Explanation of Hadith
Measuring good character
Maulana Nasir Jamal Attari Madani
The Mercy to the Worlds صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said:
خَيْرُكُمْ خَيْرُكُمْ لِاَهْلِهِ وَاَنَا خَيْرُكُمْ لِاَهْلِی
‘The best among you is the one who is the best to his family, and I am the best from you to my family,’ (Tirmizi, vol. 5, p. 475, Hadith 3921).
Goodness (khayr) is the opposite of evil (sharr). Since the Mercy to the Worlds صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم is the best of the creation, he informed of ‘the best’ in relation to many matters of life which are also inclusive of very important aspects such as worship and way of living.
According to the hadith mentioned above, the one who treats his family best and shows good manners to them is considered the best, (Lam’aat-ul-Tanqih, vol. 6, p. 121, under the Hadith 3252 | Fayz-ul-Qadeer, vol. 3, p. 661, under the Hadith 4100).
‘Family’ is a broad term in Arabic and refers to blood relations, spouses, children, friends, loved ones, and peers, (Mirqat-ul-Mafatih, vol. 6, p. 400).
Although Islam encourages us to behave with goodness and grace with all members of society, this hadith specifies the family because being a person of good character with one’s family, especially with the wife, is challenging and worthy of praise. Allah Almighty says in the Holy Qur'an:
وَ عَاشِرُوْهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوْفِۚ-
And deal with them kindly,
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 4, Surah Al-Nisa, Verse 19)
That is, speak kindly to your wives, make your actions and appearance attractive for them according to your capability, in the same manner as you wish from them, (Tafseer Ibn-e-Kathir, vol. 2, p. 212).
Three Prophetic guidelines regarding family
1. When you eat, feed your wife too, and when you wear clothes, clothe her too. Do not strike her on the face, do not say ill words to her, and if you must [temporarily] separate from her, do so in the house, (Abu Dawood, vol. 2, p. 356, Hadith 2621).
2. The worst person is the one who troubles his family. It was asked: ‘How does he trouble [them]?’ He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم replied: ‘When he enters the house, the wife becomes frightened, the children run away, and the house workers become fearful. When he leaves the home, the wife becomes happy and the other family members breathe a sigh of relief,’ (Mu’jam-ul-Awsat, vol. 6, p. 287, Hadith 8798).
3. The most perfect believer is the one whose morals are the best and is the gentlest to his family, (Tirmizi, vol. 4, p. 278, Hadith 2621).
The blessed life of the Final Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم is a guiding beacon for us in this regard. He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم would invite people to Islam, meet with delegations, attend funerals, visit the sick, and help the poor. Despite his countless engagements and responsibilities, the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم would be gentle and kind to his blessed wives, share smiles with them, listen to their concerns, and take care of them. After ‘Asr Salah, he would visit them to find out about their well-being.
The rest of the blessed wives would also gather in the house of the wife where the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم was staying. Many times, they would have the evening meal together before they returned to their homes. The Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم would also talk affectionately with his family before retiring to bed after the Isha prayer, (Tafseer Ibn Kaseer, vol. 2, p. 212, Derive from Al-Taysir bi sharh al-Jami’ Al-Sagheer, vol. 1, p. 533). The Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم would not disturb his family at night when returning from a journey but would wait till the morning or evening to see them, (Muslim, p. 819, Hadith 4962). As the Prophet’s wives were from different backgrounds with different temperaments, he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم treated each one according to her nature and needs.
All of this means that we should treat our wives with kindness, speak kindly to them¸ express love and affection, be cheerful and informal with them, forgive their mistakes, refrain from fighting, protect their honour, try our best to avoid arguments, be generous with them, and respect their families.
A woman can show good character to her husband by genuinely caring for him, not quarrelling with him, observing his wants that are concordant with Islam, and speaking to him respectfully. In his absence, she should safeguard his honour and assets. Patience and forbearance should permeate her being, and she should be thankful for his kindness. Her good character should prompt respect for her husband's family and loved ones, and she should ask about them in a good manner. She should endorse his permissible work and express happiness when seeing him.
These prophetic teachings are the antidotes to the breakdown of families that we see in our communities all too often.