The Prophet peace be upon him should be the most dearer to the believers, because it is the order of Allah and his Rasool. And Prophet peace be upon him said
"The likeness of me and you is that of a man who lit a fire and grasshoppers and moths started falling into it, and he tried to push them away. I am seizing your waistbands and trying to pull you away from the Fire but you are trying to get away from me."
Imam an-Nawawi said under the commentary of above hadeeth
ومقصود الحديث أنه صلى الله عليه وسلم شبه تساقط الجاهلين والمخالفين بمعاصيهم وشهواتهم في نار الآخرة ، وحرصهم على الوقوع في ذلك ، مع منعه إياهم ، وقبضه على مواضع المنع منهم ، بتساقط الفراش في نار الدنيا ، لهواه ، وضعف تمييزه ، وكلاهما حريص على هلاك نفسه ، ساع في ذلك لجهله .
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.(end quote)
Comment: Some people of the subcontinent (Brelvis) say that the people of Sunnah (Wahabis according to the brelvis) do not respect the Prophet peace be upon him, which is totally false accusation, This article is in response to these type of people, I would like to quote the Fatwas of scholars on this issue.
a) It says in al-Durar al-Saniyyah (2/175-176):
And the right due to the Prophets is to have faith in them and in what they brought, to follow the light which was revealed to them, to support them, respect them, show loyalty to them and to place love of them over one's soul, wealth, offspring and the whole of mankind. And the sign of truthfulness in that is following their guidance, having faith in whatever they brought from their Lord, having faith in their miracles (mu'jazaat), and [belief] that they conveyed the messages of their Lord, fulfilled the trust (placed upon them), and sincerely advised the Ummah, and that Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) is their seal (the last of them), and the most superior of them. [Also] to affirm their intercession (shafaa'ah) which Allaah, the Sublime, affirmed in His Book, which is the one that takes place after the permission of their Lord has been granted for it for those with whom He is pleased from the people of Tawhid, and that the Lofty Station (al-Maqam al-Mahmud) which Allah has mentioned in His Book is for our Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam).
And likewise, the right due to His Awliyaa is to love them, to be pleased with them (and ask for Allaah to be pleased with them), to have faith in their miracles (karaamaat). [but] Not to worship them in order that they may bring about good for those who invoke them for goodness which none has the power to bring about except Allaah, the Blessed and Exalted, or that they repel evil from them which none but Allaah is able to repel or remove. This is because (this act of invocation) is worship that is unique to His, the Sublime's Majesty. Allaah, the Exalted said, "And Your Lord has said, 'Invoke me, I shall respond to you. Indeed those who scorn my worship will surely enter Hell in humiliation.' (40:60). So He called it (invocation, du'a) ibaadah (worship) and annexed it to Himself (i.e. عبادتي). And al-Nu'man bin Bashir reported that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, "Indeed supplication is worship", then the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) recited, "And Your Lord has said, 'Invoke me, I shall respond to you. Indeed those who scorn my worship'..." to the end of the verse. Reported by Abu Dawud and al-Tirmidhi who said it is a hasan sahih hadeeth
See the scan and the translation source here: http://www.wahhabis.com/articles/krhjj-shaykh-abd-allaah-al-haseen-on-the-rights-of-the-anbiyaa-prophets-and-awliyaa.cfm
b) Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
و من ذلك : أن الله أمر بتعزيره فقال : ( وتعزِّروه وتوقروه )الفتح/ 9 ، والتعزير : اسم جامع لنصره ، وتأييده ، ومنعه من كل ما يؤذيه
والتوقير : اسم جامع لكل ما فيه سكينة ، وطمأنينة ، من الإجلال والإكرام ، وأن يعامَل من التشريف ، والتكريم ، والتعظيم بما يصونه عن كل ما يخرجه عن حدِّ الوقار .
Allaah has enjoined assisting him, as He says "and that you assist and honour him". Ta'zeer (assisting) means helping him, supporting him and protecting him against everything that may offend him.
