Praise be to Allah. And may His peace and blessings be upon the Messenger, his family, his Companions, and all those who follow him.
In the heart of anyone possessing the least shred of faith, the status of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is greater than that of anyone else in Creation. Those who possess religious knowledge and work for the cause of Islam have even stronger feelings. The sense of love and honor that they harbor in their hearts for the Prophet (peace be upon him) cannot be imagined. This is because he is the Messenger of the Lord of All the Worlds and he is the most honored of all the Prophets and Messengers. He is the final Prophet whom Allah chose for His Message. He is the Seal of the Prophets and Allah blessed the Muslims by having sent him to them. "Allah did confer a great favor on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the Signs of Allah, purifying them, and teaching them the Scripture and Wisdom, while, before that, they had been in manifest error." [Sûrah Âl `Imrân: 164]
Allah obliges Himself to mercy for anyone who follows this noble Prophet (peace be upon him) and strives to support him and defend him. Allah says: "My mercy extends to all things. I shall ordain it for those who do right, and practice regular charity, and those who believe in Our signs;- Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures),- in the Torah and the Gospel;- for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure); He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honor him, help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him,- it is those who will prosper." [Sûrah al-A`râf: 156-157]
Allah, moreover, has made it the obligation of every Muslim to believe in him, support him, honor him, and defend him and his Sunnah. Allah says: "We have truly sent you (O Muhammad) as a witness, as a bringer of glad tidings, and as a warner: in order that you (O humanity) may believe in Allah and His Messenger, that you may assist and honor him, and celebrate (Allah) praise morning and evening." [Sûrah al-Fath: 8-9]
Our Duties towards the Prophet (peace be upon him):
Our first duty is to believe in him. Allah says: "Behold! Allah took the covenant of the prophets, saying: I give you a Book and Wisdom; then comes to you a Messenger, confirming what is with you; do then believe in him and render him help. Allah said: Do ye agree, and take this my Covenant as binding on you? They said: We agree. He said: Then bear witness, and I am with you among the witnesses. If any turn back after this, they are the sinners." [Sûrah Âl `Imrân: 81-82]
Abû Hurayrah relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "I swear by Him in whose hand is Muhammads soul, any of the Jews and Christians who hear about me and then die without believing in what I was sent with will enter the Hellfire." [Sahîh Muslim]
Our second duty is to love him more than anyone else. Allah says: "Say: If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred; the wealth that you have gained; the commerce in which you fear a decline: or the dwellings in which you delight - are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger, or the striving in His cause;- then wait until Allah brings about His decision: and Allah guides not the rebellious." [Sûrah al-Tawbah: 24]
Anas relate that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "None of you believes until I become more beloved to him than his parents, his children, and all of humanity." [Sahîh al Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]
`Abd Allah b. Hishâm relates the following:
We were with the Prophet (peace be upon him) who had taken `Umar b. al-Khattâb by the hand. `Umar said: "O Messenger of Allah, you are more beloved to me than anything besides my own self."
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Nay. I swear by Him in whose hand is my soul, your faith will not be complete until I am more beloved to you than even yourself."
So `Umar said: "Now I swear by Allah, you are more beloved to me than even myself."
