On Mary, Muhammad's Concubine (Round Three)

Sam Shamoun

Umar has followed up with yet another reply (*) to our response (*) regarding the status of Mariyah the Copt, i.e. whether she was Muhammad’s slave or his wife.

We won’t be addressing everything he says, since much of what he says really doesn’t rebut anything we had written. We will focus instead on a few of the main points of his paper since this will help support our position.

Is it Marriage or Pleasure?

Umar says regarding the meaning of Sura 33:52:

So, even though Yusuf Ali says "After that the Prophet did not marry..", the Ayat says he can marry any women that the Prophet (S) possesses (as handmaidens). So Yusuf Ali, agrees with us, when he calls Mariyah a wife of the Holy Prophet (S), however, he differs with us, regarding if she was a handmaiden or not. So let us highlight the bottom line:

He also quotes another Answering Christianity writer Karim:

"Even if we for the sake of argument accept tabaris[sic] time order, then still we can argue that mariyah could aslo[sic] have been a slavegirl (which is also a strong option) , and therefor[sic] in this case it doesn't matter if she arrived in medina at 6 A.H. or 7. A.H. since the prophet after ayat 33:52 was allowed to marryy[sic] slave girls"

This is a rather curious reading of the text which says:

It is not lawful for you (to marry other) women after this, nor to change them for other wives even though their beauty attracts you, except those (captives or slaves) whom your right hand possesses. And Allah is Ever a Watcher over all things. S. 33:52 Hilali-Khan

The natural and normal reading of this passage isn’t that Muhammad was permitted to marry one of his slave girls. On the contrary, the citation is stating that Muhammad was permitted to have as many slave or captive women as he wished. To put it simply, this reference is saying that even though Muhammad couldn’t marry any more women he could still have sex with as many slave or captive women as his heart desired.

The Quran, after all, does permit men to have women as sex slaves:

And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphangirls, then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (the captives and the slaves) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice. S. 4:3 Hilali-Khan

Prohibited to you (For marriage) are:- Your mothers, daughters, sisters; father's sisters, Mother's sisters; brother's daughters, sister's daughters; foster-mothers (Who gave you suck), foster-sisters; your wives' mothers; your step-daughters under your guardianship, born of your wives to whom ye have gone in, - no prohibition if ye have not gone in; - (Those who have been) wives of your sons proceeding from your loins; and two sisters in wedlock at one and the same time, except for what is past; for God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful; - Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess: Thus hath God ordained (Prohibitions) against you: Except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property, - desiring chastity, not lust, seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if, after a dower is prescribed, agree Mutually (to vary it), there is no blame on you, and God is All-knowing, All-wise. S. 4:23-24 Y. Ali

And those who guard their chastity (i.e. private parts, from illegal sexual acts) Except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then, they are free from blame; S. 23:5-6

O Prophet (Muhammad SAW)! Verily, We have made lawful to you your wives, to whom you have paid their Mahr (bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage), and those (captives or slaves) whom your right hand possesses - whom Allah has given to you, and the daughters of your ‘Amm (paternal uncles) and the daughters of your ‘Ammah (paternal aunts) and the daughters of your Khal (maternal uncles) and the daughters of your Khalah (maternal aunts) who migrated (from Makkah) with you, and a believing woman if she offers herself to the Prophet, and the Prophet wishes to marry her; a privilege for you only, not for the (rest of) the believers. Indeed We know what We have enjoined upon them about their wives and those (captives or slaves) whom their right hands possess, - in order that there should be no difficulty on you. And Allah is Ever OftForgiving, Most Merciful. S. 33:50 Hilali-Khan

And those who guard their chastity (i.e. private parts from illegal sexual acts) except with their wives and the (women slaves and captives) whom their right hands possess, for (then) they are not to be blamed, S. 70:29-30 Hilali-Khan

Notice how some of the leading commentators exegeted this specific text. Al-Qurtubi stated:

Mujahid, Saeed bin Jubayr, Ata’a and Al Hakam said: {except what your right hand possesses} means that you are not permitted to marry non-Muslims, such as Jewesses, and Christians, and idolators, who are forbidden to you. You are not allowed to marry an unbeliever since she will become one of the mothers of the believers, even if you like her looks and beauty. EXCEPT what your right hand possesses [for] you can ENJOY them, as in sleeping and having intercourse with them due to the fact that they are owned by you as possessions (Source)

Renowned commentator and historian al-Tabari wrote:

except what your right hand possesses means: you are not permitted to marry other women after the ones that were permitted to you, EXCEPT what your right hand possesses from the slave women, as you can possess as many of the slave women as you desire. (Source)

The late Sayyid Abul A’La Maududi provided his own translation of Sura 33:52:

No other women are lawful for you after this, nor are you allowed to have other wives instead of them, even if their beauty may be well pleasing to you. You may, however, have slave-girls. Allah is Watchful over everything. (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, p. 127)

And then noted:

94. The verse explains why one is permitted to have conjugal relations with one's slave-girls besides the wedded wives, and there is no restriction on their number. The same thing has also been stated in Surah An-Nisa: 3, al-Mu'minun: 6, and al-Ma'arij: 30. In all these verses the slave-girls have been mentioned as a separate class from the wedded wives, and conjugal relations with them have been permitted. Moreover, verse 3 of Surah An-Nisa lays down the number of wives as four, but neither has Allah fixed the number of slave-girls in that verse nor made any allusion to their number in other relevant verses. Here, of course, the Holy Prophet is being addressed and told: "It is not lawful for you to take other women in marriage, or divorce any of the present wives and take another wife in her stead; slave-girls, however, are lawful." This shows that no restriction has been imposed in respect of the slave-girls. (Ibid., p. 131)

Another renowned scholar and commentator, the late Mufti Shafi' Uthmani wrote:

... "Nor is it lawful that you replace them (the present wives) with other wives" - 52. The clear meaning of these words in view of the second explanation of this verse is that although the Holy Prophet is permitted to marry other women besides his present wives subject to the conditions mentioned, yet it is not lawful for him to divorce a wife and to marry another woman to replace her. However, the meaning of these words in view of the first explanation of this verse would be that he can neither marry any woman in addition to the present wives, nor can he replace them by divorcing one and marrying another. Towards the end of these verses it is clarified that a bond woman owned by the Holy Prophet is exempt from the fifth and seventh rules in the sense that she is lawful for him, even if she is a Christian or Jew, and it is also permitted for him to replace her with another bondwomen. (Mufti Shafi Uthmani, Maariful Quran, Volume 7, p. 200; source; capital and underline emphasis ours)

By the fifth injunction the Mufti is referring to the statement found in Sura 33:50 which says that Muhammad could marry "believing women," which he takes to mean that Muhammad was forbidden from marrying any non-Muslim woman even if she were a Christian or Jew. The seventh injunction refers to the prohibition of Sura 33:52 where Muhammad is not allowed to marry any women besides those whom he already had and whether this meant that he couldn't have any more wives at all or that he could only marry women from among those made lawful for him as stipulated in Sura 33:50.

