Comparing her with the Nobles of the Household of Nubuwwah and her Father

Praise of the Sahabah and ‘Ulama’ for Aisha
August 10, 2021
Chapter 6: Verdict against one who insults Umm al Mu’minin Sayyidah Aisha
August 13, 2021

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Comparing her with the Nobles of the Household of Nubuwwah and her Father

 

The superiority of Aisha over women is like the superiority of tharid over other foods.

-Authentic hadith

 

Introduction

In this section, few viewpoints will be mentioned in the discussion on the virtue of Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, viz. the issue of comparing her to Sayyidah Khadijah, comparing her to Sayyidah Fatimah, and comparing her to her father Sayyidina Abu Bakr al Siddiq radiya Llahu ‘anhum. A detailed discussion will be a lengthy issue. Hence, an indication with brevity will be observed here. Prior to that, it is proper to note the following facts:

  • The most superior women of this Ummah are: Khadijah, Aisha, and Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anhunna.[1]
  • Awarding superiority without detail is not correct.[2]
  • The discussion on superiority is complex.[3]

 

Comparing Aisha and Khadijah

The ‘Ulama’ have differed with regards to whether Sayyidah Khadijah or Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anhuma is superior. Some prefer the former over the latter and cite the hadith of Sayyidina Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma as proof where the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam declared:

 

أفضل نساء أهل الجنة خديجة بنت خويلد وفاطمة بنت محمد وآسية بنت مزاحم امرأة فرعون ومريم ابنة عمران

The most superior women of Jannat are: Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, Fatimah bint Muhammad, Asiyah bint Muzahim—the wife of Firoun, and Maryam bint ‘Imran.[4]

 

This is the selection of al Qadi and al Mutawalli[5] of the Shawafi’[6], Hafiz al Dhahabi has clearly stated this at one place[7], Hafiz Ibn Hajar[8], and al ‘Ayni[9]. As a matter of fact, Ibn al ‘Arabi[10] openly announces that there exists no dispute in this.[11] However, this is incorrect as the difference of opinion still stands.

Others consider Sayyidah Aisha to be superior to Sayyidah Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma. Al Amudi has written in Abkar al Afkar that this is the view of the Ahlus Sunnah.[12] Ibn Taymiyyah writes that this is the view of many of the Ahlus Sunnah.[13]

This view is supported by the hadith of Sayyidina Anas radiya Llahu ‘anha and ahadith of this kind:

 

فضل عائشة على النساء كفضل الثريد على سائر الطعام

The superiority of Aisha over other women is as the superiority of tharid over other foods.”[14]

 

Others like al Kiya al Tabari[15][16], al Dhahabi—at one instance[17], and Hafiz Ibn Kathir[18] opt for tawaqquf (neutrality).

What is apparent—and Allah is the possessor of complete knowledge—is that it is proper to examine the sources on the basis of which superiority is declared. It may be said that Sayyidah Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha is superior from the angle of supporting the Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, having concrete conviction in him, comforting him, and mothering his children. A hadith documented by Imam Ahmed[19] is available which supports this approach. Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha is the reporter:

 

كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إذا ذكر خديجة أثنى عليها فأحسن الثناء قالت فغرت يوما فقلت ما أكثر ما تذكرها حمراء الشدق قد أبدلك الله عز وجل بها خيرا منها قال ما أبدلني الله عز وجل خيرا منها قد آمنت بي إذ كفر بي الناس وصدقتني إذ كذبني الناس وواستني بمالها إذ حرمني الناس ورزقني الله عز وجل ولدها إذ حرمني أولاد النساء

When the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would speak about Khadijah, he would praise her extensively. Once, I became jealous so I blurted out, “You speak of her so much [whereas she has] red gums [she was old] and Allah—the Mighty and Majestic—has given you superior to her.”

He answered, “Allah—the Mighty and Majestic—has not awarded me with someone superior to her. She believed in me when people disbelieved in me, she accepted me to be true while people belied me, and she supported me with her wealth when people deprived me of the same. Moreover, Allah—the Mighty and Majestic—has favoured me with her children and kept away from me the children of other women.”[20]

 

Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha, on the other hand, is superior from the angle of her knowledge and the Ummah benefitting from her.

Ibn Taymiyyah has considered this aspect when comparing them. He speaks about Sayyidah Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha:

 

لأن خديجة نفعته في أول الإسلام نفعا لم يقم غيرها فيه مقامها فكانت خيرا له من هذا الوجه لكونها نفعته وقت الحاجة … فخديجة كان خيرها مقصورا على نفس النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم لم تبلغ عنه شيئا ولم تنتفع بها الأمة كما انتفعوا بعائشة ولا كان الدين قد كمل حتى تعلمه ويحصل لها من كمال الإيمان به ما حصل لمن علمه وآمن به بعد كماله … فخديجة رضي الله تعالى عنها خير من هذا الوجه

This is because Khadijah profited him in the early stage of Islam, with such benefit in which she is unparalleled. She was better for him from this angle for she benefited him at the time of need. Khadijah’s benefit is limited to the being of the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. She did not transmit from him and the Ummah did not benefit from her the way they benefitted from Aisha. The Din had not yet been completed for her to teach it and to obtain the perfection of iman obtained by those who learnt it and believed in him after it reached perfection. Khadijah radiya Llahu ‘anha is, thus, superior from this angle.

