ما رأيت رجلاً أحب إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم منه، ولا امرأة أحب إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم من امرأته.
I never saw a man more beloved to the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam than him (i.e. ‘Ali). And I never saw a woman more beloved to the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam than his wife.
This hadith is narrated by ‘Aisha, ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb, from his father, from his grandfather and Abu Dharr radiya Llahu ‘anhum
This version has many different chains, including the following three:
Jumay’ ibn ‘Umair is matruk (suspected of forgery) and has been accused of lying.
Imam al Tirmidhi and others narrate this version with other chains from Jumay’ ibn ‘Umair al Taymi who said:
دخلت مع عمتي على عائشة، فسئلت: أي الناس كان أحب إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم؟ قالت: فاطمة. فقيل: من الرجال؟ قالت: زوجها، إن كان ما علمت صواما قواما.
I entered in the presence of ‘Aisha along with my aunt and she was asked, “Who was the most beloved to the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam?”
She said, “Fatimah.”
So it was said, “From the men?”
She said, “Her husband; for I knew him to fast much and stand in salah much.”
Imam al Tirmidhi said, “This hadith is Hassan gharib (fair rare).”
It has already been mentioned that Jumay’ ibn ‘Umair is matruk and has been accused of lying.
Al Hakim authenticated the hadith.
Imam al Tirmidhi adds, “Ibrahim ibn Sa’id said, ‘The questioner implied the members of his salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam household.’”
Imam al Tirmidhi says, “This hadith is Hassan gharib (fair rare); we only know this hadith to appear in this manner.”
Imam al Nasa’i said regarding the narrator ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Ata’, “He is not strong in hadith.”
(The author says) The ‘Abdullah mentioned above has been deemed reliable by others. It seems he is a saduq (sincere) narrator but he is a mudallis (obfuscates when he transmits).
Al Albani regarded this specific version of the hadith to be baseless because it contradicts other, more authentic ahadith (as you will see at the end of this discussion).
Ibn Battah mentions this hadith and al Dhahabi transmitted it (from Ibn Battah). Ibn Hajar then transmitted it from al Dhahabi and said: “This addition is a fabrication. The problem stems from Zufar, or his teacher, al Zahrani. He is not Abu al Rabi’, the thiqah (reliable).
Ibn ‘Adi and Ibn ‘Asakir narrate this version from Abu al Jahhaf — from Muawiyah ibn Tha’labah — from Abu Dharr.
There is a difference of opinion regarding the status of Abu al Jahhaf. The chain of transmission also contains the narrator ‘Abbad ibn Ya’qub. Despite the fact that he is a Shia who is saduq (sincere), he narrates manakir (unacceptable narrations) in ahadith of fada’il (virtues). Ibn Hibban states that he narrates manakir (unacceptable narrations) from famous people and thus deserves to be omitted.
In short, the hadith is munkar (unacceptable) and inauthentic, as is clearly evident from the above-mentioned chains of transmission. Especially considering the fact that it contradicts other, more authentic ahadith, such as the following hadith narrated by Imam al Bukhari:
عن عمرو بن العاص رضي الله عنه أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بعثه على جيش ذات السلاسل فأتيته فقلت: أي الناس أحب إليك؟ قال: عائشة. فقلت: من الرجال؟ فقال: أبوها. قلت ثم من؟ قال: عمر بن الخطاب. فعد رجالا.
‘Amr ibn al ‘As said, “The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam delegated me to lead the Army of Dhat al Salasil. I came to him and said, ‘Who is the most beloved person to you?’
He said, ‘‘Aisha.’
I asked, ‘Among the men?’
He said, ‘Her father.’
I said, ‘Who then?’
He said, ‘‘Umar ibn al Khattab.’ He then named other men.”
I mentioned previously that the hadith of this chapter was graded as Hassan (fair) by Imam al Tirmidhi, sahih (authentic) by al Hakim, and batil (baseless) by al Albani.
 Imam al Nasa’i: al Sunan al Kubra, hadith nos. 8442 and 8443 and Khasa’is ‘Ali, hadith nos. 111 and 112.
 Imam al Tirmidhi: Sunan al Tirmidhi, hadith no. 3874.
 Imam al Nasa’i: al Sunan al Kubra, hadith no. 8444 and Khasa’is ‘Ali, hadith no. 113; Imam al Tirmidhi: Sunan al Tirmidhi, hadith no. 3868; al Hakim: Mustadrak al Hakim, hadith no. 4735.
 Imam al Bukhari: al Tarikh al Kabir, 5/165.
 Al Albani: Silsilat al Ahadith al Da’ifah, hadith no. 1124.
 Ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq, 42/260.
 Imam al Dhahabi: Mizan al I’tidal, 2/349
 Ibn Hajar: Lisan al Mizan, 3/216.
 Ibn ‘Adi: al Kamil, 3/83; ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq, 42/265.
 Ibn ‘Adi: al Kamil, 4/348.
 Ibn Hibban: Kitab al Majruhin, 2/172.
 Imam al Bukhari: Sahih al Bukhari, hadith nos. 3662 and 4358; Imam Muslim: Sahih Muslim, hadith no. 2384.