It is therefore obvious from the Mufti's statement that Muhammad was allowed to take Christian or Jewish slave women for pleasure that this scholar believed that the natural reading of Sura 33:52 meant that Muhammad could have as many slave girls as he wanted provided that he didn't marry them.

The online Shiite Pooya/Ali commentary states:

Aqa Mahdi Puya says:

Allah commanded the Holy Prophet not to marry any woman after the revelation of this verse.

Although his followers are prohibited to marry more than four women (see commentary of Nisa: 3) but muta (temporary marriage) is allowed in addition to four wives (see commentary of Nisa: 24). (Source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

The foregoing demonstrates that the passage is not saying that Muhammad could marry a captive or slave woman, but that he could enjoy them without having to marry them. This interpretation is even reflected in Yusuf Ali’s version:

It is not lawful for thee (to marry more) women after this, nor to change them for (other) wives, even though their beauty attract thee, except any thy right hand should possess (AS HANDMAIDENS): and God doth watch over all things. S. 33:52

Yusuf Ali clearly expressed the view that Muhammad could enjoy those whom his right hand possessed as handmaidens, not as wives.

Furthermore, even if we concede for a moment that Umar is correct in his analysis of the text this still wouldn’t support his interpretation since the immediate context only permitted Muhammad from enjoying those women who were taken as spoils of war:

O Prophet! Lo! We have made lawful unto thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth of those whom Allah hath given thee as spoils of war, and the daughters of thine uncle on the father's side and the daughters of thine aunts on the father's side, and the daughters of thine uncle on the mother's side and the daughters of thine aunts on the mother's side who emigrated with thee, and a believing woman if she give herself unto the Prophet and the Prophet desire to ask her in marriage - a privilege for thee only, not for the (rest of) believers - We are Aware of that which We enjoined upon them concerning their wives and those whom their right hands possess - that thou mayst be free from blame, for Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. Thou canst defer whom thou wilt of them and receive unto thee whom thou wilt, and whomsoever thou desirest of those whom thou hast set aside (temporarily), it is no sin for thee (to receive her again); that is better; that they may be comforted and not grieve, and may all be pleased with what thou givest them. Allah knoweth what is in your hearts (O men), and Allah is ever Forgiving, Clement. It is not allowed thee to take (other) women henceforth, nor that thou shouldst change them for other wives even though their beauty pleased thee, save those whom thy right hand possesseth. And Allah is ever Watcher over all things. Sura 33:50-52 Pickthall

The problem for Umar is that Mariyah wasn’t from the spoils of war but a gift given to Muhammad, which disqualifies her for marriage! In fact, this is the very reason why the following Muslims argued against the view that Muhammad married Mariyah:

Moreover, it is clear from the Qur’an (33:49-52) that the Prophet (sws) could only free and marry slave girls who were made prisoners in war. He was not allowed to marry gifted slave women that had been set free. (The Case of Maria the Coptic; online source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

As far as the slave girl Hadhrat Maria Qibtia (ra) is concerned, the Prophet (pbuh) 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 regulations. Hadhrat Maria Qibtia (ra) was presented to the Prophet (pbuh) 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. (Mr. Amar Ellahi Lone, The Marriages of the Prophet (pbuh); online source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Still others believe that the expression "those whom your right hand possesses" doesn’t refer to slaves or captives at all. They take the view that this is simply another way of referring to women that a person has married. Maulana Muhammad Ali wrote:

52c. By those whom thy right hand possesses are indicated the wives of the Prophet whom he lawfully married. (online source)

Muhammad Asad stated:

Some commentators (e.g., Tabari) assume that this restriction relates to the four categories of women enumerated in verse 50 above: it is, however, much more probable that it is a prohibition barring the Prophet from marrying any woman in addition to those to whom he was already married (Baghawi, Zamakhshari). Some of the earliest, most outstanding authorities on the Quran, like Ibn Abbas, Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah, Ibn Zayd (all of them cited by Ibn Kathir), or Al-Hasan al-Basri (quoted by Tabari in his commentary on verses 28-29), link this prohibition of further marriages with the choice between the charms of worldly life and the good of the hereafter with which the wives of the Prophet were confronted on the strength of verses 28-29, and their emphatic option for "God and His Apostle" (cf. note on verse 29 above). All those early authorities describe the revelation of verse 52 and the assurance which it was meant to convey to the wives of the Prophet - as God’s reward, in this world, of their faith and fidelity. Since it is inconceivable that the Prophet could have disregarded the categorical injunction, "No [other] women shall henceforth be lawful to thee", the passage in question cannot have been revealed earlier than the year 7 H., that is, the year in which the conquest of Khaybar and the Prophet’s marriage with Safiyyah - his last marriage - took place. Consequently, verses 28-29 (with which, as we have seen, verse 52 is closely connected) must have been revealed at that later period, and not, as some commentators think, in the year 5 H. (i.e., at the time of the Prophet’s marriage with Zaynab). - … I.e., to divorce any of them with a view to taking another wife in her stead (with the prohibitive accent on the "supplanting"- i.e., divorcing - of any of his wives). … In my opinion, the expression ma malakat yaminuka (lit., "what thy right hand possesses", or has come to possess") has here the same meaning as in 4: 24, namely, "those whom thou hast come to possess through wedlock" (see note on surah 4: 24); thus, the above verse is to be understood as limiting the Prophet’s marriages to those already contracted. (Asad, The Message of the Quran, ff. 65-67; online source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Moreover, Asad claimed that it is inconceivable that Muhammad could have violated the Quran’s command to marry other women, forcing him to conclude that this verse must have been composed before 7 AH. Now let us compare this with Yusuf Ali’s note once again:

