties of kinship."

In one variant, "When you conquer it, be good to its people. They have right to security and ties of kinship," or he said, "right to security and ties of marriage."

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."

(Source: Riyadh Us Saliheen 40. Chapter: On dutifulness to parents and maintaining ties of kinship)

We highlight the relevant part of al-Nawawi’s comments in order to show how this will refute Umar’s position, while establishing our own:

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."

As anyone having read the Holy Bible clearly knows, Hagar wasn’t Abraham’s wife in the sense that Sarah was (1; 2). Rather, she was Sarah’s slavegirl whom Abraham had a child with, something which was permitted and acceptable at that time.

Moreover, even the Islamic narrations agree that Hagar was Sarah’s slave:

Narrated Abu Huraira:
Abraham did not tell a lie except on three occasion. Twice for the Sake of Allah when he said, "I am sick," and he said, "(I have not done this but) the big idol has done it." The (third was) that while Abraham and Sarah (his wife) were going (on a journey) they passed by (the territory of) a tyrant. Someone said to the tyrant, "This man (i.e. Abraham) is accompanied by a very charming lady." So, he sent for Abraham and asked him about Sarah saying, "Who is this lady?" Abraham said, "She is my sister." Abraham went to Sarah and said, "O Sarah! There are no believers on the surface of the earth except you and I. This man asked me about you and I have told him that you are my sister, so don't contradict my statement." The tyrant then called Sarah and when she went to him, he tried to take hold of her with his hand, but (his hand got stiff and) he was confounded. He asked Sarah, "Pray to Allah for me, and I shall not harm you." So Sarah asked Allah to cure him and he got cured. He tried to take hold of her for the second time, but (his hand got as stiff as or stiffer than before and) was more confounded. He again requested Sarah, "Pray to Allah for me, and I will not harm you." Sarah asked Allah again and he became alright. He then called one of his guards (who had brought her) and said, "You have not brought me a human being but have brought me a devil." The tyrant then gave Hajar AS A GIRL-SERVANT TO SARAH. Sarah came back (to Abraham) while he was praying. Abraham, gesturing with his hand, asked, "What has happened?" She replied, "Allah has spoiled the evil plot of the infidel (or immoral person) AND GAVE ME HAJAR FOR SERVICE." (Abu Huraira then addressed his listeners saying, "That (Hajar) was your mother, O Bani Ma-is-Sama (i.e. the Arabs, the descendants of Ishmael, Hajar's son)." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 578; see also Volume 3, Book 34, Number 420)

Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle said, "The Prophet Abraham migrated with Sarah. The people (of the town where they migrated) gave her Ajar (i.e. Hajar). Sarah returned and said to Abraham, ‘Do you know that Allah has humiliated that pagan and he has given A SLAVE-GIRL FOR MY SERVICE?’" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 47, Number 803)

Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said: Abraham did not tell lies except three. (One of them was) when Abraham passed by a tyrant and (his wife) Sara was accompanying him (Abu Huraira then mentioned the whole narration and said:) (The tyrant) gave her Hajar. Sara said, "Allah saved me from the hands of the Kafir (i.e. infidel) and gave me Hajar TO SERVE ME." (Abu Huraira added:) That (Hajar) is your mother, O Banu Ma'-As-Sama' (i.e., the Arabs). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 21)

Thus Hagar was Abraham’s wife in the sense that she had conjugal relations with him, which resulted in their having a son.

In light of the foregoing, it can be rightly said that the Israelites have ties with the Egyptians since Abraham had intimate relations with Hagar, an Egyptian, and had a son from her, Ishmael who happened to marry an Egyptian (cf. Genesis 21:21). Thus, Abraham had an Egyptian daughter-in-law because of Ishmael! Yet this doesn’t mean that Hagar was Abraham’s wife, since she wasn’t. She was a slave-girl whom Abraham "married" in the sense of sleeping with her.

In a similar fashion, Muhammad had marriage ties with the Egyptians not because he had married Mariyah, but because he slept with her and had a child from her. This would imply that the word marriage is being used in the sense of one sleeping or being intimate with another, much like Abraham "married" Hagar. In fact, this is precisely how the renowned Muslim exegete and historian al-Tabari uses the term:

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 1990], Volume IX, p. 137; underline emphasis ours)

The impression by the above quote is that al-Tabari believed Mariyah was a wife, that is until we read the rest of his 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 and underline emphasis ours)

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; capital emphasis ours)


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 1998], Volume XXXIX, pp. 193-194; bracketed and capital statements ours)

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

With the foregoing in perspective we can fully understand what al-Tabari meant. The claim that Mariyah was a concubine clearly indicates that al-Tabari was using the term wife in the sense that Muhammad had sex with her.

Finally, here is what this same website has to say about Mariyah’s status:

There seems to be some difference of opinion regarding whether she remained a slave or was she taken as a wife. Both opinions are to be found among the scholars and biographers.

