In the Qur’an Allah reveals that it is obligatory to obey the messengers of Allah and to harbor deep-seated respect for them. Today, obedience to Allah’s final Messenger (saas) comes from following his sunnah. A conscious and meticulous adherence to the sunnah can only be possible through a true perception of the importance attached to the prophets in the Qur’an. For that reason, believers of all ages are encouraged to learn the Qur’anic rulings related to the prophets and messengers of Allah. The following chapters will dwell on rulings showing the attitudes and behavior that should be shown toward our Prophet Mohammad (saas).
In the Qur’an Allah reveals that his messengers are special people with superior moral virtues. A messenger is an appointed representative of Allah on Earth, a standard of the morality of Islam, and a leader of the believers. Among His servants, His messengers are those who display the code of ethics most pleasing to Allah. They fear no one but Allah, unconditionally obeying and submitting to Him. They are men of the highest morals, who set the best example for believers in every matter. They are very important in Allah’s Sight and He keeps them under His protection.
Allah made prophets and messengers superior in rank to other people. In the Muslim community, they therefore they assume a privileged and central role. For this reason, a believer must prefer Prophet Mohammad (saas) over himself. The relevant verse is as follows:
It was not for people of Madina, and the desert Arabs around them, to remain behind the Messenger of Allah nor to prefer themselves to him... (Surat at-Tawba; 120)
Owing to this distinguished status, Allah commands believers to defend and support His Messenger (saas):
Those who believe in him and honor him and help him, and follow the Light that has been sent down with him, they are the ones who are successful. (Surat al-A‘raf; 157)
We have sent you bearing witness, bringing good news and giving warning so that you might all believe in Allah and His Messenger and honor Him and respect Him and glorify Him in the morning and the evening. (Surat al-Fath; 8-9)
Allah and His angels call down blessings on the Prophet. You who believe! Call down blessings on him and ask for complete peace and safety for him. (Surat al-Ahzab; 56)
As Allah describes in the Qur’an, the messengers are gifted people in terms of intelligence, reasoning, comprehension and wisdom, and thus superior to other believers. They display the attributes of a believer in the best manner. Muslims should in this respect be aware of their own standing in humility and in the face of the apparent superiority of the Messengers, show them great respect and honor, and support and follow them. Allah expresses this in the Qur’an as follows:
O you who have believed, do not put [yourselves] before Allah and His Messenger but fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is All-Hearing and All-Knowing. (Surat al-Hujurat; 1)
Putting oneself before Allah’s Messenger (saas), which is not proper in terms of respect, may assume various forms, such as implying the superiority of one’s own intelligence or interrupting while he is speaking. It is unlikely that any believer would deliberately dare to commit such undesirable acts. Yet he should always be on guard so as not to transgress Allah’s limits thoughtlessly
As noted before, the messengers have a special and superior status among the other believers due to their strong character and faith as described in the verses of the Qur’an. Indeed, Allah makes clear every detail of conduct regarding Allah’s Messenger (saas), including one’s speech and tone of voice, as the basis of a sincere and correct understanding of respect:
You who believe! Do not raise your voices above the voice of the prophet and do not be as loud when speaking to him as you are when speaking to one another, lest your actions should come to nothing without your realizing it.” (Surat al-Hujurat; 2)
Allah reminded believers not to speak loudly to the Messenger of Allah (saas) as they did to one another. The matter that deserves attention here is that beyond being good manners, it is a commandment of Allah. Indeed, the mention of a contrary attitude that would nullify good deeds marks the importance of this issue. It is incorrect to think of this commandment as ordinary encouragement of good manners, rather than an absolute command. The same mistake is often made with other Qur’anic rulings, as well.
The fact is that honoring Allah’s messenger is actually honoring Allah. Similarly, an adverse attitude toward the Messenger (saas) reflects one toward Allah, and deliberately lacking in respect for His Messenger (saas) is most displeasing to Allah. However, it is essential for anyone, even if he is a believer, who raises his voice in the presence of the messenger with no such deliberate intent, out of ignorance or thoughtlessness or a mistaken conception of honesty, to immediately abandon that error and display the kind of behavior that will most nobly and politely express his profound respect for and devotion to the messenger.
