These rights rank highest amongst the rights of all creatures. No other creature is eligible for a higher right than that due to the Allah's Messenger (peace be upon Him).
"Verily, We have sent you (O Muhammad) as a witness, as a bearer of glad tidings, and as a Warner. In order that you (O mankind) may believe in Allah and His Messenger, and that you assist and honor him ..." (Quran 48:8+9)
Hence, love dedicated to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) must assume precedence over love to all people even oneself, offspring, and parents. In this context Allah's Messenger said:
"None of you will taste real Belief until I come closer to his heart than his child, parent and all other people." (Bukhari and Muslim)
Amongst the rights due to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) come veneration, paying him high tribute and giving him his due honor with neither excess nor negligence. When Muslims honor their Prophet in life and after his death, they in fact honor his Sunnah (tradition) and his flawless law. If you had had the chance to witness the honor paid to him by his Companions, you would surely have realized how those virtuous people had done their duty towards him to the best. Urwa Bin Mas'ood, when sent to negotiate a peace treaty in Hudaibiya, addressed the tribe of Quraish saying:
"I have been admitted into the audience of several kings like Khusro of Persia, Caesar of Rome and Negus of Ethiopia, but I have never witnessed anyone who honors them more than the Companions of Muhammad do to him. If he gives an order, they will carry it out on the spot; if he observes Wudu (ablution), they will compete to imitate him; if he begins to speak, they will lower their voices; they will cast their eyes down in complete reverence to him."
Thus did the Companions of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) honor him because he was naturally disposed to honorable manners, and used to be gentle hearted. Had he been severe and harsh-hearted, they would certainly have broken away from him.
He has the right over us to believe whatever he said about the past and future, to abide by his orders and to eschew what he forbade. We are under obligation to believe that his guidance is the most perfect and his canonical law is the most comprehensive and comes before any other law or system of whatever source.
"But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission." (Quran 4:65)
"Say (O Muhammad to mankind): "If you (really) love Allah then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, follow the Quran and the Sunnah), Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Quran )
We are also under obligation to defend his canonical law as much as we can in accordance with the situation involved. If the enemy were to use arguments and ambiguities, we would have to resort to science and counter arguments to refute their allegations and reveal their ill grounds. Should they use weapons and guns, it is then incumbent upon us to utilize identical means. A believer can never stand tongue-tied while his sacred law is being undermined or the Noble Prophet slandered.