All Muslims of the world, no matter what their sects are, hold in common that Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) was the last Prophet (Seal of the Prophets), and in fact, Muslims believe in divine prophecy having ended with him, just as they believe in the Oneness of Allah (Tauheed). Allah (SWT) says:
"Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets: and Allah has full knowledge of all things." (Noble Qur'an, 33:40)
Rights of Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) are the most important, after the rights of Allah (SWT). There is no human who has more rights than Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw). Allah (SWT) says:
"Surely We have sent you (O Muhammad) as a witness and as a bearer of good news and as a warner, That you may believe in Allah and His Messenger and may aid him and revere him; and (that) you may declare His glory, morning and evening." (Noble Qur'an, 48:8-9)
"And We have not sent you (O Muhammad) but to all the men as a bearer of good news and as a warner, but most men do not know." (Noble Qur'an, 34:28)
Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) has many rights. Respect and appreciation for him should be practised in the best manner. Respecting Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) includes respect of and adherence to his Sunnah (Ahlul Bayt). Due rights should be given to Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) without exaggeration. When one reads how the sincere companions (Sahabah) used to love and respect Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw), one knows the importance of this matter. When Quraish sent Orwa ibn Masud to negotiate with Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) in Hudaybiyah area, he was greatly impressed by how the companions treated Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw). He said, "I have visited the kings of Persia, Rome and Abyssinia, but I have not seen any leader more revered and respected by his people than Muhammad. If he ordered them to do anything, they do it without delay. If he performs Wudu (washing up for prayer) they all seek the remainder of the water he used. They never look at him in the eye, out of respect." This is how Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) was treated by his sincere companions. He was Allah's Last Messenger who possessed great qualities and the best of conduct ever. Allah (SWT) says:
"Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar for him who hopes in Allah and the latter day and remembers Allah much." (Noble Qur'an, 33:21)
"And most surely you conform (yourself) to sublime morality." (Noble Qur'an, 68:4)
Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) is the finest example of a perfect man in every sense of the term. He was a paragon of virtue and is the best exemplar for the human race. The Almighty Allah (SWT) distinguished him from all and sundry by instilling in his sublime personality such fine qualities as modesty, truthfulness, kindness, patience, loyalty, honesty, courage, bravery, generosity, magnanimity, wisdom and the like. By studying his lofty character and the amazingly simple life he (saw) led with his household, companions, wives and others. We are able to learn valuable lessons from his conduct and accordingly mould our own life-style.
Our society could never be an Islamic one unless we sincerely tread the footsteps of Almighty Allah's final Messenger to mankind, Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw), heed his sayings, observe his glorious actions and attitudes, and most important of all follow them, as the faithful among his sincere companions (Sahabah) followed and believed as shown in the following story:
One day Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) while entering the city of Madinah, saw a Jewish Man, just few steps ahead of him, taking his very good breed of Horse towards market to sell. Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) liked the Horse. So he negotiated with the Jewish Man and bought it at an agreed price. Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) did not have money on him at the time so he asked the Jewish Man to follow him up to his house and he would pay him his due. The Jewish Man agreed.
As they were going, another man approached and asked the Jewish Man if he was selling his Horse and for how much. He said that he had already sold the Horse to Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) for such and such amount. This man offered him better price and he agreed to sell the Horse to him.
Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) said to the Jewish Man that since he had already sold the Horse to him, it was wrong to break the agreement just like that. The Jewish Man denied making any agreement. Whilst all this was going on, the passers by stopped and wondered as to what was going on. Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) explained exactly what happened.
Companions asked: O Messenger of Allah (SWT), do you have any witnesses to support your claim?
Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) replied: No. We have no witnesses as there was no one present when the agreement was made.
Companions said: Sorry, we don't think we can help you. How can we be sure who is telling the truth and who is lying?
In the meanwhile, a very close and sincere companion of Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw), Huzaima ibn Sabit (ra) happened to pass by and saw Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) surrounded by the people. On inquiring about it, came to know what happened.
Huzaima ibn Sabit (ra) said: Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) is telling the truth and the Jewish Man is lying.
Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) asked: But you were not present when the agreement was made. So how can you judge without being there?
Huzaima ibn Sabit (ra) replied: O Messenger of Almighty Allah (SWT), you said that there is God and we believed you, even though we haven't seen Him. You told us that Noble Qur'an was the word of Almighty Allah (SWT) and we believed you. You told us about Angels, Heaven and Hell and we believed you, even though we haven't seen all these things. Then how is it possible that you would lie about such petty thing?