This was revealed in A.H. 7. AFTER THAT the Prophet did not marry again except the handmaiden Mary the Copt, who was sent as a present by the Christian Muqauqas of Egypt. She became the mother of Ibrahim, who died in his infancy. (The Quran: Text translation and Commentary by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, fn. 3754)

Umar cites another reference which basically agrees with Ali:

It is commonly agreed that it was after the Prophet had married Maymuna, giving him now nine wives (A'isha, Sawda, Hafsa, Umm Salama, Zainab bint Jahsh, Juwayriyya, Umm Habiba, Safiyya and Maymuna), that the following ayat was revealed:

It is not lawful for you (O Muhammad, to marry more) women after this, nor to exchange them for other wives, even though their beauty is pleasing to you, except those whom your right hand possesses (as maid servants); and Allah is always watching over everything. (Quran 33:52)

AFTER THIS, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not marry again. When however, the Christian ruler, or Muqawqis, of Egypt, sent him two Christian slave girls who were sisters as a gift (in response to the Prophet's letter inviting him to embrace Islam), along with a fine robe and some medicine the Prophet, accepted one of the slave girls, Maria, into his household; he gave her sister Serene, to a man whom he wished to honor, namely Hassan ibn Thabit; he accepted the robe; and he returned the medicine with the message, "My Sunna is my medicine!" This occurred in 7 AH, when the Prophet was sixty years old and Maria was twenty years old.

(Source: http://www.anwary-islam.com/women/pwife_maymuna.htm); bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

This source expressly says that Muhammad received Mariyah in 7 AH after the prohibition of Sura 33:52 was given. Hence, Yusuf Ali and the above reference have Muhammad basically marrying Mariyah after 7 AH, which Asad argued was inconceivable since this would mean that Muhammad broke Allah’s injunction!

More importantly, even if she did arrive before this prohibition was issued she still wouldn’t be eligible for marriage on the grounds that she was a gift and not a prisoner of war. Muhammad, according to the context, was allowed to marry only captives taken from the battle.

Here we summarize the various Muslim explanations regarding Sura 33:52:

  1. The natural reading of the text isn’t that Muhammad could marry any of the slave or captive women in his possession. Rather, the verse is saying that Muhammad could enjoy as many slave women as he desired, that he could have unlimited concubines. Since two of Umar’s sources say that Mariyah came after this prohibition had been given Muhammad couldn’t have therefore married her without violating Allah’s command.
  2. Still others interpret the words "those whom thy right hand possesses" as not referring to slave or captive women that Muhammad could enjoy, but to those whom Muhammad had lawfully married. They thus see the last clause as reinforcing the point that Muhammad could not take additional wives or replace the ones he had. Much like with the first explanation, this interpretation rules out the possibility of Muhammad having married Mariyah since she arrived after the prohibition had been passed.
  3. The immediate context defines the slave women whom Muhammad could enjoy as those taken as prisoners of war. This has led certain Muslims to conclude that Muhammad could not have married Mariyah since she was a gift and not a prisoner of war. This also means that even if Mariyah had been sent to Muhammad before the ruling of Sura 33:52, she still wouldn’t have been eligible for marriage.

Smoke and Mirrors

I had challenged Umar to explain to his readers whether he was advocating the position that Muslims were free to marry Muhammad’s slaves after he died. Instead of answering my question directly he decides to bring up an issue which has no direct relevance to my challenge. He asserts that Muhammad didn’t leave slaves after he died:

The Ayat itself [Sam- 33:53], is self explanatory, it clearly forbids the believers to marry any of the "Mother of Believers", after the death of the Holy Prophet (S), it has nothing to do with slaves! But, Sam Shamoun concludes, that even though this ayat speaks only about the Mother of Believers, it will also include his slaves, since the believers wouldn't dare sleep (or marry?) a woman the Prophet (S) had relations with. But how can I advocate a position, that it was permissible for Muslim men to marry or have sex with slaves of Muhammad (S) after his death, when he left no slaves!

" 'Amr bin Hawairith has reported in Sahih Bukhari:

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not leave anything at his death, neither dirhams nor dinars nor a servant or a maidservant nor anything except his white mule, arms and land which he gave in charity"

(Source: Sirat Un Nabi by Syed Sulaiman Nadvi rendered into English by Mohd. Saeed Siddiqui, Vol.III, p.120, Kitab Bhavan, New Delhi)

So Shamoun, please tell your readers that:

Since Prophet Muhammad (S) left no slaves after his death, how can I advocate a position that it was permissible for Muslim men to marry the slaves of the Prophet, when there WERE NO SLAVES LEFT BY THE PROPHET (S)!

Since Umar is clearly avoiding my challenge I will therefore try to elaborate so that he will see how his answer doesn’t address anything. Even though Umar’s source claims that Muhammad didn’t leave behind any slaves when he died the fact still remains that Muhammad had concubines or female slaves with whom he had sex. In light of the foregoing we want Umar to tell his readers whether these women whom Muhammad owned as sex slaves were free to marry some other Muslim. We want him to tell his readers whether these women with whom Muhammad had intimate relations and who had been freed upon Muhammad’s death were allowed to marry another person, specifically another Muslim.

To make this even simpler so that Umar will not avoid answering my initial challenge keep in mind that once Muhammad died his wives would be free from their marital bond. Yet despite being widows and therefore freed from their marriage they still were forbidden from remarrying. This shows that just because Muhammad didn’t leave any slaves upon his death this still doesn’t explain whether those whom he physically enjoyed as his possessions were free to marry someone else.

And we will make it easier for Umar to answer our question by citing the late Mufti Uthmani who wrote:

The second Injunction

… (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. (Maariful Quran, Volume 7, pp. 191-192; source; capital and underline emphasis ours)

This shows that just because Muhammad’s concubines would be set free upon his death this didn’t give Muslims the right to marry them.

