-The Companions love for the Messenger (Sallalahu Alaihi Wassalam)
The noble companions, may Allah be pleased with them, were the most fervent of people in their love of the Messenger (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasslam), they saw and witnessed his noble blessed face, they sat with him and and knew his blessed way/manners, they saw with their own eyes his truthful miracles (which suspended the law of nature), they believed in him based on insight and conviction. It was due to this that they gave precedence to loving him above loving anything else, (and gave precedence) to his order to any other order, and they became the most closest in following him, and being guided by his guidance and sunnah, he became more beloved to them than their own selves, and the most dearest to them than anyone else.
al-Bukhari narrated in his ‘Sahih’ (11/525) from the honourable companion Abdullah bin Hashim al-Taymi said:
We were with the Prophet (Sallalahu Alaihi Wassalam), he was holding the hand of Umar bin al-Khattab, Umar said to him: O Messenger of Allah, you are the most beloved to me than anything else except my own self, the Prophet (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasslam) said: No, by the one in whose hand is my soul, until I am beloved to you than your own self, Umar said to him: You now are the most beloved to me than my own self, the Prophet (Sallalahu Alaihi Wassalam) said: Now O Umar
(fn) Hafidh Ibn Hajar said in Fath al-Bari 11:528:
al-Khattabi said: a persons loving himself is natural, and his loving others is by choice due to various factors, what the Prophet (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasslam) was referring to was love that is made by choice, as there is no means to change that which is the nature of the heart.
I say (Ibn Hajar): Umars first answer was on the basis of what is natural, then he reflected and understood by contemplating that the Prophet (Sallalahu Alaihi Wassalam) was more beloved to him than his own self, because he is the means of him (Umar) being saved from destruction in this world and the next, so then he (Umar) informed that which was necessitated by his choice, and therefore He (Sallahu Alaihi Wasslam) answered: Now O Umar, meaning now you have understood and have said that which is incumbent…. (fn)
and al-Bukhari also narrated in his Sahih 1:58, from Anas (ra):
The Messenger of Allah (Sallalahu Alaihi Wassalam) said: ‘No one believes until I am more beloved to him than his parents, children and the rest of the people’
Indeed He (Sallalahu Alaihi Wassalam) had this position within the hearts of the companions, as has preceded in the hadith of Sayyidina Umar al-Khattab (ra)
(fn) Hafidh Ibn Hajar said in Fath al-Bari 1:59 commenting on this hadith:
In this hadith is an indication towards the virtue of contemplation, as the those aforementioned things which are loved are known by contemplation, as that which beloved to a person is either himself or others, as for himself he wishes to be remain free of troubles, this is the reality of that which is sought…… so if he reflects upon the benefit he has obtained from the Messenger (Sallalahu Alaihi Wassalam), the one who took him out from the darkness of disbelief to the light of Iman, either directly or by intermediary, he comes to know that he is the cause of his eternal existence in everlasting bliss, and comes to know that his benefit from this is the greatest of benefits, and due to this it entitles the amount love for him to be more than to anyone else, as the benefit which arouses love, come from him more than anyone else. However people are of different levels with regards to this upon the basis of their remembering this or not paying attention to it…. (fn)