The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: "O `Umar, now it is right." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]
Anas relates that the Prophet said: "There are three qualities that make those who possess them taste the sweetness of faith. They are: for a person to love Allah and His Messenger more than anyone or anything else, to love for the sake of Allah alone, and to hate returning to unbelief as much as being thrown into the fire.: [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]
Our third duty is to obey the Prophet (peace be upon him) in all of his commands and prohibitions. Allah says: "Say: If ye do love Allah, Follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins: For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Say: Obey Allah and His Messenger But if they turn back, then Allah loves not the unbelievers." [Sûrah Âl `Imrân: 31-32]
Allah also says: "And whatever the Messenger gives you, take it. And whatever he forbids, abstain from it. And keep your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is severe in punishment." [Sûrah al-Hashr: 7]
Abû Hurayrah relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "If I command you to do something, then do as much of it as you can. If I prohibit you from something, then abstain from it." [Musnad Ahmad, Sunan Ibn Mâjah, and Sunan al-Bayhaqî]
Our fourth duty towards the Prophet (peace be upon him) is to disseminate his Sunnah. `Abd Allah b. `Amr relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Convey from me whatever you can, even if only one verse." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) prayed to Allah to bless those who preserved and disseminated his Sunnah. Zayd b. Thâbit relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "May Allah bless with good a person who hears from us a hadîth and memorizes it in order to convey it to others, since it is possible that he is conveying knowledge to someone who has more understanding than he does, and it is possible that the one conveying knowledge is not equipped to understand it." [Sunan Abî Dâwûd, Sunan al-Tirmidhî, and Sunan Ibn Mâjah]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) encouraged us to convey his Sunnah and disseminate it among the people. He said: "The guidance and knowledge that Allah has sent with me is like abundant rain that fell upon the land. Some of the land was pure, accepted the water, and sprouted abundant shrubs and grass. This land also contained some hard and dry regions that held the water so Allah could benefit with it the people who drank it, provided it to their livestock, and irrigated their land with it. Then there was another area of land that was depressed, neither holding the water nor sprouting grass. The first type of land resembles the people who acquire knowledge and understanding of Allahs religion, who benefit from what Allah sent with me, learn it and teach it to others. The second type of land resembles those who do not acknowledge it and do not accept Allahs guidance that was sent with me." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]
Our fifth duty towards the Prophet (peace be upon him) is to defend him during his lifetime and after his death. The Companions carried out this duty during his lifetime. His most ardent supporters and defenders were the four Rightly Guided Caliphs in the following order: Abû Bakr, `Umar, `Uthmân, and `Alî. After them in support were the early Companions, then all the other Companions who struggled to defend him against his enemies.
The pagan Quraysh of Mecca and the Jews of Madinah had been intent on killing the Prophet (peace be upon him) and had repeatedly attempted to do so. However, Allah, in His grace and mercy, protected him from their plots and machinations and provided him with people who supported him, defended him, and were concerned about his safety.
`Âishah relates the following:
Allahs Messenger (peace be upon him) stayed away from sleep one night while she was with him. I asked: "What is the matter, O Messenger of Allah?"
He said: "If only a pious man from among my Companions would come and guard me tonight."
At that point, we heard the sound of a weapon. Allahs Messenger (peace be upon him) asked: "Who is this?"
The reply came: "Sa`d b. Mâlik."
The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked: "What brought you here?"
He said: "I came to stand guard for you, O Messenger of Allah."
After that, I could hear the sound of Allahs Messenger (peace be upon him) snoring in his sleep. [Musnad Ahmad and Sahîh Ibn Hibbân]
During the Battle of Uhud, when the Muslims were defeated and the pagans descended upon Allahs Messenger (peace be upon him) to kill him, Abû Dajânah shielded him from their arrows with his body. The arrows fell upon Abû Dajânahs back.
During the same battle, Nasîbah Umm `Ammârah al-Ansâriyyah, in spite of being a very weak woman, fought alongside her husband and two sons in order to defend Allahs Messenger (peace be upon him). During the battle, she received a deep wound to her neck. Allahs Messenger (peace be upon him) said: "I could neither look left nor right on the day of Uhud without seeing her there fighting to defend me."
Those Companions carried out their duty to support and defend the Prophet (peace be upon him) during his lifetime, and they continued to do so after his death. This obligation is as strong today as it was back then and will remain in effect until the Final Hour.
After the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him), coming to his defense takes the form of refuting the false accusations that are levied against him. It also takes the form of dispelling the misconceptions and doubts that are raised in order to lead people astray regarding his Sunnah. It is our duty defend his Sunnah and the events of his life.
Our Most Important Obligations Today:
One of most important obligations today is to present the authentic Sunnah and the biography of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to the public in the best possible manner and in every language, utilizing all appropriate means at our disposal. We must concentrate specifically upon the languages that are most widespread and influential. We can achieve this in the following way:
1. We must take the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as our example. Allah says: "You indeed have in Allahs Messenger an excellent example of conduct for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day." [Sûrah al-Ahzâb: 21]
The love of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that Allah has made obligatory on the believers is on two levels, as explained by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbalî:
The first of these levels is obligatory. It is the love that necessitates accepting everything that the Prophet (peace be upon him) brought from Allah with total acceptance and contentment. It also necessitates not seeking guidance from any way other than his way. Thereafter comes following him correctly in everything that he conveyed from his Lord. We must believe everything he has told us. We must obey all of his commands. We must abstain from everything that he prohibited. We must, to the extent of our abilities, defend his faith and fight against those who go against him. This degree of love is indispensable. A persons faith cannot be complete without it.