The significance of this topic is revealed by Allah in the following verse:
Those who lower their voices when they are with the Messenger of Allah are people whose hearts Allah has tested for heedfulness. They will have forgiveness and an immense reward. (Surat al-Hujurat; 3)
In a similar manner, Allah reveals in the Qur’an that addressing the Messenger (saas) from outside his rooms was a sign of lack of consideration that believers must strongly avoid:
As for those who call out to you from outside your private quarters, most of them do not use their intellect.” (Surat al-Hujurat; 4)
All forms of behavior that burdened or inconvenienced the Messenger of Allah (saas) are forbidden in the Qur’an. Inconsiderate conduct such as visiting without an invitation, waiting in hopes of being invited to dine or staying late for conversation was behavior that inconvenienced and caused difficulties for the Prophet (saas) and is thus prohibited in the Qur’an:
You who believe! Do not go into the prophet’s rooms except when you are invited to come and eat. Do not wait there while the food is being cooked. However, when you are called, go in, and when you have eaten, disperse, not remaining there to chat with one another. Doing that causes annoyance to the Prophet, though he is too reticent to tell you so. But Allah is not reticent with the truth... (Surat al-Ahzab; 53)
A believer must do everything he can to support a messenger, make his task easier and lightening his load. This is among the greatest duties of a believer, as revealed in the Qur’an
Allah may commission anyone, even unbelievers, to serve His religion. That Allah subjected devils to the service of Prophet Solomon (as) is indeed a fact related in the Qur’an. Be he a believer or unbeliever, everyone is merely a means for the accomplishment of Allah's decree. It is Allah Who possesses the will and power, and essentially, He will make Islamic moral values victorious through His means.
In the Qur’an, Allah mentions the corrupt character of those who, unaware of such facts, presented their acceptance of Islam and their services as a favor to the Messenger (saas) due to their inferior mentality:
They think they have done you a favor by becoming Muslims! Say: ‘Do not consider your Islam a favor to me. No indeed! It is Allah Who has favored you by guiding you to faith if you are telling the truth.’ (Surat al-Hujurat; 17)
In the verse Allah shows that the truth is otherwise; a person who embraces the religion does not do Islam any honor; rather, Islam grants honor to him.
In several verses, Allah states that He will replace people who reject His ordained way of life with others:
If you turn away, He will replace you with people other than yourselves and they will not be like you. (Surah Muhammad; 38)
People with such a mistaken outlook must fear falling under the terms of the scope of these verses and immediately alter their perspective. More than anyone else, people of faith should take this admonition to heart. Allah will certainly give rewards to a believer who seeks His good pleasure with a sincere heart and pure intent.
A believer is obedient to the orders of Allah and His Messenger (saas); while complying with the Prophet's (saas) judgments, he feels not a speck of distress or discomfort in his heart. He knows that everything that Allah and His Messenger (saas) command is the truest, the best and the most beneficial. Aware that every commandment of Allah and His Messenger (saas) is best for him, a believer complies willingly under any circumstances. This sincere and submissive approach emanates from the believer’s faith.
On the other hand, an obedient appearance that lacks heartfelt submission could point to weakness in faith:
No, by your Lord, they are not believers until they make you their judge in the disputes that break out between them, and then find no resistance within themselves to what you decide and submit themselves completely. (Surat an-Nisa’; 65)
For various reasons a hypocrite may display apparent obedience and meticulously observe certain commandments. Yet it is not true faith, so long as one does not obey with ardent submission. Hesitation reveals that a person still harbors some doubts and concerns about Allah and His Messenger (saas). The lack of a deep and inner obedience and submitting only physically to Allah vitiates a person’s deeds. Pretended submission can leave one bereft of rewards in the Hereafter. This being the case, any believer will welcome a commandment from the Messenger (saas) with inner joy and happiness and relish the resulting feeling of compliance. Downheartedness or disappointment over any just decision are attitudes incompatible with faith.