The Prophetic Title: “The Best of Creation”

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

One of the names by which the Prophet Muhammad is known – upon him blessings and peace – is Khayru-l-Khalq or “Best of Creation.” Other similar names of his with identical meaning are Khayru-l-Bariyya, Khayru Khalqillah, Khayru-l-`Alamina Turra, Khayru-n-Nas, Khayru Hadhihi-l-Umma, and Khîratullah. These titles refers to his high status over all human Prophets and Messengers as well as over the Jinn and angels – upon them peace. The Consensus of Muslims past and present – i.e. Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama`a – over the matter was indicated in Shaykh Ibrahim al-Laqqani’s (d. 1041) words, “steer clear of dissent” in his famous poem Jawharat al-Tawhid (“The Gem of Monotheism”):

65. wa afdalu al-khalqi `ala al-itlâqi

Nabiyyunâ fa mil `ani al-shiqâqi.


And the best of creatures in absolute terms

is our Prophet, so steer clear of dissent.

Al-Bajuri (d. 1276), Sharh Jawharat al-Tawhid (1971 ed. p. 290): “I.e. among jinn, humankind, and angels, in the world and the hereafter, in all the attributes of goodness.”

Al-Sawi (d. 1241), Sharh Jawharat al-Tawhid (1999 ed. p. 295): “This assertion-of-superiority (tafdîl) is by Consensus (ijmâ`) of the Muslims, both Sunnis and Mu`tazila, except al-Zamakhshari [in al-Kashshaf (4:712), Surat al-Takwir] who violated the Consensus.”

`Abd al-Salam ibn Ibrahim al-Laqqani (d. 1078), Sharh Jawharat al-Tawhid (1990 ed. p. 186): “It is obligatory (wâjib) on every legally responsible person to believe that he (SAWS) is the best of all, and one who denies it commits a sin, is guilty of innovation, and deserves to be taught a lesson.”

66. wal-anbiyâ yalûnahu fil-fadli

wa ba`dahum malâ’ikah dhil-fadli


And the Prophets follow him in preferability

and after them the noble angels,

Al-Bajuri (p. 293):

Al-Qadi Abu `Abd Allah al-Halimi [see on him the introduction to our translation of al-Bayhaqi’s al-Asma’ wa al-Sifat] together with others, such as the Mu`tazila, considered that the angels are better than the Prophets except our Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu `alayhi wa Alihi wa Sallam. Al-Sa`d [al-Taftazani] said [in Sharh al-`Aqa’id al-Nasafiyya]: “There is nothing decisive in these issues.” Taj al-Din [ibn] al-Subki said [in Tabaqat al-Shafi`iyya al-Kubra]: “Safety lies in refraining from speech on this question and to enter it in detail without decisive evidence is to enter into great peril, a ruling over something over which we are incapable of ruling.”

67. hâdhâ wa qawmun fassalû idh faddalû

wa ba`du kullin ba`dahu qad yafdulu


This said, some [i.e. the Maturidis] narrowed its terms

in preferring some [of the angels and Prophets]

respectively over others [of the angels and Prophets]

Al-Bajuri (p. 295): “And this is surely the more correct position (wa hâdhihi hiya al-tariqa al-râjiha).” Note that he prefers the Maturidi position here over that of the Jumhûr of the Ash`aris although he is Ash`ari, while the author’s son, Shaykh `Abd al-Salam al-Laqqani, said all angels were preferable to all human beings other than Prophets – may Allah have mercy on them and on all Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama`a.

Al-Laqqani (p. 186-187):

It is obligatory to believe the preferability of the better (afdaliyyatu al-afdal) exactly according to whatever ruling was transmitted (`ala tabqi mâ warada al-hukmu bihi): if in detail then in detail, if in general then in general (tafsîlan fil-tafsîli wa ijmâlan fil-ijmâli). And it is not allowed to hasten to specific designation (al-hujûm `alâ al-ta`yîn) of something which was not divinely ordained (lam yarid fîhi tawqîf)…. Qadi Taj al-Din ibn al-Subki said: “The preferability of human beings over the angels is not among the matters one is obliged to believe nor harm those who ignore them. If one meets Allah without the least idea about the matter in its entirety, he would not have committed any sin. For people were not tasked to know it. And safety lies in refraining from speech on this question, etc.”

Al-Sawi (p. 297-298), al-Bajuri (p. 296):

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