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One of the joys that Allah grants His servant is to love His beloved Noble Prophet and how can it be otherwise, when to love the Prophet is one of the conditions of faith?
Imam Al-Bukhari, may Allah have mercy upon hin, related from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah said: "I swear by Him in Whose Hands my soul lies, none of you will truly believe until I am more beloved to him than his father and son."
Imaam Muslim related from Anas that he said: The Messenger of Allah said: "None of you will truly believe until I am more beloved to him than his family, wealth and all the people."
In the same way that love of the Prophet is a reason for attaining the good of this world and the Hereafter, then loving him is also a reason for achieving the sweetness of Eeman (faith).
Al-Bukhari and Muslim both related from Anas that the Prophet said: "Whoever possesses the following three qualities will taste the sweetness (delight) of Eeman: One to whom Allah and His Messenger are dearer than anything else; whoever loves his brother solely for Allah's sake; and whoever hates to convert to disbelief just as he hates to be thrown into the Fire."
The meaning of "sweetness of Eeman", as the scholars have stated is: "Deriving pleasure from obedience and enduring hardship in religion and preferring this over worldly things." (Sharh An-Nawawee and Fat- Hul-Baree)
Loving the Prophet will also be a means of taking one to the place of felicity.
It has been related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim from 'Abdullah Ibn Mas'ood that he said: [A man came to the Messenger of Allah and said: 'O Messenger of Allah! What do you say of a man who loves a people and never joins them?' The Messenger of Allah said: The person will be with those whom he loves (i.e. in the Hereafter)."] (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)
We all claim that we love the Noble Prophet and that he is more beloved to us than our fathers, sons and all the people. However, are we really truthful in this claim? Does our claim have any value in the Sight of Allah?
The scholars have mentioned signs and criterion by which the love of the Prophet can be judged i.e. whether it is in a person's heart or not. Some of the most apparent signs are the following:
1) being eager to see and keep company with him . Thus, the loss of these two wishes would be worse than the loss of anything in the world.
2) Having total willingness to sacrifice oneself and one's wealth for him.
3) Following his orders and refraining from what he prohibited.
4) Making his Sunnah (Prophetic traditions) victorious and protecting the Sharee`ah (Islamic law).
If one finds these signs in himself, then he should praise Allah, The Most Mighty and The Most Majestic, that he possesses in his heart the true love for the beloved, the Noble [Prophet] . He should ask Allah for steadfastness upon this.
Whoever lacks some or all of these signs, should hold himself to account before he is held to account, on a Day which will turn the hair of children gray (i.e. the Day of Resurrection). Nothing will be hidden from Allah and he (the slave) will not consider or attempt to deceive Allah and the believers; because one who attempts to deceive Allah will only deceive himself as Allah says:
"They (think to) deceive Allah and those who believe, while they deceive not except themselves, and perceive (it) not." [Quran, 2: 9]
'Umar Ibn Al-Khattab said to Allah's Messenger "O Messenger of Allah, you are more beloved to me than anything except my own self." Allah's Messenger then told him, "No, by the One in Whose Hand is my soul, not until I am more beloved to you than your own soul." 'Umar then told him, "By Allah, now you are more beloved to me than my own soul (i.e. you will not truly believe)." Allah's Messenger then told him that now he had true and correct faith." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Ibn Rajab says about love of the Messenger :
Love for the Messenger is at two levels.
The first level is obligatory. This is the love that requires one to accept whatever the Messenger brought from Allah and to receive it with love, pleasure, esteem and submission, without seeking guidance from any other source whatsoever. This is then followed by excellent following of him in whatever he conveyed from his Lord and to affirm whatever he has reported of obligations, to remain away from anything he has prohibited of forbidden acts, to give support for his religion and to strive against those who oppose him according to one's ability. All of these are necessary components that one must possess and a person's Faith is not complete without them.
The second level is superior [and not an absolutely necessary component of Faith]. This type of love requires following his example in an excellent way and fulfilling the following of his Sunnah (tradition) with respect to his behavior, manners, voluntary deeds, supererogatory actions, eating, drinking, dressing, excellent behavior with his wives and other aspects of his perfect manners and pure behavior. It also includes learning about the details of his life and practices. It also includes the heart trembling when mentioning him, exalting his mention often, out of what resides in the heart of love for him, esteem for him and respect for him. It also includes loving to listen to his words and preferring them over the words of others of the creation. And one of the greatest aspects of this love is to follow him in his abstinence of this world, his being sufficed with little of this world and his turning to and desiring of the everlasting Hereafter.