Friday, November 6, 2015

097 - Maria the Copt & Death of Ibrahim


Today and the next lesson we'll catch up with issues in the life of the Prophet PBUH we previously overlooked. We discussed the Battle of Tabuk and then the delegations which spanned 4 years. There are things happening in the life of the Prophet PBUH during this time we've missed out. In order to discuss we once again go non-chronologically. As we noticed if we did the delegations chronologically it would have been too much i.e. mentioning a delegation every episode. Rather if you lump them together it makes sense. Similarly we'll discuss one issue which spans the course of around 2.5 years. And it is the 8th, 9th and 10th year of the Hijrah which we are discussing in.

We begin by discussing the death of the son of the Prophet PBUH. And in order to talk about Ibrahim we need to discuss Maria, and of course this topic is very sensitive. Nonetheless it's better to discuss it here and now, frankly in the confines of an Islamic ethos rather than hear it from someone who misinterpreted it and does not believe in Allah and His Messenger.

The Prophet's PBUH Letter to Jurayj ibn Mina, the Muqawqis of Egypt

Maria's name was Maria bint Sham'un. She was gifted to the Prophet PBUH by Jurayj ibn Mina, who was the Muqawqis of Egypt. The 'Muqawqis' is a title just like the Caesar. The books of seerah say this is the 'ruler' of Egypt but this is incorrect because even Egypt at the time was not independent. It was under the Roman Empire. So Jurayj was not a king, rather he was a governor appointed by Rome. Of course back then they appointed religious people, so they appointed Jurayj who was a patriarch. And it looks like Jurayj was Cyrus of Alexandria. So Cyrus was his actual Latin name. This Cyrus was a Melkite Christian. [Tangent: The Melkites then become Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholics.] To this day the Greek Orthodox church admires this person, Cyrus.

So the Prophet PBUH sent him a letter to Islam. This letter is probably around the 8th year of Islam. We have no reports from Egypt about him receiving the letter and what his response was unlike the Caesar of Rome. However it's not too far fetched to assume he recognized the Prophet PBUH as being true and that is why he was so polite to him. [Transcriber's note: another possibility is he was being polite because Heraclius told him to be polite.] Neither did he tear the letter up or reject it. Rather he gifted a mini fortune with highly expensive gifts, and wrote back a very polite letter to the Prophet PBUH. Therefore it's not too much of a stretch to make an assumption that he recognizes the Prophet PBUH is a true prophet. Note he's well known as being an alim in Christianity so he is knowledgeable. However as is typical he doesn't want to convert.


So what does he do? He sends a mini fortune: 1000 satchels of gold, and many fine garments. And he sends a donkey called Duldul. And he sent a servant by the name of Ma'boor. He sent honey, and among those gifts he sent two sister slave girls by the name of Maria and Sirin. These two girls were of course Christians. Some later books mention that these girls were gifted to the church by their fathers. They had this tradition where they would gift their child for the sake of worship, just like Maryam AS in Surat Ali-Imran.

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Maria and Sirin al-Qibtiyya

So Maria and Sirin are daughters of a noble family, and the patriarch gifts them to the Prophet PBUH. And the books of seerah mention that these two young ladies were exceedingly beautiful.

Because they were sisters, the Prophet PBUH gifted Sirin to Hassan ibn Thabit, the poet; and they had a child by the name of Abd al-Rahman ibn Hassan ibn Thabit. The Prophet PBUH kept Maria for himself. Ibn Sa'd mentions when the Prophet PBUH received the letter from Cyrus, it was a polite letter with all these gifts. So the Prophet PBUH said, "This evil person has managed to preserve his kingdom by being polite to me, but his kingdom won't last." Meaning he will be the last of his dynasty, but because he was polite he won't be harmed himself. And of course this is what happened, Cyrus died a natural death and Amr ibn al-As conquered Egypt years later.