 

He then writes on Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha:

 

لكن عائشة صحبته في آخر النبوة و كمال الدين فحصل لها من العلم و الإيمان ما لم يحصل لمن لم يدرك إلا أول زمن النبوة فكانت أفضل بهذه الزيادة فإن الأمة انتفعت بها أكثر مما انتفعت بغيرها و بلغت من العلم و السنة ما لم يبلغه غيرها

On the other hand, Aisha remained in his company at the end of Nubuwwah and the completion of Din; hence, she obtained such knowledge and faith not obtained by the one who only lived in the early stages of Nubuwwah. Therefore, she is superior owing to this addition. The Ummah benefitted from her more than they benefitted from others besides her and she conveyed to the Ummah knowledge and aspects of the Sunnah which others did not convey.[21]

 

Ibn al Qayyim has transmitted this explanation from him.[22] Hafiz Ibn Kathir has preferred each opinion in a similar manner.[23] Sheikh Ibn Sa’di believes that this is accurate research.[24]

 

Comparing Aisha and Fatimah

The ‘Ulama’ have differed in this regard, whether Sayyidah Aisha or Sayyidah Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma is superior. Hafiz Ibn al Qayyim has written some fine points in this regard, the gist of which we will quote to save time:

 

فإن أريد بالفضل كثرة الثواب عند الله عز وجل فذلك أمر لا يطلع عليه إلا بالنص وإن أريد بالتفضيل التفضيل بالعلم فلا ريب أن عائشة أعلم وأنفع للأمة وأدت إلى الأمة من العلم ما لم يؤد غيرها واحتاج إليها خاص الأمة وعامتها وإن أريد بالتفضيل شرف الأصل وجلالة النسب فلا ريب أن فاطمة أفضل فإنها بضعة من النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وذلك اختصاص لم يشركها فيه غير أخواتها وإن أريد السيادة ففاطمة سيدة نساء الأمة

If by superiority, the abundance of reward by Allah—the Mighty and Majestic—is meant, then this is something which can only be determined by clear text.

If by superiority, superiority in knowledge is intended, then undoubtedly Aisha is more knowledgeable, has benefitted the Ummah more, and conveyed to the Ummah an abundance of knowledge which others besides her have not, to the extent that the elite of the Ummah and the general masses are in need of her.

If by superiority, the nobility of origin and the loftiness of ancestry is meant, then no doubt Fatimah is more superior as she is a piece of the Nabi salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. This is a speciality which none besides her sisters share with her.

Finally, if leadership is meant, then Fatimah is the queen of the women of the Ummah.[25]

 

Comparing Aisha and her Father

The ‘Ulama’ are unanimous that Sayyidina Abu Bakr al Siddiq radiya Llahu ‘anhu is superior to his daughter. Al Dhahabi has reported some scholars preferring Sayyidah Aisha over Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhuma which he refutes.[26] Probably, he referred to Ibn Hazm as he writes at another juncture:

 

ومن عجيب ما ورد أن أبا محمد بن حزم مع كونه أعلم أهل زمانه ذهب إلى أن عائشة أفضل من أبيها وهذا ما خرق به الإجماع

It is absolutely shocking that Abu Muhammad ibn Hazm—despite being the most knowledgeable of his era—observes that Aisha is superior to her father. By this, he has contradicted the Consensus.[27]

 

The object [of this discussion] is for it to become absolutely clear that the virtue of Sayyidah Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha has been directed by the horsemen [erudite scholars], narrated by the reliable, known to the distant and near to the extent that her name appears in the list of the [three] most superior women of the Ummah. There is difference on whether she precedes her two friends in few aspects, with agreement on her precedence in respect of her knowledge and the Ummah benefitting from her and that no woman has reached that stage, neither before her nor after her. This is the special grace of Allah which He bestows upon whom He wills. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty.

The gist of the discussion of superiority is that the ‘Ulama’ have agreed unanimously that Sayyidah Khadijah, Sayyidah Aisha, and Sayyidah Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anhunna are the greatest women of the Ummah. They have differed on which of the three are undisputedly the most superior, giving preference to some over others due to certain factors. They have consensus that Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu is superior to his daughter.

 

NEXT⇒ Chapter 4 – Introduction


[1] Majmu’ al Fatawa, vol. 4 pg. 394.

[2] Ibn al Qayyim: Bada’i’ al Fawa’id, vol. 3 pg. 161.

[3] Tabaqat al Shafi’iyyah al Kubra, vol. 10 pg. 223.

