Maria al-Qibtiyya

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Ummahat al-Moemenin

Maria bint Shamʿūn, better known as Maria al-Qibtiyya (Arabic: مارية القبطية‎), Maria Qubtiyya, or Maria the Copt, (died 637) was an Egyptian who, along with her sister Sirin, were sent to the Islamic prophet Muhammad in 628 as a gift by Muqawqis, a governor of Alexandria, Egypt during the territory's Persian occupation. She and her sister were slaves.[1][2] Maria bore Muhammad a son, Ibrahim, who died as an infant.[3]


In the Islamic year 6 AH (627 – 628 CE), Muhammad is said to have had letters written to the great rulers of the Middle East, proclaiming the new faith and inviting the rulers to join. The purported texts of some of the letters are found in Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari's History of the Prophets and Kings. Al-Tabari writes that a deputation was sent to an Egyptian governor with the title al-Muqawqis, who sent Maria and her sister to Muhammad in response.

Little is known of Maria's early life. Ibn Saad lists her as a native of the village of Hafn in Upper Egypt. Later sources state she was of noble Byzantine descent or related to royal figures, though it is uncertain if al-Muqawqis would have had the authority to treat a woman of such high social status as a slave.[4]

Al-Tabari recounts the story of Maria's arrival from Egypt:

In this year Hātib b. Abi Balta'ah came back from al-Muqawqis bringing Māriyah and her sister Sīrīn, his female mule Duldul, his donkey Ya'fūr, and sets of garments. With the two women al-Muqawqis had sent a eunuch, and the latter stayed with them. Hātib had invited them to become Muslims before he arrived with them, and Māriyah and her sister did so. The Messenger of God, peace and blessings of Allah be upon Him, lodged them with Umm Sulaym bt. Milhān. Māriyah was beautiful. The prophet sent her sister Sīrīn to Hassān b. Thābit and she bore him 'Abd al-Rahmān b. Hassān.

— Tabari, History of the Prophets and Kings.[5]

Maria features in several anecdotes recorded in the works of Islamic historians. Al-Tabari and Ibn Saad state that Muhammad's sexual relations with Maria provoked the anger of his wife Hafsa bint Umar, prompting the revelations of Sūrat at-Taḥrīm. Some later historians state that this is a fictitious account or omit Maria's involvement in it.[4]

Ibn Saad states that Maria's beauty and the birth of Ibrahim made Muhammad enamored with her, but Ibrahim died in his infancy.[4] His death caused Muhammad to weep.[6] Muhammad agreed to free Maria upon his own death, honoring her as the mother of his child.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ al-Tabari, Abu Jafar. The History of al-Tabari, Volume 9: The Last Years of the Prophet. Translated by Ismail K. Poonawala. SUNY Press. p. 141.
  2. ^ Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, p. 499.
  3. ^ Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, p. 653.
  4. ^ a b c d Hidayatullah, A (2010). "Māriyya the Copt: gender, sex and heritage in the legacy of Muhammad's umm walad". Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations. 21 (3): 221–243. doi:10.1080/09596410.2010.500475.
  5. ^ Tabari, p. 131.
  6. ^ "Sahih Bukhari". Retrieved 14 September 2018.