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Tangent: The Notion of 'Slavery' in Pre-Modern Islam

The difficult topic today is that of Maria. The fact of the matter is this is a topic that is simply impossible to talk about without some bias. We are bias in one direction, and that is, we obviously believe the Prophet PBUH is a prophet. Therefore we'll automatically view everything that has done as permissible and sanctioned by Allah at least for the time and place. Even if not in our times back then it was fine. So we accept that these things were morally possible at the time. The fact is, no matter of sugar coating removes this reality. That Maria and her sister were not wives, but they were concubines. It does appear Maria later on converted to Islam, but she was not a Muslim when she came. And in our sharia one cannot take a non-Muslim as a concubine. So she comes as a Christian, she converts later on and she very much becomes a concubine.

If someone comes and asks us, "Why does your Prophet have so many wives?" Immediately we say that Allah SWT allowed it, and the basic ruling is that the biblical prophets had multiple wives and concubines. The Bible mentions Moses and Abraham having concubines. Solomon had over 1,000 ladies according to the Bible. So how can you compare the Prophet PBUH marrying 9 later on in his life to 900+? So we point this out and it's a valid point. But the problem is, there are few faithful Christian and Jews. More and more people are turning agnostic, and they have no problem criticizing biblical figures as well. To that person, all we can say is that, that was a different world in a different time, place, custom and land. People across the globe had different views.

In a Jewish website, a questioner asked a rabbi, "How can Solomon have used hundreds of thousands of slaves to build the temple? Isn't this against humanism, etc.? How can I be a Jew after this?" So this rabbi responds, and this response applies to us as well, "The thing about history is that it does tend to be brutal, and it strips us of our most cherished illusions. We have to approach it cautiously; Solomon was a great builder and as such he needed builders through slaves. This was not an uncommon practice for the time. Shall we read it as slavery? Or as employment? Did he enslave the masses or provided them jobs? We tend to think of slavery as an ultimate evil, but the fact is this was an accepted form of labor for thousands of years, and our disillusion with it is only 300 years old."

Of course we only have one Maria that's treated very nicely, been given her own house, etc. But at the end of the day it's not something modern humans find palatable. So the rabbi continues, "This is not a defense of slavery. I, like you, am a child of the antislavery movement of modern times. To read what goes on in ancient times through our contemporary eyes and then judge it is not fair to our ancestors."

Also the way that slavery existed in America in the 1800s was perhaps the most brutal manifestation of slavery in the history of humanity. Realistically speaking the way that America used slaves, imported them, caught free people and enslaved them worse than animals - even the ancient Greeks were better. One of the byproducts of being so harsh to slaves was the abolition movement that came out of it.

The point is that, slavery did not exist in Islamic lands the way it existed in America. It is very true historically speaking the first Europeans that visited Muslim lands were amazed at how the slaves were treated. They were amazed at how kind and gentle they were treated. One of them remarks, "The slave speaks back to the master." And we know that some slaves even became kings. The Mamluk dynasty (the great grandson of Genghis Khan) which fought against the mongols was a dynasty of slaves that eventually rose to power and ruled the Muslim world for almost 500 years, up until Napoleon Bonaparte in 1792. Note the sharia uncategorically forbids taking a free person and making them into a slave. There's a channel to be a slave: Prisoners of war not ransomed. There's no comparison at all with what's happening in modern times. The point is that slaves were not treated the way we think about the slavery (that happened here in the United States).

Further, scholars in our era have agreed slavery is a thing of the past. I don't know of a single scholar or alim who is calling to a return of slavery. Things have moved on. Sheikh Ibn Uthaymeen, when the Bosnian war was taking place in the 1990s, he was very much involved with giving advice to the people. And that was a legitimate war. Everyone acknowledged the Serbs were massacring the Muslims. There was so much bloodshed; the UN has since done a tribunal and crimes court against the Serbian leaders. The point is it was a legitimate jihad, and Sheikh Ibn Uthaymeen was asked by those on the ground, "We have prisoners of war, we cannot ransom them off - can we take them as milk al-yamin (concubines)?" And the Sheikh said, "No, this is not allowed in our times." This is a sheikh that is considered to be ultra-conservative. This is a faqih. And he understands that you can't do this and resurrect it from the books of fiqh. It was permissible in the past, but not now. The point is: The Prophet PBUH was indeed gifted Maria. And note she was not considered as the wife of the Prophet PBUH, so we don't view her as being a Mother of the Believers. She remained a concubine and we know Maria gave birth to the son of the Prophet PBUH, that is Ibrahim.

