The Best Men
Mawlana Muhammad Nasir Jamal Attari Madani
Allah’s Messenger صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said:
اَكْمَلُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اِيمَانًا اَحْسَنُهُمْ خُلُقًا وَخِيَارُكُمْ خِيَارُكُمْ لِنِسَائِھِم
“The most perfect believer, in terms of faith, is the best of them in character, and the most superior of you are those who are best to your womenfolk.”
In the opening section of this hadith, the sublime nature of good manners is revealed as a manifestation of unwavering faith, while the latter portion exalts the noble conduct one displays towards their female kin as the quintessential standard of superiority.
Let us try and understand both parts of this Hadith in detail.
اَكْمَلُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اِيمَانًا اَحْسَنُهُمْ خُلُقًا
Being good mannered is a proof of having faith and not being so is an indication of weakness in one’s faith.
Mufti Aḥmad Yār Khan NaꜤīmī رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه writes:
A believer is ˹intricately˺ linked to both the Divine Creator and the human realm. The bond with Allah Almighty is rooted in worship, while the connection with fellow beings is woven through social interactions. Rectifying one’s worship is straightforward. However, navigating human relationships poses great challenges. Thus, it is proclaimed that a person of exceptional character embodies complete faith. One only has a need to interact with unrelated people from time to time, whereas he has to deal with the people of his household on a daily basis, so having good conduct towards the latter is a praiseworthy matter. Islam teaches us to interact with complete benevolence towards other human beings.
At another juncture, he says:
Worship and relationships are both rectified by good habits. If one’s social interactions are upright but one’s worship is not, or vice versa, such a person does not possess good character. Good character is a very comprehensive characteristic such that the Creator and the creation are both pleased by it.
Definition of Good Character
Good character is the faculty by which a person conducts righteous acts with ease.
A means of proximity to the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم
The beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, “Indeed, the dearest of you to me and the closest to me in the Hereafter will be the one who has the best character, and the most disliked of you and the farthest from me will be the most ill-mannered of you.”
وَخِيَارُكُمْ خِيَارُكُمْ لِنِسَائِھِم
One meaning of this part of the hadith is that “the best of you in the court of Allah Almighty is the one who is outwardly best to his womenfolk.” The essence of being outwardly superior lies in one's virtuous interaction with the women in their life. It entails treating them with kindness, refraining from causing them harm, providing them with support and assistance, and exercising patience when faced with any inconveniences due to them. The emphasis on good conduct towards women stems from their relatively vulnerable position, highlighting the importance of showing compassion and mercy towards them in all circumstances.
The meaning of “womenfolk”
The womenfolk that have been referred to in this hadith include one’s elders, such as mothers and grandmothers, offspring, such as children and grandchildren, relatives, and wives.
Prophetic Statements concerning related womenfolk
The Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has given instruction concerning good conduct with related womenfolk:
1. Mentioning different female relatives, he said, “Whoever takes care of two daughters, two sisters, two maternal aunts, two paternal aunts or a maternal grandmother and a paternal grandmother, he and I will be like this in Paradise.” The Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم then brought together his index finger with the one adjoining it.
2. Regarding good conduct with one’s wife, he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم stated, “The Muslim with the most perfect faith is the one who has the best character and is compassionate to his family.” In one narration, he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, “When he eats, he should feed her. When he clothes himself, he should clothe her. He should never strike her on the face or revile her. He should not separate from her, except within the home.”
3. Speaking about overlooking the wife’s shortcomings and focussing on her merits, the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, “No believing man should hate a believing woman. If he dislikes something about her conduct, he will be pleased with something else.”
The beautiful conduct of the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم with his female relatives
The beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم possesses the most perfect and complete faith, therefore his noble conduct is also the most perfect and loftiest.
The Prophetic conduct with female relatives is matchless. When the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم met his sister through suckling, Sayyidah Shaymā, after many years, he stood up, laid out his blessed shawl for her, and sat her down on it. On her return, he gifted her a camel and a slave-boy. When he met her again at JiꜤrānah, he gave her some goats and sheep.
When his daughter, Sayyidah Fāṭimah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا would come to meet him, he would stand for her, kiss her hand, and seat her next to him.
The Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم would speak to his blessed wives about things that interested them. He would give his utmost attention to resolving even the smallest of their concerns. Sayyidah Ṣafiyyah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا states:
I was on a journey with the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم and it was my turn from amongst the wives, but I was held back because of my camel. The beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم came to me as I was crying. I said, “You have mounted me on a sluggish camel.” The Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم wiped away my tears with his hand and comforted me.
The beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم would also be foremost in providing ease for his blessed wives. On one occasion, Sayyidah Ṣafiyyah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا wished to mount a camel, so the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم knelt next to the camel and raised his knee for her. She then placed her foot on the beloved Prophet’s knee in order to get onto the camel.
Upon reflection, if we wholeheartedly embraced the impeccable conduct of the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم and his teachings regarding our female relatives, men would assume their rightful role as guardians of women's lives, wealth, and dignity. Numerous evils would cease to exist, and society would flourish in harmony. May Allah Almighty bestow upon us the capability to embody such teachings and put them into practice.
اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ النَّبِیِّ الْاَمِیْن صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم
 Jāmi’ al-Tirmidhi: 1,165
 Fayḍ al-Qadīr, vol. 2, p. 124, hadith; 1,441
 Mirāt al-Manājīḥ, vol. 5, p. 101
 Mirāt al-Manājīḥ, vol. 6, p. 652
 Dalil al-Falihin, juz 5, vol. 3, p. 76
 Musnad Imām Aḥmad: 17,747
 Dalil al-Falihin, juz 5, vol. 3, p. 76
 Mirqāt al-Mafātīḥ, vol. 6, p. 406, hadith: 3,263
 Fayḍ al-Qadīr, vol. 2, p. 124
 Al-Mu’jam al-Kabīr; 959
 Jāmi’ al-Tirmidhi: 2,621
 Sunan Ibn Mājah: 1,850
 Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim: 3,648
 Fayḍ al-Qadīr, vol. 2, p. 124
 Subul al-Huda wa al-Rashād, vol. 5, p. 333
 Sunan Abī Dāwūd: 5,217
 Sunan Abī Dāwūd: 4,932
 Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri: 2,893