Muhabbat: To love him above all things and everyone else
Ittiba (emulation) is the result of love. We emulate those we love. Our appearance, our manners, our dealings, our lives, and our culture, reflects the ways, values, and culture of those we love. We do it because we believe it adds value to us. We emulate without being conscious of it, but those who we interact with, recognize the original who we are emulating. When that original is Muhammadﷺ, then Allah loves the one who emulates the one He loves, i.e., Muhammadﷺ. The reality of life is that we all consciously or unconsciously emulate someone or the other, no matter what we do in life. As Muslims, why not emulate Rasoolullahﷺ? Especially when the reward is the love of Allah.
To love Rasoolullahﷺ is not only a part of Imaan (Islamic faith) but a conditional requirement of it. Without the love of Rasoolullahﷺ we can’t call ourselves Muslims because Allah defined Muslims as those who love Rasoolullahﷺ even more than they love themselves. Allah said:
النَّبِيُّ أَوْلَى بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ وَأَزْوَاجُهُ أُمَّهَاتُهُمْ
Al-Ahzaab 33:6 The Prophet is closer to the Believers than their own selves, and his wives are their mothers.
Allah made this even more clear and warned those who have any doubts in the matter of loving Rasoolullahﷺ by promising to punish them and stating that there is no guidance for the one who doesn’t love Muhammadﷺ more than he loves anyone and anything else. Allah associated His Own Majesty and Grace with the love of Rasoolullahﷺ and demanded that not only must one love Allah and His Messengerﷺ more than he loves anyone and anything else but must prove and demonstrate that in his life. This is done, not by singing Nasheeds and Qawwalis but by emulating (Ittiba) Rasoolullahﷺ in every aspect of life and following his Sunnah.
قُلْ إِن كَانَ آبَاؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَآؤُكُمْ وَإِخْوَانُكُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُكُمْ وَعَشِيرَتُكُمْ وَأَمْوَالٌ اقْتَرَفْتُمُوهَا وَتِجَارَةٌ تَخْشَوْنَ كَسَادَهَا وَمَسَاكِنُ تَرْضَوْنَهَا أَحَبَّ إِلَيْكُم مِّنَ اللّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَجِهَادٍ فِي سَبِيلِهِ فَتَرَبَّصُواْ حَتَّى يَأْتِيَ اللّهُ بِأَمْرِهِ وَاللّهُ لاَ يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ
At-Taubah 9:24 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, and striving in His cause; then wait until Allah brings about His decision (punishment): and Allah guides not the rebellious.
A very important matter to note here is that all the things that Allah listed in this Ayah are Halaal and in some cases, loving and honoring them has been prescribed and encouraged by Allah. Yet if we love those things more than Allah and His Messengerﷺ and striving in the cause of Allah, then Allah expressed his anger, rejected such people, and promised to punish them. This is because all blessings come from Allah and through Rasoolullahﷺ who taught us the truth and introduced us to Allah. Striving in the path of Allah is the payback for the blessings we enjoy. But if we allow those blessings to distract us from the worship of Allah or from following the Sunnah of Rasoolullahﷺ, then those blessings will be the cause of attracting the punishment of Allah. May Allah protect us.
Narrated Anas bin Malik (R) that Rasoolullahﷺ said, “None of you will have faith till he loves me more than he loves his father, his children, and all mankind.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
Anas bin Malik (R) narrated that Rasoolullahﷺ said, “None of you is a true believer unless I am dearer to him than his parents, children and all others.” (Ahmad, Bukhari, Muslim, An-Nasai, Ibn Majah).
Love for Allah is expressed through obeying Him in the way His Messengerﷺ did. Love for Rasoolullahﷺ is to emulate him. The way to understand Ahadith like this is when it comes to any aspect of life, we must prefer the way of Rasoolullahﷺ over every other way. We take the method of Rasoolullahﷺ and reject anything that contradicts it. This is what differentiates us as Muslims; as people who follow, obey, and emulate Muhammadﷺ and not anyone else in opposition to him. I ask Allah to make us those who prefer Rasoolullahﷺ over anyone else in this life.
In another Hadith Anas bin Malik (R) narrated that Rasoolullahﷺ 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 saved him from it as much as to hate to be cast into the fire.” (Bukhari, Muslim, An-Nasai).
Narrated Anas bin Malik (R), “Rasoolullahﷺ said to me: ‘O my son! If you are capable of (waking up in) the morning and (ending) the evening, while there is nothing of deception in your heart for anything, then do so.’ Then he said to me: ‘O my son! That is from my Sunnah. Whoever revives my Sunnah has loved me. And whoever loved me, he shall be with me in Jannah.'”
Love for Rasoolullahﷺ is a fundamental principle of Islam. Love of Rasoolullahﷺ IS Islam. Allah revealed:
إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ وَمَلَـٰٓئِكَتَهُۥ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى ٱلنَّبِىِّ يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ صَلُّوا۟ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا۟ تَسْلِيمًا
Azhab 33: 56 Allah sends His Salat (Honors, Blessings) on the Prophet (Muhammadﷺ) and His angels also (ask Allah to bless and forgive him). O you who believe! Send your Salat on (ask Allah to bless) him (Muhammadﷺ), and (you should) greet (salute) him with the Islamic way of greeting (Salaam).
