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[from Bidaayatus-Suwal of Al-'Izz ibn 'Abdis-Salaam, taken from MAKKAH]
With the Name of Allaah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful...
O Allaah! Raise the rank of our leader Muhammad and that of his family as well, and grant him security. Aid us, O Allaah, and make this affair easy for us, and allow us to complete it.
All praise is for Allaah, the Lord of all that exists. We ask Him to raise the rank of the chief of all His creation, Muhammad, the seal of the prophets, and that of his family and all his companions.
Allaah Most High says:
And Allaah sent down to you (O Muhammad!) the Book and the Hikmah, and He taught you what you did not know. And verily the favor of Allaah oÂn you is indeed a great oÂne! 
Allaah also says:
These are the messengers, We favored some of them over others. From them is oÂne whom Allaah spoke to directly, and We exalted some of them greatly. 
The first verse establishes that there is a distinction in the virtues of the different messengers, and the second verse shows how some messengers are far more virtuous than others. And indeed Allaah Most High preferred our Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaye wa sallam) in many ways. 
Muhammad (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) is the Sayyid  of the Offspring of Aadam
The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) said:
"I am the sayyid of Aadam's offspring, and I do not say this out of pride." 
A sayyid is oÂne who possesses the most superior characteristics and highest manners, and thus holds an exalted position above the rest of the people. This title befits the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) since he is the best of mankind in both this life and the next. As for this life, he was described as having the highest morals and manners. As for the next life, then the reward is connected to the manners and actions of this life. So if he (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) surpassed their best commendable acts and traits in this life, then he will also surpass their positions in the next life.
He oÂnly said, "And I do not say this out of pride," to make his nation aware of the position that his Lord gave him. Usually when people mention their own qualities our positions, it is from pride. So he wanted to eliminate any false or ignorant conclusions that would suggest that he mentioned his position out of pride by saying, "And I do not say this out of pride."
He (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) Will Hold the Flag of Praise
The Prophet said:
"And oÂn the Day of Judgement I will hold the flag of praise,
and I do not say this out of pride." 
Aadam and All of Mankind Will Stand Under His Flag
(sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam)
The Prophet said:
"Aadam and the rest of mankind will be under my flag oÂn the Day of Judgement, and I do not say this out of pride." 
These virtues specific to our Prophet prove his high station. If nothing else, this superiority hints at the virtues of his character and his distinctively high position.
Allaah Forgave All His Sins During His Lifetime
(sallallahu 'alayhe wa sallam)
Verily Allaah informed him that He Glorified and Exalted forgave him for his past and future sins during his lifetime (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam). There are no narrations to support that Allaah forgave any other prophet in this manner.
Apparently, Allaah Most High did not inform anyone else of this kind of general forgiveness. We understand this from the hadeeth of the Intercession, wherein it is reported that the messengers will be asked to intercede for their people. Each oÂne will remember his sin or mistake, and refuse, saying, "Myself, myself!"  So if they knew they had been forgiven, they would not be so apprehensive at this important moment. Then, when the opportunity to intercede comes to the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam), he will say: "This is for me." 
He (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) Will be the First
to be Allowed to Intercede
From his magnificent virtues is that he (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) will be the first to be permitted to intercede for the creation. He said:
"I will be the sayyid of Aadam's offspring oÂn the Day of Judgement, the first to be raised from the earth, the first intercessor, and the first oÂne to be given permission to intercede." 
This clearly shows his distinction (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) and superiority over the rest of creation.
He (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) Chose to Use His oÂne Answered Supplication to Intercede for His Nation oÂn the Day of Judgement
The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) put aside his personal needs and chose to intercede for us oÂn the Day of Judgement, as he said:
"Every prophet was given oÂne supplication that would be immediately answered whenever he would ask it. Verily I have delayed my supplication so can I ask Allaah to allow me to intercede for my nation oÂn the Day of Judgement." 
So every prophet was given oÂne supplication like this, and each oÂne used his in this life, while he (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) patiently chose to use his for the next life to intercede for his nation.
Allaah Swore by Muhammad's Life (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam)
Indeed Allaah Most High made an oath by the life of His Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam), as found in His Statement:
By your life, verily they are wandering about in a drunken state! 
The fact that Allaah Glorified and Exalted swore by Muhammad's life (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) shows that he holds a very high position with Allaah, since Allaah oÂnly swears by the most outstanding things in His Creation. This proves his honor and prestige, and he (sallallaahu 'alaye wa sallam) is deserving of such a position, since his life was so generally full of blessings, every specific event bearing witness to that.
It has not been established that Allaah Most High swore by the life of anyone else.
Allaah Addressed Him (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam)
by the Most Honorable of Titles
From the Prophet's many amazing virtues is that Allaah Most High addressed him (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) using oÂnly honorable and distinguished titles, like:
O Prophet! Allaah is sufficient for you and for the believers that follow you! 
O Messenger! Convey what was revealed to you from your Lord! 
This is something that gives him (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) a great distinction among the prophets, since Allaah Most High used oÂnly their given names when He called oÂn the rest of them. This is evident from many verses:
And we said, "O Aadam! Dwell, you and your wife, in the garden!" 
And when Allaah said:
"O 'Eesaa son of Mary! Remember my favor oÂn you and oÂn your mother!" 
O Moosaa! Verily I am Allaah, the Lord of all that exists! 
It was said,
"O Nooh! Come down (from the Ark) as we granted you security and blessed you and some of those with you!" 
O Daawood! Verily we appointed you as a ruler oÂn earth! 
