The late Maulana Abul A'la Maududi, the founder of the Islami Jama'at, translator and commentator of the Qur'an and author of several books on Islam says with regard to the status of a slave girl:
"According to the Qur'an a woman who has been captured by force falls in the category of a slave girl (kaniz). And because the Qur'an confines the use of force to the fighting (qital) in the way of God, thus according to the Qur'an a slave girl is that woman who falls in the hands of Muslims as a prisoner during the course of war waged in the way of God" (Rasa'il wa Masa'il 3rd edition, p.102, vol.3, as quoted in Namus-I Rasul, p.304).
How many slave girls a Muslim fighter may have besides his legally wedded wives?, according to Maulana Maududi:
"There is no limit to their numbers (Tafhim-ul-Qur'an-commentary of the Qur'an by Maulana Maududi, vol. IV, under verse 33:52).
On the same subject Maulana Maududi says about the Prophet:
"According to this permission, those women who came into his possession from among the God-granted salve-girls, he selected for himself Hazrat Raihana, Hazrat Juwairiyah and Hazrat Safiyah taken as prisoners of war in the skirmishes with Banu Quraizah, Banu Mustaliq and at Khaibar (respectively) and also Hazrat Mariyah (Mary) the Coptic sent as a gift by Maquaqis (Patriarch) of Egypt. The former three he set free and took them into wedlock while he lived with Hazrat Mariya on account of possessing her by the right hand. It has not been established (historically) that he set her free and took her into wedlock" (Tafhim-ul-Quran, vol. iv under verse 33:50, pp. 113-114).
When the author of Namus-I Rasul, Hafiz Muhammad Sarwar Quraishi of 3 Cambridge Avenue, Greenford (Middx), UK, read this part of the commentary by Maulana Maududi for whom he had a great respect, the whole word seemed to whirl round him. He was so agitated that he could not sleep for several nights. The Prophet, he thought, who came to teach the highest and perfect morals to the world, himself indulged in sexual relations with a slave girl without marriage!! Then he started in earnest studying literature on this subject and during his research he discovered that Maulana Maududi and some other Muslim scholars have committed a grave error against the character of the Noble Prophet.
The result of this research has been admirably presented in Namus-I Rasul ("Honor of the Prophet" published by Maktabah Jama'at Islamiah, Kohat, Pakistan, January 1981,). He has, however, given fair chance to Maulana Maududi to present his case, who (Maududi) believes that when one becomes the owner of a slave girl, the mere fact of one's possessing her amounts to marriage with her-no formal matrimonial ceremony is needed at all.
Maulana Maududi writes:
"The proper granting of the rights of possession by the State is just as legal an action as marriage. Therefore, a person who does not show the slightest aversion to marriage, there is no reasonable ground for him to show unnecessary aversion to living with a slave girl" (Tafhim-ul-Qur'an, Vol.1, under verse 4:24, p.340)
The Author of Namus-I Rasul did not accept this justification or other arguments advanced by Maulana Maududi in this connection and has demolished them all one by one.
The story started with the Noble Prophet's sending an invitation to Islam, in the form of a letter, to the Patriarch of Egypt which the Patriarch replied thus:
"I know that there is yet a Prophet to come but in my opinion he would be raised in Syria. Nevertheless I have treated your emissary with respect and am sending you a gift of two girls (jariyatain) who enjoy great respect among the Coptics" (as quoted in Namus, p.74).
The word jariyah (dual plural jariyatain) is the basis of all the controversy about Mary the Coptic. Even Maulana Maududi has translated jariyatain as 'two girls' (Tafhim-ul-Qur'an, vol. vi, p.16 under verse 66:1) but as has been mentioned above, Mary the Coptic was considered by him a 'slave girl' and that the Noble Prophet Muhammad did not marry her 'after setting her free' ! (Tafhim-ul-Qur'an, vol. iv, p.114).
Jariyah means a girl, or young woman; a female slave (Lane's Lexicon). However, the qualifying statement "that they enjoy great respect" or special status among the Coptics, shows that they were not slave girls but respectable young women of that community. On their way to Madinah they accepted Islam (Namus, p.75).
The author of Namus, then quotes references from the writings of Maulana Muhammad Ali, Abdul Majid, Yusuf Ali, Muhammad Asad, Muhammad Hussain Hyckle, Abul Kalam Azad and others to show that the Noble Prophet had in fact married Mary the Coptic and that she was considered one of the wives of the Prophet. A passage has also been quoted from Az-zurqani, vol. iii where the Prophet declared Mary as from among the Ahl Bait (member of the Prophet's household) (Namus, p.82).
THE PROPHET DID MARRY, MARY THE COPTIC
It is, however, surprising that Maulana Maududi and many other Muslim scholars never took notice of the following report which clearly states of the marriage of the Prophet to Mary the Coptic:
"It is reported from 'Abdullah al-Zubairi who said: that after this the Noble Prophet married (tazawwaju) Mariah daughter of Sham'un. This is the same Mariyah who was sent by Maqauqis, the ruler of Alexandria to the Prophet as a gift" (Sahih al-Mustadarak Hakim Vol. iv, as quoted in Namus, p. 86).
It must be borne in mind that in Maulana Maududi's view the word azwaj (wives) according to the common usage in the Arabic language and in the Qur'anic terminology is only used for women who have been properly married (Tafhim-ul-Qur'an, Vol. iii, under verses 23: 5-7). In the above report a derivative of zwj (tazawwaju - he married) has been used. What other historical proof is needed to establish the point that Mary the Coptic was a wife of the Prophet in a proper sense?
The Qur'an also forbade the "wives" (azwaj) of the Prophet to marry again after this death (33:53) because they were considered to be the mothers of the believers (33:6). Mary the Coptic never married after the death of the Prophet.
The Prophet once remarked: " A person who has a slave-girl and trains her in the best manner and gives her the best education, then sets her free and marries her, he will have a double reward (in the next life) Mishkat-ul-Masabih Kitab-ul-Iman Ch.1; Bukhari 3:31; as quoted in Namus, p. 31). How could the Prophet himself go against his own preachings - supposing for a moment that Mary the Coptic was sent to him as a slave girl?
Undoubtedly, this is the only book (Namus-I Rasul) on this subject which has discussed this subject in such a scholarly and detailed manner.