Hadhrat Maulana Qari Muhammad Tayyab (ra) writes:
If we consider the issue of personalities, then we will note that the fountainheads and springs of all piety are the sanctified and honourable Prophets (peace be upon them all), whose love, respect and belief are the from the fundamentals of Imaan (faith.) However, even in this regard, in subservience to the way of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l Jama’ah and in exercising a point of moderation, the ‘Ulama of Deoband have not allowed any exaggeration or excesses to creep in. Their Maslak is not that of exaggeration like other misguided sects who make no distinction between Allah Most High and the Prophets. We seek refuge from Allah!
[They (the misguided sects) believe] that they (the Prophets) are a slighting of Divine spirit and that they are merely screens [ of divinity.] It is as though the real Deity is in the heavens and they (the Prophets) are incarnates, or that they are a species other than mankind. Or, [they believe] that they are the effects of the treasures of Allah; his children or relations. We seek refuge from Allah!
Nor is their Maslak like that of the disrespectful material-worshippers, who regard them (the Prophets) as mere postmen whose job it is to convey a message, and that is all! We seek refuge from Allah even more! And [they believe] that their function and status is nothing more than that. Just as a messenger does not warrant any extra respect or honour. i.e no more than a normal human being, they too do not consider it necessary to honour, revere or love the Prophets (peace be upon them all.)
It is apparent that these are excesses which stem from pure ignorance. Religion is a branch of knowledge, not ignorance. In fact, religion is the essence of knowledge and understanding. This excess and exaggeration is a branch of Dhulm (oppression), not justice. The basis of religion is Moderation and not excess and exaggeration.
The Maslak of the ‘Ulama of Deoband regarding the Prophets (peace be upon them all) falls between these two ideologies and rests upon moderation. These sancitified personalities who are the custodians of the divine message have relayed and conveyed this divine message to the creation with full honesty, diligence and caution. They are the highest form of mankind. They were the divine teachers and tutors of the divine message to mankind. They were also examples of perfect human character and personality. This is why they are worthy of all honour, respect and admiration. [But], together with this, it is an important part of the maslak that they are human beings. they are not a different species. Therefore, just as disrespecting or dishonouring them is Kufr (unbelief) and honouring them is from the fundamentals of Imaan (faith), respect for them to the level of shirk (polytheism) is kufr (unbelief) of an even higher degree.
Maslak ‘Ulama-e-Deoband, pages 17-19