Allah asks the Prophet ﷺ to remind his Nation that it is essential for those who claim to love God, to love His Prophet ﷺ :
"Say to them: If you love God, follow (and love and honor) me, and God will love you" (3:31). [see also (2)]
This obligation to love the Prophet ﷺ means to obey him, to remember him, to follow his example, and to be proud of him as Allah is proud of him, since Allah has boasted about him in His Holy Book by saying:
"Truly you are of a magnificient character" (al-Qalam 4).
. Love of the Prophet ﷺ is what differentiates the believers in the perfection of their imaan. In an authentic hadith related in Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet ﷺ said:
"None of you believes until he loves me more than he loves his children, his parents, and all people." In another hadith in Bukhari he said: "None of you believes until he loves me more than he loves himself."
Perfection of faith is dependent on love of the Prophet ﷺ because Allah and His angels are constantly raising his honor, as is meant in the verse:
"Allah and His angels are praying on the Prophet" ﷺ (33:56).
The Divine order that immediately follows in the verse:
"O believers, pray on him,"
makes it clear that the quality of being a believer is dependent on and manifested by praying on the Prophet.
We are encouraged to pray on the Prophet ﷺ and to praise him, which is an obligation on us through Allah's order in the verse:
"Allah and His angels are praying on (and praising) the Prophet ﷺ ;
O believers! pray on (and praise) him and send him utmost greetings" (al-Ahzab 56). see also (1)
To express happiness for the Prophet ﷺ coming to us is an obligation given by Allah through Qur'an, as Allah said in Qur'an:
"Of the favor and mercy of Allah let them rejoice" Sura Yunus (10) 58
This order came because joy makes the heart grateful for the mercy of Allah. And What greater mercy did Allah give than the Prophet himself ﷺ , of whom Allah says,
"We did not send you except as a mercy to human beings" (Al-Anbiya' 107).
Because the Prophet ﷺ was sent as a mercy to all mankind, it is incumbent not only upon Muslims, but upon all human beings to rejoice in his person. Unfortunately, today too, there are some people who reject Allah's order to rejoice in His Prophet ﷺ .
We are asked to know about our Prophet ﷺ, about his life, about his miracles, about his birth, about his manners, about his faith, about his signs (ayat wa dala'il), about his seclusions, about his worship, and is not this knowledge an obligation for every Muslim? What is better than acquiring knowledge of his life? This will make Allah happy with us because then we will be able to know the Prophet ﷺ better, and be readier to take him as an example for ourselves, to correct ourselves, and to imitate him and thus gain salvation in this life and in the next.
Opposing his command and changing his sunna is misguidance and innovation. It is threatened by Allah with utter privation and punishment. Allah says:
"Whoever splits from the Messenger ﷺ after the guidance is clear to him and follows other than the path of the believers, We shall entrust him to what he has turned to and expose him unto Hell - an evil retreat!" Sura Women (4) 115
The Prophet ﷺ said: "Anyone who dislikes my sunna is not of me."
(Bukhari and Muslim)
The Community [of Muslim Scholars] is unanimous concerning the obligation to magnify and exalt the Prophet ﷺ , his Family, and his Companions. It was the practice of the Pious Predecessors and the Imams of the past that whenever the Prophet ﷺ was mentioned in their presence they were seized by reverence, humbleness, stillness, and dignity.
Ja'far ibn Muhammad ibn 'Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (this is Ja'far al-Sadiq) would turn pale whenever he heard the Prophet ﷺ mentioned. Imam Malik would not mention a hadith except in a state of ritual purity. 'Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr al-Siddiq would turn red and stammer whenever he heard the Prophet mentioned ﷺ .
As for 'Amir ibn 'Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr ibn al-'Awamm al-Asadi (one of the early sufis), he would weep until his eyes had no tears left in them. When a hadith was mentioned in their presence they would lower their voices. Malik said: "His sacredness (hurmat) ﷺ in death is as his inviolability in life."
The Mathematician Abu al-'Abbas Ahmad ibn al-Khatib, also known as Ibn Qunfudh al-Qusantini al-Maliki (d. 810 H) in his book "Wasilat al-islam bi al-nabi 'alayhi al-salat wa al-salam" (The Means to Islam Through the Prophet ﷺ; Beirut: Dar al-gharb al-islami, 1404/1984 p. 145-146.)
Another hadith which shows that even love of the companions of the Prophet ﷺ , such as Abu Hurayra is a sign of belief, according to the exact wording of the Prophet ﷺ that Allah make Abu Hurayra beloved to the believers.
Abu Hurayra gave the following account of his mother's conversion:
I came to the Prophet ﷺ weeping one day and said: "O Messenger of Allah, I have been inviting my mother to Islam and she has been refusing. Today I asked her again, and she said something about you which I hated to hear. Ask Allah to guide Abu Hurayra's mother!" Whereupon the Prophet ﷺ said: "O Allah! Guide Abu Hurayra's mother."
Then I returned home cheered up by the Prophet's ﷺ supplication. When I arrived at the door of the house I found it closed. Hearing my footsteps, my mother said: "Abu Hurayra, do not come in yet." I could hear the sound of water. She washed herself and wore her robe (dir') and headcover (khim_r) then she opened the door and said: "Abu Hurayra! I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's servant and messenger!"
I returned at once to the Prophet ﷺ, weeping for joy, and said to him: "O Messenger of Allah, good news! Allah has answered your request and guided my mother!" He glorified and praised Allah, thanking Him and saying good things. I said: "O Messenger of Allah! Ask Allah that He make me and my mother beloved to his believing servants and that He make them beloved to us."
The Prophet ﷺ said: "O Allah! Make Your little servant here - meaning Abu Hurayra - and his mother beloved to Your believing servants, and make the believers beloved to the two of them." Not one believer is brought into existence who hears about me without seeing me except he loves me.
Narrated by Muslim and Ahmad. Also Ibn Hajar in al-Isaba (7:435, 7:512) and others.
This hadith is similar to another sound hadith of the Prophet ﷺ addressing the Commander of the Believers 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (r):
A man came to the Prophet ﷺ and said: "Messenger of Allah, I love you more than my family and my possessions. I remember you and I cannot wait until I can come and look at you. I remember that I will die and you will die and I know that when you enter the Garden, you will be raised up high with the Prophets. When I enter it, I will not see you." Allah then revealed:
"Whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger, they are with those whom He has favored: the Prophets (peace be upon them all), the True Saints, the Martyrs, and the Righteous. Ah! What an excellent company." (4:69)
The Prophet ﷺ called the man and recited the verse to him.
Tabarani and Ibn Mardawayh narrated it from A'isha and Ibn 'Abbas, and Qadi 'Iyad cited it in al-Shifa' as well as Ibn Kathir in his Tafsir (1:310) and al-Baghawi in his.
It is further elucidated by the hadith of 'Umar ...
... whereby a man was punished by the Prophet ﷺ because of wine-drinking. One day when he was brought to him and he gave orders and had him beaten, one of those present said: "O Allah, curse him. How often he is brought!" The Prophet ﷺ said: "Do not curse him. I swear by Allah that I know he loves Allah and His Messenger ﷺ." (Al-Bukhari)