Islam teaches that loving the Prophet is part of the Islamic faith. The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) has been quoted as saying: “None of you is a true believer unless I am dearer to him than his parents, his children, and all other people.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) also said: “There are three qualities which are certain to give anyone the sweetness of faith: to love Allah and His Messenger more than anyone else, to love a person for no purpose other than for Allah’s sake, and to hate to relapse into disbelief after Allah has saved him from it as much as one would hate to be thrown into the fire.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
We are required to love Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace be upon him) more than all others (except Allah) because it was through him that we learned who Allah is along with His attributes, our position in relation to Him, what Allah wants from us, and how to worship Him. He has guided us, through practical example, along the way; following this is certain to earn us Allah’s acceptance and the ultimate bliss. He has spared us the worst calamity that can ever befall anyone, which is incurring Allah’s anger and punishment. He sacrificed everything to deliver Allah’s message to us. He sacrificed his health and wealth and his whole life. If we realize all this, how can we not love him more than we love ourselves and all others?
We love Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace be upon him) because, as described in the Qur’an, he was a ‘mercy for all nations’. His compassion extended to all: friends and enemies. Consider this: his enemies often became his beloved Companions and followers. They embraced Islam, saying that his character proved he was a true Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him).
It should be noted that we must love Allah more than the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) ; the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) comes after Allah. Loving Allah, the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) and his followers is an act of worship for which one will be rewarded. The reverse is also true: hating Allah or His Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) will expel one from the bounds of Islam. Correspondingly, hating those who hate Allah or the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) is part of the Islamic belief, for which the individual will be accounted for and rewarded.
It needs to be clarified here that the emotion of ‘hate’ that is referred to in this context does not lend itself to the commonly known evil type of hate which is the imperfect human emotion; rather, it is the type of hate that perfects one’s faith as it is directed – in the right measure – against those who have taken a defiant stance against the Creator and His chosen messengers. It is a lot like the negative feeling one may hold against the actions of a human who defies and abuses his or her elderly parents in an evil manner, or an outlaw who fights the justice system and spreads fear and corruption in society. It is clear that hating the actions of such individuals is a natural feeling that good people are expected to have.
Although Islam teaches love in all its forms, it also instructs faithful believers not to love those who do not love Allah and His messengers, until they change their ways, in which case, they are commanded to love them! In a nutshell, a Muslim loves as well as hates for Allah’s sake. Here is a great fact about this emotion of hate: a Muslim is instructed not to hate anyone for personal reasons. For example, if a Muslim person has been insulted by anyone, he or she has been instructed to forgive; surely, the difference is great between hating for the sake of Allah (wellplaced emotion) versus hating for self-satisfaction (a destructive emotion).
The love we should have for the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) must be genuine love, not a mere verbal statement. It should be supported and proven by obedience: following his commands and avoiding what he has prohibited. Correspondingly, again, the expression of our feelings of hate or revulsion at the refusal of our fellow human beings to believe in Allah’s Oneness and follow the monotheistic teachings of His prophets should be in our positive and pro-active approach to those who disbelieve. We pray for them to be guided to the truth; at the same time, we need to work for that and work with them towards that.