The second level is one of distinction for those who attain it. It is the love that inspires a person to follow him and his Sunnah in every aspect of his personality and his conduct. Such a person will voluntarily perform extra acts of worship and follow the noble and pure conduct of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the way that he eats, drinks, dresses, deals with his family, and conducts himself in all other activities. He will be concerned to know the events of the Prophets life. His heart will always be inspired to love the Prophet (peace be upon him), honor him, and hear his teachings. He will prefer the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to the words of all other created beings. One of the greatest manifestations of this level of love is to follow the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in abstaining from the world, being content with very little, and longing for the Hereafter.
2. We must make our love for the Prophet (peace be upon him) open and manifest. It is not only our duty to love the Prophet (peace be upon him) in our hearts. It is our duty to show that love to others and take pride in doing so. In this way, the esteem in which the Muslims hold him will be known and appreciated.
`Umar made the love he felt for the Prophet (peace be upon him) known to all, as we have already seen.
Anas relates to us the following:
A man asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) when the Final Hour would be. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied with a question: "And what have you prepared for it?"
He said: "Nothing, save that I love Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him)."
To this the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "You will be with whom you love."
We were never happier with anything the Prophet (peace be upon him) said than we were with his saying: "You will be with whom you love." For truly I love the Prophet (peace be upon him), Abû Bakr, and `Umar, and I hope to be with them on account of my love for them, even if I did not do as much as they did. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]
One aspect of this love for the Prophet (peace be upon him) is for a Muslim to teach his children to love him, his family, and his Companions. He should also make mention of this love when he is in the company of others.
3. We must become passionate when the Prophet (peace be upon him) or his Sunnah is attacked. A Muslim is generally supposed to be patient, clement, and composed. However, when his religion or his Prophet are attacked, he is not supposed to sit back and bear it patiently. He must go forth and counter it.
Defense of the Sunnah is one way of showing love for the Prophet (peace be upon him). This is done by giving preference to the commands of Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) over the commands of anyone else. Allah says: "O you who believe! Put not yourselves forward before Allah and His Messenger; but fear Allah: for Allah is He who hears and knows all things." [Sûrah al-Hujurât: 1] Ibn `Abbâs explains the words "Put not yourselves forward before Allah and His Messenger" to mean not to say anything that runs contrary to the Qurân and Sunnah.
Allah says: "But no, by the Lord, they can have no faith until they make you judge in all disputes between them and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction." [Sûrah al-Nisâ: 65]
The Companions considered presumption before Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) to be a form of hypocrisy. Abû Sa`îd al-Khudrî relates the following in this regard:
We were with Allahs Messenger (peace be upon him) while he was distributing property. A man approached him named Dhû al-Khuwaysirah from the tribe of Tamîm and said: "O Messenger of Allah! Be fair."
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Woe to you! Who else would be fair if I were not fair? I would truly be at loss if I were not fair."
`Umar then spoke up and said: "O Messenger of Allah! Permit me to kill him and I will smite his neck."
The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: "Leave him be."
It is the duty of every Muslim to come to the defense of the Prophet (peace be upon him) whenever someone attacks his Sunnah or the facts of his biography. He must do so in word, in deed, and in writing, and with every means at his disposal. The scholars among our pious predecessors carried out this duty when they compiled the Sunnah and explained it. However, the accusations and spreading of doubts about the Sunnah continues unabated up to today. If anything, it has grown far worse and more frequent. The enemies of Islam have lately stepped up their efforts. It is the duty of all Muslims, especially the Islamic workers among them, to stand up against this attack.
4. We must disseminate knowledge of the virtues and good character of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The following are some possible ways scholars and Islamic workers can promote the Sunnah and defend it:
A. Writing books about the Prophet (peace be upon him) in all major languages and for different target audiences.
B. Writing articles about different aspects of his life for publication in magazines and newspapers.
C. Preparing radio and television programs focusing on the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his virtues.
D. Establishing websites on the Internet about his life, his Sunnah, and his exemplary personality.
F. Offering Friday sermons on these topics.
G. Holding conferences, seminars, and conventions to address these concerns.
These are just some of the numerous means that may be employed to support and defend our Prophet (peace be upon him). We ask Allah to bless us to love our Prophet (peace be upon him) and help us to defend him and disseminate his Sunnah.
Dr. Fâlih b. Muhammad b. Fâlih al-Sughayyir
Professor of the Prophetic Sunnah, Imâm Muhammad b. Sa`ûd Islamic University, Riyadh