allah the almighty has honored us by sending prophet muhammad pbuh and has favored us by making known his message.
certainly did allah confer [great] favor upon the believers when he sent among them a messenger from themselves, reciting to them his verses and purifying them and teaching them the book [i.e., the qur'an] and wisdom, although they had been before in manifest error. (3:164)
indeed, the messenger of allah pbuh has many rights over us which we should observe, uphold and beware of neglecting. among them are:
1. belief in him
the first right of the prophet pbuh is belief in him and in his message, for whoever does not believe in the messenger of allah and that he is the last of the prophets and messengers is a disbeliever, even if he should believe in all of the prophets who came before him.
the qur'an contains many verses commanding belief in the messenger of allah pbuh and in the message he brought. therein allah the almighty has said:
so believe in allah and his messenger and the light [i.e., qur'an] which we have sent down. (64:8)
and he said:
the believers are only those who have believed in allah and his messenger and then do not doubt. (49:15)
and he stated that disbelief in allah the almighty and his messenger is a cause of destruction and painful punishment, saying:
that is because they opposed allah and his messenger. and whoever opposes allah and his messenger – indeed, allah is severe in penalty. (8:13)
and the prophet e himself said,
"by him in whose hand is muhammad's soul, no one from this nation or a jew or a christian will hear about me and then die without believing in that with which i was sent but that he will be of the inhabitants of the hellfire." (narrated by muslim)
2. following him
following the prophet pbuh is the real evidence of belief in him. anyone who claims faith in the prophet pbuh but then does not obey his order, cease what he prohibited and follow his sunnah has lied about his faith. for faith is what has settled in the heart and is proven by deeds.
allah the almighty shows that his mercy is for the believers who follow the prophet's example. he said:
my mercy encompasses all things. so i will decree it [especially] for those who fear me and give zakah and those who believe in our verses – those who follow the messenger, the unlettered prophet... (7:156-157)
in addition, allah the almighty has promised a bad consequence for those who ignore the guidance of his messenger r and oppose his instruction:
so let those beware who dissent from his order, lest trial strikes them or a painful punishment. (24:63)
and allah the almighty commanded wholehearted compliance with the messenger's pbuh judgment, saying:
but no, by your lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [o muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full, willing] submission. (4:65)
3. loving him
among the rights of the prophet e upon his nation is complete and perfect love for him.
he said, "none of you [truly] believes until i am more beloved to him than his child, his parent and all people." (al-bukhari)
so any person who does not love the messenger of allah e cannot be a believer, even if he should have a muslim name and live among muslims.
the greatest degree of love for the messenger of allah e is to love him more than oneself. `umar ibn al-khattab may allah be pleased with him once said to him, "o messenger of allah, you are more beloved to me than everything except myself.
"the prophet pbuh replied, "no, by the one in whose hand is my soul – not until i am more beloved to you than yourself."
then `umar may allah be pleased with him said, "now, by allah, you are more beloved to me than myself." so the prophet e said,
"now [you have believed], `umar." (al-bukhari)
4. supporting him
this is among the most clearly confirmed of his rights both in life and after death. during his lifetime his companions fulfilled this duty in the best way. after his death, however, supporting him entails defense of his sunnah whenever it is exposed to attack by enemies, distortion by the ignorant or criticism by those who seek to annul it. it also includes the defense of his noble person whenever he might be abused, ridiculed or described in an unsuitable manner.
in recent times, there has been an increase in campaigns to dishonor and discredit the prophet of islam. the entire ummah (community of believers) must arise to the defense of its prophet by every means possible to force opponents to end their lies, insults and slander.