The reason why it is obligatory to love the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and venerate him more than any other person is that we cannot attain the greatest good in this world or in the Hereafter except at the hands of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), by believing in him and following him. That is because no one can be saved from the punishment of Allaah, and the mercy of Allaah cannot reach him except by means of the Prophet, by believing in him, loving him, being loyal to him and following him. This is the means by which Allaah will save him from punishment in this world and in the Hereafter. This is the means by which he will attain what is good in this world and in the Hereafter. The greatest blessing is the blessing of faith, which can only be attained through him, and which is more beneficial than his own self and his wealth. He is the one by means of whom Allaah brings people forth from darkness into light, and there is no other way to Allaah. As for a person’s self and family, they will not avail him anything before Allaah…
One of the scholars said: If a person thinks of the benefits that he has been given through the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), through whom Allaah brought him forth from the darkness of kufr into the light of faith, he will realize that he is the cause of his soul remaining forever in eternal bliss, and he will understand that this benefit is greater than all others. So he (the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)) deserves that his share of a person’s love should be greater than anyone else’s. But people vary with regard to that, depending on the extent to which they bear that in mind or neglect it. Everyone who truly believes in the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) will inevitably have a strong love for him, but they differ in the extent and depth of their love for him. Some of them have a great deal of love for him and some have only a little, like those who are absorbed in their own whims and desires most of the time. But when mention of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is made, most of them long to see him, and prefers that to their own family, sons, wealth and fathers. But that feeling quickly fades because of other distractions. And Allaah is the One Whose help we seek.
See Fath al-Baari, 1/59
This is what is referred to in the verse where Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“The Prophet is closer to the believers than their ownselves” [al-Ahzaab 33:6]
Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: [Allaah] knew how compassionate His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was towards his ummah, and how sincere he was towards them, so He made him closer to them than their own selves, and decreed that his judgement among them should take precedence over their own preferences. (6/380).
What the scholars have said may be summed up by noting that the wrath of Allaah and the Fire of Hell are the things that we fear the most, and we cannot be saved from them except at the hands of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).
The pleasure of Allaah and the garden of Paradise are the things that we want the most, but we cannot attain them except at the hands of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) referred to the former when he said:
(Muslim, 2285, from the hadeeth of Jaabir; a similar hadeeth was narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3427 from the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah).
[How are moths attracted to light]
What is meant by this hadeeth is that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) likened the way in which the ignorant and disobedient rush to fall into the Fire of the Hereafter by means of their sins and whims and desires to the Fire, and their keenness to fall into that Fire, even though he is trying hard to prevent them from doing so to the way in which moths and other insects are fatally attracted to the fire. Both of them are keen to destroy themselves because of their ignorance of the consequences. (Sharh Muslim by al-Nawawi)
The latter was referred to by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) when he said: “All of my ummah will enter Paradise except those who refuse.”
They said: “O Messenger of Allaah, who would refuse?”
“Whoever obeys me will enter Paradise and whoever disobeys me has refused.”
(Al-Bukhaari, 7280, from the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah)
And Allaah is the Source of strength.