What makes this even more intriguing is that Umar has been arguing that Mariyah was actually Muhammad’s wife which means that she was off limits for anyone else to marry after Muhammad’s death! It is clear that Umar has not just confused his readers but also confused himself by positing so many different, yet contradictory, arguments.

Now We Have A Contradiction!

Since Umar was in such a rush and so excited to refute Ali Sina and myself he seemed to have overlooked the fact that his main reference which states that the majority of Muslim scholars believe that Mariyah was a wife contradicts the so-called sound narrations. Here is Umar’s quote:

However, the vast majority of Muslim scholars agreed that the wives of the prophet (pbuh) were:

1. Khadijah
2. `A’isha bint Abu Bakr
3. Sawda bint Zum`ah
4. Hafsa bint `Umar
5. Zaynab bint Khuzaymah
6. Um-Habibah bint Abu Sufyan
7. Um-Salamah
8. Zaynab bint Jahsh
9. Juwariyah bint al-Harith
10. Safiyah bint Hayi ibn Akhtab
11. Maymunah al-Hilaliyah
12. Mariya al-Qibtiya (Who was from Egypt.)

(May Allah be pleased with all of them). These are the names upon whom the scholars agreed. (source)

According to Muslim sources Khadijah died before Muhammad migrated to Medina. While he was in Medina one of his wives died before he did, Zaynab bint Khuzaymah. If the above list is correct then this means that Muhammad left behind ten wives when he died. Yet the hadiths and the sira state that Muhammad had nine wives when he died, eight of whom he would spend a day with:

The apostle consummated his marriage with eleven women, two of whom died before him, namely Khadija and Zaynab. He died leaving the nine we have mentioned. With two he had no marital relations, namely Asma’ d. al-Nu‘man, the Kindite woman, whom he married and found to be suffering from leprosy and so returned her to her people with a suitable gift; and ‘Amra d. Yazid the Kilab woman who was recently an unbeliever. When she came to the apostle she said ‘I seek God’s protection against you,’ and he replied that the one who did that was inviolable so he sent her back to her people. Others say that the one who said this was a Kindite woman, a cousin of Asma’ d. al-Nu‘man, and that the apostle summoned her and she said ‘We are a people to whom others come; we come to none!’ so he returned her to her people.

There were six Quraysh women among the prophet’s wives, namely, Khadija, ‘A’isha, Hafsa, Umm Habiba, Umm Salam, and Sauda.

The Arab women and others were seven, namely, Zaynab d. Jash, Maymuna, Zaynab d. Khuzayma, Juwayriya, Asma’, and ‘Amra. The non-Arab woman was Safiya d. Huyay b. Akhtab of B. al-Nadir. (The Life of Muhammad, A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Karachi Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth Impression 1995), p. 794; bold and underline emphasis ours)

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)

Narrated Anas:
The Prophet I used to go round (have sexual relations with) all his wives in one night, and he had nine wives. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 6)

Anas (Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) had nine wives. So when he divided (his stay) with them, the turn of the first wife did not come but on the ninth (day). They (all the wives) used to gather every night in the house of one where he had to come (and stay that night). It was (the night when he had to stay) in the house of ‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her), when Zainab came there. He (the Holy Prophet) stretched his hand towards her (Zainab), whereupon she (‘A’isha) said: It is Zainab. Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) withdrew his hand. There was an altercation between the two until their voices became loud (and it was at that time) when Iqama was pronounced for prayer. There happened to come Abu Bakr and he heard their voices and said: Messenger of Allah, (kindly) come for prayer, and throw dust in their mouths. So the Prophet (may peace be upon him) went out. ‘A’isha said: When Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) would finish his prayer there would also come Abu Bakr and he would do as he does on such occasions (i. e. reprimanding). When Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) had finished his prayer, there came to her Abu Bakr and spoke to her (‘A’isha) in stern words and said: Do you behave like this? (Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3450)

Al-Harith - Ibn Sa'd - Hisham b. Muhammad - My father reported to me that the Messenger of God married fifteen women and consummated marriage with thirteen. He combined eleven at a time and left behind nine. (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], pp. 126-127; bold and underline emphasis ours)

One modern commentary says regarding Sura 33:50 and 52 that:

… Then after the death of Hazrat Khudaija he married the daughter of his greatest companion – Hazrat Aesha. Besides her eight widows came in his marriage and after his expiration there were nine whose honourable names are:

  1. Hazrat Aesha …
  2. Hazrat Hafsa …
  3. Hazrat Sauda …
  4. Hazrat Umme Salma …
  5. Hazrat Zainab …
  6. Hazrat Umme Habiba …
  7. Hazrat Juvairia …
  8. Hazrat Safya …
  9. Hazrat Maimoona …

(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], pp. 1851-1852, fn. 711; bold and underline emphasis ours)


73. All those described in the verse … are lawful to thee, more than that is not lawful. And to take in exchange for those who are now present is also not lawful i.e. to leave anyone of them for the purpose of replacement is not allowed. It is quoted from Hazrat Aesha and Umme Salma that this prohibition was withdrawn later on. But the fact is that the Holy Prophet thereafter neither did any fresh marriage, nor took any in exchange for them. At the time of his expiration all the wives were present. (Ibid., p 1854; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Umar may want to argue that certain hadiths claim that Muhammad made rounds with eleven of his wives which would therefore include Mariyah since without her the number would only be ten. The problem with this view is that Muhammad didn’t have eleven wives at one time since Zaynab had died before Mariyah had arrived. Note the date which Umar places Mariyah’s arrival:

So if Mariyah Qibtiyya arrived at the Holy Prophet (S) household just after the Prophet returned from signing the treaty, which occured[sic] in Dhi Qa'd of 6 A.H., then the right dating of her arrival should be around the ending of A.H. 6 and the beginning of 7 A.H.