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In Our Day and Age, It Is Better to Not Hide 'Problematic' Seerah Events

There is one story mentioned about Maria. In a different time and place not everything needs to be mentioned. However, in these days, we need to talk about these matters frankly. We don't want our youth to turn away from the religion because of something they hear from someone else. [Sh. YQ then talks about a young boy who phoned him and told him that he has left Islam because he heard something about the seerah that he could not fathom.] And these are legitimate things in the book. But the question is where did he hear these things from? Not from a scholar or alim, but rather Islamophobes and people that have a certain agenda. And these people put all 'problematic' narrations together and ignore everything else that forms the true character of the Prophet PBUH. And they concentrate on these 2-3 events which, aren't lies (often quoted directly from the source e.g. Tabarani, Ibn Ishaq, etc.), but they form an evil narrative that is not holistic. So the point is it's better to talk about these things, clarify them and understand them properly. Whoever wants to have a different position on the matter that's their right and we leave them be.

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Ali RA Dealing With Ma'boor, the Distant Relative of Maria

So it's reported that Maria, who isn't a Muslim at the time and is coming to a strange land all alone, rumors began to spread that the servant gifted along with Maria, Ma'boor, was, "Visiting" Maria. Some reports also mention this servant Ma'boor was a distant relative of Maria. And the following hadith is reported in Sahih Muslim, that the Prophet PBUH commanded Ali RA to take his sword and deal with Ma'boor. And of course Ali RA is assigned these tasks because anything to do with the personal family of the Prophet PBUH, it was Ali RA who was the man. Because he is Ahl al-Bayt. So Ali RA took the sword and asked a very intelligent question, "Should I go as a silent person who just obeys the command, or shall I hear and see what the person absent will not hear and see?" Meaning, he is asking the Prophet PBUH, "Do you want me to investigate the rumors, or shall I just kill him?" The Prophet PBUH said, "No go as someone who hears and sees." So Ali RA was told to indeed investigate.

Note, because of this phrase, Ibn al-Qayyim and others say the Prophet PBUH was NOT sending Ali RA to execute him. He was sending him to frighten him and to find out. The other position is that, he was indeed sent to execute him. This is a bit of a controversy because there are fiqhi ramifications: The main one is, Ma'boor was not given a trial. Evidence was not presented, but Ali RA here is being told, "Take your sword and do it." So:

1. One opinion says the Prophet PBUH sent Ali RA to kill him and he PBUH has the right to do this.

2. The other opinion, by Ibn al-Qayyim and others, is that NO, this was not a judge, jury, and execution. The Prophet PBUH did not send Ali RA to kill Ma'boor, rather to investigate and frighten him to find out what is happening.

So Ali RA finds Ma'boor, and according to one report he was in a date grove collecting dates or getting water. When Ma'boor saw Ali RA he became terrified. There are multiple reports here. One says he tried to climb a tree but fell down. Another mentions he intentionally exposed his awrah. In either case, his awrah was exposed and lo and behold, it was obvious that he had been mutilated i.e. he did not have the man's organ. This was done to slaves of the past, but Islam prohibits mutilation of any sort to any slave or any human in general. It was then clear to Ali RA that the rumors simply can't be true. He returned to the Prophet PBUH and informed him of this.