Abu Mas’ud Al-Ansari (R) said, “It was said to Rasoolullahﷺ, “We have been commanded to send salah and salam upon you. We know how to send salam, but how should we send salah?’ He said: Say: ‘Alahumma salli ‘ala Muhammad wa ‘ala ali Muhammad, kama sallaita ‘ala Ibrahima wa barik ‘ala Muhammad kama barakta ‘ala ali Ibrahim fil-‘alamin, innaka hamidun majid (O Allah, send salah upon Muhammad and upon the family of Muhammad, as You sent salah upon the family of Ibrahim).'”
What always strikes me as a point of learning is how the Sahaba responded to anything new in the Deen. They always asked Rasoolullahﷺ for guidance. They never decided what to do based on their own understanding, desire, or imagination. They didn’t invent or innovate. They asked and obeyed. This is the essence of submitting our will to the Will of Allah. To send Salatuwas Salam (Durood) on Rasoolullahﷺ is to obey the order of Allah and the way to show our love for Rasoolullahﷺ. Rasoolullahﷺ told us that this Salaam is conveyed to him from wherever we are in the world when we send it and that he replies to it. There is no report of any of the Sahaba conveying Salaam from each other to Rasoolullahﷺ when they visited his grave (Raudah). It was in later generations that this practice started.
The best way is to do what Rasoolullahﷺ told us to do and what his Sahaba did and that is to recite Durood Ibrahimi or any other Durood, as much as possible wherever we may be. It is especially recommended to do this on Fridays but can and must be done daily.
Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (R) said, “Rasoolullahﷺ said, “Allah has angels who go around the world and convey to me the salaam of my Ummah from around the earth (from wherever that salaam is sent).” [An-Nasai]
Abu Hurairah (R) reported, “Rasoolullahﷺ said, “There is not one of you who sends his greetings upon me except that Allah returns the soul to my body (in the grave) and I return his greeting.” [Abu Dawood]
AbdurRahman ibn Awf (R) said, I came to Rasoolullahﷺ while he was in Sujood and he elongated his Sujood and then said, “Jibreel came to me and he said, ‘Whoever sends blessings (Durood) upon you, I will send blessings on him, and whoever sends greetings (salaam) upon you, I will send greetings upon him,’ so I Sujood out of thankfulness to Allah.’” [Haakim]
Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘As (R) reported, “I heard Rasoolullahﷺ saying: “Whoever makes dua to Allah to exalt my mention (sends Durood), Allah will exalt his mention (send blessings on him) ten times and remove from him ten sins and raise him ten degrees.” [Muslim]
Abu Hurairah (R) said, “Rasoolullahﷺ said, “Do not take your houses as graveyards (where you don’t pray or do Dhikr) and do not take my grave as a place of festivity (which you visit repeatedly i.e., routinely). Send blessings upon me for your greeting will reach me no matter where you are.” [Abu Dawood]
Finally, Allah told us that this condition that Muslims must love Muhammadﷺ is not one sided but a reciprocation of the love that Rasoolullahﷺ has for us. It is something that we can’t really reciprocate fully because you can’t ever repay anyone for what they do because they did it selflessly first, not seeking any reward whereas we are only trying to return what we already received, unasked. However, honor demands that we try our best to reciprocate the goodness we received. Allah said:
لَقَدْ جَاءكُمْ رَسُولٌ مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ عَزِيزٌ عَلَيْهِ مَا عَنِتُّمْ حَرِيصٌ عَلَيْكُم بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَؤُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ
At-Taubah 9:128 Now has come to you a Messenger from amongst yourselves: It grieves him that you should perish: ardently anxious is he over you: to the Believers is he most kind and merciful.
It is this love that Rasoolullahﷺ has for His Ummah, those he knew personally and those who came after him that will be the basis of his Shafa’at (intercession) on the Day of Judgement. This is what will make him intercede for us when his intercession will be instrumental and the basis of Allah’s forgiveness. We ask Allah for this for us all.
Anas ibn Malik reported: Rasoolullahﷺ said, “I wish I could meet my brothers.” The Sahaba asked, “Are we not your brothers?” Rasoolullahﷺ said, “You are my Sahaba, but my brothers are those who have faith in me although they never saw me.” Musnad Aḥmad (Hasan).
I ask Allah to include us among those who Rasoolullahﷺ called his brothers/sisters. That is also why it is essential not to do what Rasoolullahﷺ did not do and not to create innovations in Islam (Bida’at). Those who do will forfeit their right to his intercession.
Anas ibn Malik reported: Rasoolullahﷺ said, “Some of my companions will come to me at my fountain (Al-Kauthar) until I recognize them. But they will be taken away from me. So, I will say, “My companions!” It will be said: “You do not know what they innovated after you.” Muttafaqun Alayhi(authenticity agreed upon) [Bukhari & Muslim]
I want to end with the story of the Shahada of one of the most famous of the Sahaba of Rasoolullahﷺ Khubaib ibn Adiy who was taken captive by the Quraysh and escorted in a procession to the place set for his death. Khubaib’s death was to be in revenge for Quraysh losses in the Battle of Badr. When they arrived Khubaib asked them to give him time to pray two Raka’at before his death. They agreed. Khubaib prayed two Raka’at. Then Khubaib faced the Quraysh leaders and said, “By Allah if you thought that I asked to pray out of fear of death, I would think the prayer not worth the trouble.”
The Quraysh then started torturing and dismembering Sayyidina Khubayb ibn Al-Adiy and taunting him in the process saying, “Would you like Muhammadﷺ to be in your place while you go free?”
With his blood flowing, he replied, “By Allah I would not want to be safe and secure among my family while even a thorn hurts Muhammadﷺ.”
Such were those who loved Muhammadﷺ. They are our standard and our inspiration.