6-7 AH gives us a rough date of 629-630 AD. Yet Zaynab died roughly three to four years before Mariyah arrived:

According to Ibn ‘Umar [al-Waqidi] – Kathir b. Zayd – al-Muttalib b. ‘Abdallah b. Hantab, and also Muhammad b. Qudamah – his father: The Prophet asked Zaynab bt. Khuzaymah al-Hilaliyyah, Umm al-Masakin, in marriage, and she entrusted her affairs to him. He let it be known that he gave her twelve and a half ounces [of gold] as bridal gift. The marriage took place in Ramadan, thirty-one months after Emigration/February 625. She stayed with him eight months, then died at the end of Rabi‘ II, thirty-nine months after [the Emigration]/October 626. The Prophet said the prayers over her brier and buried her at al-Baqi. (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 (39), p. 164; bold and capital emphasis ours)

With Zaynab dead, Muhammad would have had nine wives. If we then add Mariyah to the list then this means that Muhammad had ten wives at one time, contradicting the traditions which place the number at either nine or eleven.

Moreover, there seems to be a logical explanation why a tradition exists indicating that the number of Muhammad’s wives during his later years was eleven. It seems that some of the narrators were thinking of all the women Muhammad married, including Khadija and Zaynab, which would bring the total to eleven. With this number in mind they may have mistakenly narrated that Muhammad had eleven wives even later in his life. This explanation seems quite plausible when we take into consideration the following narration:

Narrated Qatada:
Anas bin Malik said, "The Prophet used to visit all his wives in a round, during the day and night and they were eleven in number." I asked Anas, "Had the Prophet the strength for it?" Anas replied, "We used to say that the Prophet was given the strength of thirty (men)." And Sa’id said on the authority of Qatada that Anas had told him about nine wives ONLY (not eleven). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 5, Number 268)

Note how one narrator corrects the previous narrator’s claim that according to Anas Muhammad had eleven wives and says they were actually nine altogether. This furnishes evidence that certain narrators mistakenly placed the number of wives at eleven due to having in the back of their mind the fact that Muhammad had a total of eleven wives throughout his lifetime.

The fact is that the unanimous position of the Muslim scholars is that Muhammad left behind nine wives when he died. Note for instance the response given by the Salafi scholars at www.Islamqa.com to the question of whether Muhammad had eleven or nine wives:

The scholars differ concerning the number of wives that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) had. The majority are of the view - WHICH IS CORRECT - that he had eleven wives with whom he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) consummated marriage, AND HE LEFT NINE OF THEM BEHIND WHEN HE DIED. Khadeejah bint Khuwaylid and Zaynab bint Khuzaymah - may Allaah be pleased with them both - died before him (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).

This is the view of his companions, as the imams narrated from them in their saheeh books. ...

Mu'aadh ibn Hishaam narrated from his father, according to a report narrated by al-Bukhaari (265) from him alone, that there were eleven wives, BUT HE WAS MISTAKEN; the correct view is that he went around to nine wives.

Ibn Hajar said:

Ibn Khuzaymah said: Mu'aadh ibn Hishaam was the only one who narrated that from his father, and it was narrated by Sa'eed ibn 'Uroobah and others from Qataadah but they said "nine wives." Al-Bukhaari referred to the report of Sa'eed ibn Abi 'Uroobah in a mu'allaq report here, but twenty chapters later he narrated it in a mawsool report when he said: "He used to go around his wives in one night, and at that time he had nine wives."

Fath al-Baari, 1/377.

Ibn al-Qayyim said:

There is NO SCHOLARLY DISPUTE concerning the fact that he left nine behind when he died and that he used to give a portion of his time to eight of them. Those nine were: 'Aa'ishah, Hafsah, Zaynab bint Jahsh, Umm Salamah, Safiyyah, Umm Habeebah, Maymoonah, Sawdah and Juwayriyyah. The first of his wives to follow him after he died was Zaynab bint Jahsh in 20 AH and the last of them to die was Umm Salamah in 62 AH during the caliphate of Yazeed.

Zaad al-Ma'aad, 1/114

With regard to his female slaves, he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) had four female slaves.

Ibn al-Qayyim said:

Abu 'Ubaydah said: He had four: Maariyah who was the mother of his son Ibraaheem; Rayhaanah; another beautiful slave women who he got among some of the prisoners of war; and a slave woman who was given to him by Zaynab bint Jahsh.

Zaad al-Ma'aad, 1/114. (Question #13344: Did the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) have nine wives or eleven?; source; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Interestingly, this source lists Mariyah as one of the slaves of Muhammad, not his wife!

Renowned Mu'tazilah scholar and grammarian al-Zamakhshari expressly stated that:

It is related that the Prophet (refrained from sexual intercourse and) put off temporarily the following wives: Sauda, Juwairiya. Safiyya, Maimuna, and Umm Habiba. In so doing he used to grant them a share (of sexual intercourse) according to his wish. Among the wives whom the Prophet preferred to take to himself belong 'A'isha, Hafsa, Umm Salama, and Zainab (bint Jash). Thus, he used to put five off temporarily in order to take four to himself. (On the other hand) it is related that, disregarding divorce and the selection concerned with it, the Prophet treated (all his wives) the same, with the exception of Sauda, who relinquished the night belonging to her to 'A'isha and said (to the Prophet): 'Do not divorce me but let me remain in the company of your wives!' . Thereafter: after the nine (wives you have). That is, NINE IS THE RIGHT NUMBER FOR THE MESSENGER OF GOD, just as four is the right number for his community. HE IS NOT ALLOWED TO EXCEED THIS NUMBER. Nor art thou permitted to take other wives in exchange for them: ... (According to the revelation) the Prophet is restricted to his nine wives (named above), whom he left behind (as widows) at his death. (Helmut Gtje, The Qur'an and Its Exegesis, translated and edited by Alford T. Welch [Oneworld Publications, Oxford England], pp. 90-91; bold and capital emphasis ours)

A tafsir attributed to Ibn Abbas agrees:

(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 ants (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. (Tanwr al-Miqbs min Tafsr Ibn 'Abbs, Sura 33:52; source)

It is obvious that Ibn Abbas, in light of his statement that Muhammad was forbidden from exceeding nine wives (if indeed he said this), was placing Mariyah as Muhammad's concubine whom he could enjoy sexually. If Ibn Abbas meant that Muhammad did marry Mariyah then this would mean that he was contradicting himself for saying that the latter could not exceed nine. Ibn Abbas would basically be accusing Muhammad of violating Allah's orders.

