Some 400 kilometers south of the Egyptian capital of Cairo, there is the village called “Sheikh Ebada” near Mallawi center in Minya governorate.
The village inhabited by about 60 thousand people is the birthplace of Maria, the Coptic Christian wife of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). She was “gifted’ to him during the 7th Hijri year by Al-Muqawqis, the ruler of Egypt back then.
Lady Maria is the daughter of Shamoun. She gave birth to Ibrahim, Prophet Mohammed’s third son, who died as a young child.
The story of her marriage starts when Prophet Mohammed sent a messenger to the Egyptian ruler with Hattib bin Abi Belta’a, introducing and inviting him to Islam. Hattib delivered the words of the Prophet, and the response of Al-Muqawqis was as follows:
“To Mohammed bin Abddallah, From Al-Muqawqis the Greatest of the Copts, I read your message and I understood what you are calling for. I know of the last Prophet, and I thought that he would come out of the Levant. I honored your messenger, and I’m sending you two gifts who are of great value to the Copts, along with clothing and a mule to ride, peace be upon you.”
The gifts were two maidens, Maria bint Shamoun and her sister Serine, a thousand bag of gold and twenty dresses. When the gifts reached the Prophet, he chose Maria to be his wife, and granted her sister Serine to his poet Hassan ibn Thabit.
The village where Lady Maria was born; the village of “Sheikh Ebada” was named after the follower Ebada bin al-Samit, still has the remnants of the house where Lady Maria lived and a mosque named after her.
Faraj Abdul Aziz, director of the tourism promotion office in Touna al-Jabal area, told Al Arabiya, “The origin of the area is a village called Psa, which is an ancient Egyptian god. It was built on the city of Hibeno Ati named after the special physician of Ramses II, king of Egypt.
The village where Lady Maria was born and raised has Ancient Egyptian, Roman, Coptic and Islamic monuments.
He added that the village itself was also named “Antonio Polis” after it was founded by Emperor Hadrian who named it in commemoration of his father’s memory, and it contains the remains of the Temple of Ramses II, the remains of Pharaonic tombs, a Roman theater and the gate of victory.
“In the times following the Pharaonic era, the village was called “Hufn’, and in the Islamic era, the followers of the Prophet looked after the village, and Muawiya exempted it from the levies,” he added.
He said, “according to many historical sources, after Amr ibn al-Aas took command of Egypt, the armies led by Ebada bin al- Samit arrived at the village, and when he was told it was the birth place of Lady Maria, wife of Prophet Mohammed, he decided to stay there.
He built a mosque close to Lady Maria’s home, and it became the first mosque in Mlawi.
Ebada settled in that area and made it his residence, and thus the village was named after him “the village of Sheikh Ebada.”