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The Birth of Ibrahim ibn Muhammad RA

In any case, in Dhu al-Hijjah of the 8th year, Maria gives birth to a son, Ibrahim, and of course the Prophet PBUH was especially happy. We don't know when Maria embraced Islam. Was it before this or after? We don't know. One can assume living with the Prophet PBUH, obviously you will embrace Islam. So one can assume by the time Ibrahim is born, Maria is a different person with Iman. In Sahih Muslim it's reported the Prophet PBUH came to the masjid beaming with joy. And he said, "Last night a baby boy was born to me, and I shall call him the name of my father, Ibrahim." And he said about Maria, "Her child has freed her," meaning, this is a ruling our religion has: And again this shows slavery in Islam was completely different to other civilizations.

In our sharia, if a concubine gives birth, the child is fully legitimate and exactly the same as all other children in inheritance, taking the name of the father, status of the father, etc. Most of our khalifa of the Umayyads and Abbasids in particular, almost all of them were sons of slaves. So being sons of slaves didn't have a negative smear or effect at all. So when a slave woman has a child, she automatically gets a free upgrade, and is known as "umm al-walad" meaning she's no longer a concubine. She cannot be sold, transferred, and she'll become free as soon as her husband/owner passes away. So you simply cannot get rid of the lady who gives birth to your child. So our Prophet PBUH gave this fiqh ruling through Maria.

One of the ladies of the Ansar volunteered to become a foster mother. In fact it's mentioned there was a competition to be the foster mother of the Prophet's PBUH son. This also shows that it was very common for ladies to volunteer to help out and be a foster mother. Every mother knows it's difficult to raise a newborn alone, so this is what was done: Women would offer to help each other out. So one of the ladies of the Ansar became the 'wet nurse' of Ibrahim, and the Prophet PBUH gave her a stipend because of this.

Now, Ibrahim lived for a year and four months; other reports say a year and six months. There is no hadith mentioning any incident within this year and a half regarding Ibrahim. The reality is we only have what the sahaba told us about.

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The Death of Ibrahim ibn Muhammad RA

What we do know? In the first quarter of the 10th year of the Hijrah, his son passed away. We all know, not only is the passing of a child the most painful thing, but that the age of around 1.5 years, is the most tender and cute, adorable age. It is at that age where the child is walking, laughing, recognizes you, etc. That is the cutest age; yet Allah willed that at the most beautiful age, Ibrahim pass away. There are many reports in the seerah about his death. There was nothing to really report about Ibrahim's life: He was just a baby whom the Prophet PBUH must have been with.

However, the death of Ibrahim is reported in every book of hadith including Bukhari and Muslim. Some of the books mention that the news came that Ibrahim has fallen sick and was about to die. So the information is conveyed to the Prophet PBUH. The Prophet PBUH visited Maria, and she lived in a place in Madinah called Awari. Some of the sahaba went with him to see Ibrahim, and he held Ibrahim in his hand. And Ibrahim was wheezing and coughing, and at this the tears of the Prophet PBUH began to fall. This was when a sahaba asked, "You also cry oh messenger of Allah?" This shows us the Prophet PBUH rarely cried in public. And that, to see him cry was a shock to some sahaba. And the Prophet PBUH responded with the famous phrase, "The eyes cry, and the heart is sad, but we only say that which pleases our Lord. Were it not for the decree of Allah to pass, and that the latter amongst us shall meet the earlier, we would be much more grieved at your departure." Thus there are two things to console us when someone dies:

1. Qadr Allah i.e. Allah has decreed it to happen.

2. Insha'Allah it's only a matter of time and then all of us are together in Jannah. Death isn't something that is permanent; you will also die. When your loved one dies, it's only a matter of time until you die. And then you will both be together. This is what the Prophet PBUH is saying.

And the Prophet PBUH said, "We only say that which pleases our Lord."

This shows us what sabr really mean. It means you control your tongue and actions. Nothing to do with emotions. You can feel sad, cry, etc. But you control what you say and do. This is sabr. You don't start wailing and saying things that go beyond what is permissible. We control our tongue and limbs. The books of hadith mention Salah al-Janazah was prayed for Ibrahim, thus we learn we can pray janazah for a young boy. And the Prophet PBUH used four takbirat, as per normal. And he was buried in Baqi' in a graveyard still known to this day.