In the year 6 AH, after the treaty of Hudaibiya, the Messenger of Allah (upon him be peace) sent letters to the various rulers and governors around the world. The Roman governor of Alexandria, Muqawqas, sent two slave girls to the Messenger of Allah (upon him be peace) as a gift with Hatim ibn Abi Balta'a who was the courier of the Messenger (upon him be peace). The two slave girls were Mariya and Shirin Qibtiyya. On the way to Madina, both embraced Islam at the preaching of Hatim (may Allah be please with him). Shirin Qibtiyya was given to Hassan ibn Thabit and the Messenger of Allah (upon him be peace) kept Mariya Qibtiyya and married her (according to one opinion) or kept her as a slave girl (according to the other opinion). (About Mariya Qibtiyya, Answered by Shaykh Abdurrahman ibn Yusuf Mangera; source)

It is rather amusing that this site could present the two views regarding Mariyah’s status without taking either side, even though they present An-Nawawi’s explanation that Muhammad had marriage ties with the Egyptians due to his relationship with Mariyah!

What this essentially demonstrates is that Umar’s appeal to the explanation of an-Nawawi is another example of a non sequitur argument since the scholar’s comments do not necessarily lead to the conclusion that Muhammad married Mariyah. The statements of this scholar can be understood in a different way from that proposed by Umar, one which doesn’t conflict with the view of Mariyah being Muhammad’s slave.

Concluding Remarks

We want to conclude our discussion by highlighting some additional problems which Umar’s recent rebuttal raises. Umar’s response basically demonstrates that the Muslim scholars who hold/held to Mariyah being a slave are/were either ignorant and/or quite disrespectful towards their prophet. After all, did these scholars not know that Mariyah,

At least some, if not all, know/knew of these details. Then why do/did they still believe that she was Muhammad’s slave, not his wife? Why do/would they hold to this view when such a position means that Muhammad failed to carry out his own directives since he didn’t set her free nor did he marry her, even though he was supposed to in light of Umar’s arguments? For instance, why did Muhammad not set her free when she became a Muslimah? Why did he force her to observe the veil if she was only his slave? Why didn’t he marry her after she gave birth to his son? And why was she buried in an area which was the designated burial ground for Muhammad’s wives when she was a concubine, not a spouse?

It should be clear from all of the above that Umar is doing nothing more than impugning his own scholars by using such reasoning since if we accept his arguments as being valid then we must conclude that the Muslims who believe(d) Mariyah was a slave are/were essentially accusing Muhammad of being cruel for grossly mistreating her! In other words, all of these Muslim scholars are/were holding a position that attacks Muhammad’s character since their view portrays him as a rather merciless person for failing to grant Mariyah her due.

In light of the foregoing, isn’t it time for Umar to call it quits and move on to something else? Shouldn’t he refrain from constantly producing materials which only manage to further discredit his prophet and his religion, providing responses that merely help to highlight the incoherent and confusing nature of the Islamic source materials? We already knew that Islam’s foundations are shaky and that Muslims really can’t give any good reasons why a person should believe in their prophet or religion. We really don’t need Umar, Osama Abdallah or the others to constantly remind us of this.


(1) Ironically, Umar quoted a Muslim source to contest the late al-Maududi’s claims that Mariyah was Muhammad’s sex slave. What makes this rather amusing is that this Muslim writer mentions a Muslim who had such a problem with Muhammad sleeping with slaves that he devoted himself to refuting this claim:

When the author of Namus-I Rasul, Hafiz Muhammad Sarwar Quraishi of 3 Cambridge Avenue, Greenford (Middx), UK, read this part of the commentary by Maulana Maududi for whom he had a great respect, the whole world seemed to whirl round him.  He was so agitated that he could not sleep for several nightsThe Prophet, he thought, who came to teach the highest and perfect morals to the world, himself indulged in sexual relations with a slave girl without marriage!!  Then he started in earnest studying literature on this subject and during his research he discovered that Maulana Maududi and some other Muslim scholars have committed a grave error against the character of the Noble Prophet. (Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D., Honor of the Prophet; source; bold and italic emphasis ours)

More importantly, Umar must have forgotten that in his response (*) to my first rebuttal to him he quoted a source where a Muslim questioner was troubled by the fact that Islam permits Muslims to sleep with slave girls since this was nothing more than zina, sexual immorality or fornication:

Question of Fatwa

Is it true that Islam permits Muslim men to own slave women, and permits them to have sex with them without marrying them? And that this was carried out by the Prophet’s Companions with his approval? Surely, this is in contradiction of the Qur’an's condemnation of zina. Could you please clarify this issue?

Thus, the Muslims themselves have problems with Muhammad or anyone else sleeping with slave girls, not just Christians!

(2) As if it couldn’t get any more confusing than it already is… there are many Muslims who deny that the Quran commands women to wear a head veil. They claim that the verses of the Quran only speak of covering their bosoms, not their head or face:

And this is supposed to be the clear guidance which is fully detailed (*) so that all mankind can follow it!

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