Sayyiduna Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “None of you will possess (perfect) imaan until I become more beloved to him than his father, his child and all the people.” (Saheeh Bukhaari #15)
In this hadeeth, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has mentioned that the benchmark for a person to possess perfect imaan is that he acquires such love for Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) that supersedes his love for any other person – including his own parents and children.
As far as a person’s parents are concerned, then their love is embedded deep within his heart from the time of his birth. His mother raised him with love, care and affection, sacrificed her comfort for his sake and even spent sleepless nights in seeing to his wellbeing. As for the father, then he labours and toils, day in and day out, to earn a living so that his children can live in comfort.
Thus, when a person understands that his parents are the means of his physical existence, and he understands the extent of his indebtedness to them for all they have done for him, then he will have deep love for them and will happily give preference to their comfort and happiness over his own.
As for one’s children, or other beloved people, such as one’s wife or siblings, etc. then they also enjoy a special position and place in one’s life and heart. A person’s wife is his companion in life and his children are the ‘apple of his eye’, and hence his love for them also surpasses his love for other people besides his parents.
However, from all the people in the world, the person to whom every believer is most indebted, and who has the greatest right over him, is Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). In the Quraan Majeed, Allah Ta‘ala states:
اَلنَّبِيُّ أَوْلَىٰ بِالْمُؤْمِنِيْنَ مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ
The Nabi is closer to the believers than their own selves. (Surah Ahzaab v6)
Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is that blessed personality who brought us Islam and imaan. He guided us to Allah Ta‘ala and taught us to recognize Allah Ta‘ala. In the dead of night, he made du‘aa for us – his Ummah, and throughout the day, he strove to establish Deen. He shed his tears for us and shed his blessed blood for us as well – all this he did only and solely so that we can go to Jannah.
As far as a person’s parents, children, wife or even his own self are concerned – then just as these people can bring one benefit and happiness, they can also cause one harm and bring him sorrow. Hence, at times, a person’s wife or children become a calamity in his life, and at times, a person becomes his own worst enemy (as he destroys his life through engaging in sins and indulging in evil habits, etc. which lead him to Jahannum).
However, when it comes to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), then we have only ever received goodness and benefit from him. Everything he taught us, brought to us and told us is goodness, through and through. Never, for even the blink of an eye, did he cause us even an iota of harm. Hence, he is the person who is most deserving and worthy of our unconditional love and obedience.
The Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) are the best people of the entire Ummah, after Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), and their hearts possessed true love for Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). Hence, out of their sheer love for Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), we find the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) carrying out such feats that leave us awestruck in admiration. Not only did they wholeheartedly sacrifice their wealth, time and energy for Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and for Deen – they were even willing to sacrifice their own blood to protect the beloved Rasul of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).
One such example, of the selfless love of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum), is that of Sayyiduna Qataadah bin Nu’maan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu). During the Battle of Uhud, Sayyiduna Qataadah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) remained standing in front of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) in order to protect and defend him from the arrows of the enemy. Whenever he would see an arrow coming towards the blessed face of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), he would place his own face and head in front of the arrow so that the arrow would strike him instead of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)! (Majma‘uz Zawaa-id #14112)
Today, the beloved Rasul of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is not in our midst – but we have with us his Deen and his blessed sunnah. Hence, true love for Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) will be seen through a believer upholding Deen and the sunnah and giving it preference over everything else. Thus, Qaadhi ‘Iyaadh (rahimahullah) has explained that true love for Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) includes supporting (and upholding) his sunnah and defending his Deen. (Mirqaat vol. 1, pg. 145)
Whenever there is a clash between the desire of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and our desires, or the desires of any other person, we must always give preference to the blessed desire of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). It is in this way that we will prove that we have true love for him and we will acquire perfection in our imaan.
May Allah Ta‘ala bless us all with true love for Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and perfect imaan, aameen.