Therefore, the foregoing data provides additional evidence, this time from the so-called sound hadiths, that Mariyah could not have been one of Muhammad’s wives.

Another Contradiction: Aisha, Muhammad’s Only Virgin Bride?

There is another line of evidence which refutes Umar’s claim that Mariyah was Muhammad’s bride. According to the so-called sound narrations Aisha was the only virgin Muhammad married:

Narrated Ibn Abu Mulaika:
Ibn 'Abbas asked permission to visit Aisha before her death, and at that time she was in a state of agony. She then said, "I am afraid that he will praise me too much." And then it was said to her, "He is the cousin of Allah's Apostle and one of the prominent Muslims." Then she said, "Allow him to enter." (When he entered) he said, "How are you?" She replied, "I am alright if I fear (Allah)." Ibn Abbas said, "Allah willing, you are alright as you are the wife of Allah's Apostle and he did not marry any virgin except you and proof of your innocence was revealed from the Heaven." Later on Ibn Az-Zubair entered after him and 'Aisha said to him, "Ibn 'Abbas came to me and praised me greatly, but I wish that I was a thing forgotten and out of sight." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 277)

Narrated 'Aisha:
I said, "O Allah’s Apostle! Suppose you landed in a valley where there is a tree of which something has been eaten and then you found trees of which nothing has been eaten, of which tree would you let your camel graze?" He said, "(I will let my camel graze) of the one of which nothing has been eaten before." (The sub-narrator added: ‘Aisha meant that Allah’s Apostle had not married a virgin besides herself ). (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 14)

Another English version of al-Bukhari states:

IX. Marrying virgins

Ibn Abi Mulayka said that Ibn 'Abbas said to 'A'isha, "The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did not marry any virgin besides me[sic]."

4789. It is related that 'A'isha said, "I said, 'Messenger of Allah, if you were to alight in a valley which had a tree which had been eaten from and a trees which had not been eaten from, on which of them would you graze your camel?' He replied, 'On the one which had not been grazed on before.' By that she meant that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had not married a virgin besides her." (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of Al-Bukhari, Chapter 70. Book of Marriage; source)

Yet Mariyah was also a virgin when Muhammad received her. There are at least two strong reasons for this. First, as a Christian she would not have been permitted to engage in premarital sex. Recall that the Muqauqis was the Christian ruler of Egypt and would have therefore been a follower of the tenets of Christianity. Second, kings and rulers send each other "choice gifts" of supreme quality. Had Mariyah and her sister not been virgins, this gift of "used women" would have been considered an insult instead of an honor. For the second reason alone it would be inconceivable that Mariyah was not a virgin, nor has any Muslim authority ever doubted this.

This implies that if Muhammad did marry Mariyah then Aisha wasn’t his only virgin spouse, which contradicts these so-called sound narrations of al-Bukhari which claim that she was.

But since Muslims claim that the hadith collection of al-Bukhari have no weak or defective reports this means that Umar’s sources are wrong for claiming that Muhammad married Mariyah. The foregoing provides additional proof that Muhammad never married Mariyah but merely kept her his sex slave.

Is the Majority Always Right?

Umar repeatedly asserts that the majority of Muslim scholars believe that Mariyah was Muhammad’s wife:

It doesn't matter if the different views are found among the scholars, here is the bottom line:

The majority agree, that she is indeed a wife of the Holy Prophet (S) !

He gets this information from the following source:

The books of sirah (the biography of the Prophet Muhammad) differ on the number of his wives (may Allah bless all). The main reason behind the differences in the number of his wives is - in most of the cases - due to the reliance on weak non-authentic hadiths.

However, the vast majority of Muslim scholars agreed that the wives of the prophet (pbuh) were:

1. Khadijah
2. `A’isha bint Abu Bakr
3. Sawda bint Zum`ah
4. Hafsa bint `Umar
5. Zaynab bint Khuzaymah
6. Um-Habibah bint Abu Sufyan
7. Um-Salamah
8. Zaynab bint Jahsh
9. Juwariyah bint al-Harith
10. Safiyah bint Hayi ibn Akhtab
11. Maymunah al-Hilaliyah
12. Mariya al-Qibtiya (Who was from Egypt.)

(May Allah be pleased with all of them). These are the names upon whom the scholars agreed.
Some books list Mariya as a concubine, yet the opinion I more lean toward is that she was one of the prophet’s wives and was not a concubine. Mariya was honored and respected by the prophet (pbuh), as well as his family and companions. (Prophet’s Illiteracy and Mariya; source)

He also conveniently quotes only a portion of Wikipedia’s entry on Mariyah, but doesn’t bother to mention what they write under the subheading Maria and her sister sent from the Patriarch:

Many Muslim sources say that Muhammad later freed and married Maria, but it is not clear if this is historical fact or historical apology. Some Muslim traditions claim that Muhammad offered to free Maria, but that she chose to remain a slave. To further complicate matters, slaves were to be automatically freed upon conversion to Islam, so it is not clear why Maria would have to be explicitly freed if she had already converted. (Source, as accessed on 16 March 2006; bold and underline emphasis ours)

All Umar is doing at this point is to commit the fallacy of appealing to the majority (ad populum).

An important question that needs to be asked is who counts the "majority" of scholars? This is one source that claims so, but how do we know that what the authors of this reference have read really accounts for the majority? The majority of the early commentators? The majority of recent commentators? Commentators who published in which languages? Commentators from all Muslim sects or only from their own Muslim sect?

Furthermore, instead of counting evidence Umar needs to start weighing it. In other words, it is not how many sources say a given thing, since the majority can be wrong as history amply attests, but the weight and the value of the sources being presented. It is the quality, not quantity, of the evidence that matters.

In our initial article, we presented several sources to prove our case, much of which came from early and very credible Muslim scholars and historians. In fact, here is a list of Muslims, both ancient and modern, which claim that Mariyah was a concubine or didn’t list her as one of the wives.