Honouring refers to everything in which there is tranquillity and peace of mind, such as honour and respect, and dealing with him with the utmost respect and dignity[Al-Saarim al-Maslool (1/425)]
c) Al-Qaadi 'Iyaad (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
واعلم أن حرمة النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بعد موته ، وتوقيره ، وتعظيمه : لازم ، كما كان حال حياته ، وذلك عند ذكره صلى الله عليه وسلم ، وذكر حديثه ، وسنته ، وسماع اسمه ، وسيرته ، ومعاملة آله ، وعترته ، وتعظيم أهل بيته ، وصحابته
It should be noted that revering, respecting and venerating the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is required after his death, just as it was required during his lifetime, by showing respect when his name, is mentioned, (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), when you hear his hadeeth and Sunnah, when reading his seerah (biography); it also includes showing respect to the members of his household and his companions. [Al-Shifa fi Ahwaal al-Mustafa (2/40)]
Also see: http://www.islamqa.com/en/ref/97732
d) Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
وأما السبب في وجوب محبته صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وتعظيمه أكثر من أي شخص فلأن أعظم الخير في الدنيا والآخرة لا يحصل لنا إلا على يد النبي صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ بالإيمان به واتباعه ، وذلك أنه لا نجاة لأحد من عذاب الله ، ولا وصول له إلى رحمة الله إلا بواسطة الرسول ؛ بالإيمان به ومحبته وموالاته واتباعه ، وهو الذى ينجيه الله به من عذاب الدنيا والآخرة ، وهو الذى يوصله إلى خير الدنيا والآخرة . فأعظم النعم وأنفعها نعمة الإيمان ، ولا تحصل إلا به وهو أنصح وأنفع لكل أحد من نفسه وماله ؛ فإنه الذى يخرج الله به من الظلمات إلى النور ، لا طريق له إلا هو ، وأما نفسه وأهله فلا يغنون عنه من الله شيئا
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.[Majmoo' al-Fataawa, 27/246]
e) Hafiz Ibn Hajar asqalani said under the commentary of the hadeeth "No one of you truly believes until I am dearer to him than his father, his son, his own self and all the people."
إذا تأمل النفع الحاصل له من جهة الرسول - صلى الله عليه وسلم - الذي أخرجه من ظلمات الكفر إلى نور الإيمان إما بالمباشرة وإما بالسبب علم أنه سبب بقاء نفسه البقاء الأبدي في النعيم السرمدي ، وعلم أن نفعه بذلك أعظم من جميع وجوه الانتفاعات ، فاستحق لذلك أن يكون حظه من محبته أوفر من غيره ; لأن النفع الذي يثير المحبة حاصل منه أكثر من غيره ، ولكن الناس يتفاوتون [ ص: 77 ] في ذلك بحسب استحضار ذلك والغفلة عنه . ولا شك أن حظ الصحابة رضي الله عنهم من هذا المعنى أتم ; لأن هذا ثمرة المعرفة ، وهم بها أعلم ، والله الموفق .
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.....But people vary with regard to that, depending on the extent to which they bear that in mind or neglect it...[Fath ul Bari]
f) Al Qurtubee said
كل من آمن بالنبي - صلى الله عليه وسلم - إيمانا صحيحا لا يخلو عن وجدان شيء من تلك المحبة الراجحة ، غير أنهم متفاوتون . فمنهم من أخذ من تلك المرتبة بالحظ الأوفى ، ومنهم من أخذ منها بالحظ الأدنى ، كمن كان مستغرقا في الشهوات محجوبا في الغفلات في أكثر الأوقات ، لكن الكثير منهم إذا ذكر النبي - صلى الله عليه وسلم - اشتاق إلى رؤيته ، بحيث يؤثرها على أهله وولده وماله ووالده ،
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.[Fath ul Bari]
See also: http://islamqa.com/en/ref/14250