[4] Musnad Ahmed, vol. 1 pg. 316, Hadith: 2903; Sunan al Nasa’i, vol. 5 pg. 94, Hadith: 8364; Musnad Abi Ya’la, vol. 5 pg. 110, Hadith: 2722; al Mujam al Kabir, vol. 11 pg. 336, Hadith: 11928; Sahih Ibn Hibban, vol. 15 pg. 470, Hadith: 7010; al Mustadrak, vol. 2 pg. 539. Al Hakim labels the isnad sahih. Al Nawawi labels it hassan in Tahdhib al Asma’ wa al Lughat, vol. 2 pg. 431. Al Haythami comments in Majma’ al Zawa’id, vol. 9 pg. 226, “His narrators are the narrators of Sahih al Bukhari.” Ibn Hajar in Fath al Bari, vol. 6 pg. 543; Ahmed Shakir in Tahqiq Musnad Ahmed, vol. 4 pg. 232; al Albani in Sahih al Jami’, Hadith: 1135; and al Wadi’i in al Sahih al Musnad, Hadith: 590 have classified the isnad sahih.

[5] He is ‘Abdur Rahman ibn Ma’mun ibn ‘Ali, Abu Sa’d al Mutawalli. The ‘Allamah, Sheikh of the Shawafi’. He excelled in fiqh, usul, and difference of opinion. He was a compositor between knowledge, religion, excellent morals, and researched debate. He taught at al Nizamiyyah. Al Tatimmah and Mukhtasar fi al Fara’id are his books. He passed away in 478 A.H. Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 18 pg. 585; Shadharat al Dhahab, vol. 3 pg. 357.

[6] Ibn al Mulqin: Ghayat al Sul fi Khasa’is al Rasul, pg. 230.

[7] Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 2 pg. 140.

[8] Fath al Bari, vol. 7 pg. 139.

[9] ‘Umdat al Qari, vol. 15 pg. 309.

[10] He is Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad, Abu Bakr al Ishbili al Maliki. The Imam, Hafiz, Judge, ‘Alim of the people of Andalus. He was born in 468 A.H. He was drowned in knowledge and was sharp witted. He assumed post as judge over Ashbiliyyah and commended and achieved excellent results. He was a man of sternness and authority. He wrote Ahkam al Qur’an and ‘Aridat al Ahwadhi. He passed away in 543 A.H. Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 20 pg. 197; Shadharat al Dhahab, vol. 4 pg. 140.

[11] Fath al Bari, vol. 7 pg. 139.

[12] Al Ijabah li Irad ma istadrakathu Aisha ‘ala al Sahabah, pg. 63.

[13] Minhaj al Sunnah al Nabawiyyah, vol. 4 pg. 302.

[14] Sahih al Bukhari, Hadith: 3370; Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 2446.

[15] Al Ijabah li Irad ma istadrakathu Aisha ‘ala al Sahabah, pg. 63.

[16] He is ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali, Abu al Hassan al Tabari al Hirasi. The ‘Allamah, the Sheikh of the Shawafi’. He excelled in the mazhab, its principles, and areas of difference. He was an Imam, an observer, powerful in debate, intelligent, and eloquent. He has written many wonderful books and Ahkam al Qur’an is one of them. He passed away in 504 A.H. Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 19 pg. 350; Ibn Qadi Shuhbah: Tabaqat al Shafi’iyyah, vol. 1 pg. 288.

[17] Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 2 pg. 140.

[18] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 4 pg. 322.

[19] He is Ahmed ibn Muhammad ibn Hanbal, Abu ‘Abdullah al Shaybani. The Imam in reality, the true Sheikh of Islam, from the learned men of this Ummah. He remained resolute in the trial of the creation of the Qur’an. He was born in 164 A.H and passed away in 241 A.H. He is one of the four Imams. He was a leader in Sunnah, piety, and asceticism. He authored al Musnad and al Zuhd. Ibn al Jawzi: Manaqib al Imam Ahmed; Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 11 pg. 177.

[20] Musnad Ahmed, vol. 6 pg. 117, Hadith: 24908; al Mujam al Kabir, vol. 23 pg. 13, Hadith: 18977. Ibn Kathir comments in al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 3 pg. 126, “There is no problem with the isnad.” Al Shawkani labels the isnad hassan in Durr al Sahabah, Hadith: 249. Al Albani labels the detailed narration da’if in Silsilat al Ahadith al Da’ifah, Hadith: 6224.

[21] Minhaj al Sunnah al Nabawiyyah, vol. 4 pg. 301 – 304; Majmu’ al Fatawa, vol. 4 pg. 393.

[22] Jala’ al Afham, pg. 234, 235.

[23] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, vol. 4 pg. 321.

[24] Ibn Sa’di: al Tanbihat al Latifah fima ihtawat ‘alayhi al ‘Aqidah al Wasitiyyah min al Mabahith al Munifah, pg. 119.

[25] Bada’i’ al Fawa’id, vol. 3 pg. 162.

[26] Siyar A’lam al Nubala’, vol. 2 pg. 140.

[27] Tarikh al Islam, vol. 4 pg. 246. Ibn Hazm has mentioned his view in al Fasl fi al Milal wa al Ahwa’ wa al Nihal, vol. 4 pg. 5.

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