  1. Ibn Ishaq.
  2. Al-Tabari.
  3. Ibn Kathir.
  4. Al-Qurtubi.
  5. Al-Jalalayn (the two Jalals).
  6. Ibn Sa’d.
  7. Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr.
  8. Abu ‘Ubaydah
  9. Ibn al-Qayyim.
  10. Zubayr ibn Bakkar.
  11. Mufti Shafi Uthmani.
  12. Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani.
  13. G.F. Haddad.
  14. Mufti Ebrahim Desai.
  15. Moiz Amjad of the www.understanding-islam.org website.
  16. Tariq Mahmood Hashmi of the www.studying-islam.org website.
  17. The Concise Encyclopaedia of Islam.

It has been Umar’s habit to discredit Muslim sources such as al-Tabari while praising his own scholars who conveniently happen to agree with him, such as Allama Shibli Naumani.

We provide here the view of the scholars of www.Islamqa.com regarding the commentaries of al-Tabari and Ibn Kathir in order to put an end to Umar’s desperate tactics of discrediting data which soundly refutes him:

Each of these Tafseers was written by a great Sunni scholar, and the scholars still recommend them. Each of them has its own characteristics which means that the seeker of knowledge cannot show preference to one of them over the other. There follow a few comments on these two Tafseers.

They present quotes from Muslim scholars praising al-Tabari:

Abu Haamid al-Isfaraayini said: If a traveller were to travel to China in order to obtain it, that would not be too much.

Tabaqaat al-Mufassireen by al-Dawoodi, 2/106.

Ibn Khuzaymah said: I have read it from beginning to end and I do not know of anyone on the face of the earth who is more knowledgeable than Ibn Jareer.

Siyar A’laam al-Nubala’, 14/273.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: With regard to the Tafseers that are in circulation among the people, the most sound of them is the Tafseer of Muhammad ibn Jareer al-Tabari, for he mentions the views of the salaf with proven isnaads, and there is no bid’ah (innovation) in it, and he does not transmit reports from dubious sources such as Muqaatil ibn Bukayr and al-Kalbi.

Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 13/358.

He also said in Muqaddimah fi Usool al-Tafseer (p. 35), concerning the Tafseer of Ibn Jareer:

It is one of the best and greatest of Tafseers.

He relied on the views of three generations of mufassireen among the salaf, namely the Sahaabah, the Taabi’een, and the followers of the Taabi’een, and he quotes their opinions with isnaads going back to them. This is an important feature of his book which is not present in many of the books of Tafseer that are in circulation among us. But this feature does not matter to many ordinary Muslims who are not able to research isnaads and distinguish sound isnaads from weak ones; all they want is to know whether an isnaad is sound or weak by means of a clear and brief statement to that effect.  

When he has finished quoting their opinions, he states which he thinks is most likely to be correct, then he describes how he reached that conclusion.

They also write concerning Ibn Kathir that:

Al-Suyooti (may Allaah have mercy on him) said concerning this Tafseer: Nothing like it has ever been written.

Tadhkirat al-Huffaaz, p. 534.

This Tafseer is based on commentary by quoting texts – verses and ahaadeeth – and its fame is second to the fame of al-Tabari among later scholars.

It is written in an excellent and easy style which is not longwinded or boring, or too short and boring.

He explains verses by quoting other verses, and he quotes appropriate verses which explain the verse under discussion; then he quotes ahaadeeth that have been narrated on the same topic as the verse, and he quotes the isnaads of some, especially those that were narrated by Imam Ahmad in his Musnad, as he is one of those who memorized al-Musnad. He discusses the soundness and weakness of the ahaadeeth in most cases, which is an important feature of his Tafseer. Then he quotes the views of the salaf, including the Sahaabah and Taabi’een, and he states which view he believes to be superior. He also avoids odd dissenting opinions.

Muhammad ibn Ja’far al-Kataani said of it: It is full of ahaadeeth and reports with the isnaads of those who narrated them and discussion of how sound or weak they are.

Al-Risaalah al-Mustatrafah, p. 195

He draws attention to the shar’i attitude towards the Israa’eeliyyaat (reports from Jewish sources) and quotes some of them in his commentary on some verses.

They then conclude by saying:

No seeker of knowledge can do without these two books. With regard to which is superior, nothing like the Tafseer of Ibn Jareer (al-Tabari) has been written since. It is essential for scholars and seekers of knowledge, but it is not appropriate for ordinary people because they are not qualified to understand it properly. The Tafseer of Ibn Katheer is more appropriate for the ordinary people, and there is much in it from which scholars and seekers of knowledge can benefit. (Question #43778: Which is more sound, Tafseer Ibn Katheer or Tafseer al-Tabari?; online source; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Sunni author GF Haddad concurs with the assessment www.islamqa.com regarding al-Tabari:

Muhammad ibn Jarir ibn Yazid ibn Kathir, Abu Ja`far al-Tabari (d. 310), one of the major mujtahid Imams and the founder of a school of Law which remained for 150 years after his death, then disappeared. He is the author of a massive commentary on the Qur'an; an equally large universal history; a biographical history entitled Tarikh al-Rijal; an encyclopedia of jurisprudence entitled al-Basit and a medium-sized work entitled Latif al-Qawl fi Ahkam Shara'i` al-Islam, which he abridged into a smaller work; a book on the dialects and sciences of the Qur'an entitled al-Qira'at wa al-Tanzil wa al-`Adad; the unfinished book of al-Fada'il on the immense merits of the Companions; al-Manasik on the rituals of Pilgrimage; Sharh al-Sunna ("Explanation of the Sunna"); al-Musnad ("Narrations With Uninterrupted Chains"); the unfinished Tahdhib al-Athar ("Classification of Transmitted Reports"); Tabsir Uli al-Nahi ("Admonishment for the Wise") for the people of Tabaristan; Ma`alim al-Huda ("Sign-Posts of Guidance"); Ikhtilaf al-Fuqaha' ("The Differences Among the Jurists"); Tartib al-`Ulama' ("Classification of the Scholars of Knowledge") etc. Al-Dhahabi praises the latter book and mentions that al-Tabari begins it with the rules of conduct for the purification of the self and the sayings of the Sufis... Al-Tabari limited his Tafsir of the Qur'an and his great history to thirty volumes each out of compassion for his students, as he originally intended to write three hundred volumes respectively. Al-Khatib heard the linguist `Ali ibn `Ubayd Allah al-Lughawi say: "Muhammad ibn Jarir spent forty years writing forty pages a day." Abu Hamid al-Isfarayini the faqih said: "If a man travelled all the way to China in order to obtain the Tafsir of Muhammad ibn Jarir it would not be too much." This alludes to the hadith narrated from the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him --: "Seek knowledge even as far as China." Husaynak ibn `Ali al-Naysaburi said the first question Ibn Khuzayma asked him was: "Did you write anything from Muhammad ibn Jarir?" Husaynak said no. Why? came the reply. Husaynak said: "He would not show himself, and the Hanbalis forbade people from going in to see him." Ibn Khuzayma said: "You did poorly. To write from him alone would have been better for you than all those from whom you wrote." ... (Haddad, AL-TABARI; source)

