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Letter 72

Safar 12, 1330

I She Was Not the Best of the Prophet's Consorts

1) The mother of the believers ‘Ayesha enjoys a special status, and she has her own contribution standing to her credit, but she is not the best of the Prophet's wives. How can she be the best since one authentic hadith quotes her saying, "The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, once mentioned Khadija, and I objected by saying: ‘She was an old woman, and such and such, and Allah has granted you someone better than her [meaning herself].'

He said: ‘Not at all; Allah has not granted me better than her; she believed in me when people denounced me, and she believed in me when people called me a liar; she shared her wealth with me when people deprived me, and Allah blessed me with children by her while depriving me of the children of all others'"?

‘Ayesha is also reported as having said, "The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, never left home before mentioning Khadija and praising her. One day, he mentioned her, and I felt jealous. I said: ‘Was she but an old woman, while Allah has blessed you with someone better than her?' He became so offended that his front hair shook in anger, then he said: ‘No, by Allah! Allah did not bless me with anyone better than her! She believed in me when people disbelieved; she held me truthful when people called me a liar; she gave me an equal share of her wealth when people deprived me, and Allah blessed me with children by her while depriving me the children of other women.'"1

II The Best is Khadija,

2) The best of the Prophet's (pbuh) consorts, therefore, is Khadija al-Kubra, the truthful of this nation, the foremost in believing in Allah and His Book, and in solacing His Prophet. Allah has inspired His Messenger (pbuh) to convey the good news to her that she had in Paradise a house built of stalks of gold and silver,2 and that she had been a favourite of Allah.

The Almighty said of her: "The best of the women of Paradise are Khadija daughter of Khuaylid, Fatima daughter of Muhammad, Asiya daughter of Muzahim, and Mary daughter of ‘Umran (Amram)." He, peace be upon him and his progeny, has said: "Among all the women of the world, commended are Khadija daughter of Khuaylid, Fatima daughter of Muhammad, Asiya daughter of Muzahim, and Mary daughter of ‘Umran." There are other ahadith which are among the most authentic and reliable emphasizing the same.3

It cannot also be said that ‘Ayesha was the best among the mothers of believers save Khadija. Reliable traditions and recorded events refuse to favour her over the others, as is obvious to the wise. She probably thought of herself as being superior to all others, and the Prophet, peace be upon him and his progeny, did not agree with her self­assessment.

The same happened with Safiyya daughter of Huyay when the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his progeny, entered her room once and found her weeping. He asked her: "What grieves you?" She answered: "I have come to know that both ‘Ayesha and Hafsa speak ill of me and say that they are better than me." He, peace be upon him and his progeny, said: "Couldn't you have told them: ‘How can you be better than me, since my father is Aaron, my uncle is Moses, and my husband is Muhammad?'"4

Whoever traces the mother of the believers ‘Ayesha in her deeds and statements will find her as we indicate here.

III A General Hint to the Reason Why her Hadith was Discarded

3) The reason why we have discarded her hadith regarding the will is due to the fact that it does not constitute an argument, and please do not ask me to elaborate on this point, Wassalam.

Sincerely,

Sh

  • 1. This hadith and the one that follows it are among detailed ahadith narrated by Sunnis. Refer to them in the discussion of Khadija al-Kubra (as) in the Isti’ab, and you will find them as we have quoted them here verbatim. They are quoted by al-Bukhari and Muslim in their sahihs in almost similar wording.
  • 2. As narrated by al-Bukhari in his chapter on women's jealousy and sentimentality, near the conclusion of his treatise on marriage, page 175, Vol. 3, of his Sahih.
  • 3. We have quoted it in the second paragraph of our celebrated statement, and anyone who wishes to research is referred thereto.
  • 4. This is quoted by al-Tirmithi from Kinanah, slave of the mother of believers Safiyya, and it is transmitted by Ibn ‘Abd al-Birr in his biography of Safiyya in the Isti’ab, Ibn Hajar in her biography in Al-Isabah, by Shaykh Rashid Rida at the end of page 589, Vol. 12, of his Manar, in addition to many other traditionists.

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