Subhan'Allah look at how many deaths of the family of the Prophet PBUH he had to suffer. From the beginning right to the end. Ibrahim died less than one year before our Prophet PBUH died. Literally at 62 years old he goes through this tragedy. His mother died when he was at a young age, his grandfather, his wife of 25 years Khadija RA, his uncle Abu Talib, all three of his daughters. Literally everyone is dead besides Fatima RA. So he is extra happy at the birth of Ibrahim, but Allah tested him once more with the death of Ibrahim. And all of this of course is to raise his ranks in Jannah.

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Solar Eclipse That Coincided With the Death of Ibrahim RA

What is perhaps even more amazing is that, as we know, on the day of the death of Ibrahim, there was a solar eclipse. Within a few hours of Ibrahim's death who died in the morning, there is a solar eclipse. Note the solar eclipse is reported in Bukhari and Muslim, but Ibrahim's death is not mentioned. Other books of hadith mentioned that took place on the day Ibrahim died. And the people began to say, "The sun is grieving at the sorrow of the Prophet PBUH. Even the sun is sad, and shielding itself because it's crying." So the news spread in Madinah that the sun is crying because of the death of Ibrahim. At this, the Prophet PBUH gathered all of the people and he gave a khutbah. This khutbah is reported in Bukhari and Muslim. And he said: "The sun and the moon are among Allah's (SWT) signs that don't eclipse for the death or the life of someone. So when you see an eclipse, hasten to do dhikr of Allah and perform the salah." The khutbah is in Bukhari; Ibrahim's death isn't linked to this hadith in Bukhari, but it is in Abu Dawud. But the khutbah is very clear, that the Prophet PBUH is saying the sun doesn't eclipse because of the death of anyone. Why would he say that unless there is a death taking place? Clearly it must be for Ibrahim's death.

And wallahi incidents like these prove without the shadow of a doubt the Prophet PBUH was a sincere prophet. He didn't even have to repel against the rumors. He could have just been quiet. What does it lose him? Let the world know the sun is crying because of the death of Ibrahim. But subhan'Allah he cannot do this because he is a true messenger. And so he called the people and literally says, "The moon and sun never eclipse for the death or birth of anyone. That is just a miracle of Allah." This is one of million of evidences that show he is a true prophet. How else do you explain this? The miracle of the eclipse is taking place, and he says, "No, no, it's not for Ibrahim, it's just a coincidence."

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Theories: Wisdoms of Why Ibrahim Died Young

Of course, the fact that Ibrahim could not be a young man is something that has already been decreed explicitly in the Quran. Allah revealed this verse before the birth of Ibrahim. That Surah Ahzab Allah says:

مَّا كَانَ مُحَمَّدٌ أَبَا أَحَدٍ مِّن رِّجَالِكُمْ وَلَٰكِن رَّسُولَ اللَّهِ وَخَاتَمَ النَّبِيِّينَ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا
"Muhammad is not the father of [any] one of your men, but [he is] the Messenger of Allah and last of the prophets. And ever is Allah, of all things, Knowing." [33:40]

If Ibrahim had become a young man, this would have contradicted the verse. Notice the precision of Allah: He didn't say, 'The father of a young boy.' Rather Allah said Muhammad is not the father of any MAN. If the Qur'an had said he isn't the father to a boy/child/offspring, this could be a contradiction. And subhan'Allah Ibrahim was never a man. He was always a baby. And therefore one could say theologically it was impossible Ibrahim could live beyond early childhood.

In another report from Anas ibn Malik the Prophet PBUH said, "Allah has given Ibrahim a wet nurse in Jannah. If Ibrahim had lived, he would have been a righteous prophet." This is reported in Ibn Majah. A lot of scholars have called it a hasan hadith, but the majority of the scholars say this is in fact a statement of Anas ibn Malik, not the Prophet PBUH himself. This is proven in other narrations that in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad they mention it as a statement upon Anas. That Anas said if Ibrahim had lived, he would have been a prophet. That's just a ijtihad he is making.