The moral of the story is that there were some companions who walked, sat and ate with Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw), but did not grasp his inner personality and at the same time there were also some other companions of Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) who understood him physically as well as spiritually. Hence we should also follow our Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) with complete belief as Huzaima ibn Sabit (ra) but not as other companions.
The rights of Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) include believing him in matters of religion and the past, present and future happenings he told us about. Adherence and submission to his orders are some of his rights. When a Muslim believes in Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) and wants to follow his religion, he must do so believing that Holy Prophet Muhammad's (saw) way is the best way. Believing in Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) includes the affirmation that his religion is the best religion. Allah (SWT) has confirmed all these rights in the following verses of Noble Qur'an, what translated means:
"Say (O Muhammad to mankind): If you love Allah then you follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Say: "Obey Allah and His Messenger": But if they turn back, Allah loveth not those who reject Faith." (Noble Qur'an, 3:31-32)
"But no, by your Lord, they can have no (real) faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission." (Noble Qur'an, 4:65)
"Whoever obeys the Messenger, he indeed obeys Allah, and whoever turns back, so We have not sent you as a keeper over them." (Noble Qur'an, 4:80)
"And let those beware who go against his order lest a trial afflict them or there befall them a painful chastisement." (Noble Qur'an, 24:63)
"It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: If any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path." (Noble Qur'an, 33:36)
Some of the rights of Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) are as follows
1. We Muslims believe in what Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) has said and practised.
"O People, I leave among you two precious and weighty trusts, one being the Book of Allah and the other my Progeny (Ahlul Bayt). These two legacies will never be separated from each other, and if you lay firm hold of them you will never go astray." (Hadith-E-Saqlain)
Because whatever Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) said is from Allah (SWT): "Nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed." (Noble Qur'an, 53:3-4)
2. We Muslims obey Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) in what has been commanded and forsake what he has forbidden or discouraged.
"And whatsoever the messenger giveth you, take it. And whatsoever he forbiddeth, abstain (from it)." (Noble Qur'an, 59:7)
On the authority of Abu Sa'id bin al-Mu'alla it is reported in Sahih Bukhari that while he was praying in mosque, Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) called him. He did not, however, instantly respond. When he finished the prayer, he approached him, pleading that he was praying. Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) told him: Do you not know that Allah (SWT) has directed: "O you who believe! Answer Allah and (His) Messenger when he calls you." (Noble Qur'an, 8:24)
Hanzalah was a young man who had not yet completed twenty four years of his age. The night preceding the day on which the battle of Uhud took place was his wedding night. When he heard the call to Jihad he was perplexed. He found no alternative but to seek permission from Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) to spend that night in Madinah and reach the battlefield on the following day (Noble Qur'an 24:62). Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) granted him permission for one night to consummate the nuptial rites. In the morning he reached the battlefield even before taking ceremonial bath lest he might be late in answering Holy Prophet Muhammad's (saw) call. In the same state Hanzalah joined the army, fought bravely and attained martyrdom. Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "I have seen that the angels were washing Hanzalah." That is why he is called 'Ghasilul Malaikah' (i.e. one who was washed by the angels).
The above reports about two Companions that Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) directed them to discontinue the prayer for answering his call, and about Hanzalah who joined his call for Jihad without any delay, prove that Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) is to be obeyed unconditionally. It is clear from the above-quoted Qur'anic verse and Hadith reports that Holy Prophet Muhammad's (saw) call should be answered instantly.
3. We Muslims worship Allah (SWT) according to the Shar'iah of Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw), not by whims and Bid'ah (innovations).
4. We Muslims judge ourselves by the Shar'iah of Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw), and not by any other law.
5. We Muslims love Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) more than our parents, Children, all of mankind, indeed our very selves.
Therefore, love for Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) should be more than one's love for himself, his children, family, worldly possessions and everything. Obedience to Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) is obligatory. Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) has stressed the importance of obeying and following his Sunnah (Ahlul Bayt) with his saying: "None of you will reach belief till I become dearer to him than his children, parents and all humans." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "There is no obedience to any creation in which the disobedience of the Creator is involved."
Say: "Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds: No partner hath He: this am I commanded, and I am the first of those who bow to His will." (Noble Qur'an, 6:162-163)