Even though these quotes refer mainly to al-Tabari’s commentary they still provide an idea of the kind of researcher and scholar al-Tabari truly was. His scholarship and meticulous research provides a strong basis for trusting his statements in his "History" regarding Mariyah’s status, especially when there are other scholars and sources that agree with him on this point.

Thus, we have given weighty evidence, as well as numerous references, to support our position. We therefore challenge Umar to list the names of this so-called majority of scholars in order to see just how old and credible they are.

And Now The Clincher

The readers will remember that the status of Mariyah became an issue because of the comments made by Ali Sina of www.faithfreedom.org. In one of his article he had written that:

The following is Muhammad’s scandalous love affair with Mariyah the Copt who was one of the prophet’s wives’ maids. Muhammad slept with her without any ceremony, which caused uproar among his wives and finally was settled by Divine intervention. This story is recorded in an authenticated Hadith and is reported by Omar… One-day Muhammad goes to his wife’s house Hafsa the daughter of Omar and finds her maid Mariyah attractive. He sends Hafsa to Omar’s house, telling her that he wanted to see her. When Hafsa leaves, Muhammad takes Mariyah to bed and has intercourse with her. Meanwhile Hafsa, who finds out that her father was not expecting her, returns home much sooner than expected, and to her chagrin finds her illustrious husband in bed with her maid. (Mariyah the Sex Slave of the holy Prophet; source; underline emphasis ours)

Sina’s claim that Mariyah was Hafsa’s maid caused quite a furor among Muslims. The typical response was that Sina was deliberately lying since there is no Islamic source which says Mariyah was a maid of Hafsa’s.

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.

Umar has demonstrated what basically happens when a person doesn’t think through the issues and reflect on the answers carefully. He makes concessions and ends up contradicting himself from one rebuttal to the next.

Moreover, Karim’s argument really doesn’t have much force to it. Muhammad could just as well have kept Mariyah as a sex slave, which wouldn’t require her to perform any duties for his wives. After all, the reverse does not seem to be the case. Certainly, it would be up to the owner, Muhammad, to decide what duties his slave-girl has, whether only being available to him for physical pleasure, or also doing work in the house, or the garden, or aiding one or several or all of his wives in their duties. But if the owner wants, he can certainly reserve her for himself exclusively, and she would then not have had to work for the wives.

Be that as it may, Karim’s comments provide support for Sina’s argument regarding Mariyah being Hafsa’s maid.

Now watch as Umar scrabbles to find a way of correcting this major slip in order to try to do some damage control.

Some Final Remarks

In his haste to "refute" me, Umar responds to my point that Sura 4:128-130 gave Muhammad sanction to neglect his wife by claiming that I misunderstood Sura 4:34! He writes:

Sam Shamoun now shows how ignorant he is of Sura 4:34, where Allah Almighty tells men, that they are the "protectors and maintainers of women":

It is very hard to see how I could be called ignorant of Sura 4:34 when I never even mentioned it in my rebuttal! It seems that Umar simply copied and pasted this section from another rebuttal addressing another article I had written where I discuss this specific text.

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:

Looking at any reputable source will tell you that Muhammad (PBUH) and Mariyah (RA) were legally married… (Bahagia, Muhammad (PBUH) and Mariyah (RA); source)


Our Response:

Ali Sina begins his article, with a CLEAR-CUT LIE! Mariyah the Copt wasn't just a servant, she was the Prophet’s (S) own Wife! (Bassam Zawadi, Rebuttal to Ali Sina's article: "Mariyah the Sex Slave of the holy Prophet"; original version of this article) [1]

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.

We conclude with a summary of all the conflicting views and gross contradictions posited by the various Muslim sources.

  1. Muslim sources present contradictory dates for Surah 33, specifically 33:52.
  2. Muslim sources contradict one another regarding whether Sura 33:52 was abrogated by Sura 33:50 or not.
  3. Muslim sources indicate that Sura 33:50 was given before Sura 33:52, which means that the abrogating verse actually came before the verse which it was suppose to abrogate!
  4. Muslim sources contradict one another whether Mariyah was Muhammad's wife or concubine.
  5. The so-called sound narrations (the sahih ahadith) say that Muhammad had a total of nine wives, a number which excludes Mariyah from being a wife since including her would raise the number to ten.
  6. Muslim sources disagree whether Sura 33:52 prohibited Muhammad from marrying all women, including slaves, or whether he was prohibited from marrying slave women who were not spoils of war.

The foregoing exposes the mass confusion that exists within Islamic scholarship and how utterly chaotic the religion of Islam truly is.

Recommended Reading

If the readers are interested in seeing how well Umar did in defending his thesis against agnostics and atheists we recommend reading the posts found on this link. Umar’s name in the forum is QuranSearch.Com.


[1] After realizing that there are Muslim sources which do teach that Mariyah was Muhammad’s slave, not his wife, Zawadi was humble enough to change his initial position against Sina:

Our Response:

Previously I accused Ali Sina of being a liar when he said that Mariyah was only a slave of the Prophet. It turns out that there is a difference in opinion regarding if Mariyah was the Prophet's wife or slave. So I apologize to Sina for that. However, even though, Ali Sina fails to prove anything against the Prophet.

We truly respect and appreciate Zawadi’s willingness to correct himself when realizing he has made a mistake. There is nothing wrong with being mistaken since we all can be wrong and commit errors in our speeches and writings.

The discussion continues.

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