Also, one can add, there's a political wisdom in not having male lineage of the Prophet PBUH. There's no doubt immediately he would have been the next khalifa and so on; as it is, look at the controversies that erupted from the descendants of the Prophet PBUH. Look at how groups exalted the Ahl al-Bayt to beyond what is human. We respect and admire Ahl al-Bayt however there's a big difference between us and the Shia. We say the Ahl al-Bayt are special and blessed if they are holy. Whereas Shia say there are special and blessed because they are holy. Whereas we say you being a descendant of the Prophet PBUH does not make you righteous. Your good deeds make you righteous; your blood cannot save you. Wallahi lineage does not matter. And it's a hadith of course in Tirmidhi, "Whosoever's good deeds hold him back, his lineage won't push him forward."

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Incident of the Jealousy of Hafsa RA & the Revelation of Surah al-Tahrim

There's a final incident about Maria. The books of tafsir mention it more than the books of seerah because Qur'an was revealed for it. Again it's a problematic story and it's in the Qur'an so you can't 'sweep it under the carpet.' It's narrated in al-Tabari, one day Hafsa went away so the Prophet PBUH called Maria to the house of Hafsa. And it so happened she returned earlier than she was supposed to, and she saw Maria leaving her house. So she became enraged and irritated with the Prophet PBUH and said, "Ya Rasulullah is that how much respect you have for me? In my house and on my day?" And so the Prophet PBUH continued to calm her down, until eventually she made the Prophet PBUH promise to never ever see Maria again. So the Prophet PBUH said, "I swear by Allah I won't see her again." And he made Hafsa keep this between the two of them. And he said, "Do not tell Aisha." The issue is, some people think the Prophet PBUH is super human. So when they hear these incidents, the image they have formed in their minds of the Prophet PBUH crumbles. The problem is that this image should not have been in their minds in the first place. The Prophet PBUH was a human, the best and most perfect human, but he was just a human. And in this incident there is nothing haram that has been done.

Hafsa does go and tell Aisha. Why? To make Aisha jealous of her that, 'I caused the Prophet PBUH to give up Maria.' Note Hafsa and Aisha had an interesting relationship: At times they were the best of friends, at other times enemies. So Hafsa is boasting that she got rid of Maria. And both of them were jealous of Maria since she had her beauty. In fact it was because of this the Prophet PBUH moved her away to Awari i.e. far away from the masjid. So the Prophet PBUH told Hafsa not to tell, but Hafsa spills the beans and tells Aisha. Then what happens? Allah reveals in the Qur'an:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ لِمَ تُحَرِّمُ مَا أَحَلَّ اللَّهُ لَكَ ۖ تَبْتَغِي مَرْضَاتَ أَزْوَاجِكَ ۚ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
66:1. O Prophet, why do you prohibit [yourself from] what Allah has made lawful for you, seeking the approval of your wives? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

قَدْ فَرَضَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ تَحِلَّةَ أَيْمَانِكُمْ ۚ وَاللَّهُ مَوْلَاكُمْ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ
66:2. Allah has already ordained for you [Muslims] the dissolution of your oaths. And Allah is your protector, and He is the Knowing, the Wise.

وَإِذْ أَسَرَّ النَّبِيُّ إِلَىٰ بَعْضِ أَزْوَاجِهِ حَدِيثًا فَلَمَّا نَبَّأَتْ بِهِ وَأَظْهَرَهُ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ عَرَّفَ بَعْضَهُ وَأَعْرَضَ عَن بَعْضٍ ۖ فَلَمَّا نَبَّأَهَا بِهِ قَالَتْ مَنْ أَنبَأَكَ هَٰذَا ۖ قَالَ نَبَّأَنِيَ الْعَلِيمُ الْخَبِيرُ
66:3. And [remember] when the Prophet confided to one of his wives a statement; and when she informed [another] of it and Allah showed it to him, he made known part of it and ignored a part. And when he informed her about it, she said, "Who told you this?" He said, "I was informed by the Knowing, the Acquainted."

إِن تَتُوبَا إِلَى اللَّهِ فَقَدْ صَغَتْ قُلُوبُكُمَا ۖ وَإِن تَظَاهَرَا عَلَيْهِ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ مَوْلَاهُ وَجِبْرِيلُ وَصَالِحُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ۖ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ ظَهِيرٌ
66:4. If you two [wives] repent to Allah , [it is best], for your hearts have deviated. But if you cooperate against him - then indeed Allah is his protector, and Gabriel and the righteous of the believers and the angels, moreover, are [his] assistants.

عَسَىٰ رَبُّهُ إِن طَلَّقَكُنَّ أَن يُبْدِلَهُ أَزْوَاجًا خَيْرًا مِّنكُنَّ مُسْلِمَاتٍ مُّؤْمِنَاتٍ قَانِتَاتٍ تَائِبَاتٍ عَابِدَاتٍ سَائِحَاتٍ ثَيِّبَاتٍ وَأَبْكَارًا
66:5. Perhaps his Lord, if he divorced you [all], would substitute for him wives better than you - submitting [to Allah], believing, devoutly obedient, repentant, worshiping, and traveling - [ones] previously married and virgins.

Note here after Hafsa told Aisha, when the Prophet PBUH asked her, "Why did you tell Aisha?" she replied, "Who told you I told her?" What is Hafsa thinking? Aisha told the Prophet PBUH. Rather the Prophet PBUH said, "Allah told me" (verse 3). And verse 4 is meant to bring some fear in the wives of the Prophet PBUH. That don't conspire against him or go behind his back. There is no denying that Allah is showing the status of our Prophet PBUH even to his wives. So Allah revealed the command to break the oath; the Prophet PBUH gave the kaffarah and Maria returned to him.

The opinion that these verses relate to Maria is the stronger opinion. Some sahaba said these verses relate to some honey given by Sawda, and Aisha and Hafsa conspired against the Prophet PBUH. But that doesn't fit the events of these verses; also it doesn't seem that big of a deal that the Prophet PBUH says, "I'll never eat honey again," vs the issue of never seeing Maria again. Why would the wives get so jealous that the Prophet PBUH had honey at the house of Sawda? It doesn't make sense.

Note some scholars say the private issues of the Prophet PBUH are private so they shouldn't be discussed. In response we say, if Allah willed they would be private. But He revealed Surah al-Tahrim for it. Also this isn't the custom of the sahaba. Ibn Abbas said, "I was waiting for the opportunity for years to ask Umar about Surah al-Tahrim, until I found him by myself and I asked him." And Umar RA says, "Aisha and Hafsa" - subhan'Allah it's his own daughter but Umar RA answered so even he didn't keep it private. If we look at the story of Maria, we see that even the wives of the Prophet PBUH were regular humans. They had jealousy; the point is, if we portray the Prophet PBUH the way he is, everything fits into place. But if we make an imaginary perspective and formulate someone who never existed, and then when we read the books of seerah, it completely shakes our understanding. This is the problem. We should not make the Prophet PBUH into something he isn't. He didn't do anything wrong - he has halal access to Maria; yes, Hafsa has the right to get irritated but technically the Prophet PBUH did not do anything haram. Rather than make the Prophet PBUH a superhuman, if we see the whole picture we understand and appreciate the perfection of the Prophet PBUH even more.

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Death of Maria al-Qibtiyya RA

Maria lived for only 4-5 years after the death of the Prophet PBUH. Umar RA prayed janazah for her and buried her in Baqi' al-Gharqad, thus there's no doubt she converted to Islam. When? We assume before the birth of Ibrahim, but Allah knows best.

[Transcribed by Br. Safwan Khan & Faizan]
safwan-khan@hotmail.com
[Revised by Br. Syed Haq. Awaiting MAR's revision]

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