And we called out to him,
"O Ibraaheem! You have fulfilled (what you were ordered to do in) the dream! 
They said, "O Loot! Verily we are messengers from your Lord! 
O Zakariyyaa! Verily we bring you glad tidings of a boy named Yahyaa! 
O Yahyaa! Take the book firmly! 
Imagine a man who calls oÂne of his servants using a name that depicted his best qualities and most praiseworthy manners, and he calls the rest simply by their names. The high position of the oÂne who is called by his best qualities and manners is firmly established and he is clearly preferred over the rest.
It is well known in people's customs that to call someone by his best qualities and manners is a way of showing great respect and honor for a person. A poet oÂnce said:
Do not call me except with, "O Servant!"
For that is the most virtuous of all my names.
-  Hikmah literally means wisdom, but in this context it refers to the Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam).
-  Meaning of Soorah An-Nisaa' (4):113
-  Meaning of Soorah Al-Baqarah (2):253
-  Translator's note: It is as if the author was refuting a common misconception about the messengers, that they are all equal with Allaah. This may come from a misunderstanding of the verse that means: ( They believe in Allaah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers, saying, "We do not make distinctions between any of them" ) [Meaning of Soorah Al-Baqarah (2):285] This verse must be understood in light of the two verses mentioned by the author, may Allaah have Mercy oÂn him. Since Allaah made a distinction between them, preferring some over others, then we affirm these distinctions and do not differentiate between them from our own inclinations, as the Jews did with Moosaa and the Christians did with 'Eesaa for example. Hence, the believers do not say, "There is no distinction between any of them," rather they say, "We don't make distinctions between any of them," sticking firmly to the exact words of Allaah's verse. For verily Allaah, from His all-encompassing Wisdom, legislated virtues for some of His Messengers over others, as the opening verses mentioned by the author clearly demonstrate. And we must understand that to identify a virtue of oÂne messenger over another does not include any defamation of the latter. And Allaah Most High knows best.The chapters of this book are laid out to establish and illustrate this point.
-  Translator's note: The following section clarifies the intended meaning of the word sayyid.
-  This hadeeth is reported by 'Abdullaah ibn Salaam (radhiyallaahu 'anhu), and the entire text reads, "I am the sayyid of Aadam's offspring oÂn the Day of Judgement, and I do not say this out of pride. I will be the first to rise from his grave and the first to intercede. I will hold the flag of praise in my hand, and Aadam and the rest of mankind will be under it." It is found in Ibn Hibbaan, by way of Aboo Ya'laa with a saheeh chain. Its chain can be found in Thilaalul-Jannata fee Takhreejis-Sunnah (#393). It also has a witnessing narration oÂn the authority of Aboo Sa'eed Al-Khudree (radhiyallaahu 'anhu), as found in At-Tirmithee and others. It can also be found in As-Saheehah (#1571).
-  This is also from the aforementioned hadeeth of 'Abdullaah ibn Salaam (radhiyallaahu 'anhu), with a slight difference in the wording. This difference is supported by the hadeeth of Aboo Sa'eed that I referred to in the last footnote, and it is found in Ibn Maajah (#4308).
-  This wording is from the hadeeth of the Intercession as narrated by Ibn 'Abbaas (radhiyallaahu 'anhumaa) as found in Ahmad (1/281, 295). It has support from another chain in At-Tirmithee (#3620) and elsewhere. A detailed discussion of its chain can be found in Ath-Thilaal (#795), and its meaning is also present in the aforementioned narrations of 'Abdullaah ibn Salaam and Aboo Sa'eed Al-Khudree (radhiyallaahu 'anhumaa).
-  Translator's note: When the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) described the events leading up to the Intercession, he mentioned that after the people request Aadam, Nooh, Ibraaheem, Moosaa, and 'Eesaa to intercede for them, they will ask him (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) saying, "O Muhammad! You are Allaah's Messenger and the Seal of the Prophets! And verily Allaah forgave your past and future sins, so intercede for us!" This is from the hadeeth of the Intercession, as found in Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim, oÂn the authority of Aboo Hurayrah.
-  This is a section of the long, marfoo' hadeeth of Aboo Hurayrah (radhiyallaahu 'anhu) about the Intercession, which begins: "I will be the sayyid of Aadam's offspring oÂn the Day of Judgement. Do you know what that means? Allaah is going to gather the first and last of humankind in oÂne place oÂn the Day of Judgement..." It is found in Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim. See Thilaalul-Jannah (#811).
-  This is from Anas' narration (radhiyallaahu 'anhu) of the hadeeth of the Intercession.
-  This hadeeth is found in Saheeh Muslim and others (Aboo Daawood and Ahmad -Translator), and a discussion of its chain can be found in Thilaalul-Jannah fee Takhreejis-Sunnah (#792). It has many supporting narrations, which I have detailed in As-Saheehah (#1571). From them are the narrations of 'Abdullaah ibn Salaam and Aboo Sa'eed Al-Khudree, see the footnote to the hadeeth mentioned in Chapter oÂne.
-  It is found in Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim among others, oÂn the authority of Anas and Aboo Hurayrah. A discussion of its chain can be found in Ath-Thilaal (#798-799).
-  Meaning of Soorah Al-Hijr (15):72
-  Meaning of Soorah Al-Anfaal (8):64. The phrase, "O Prophet!" is also found in verses 65 and 70 of Soorah Al-Anfaal, and other places. (Translator's note: It is found a total of thirteen times actually. The remaining ten verses are 9:73, 33:1, 33:28, 33:45, 33:50, 33:59, 60:12, 65:1, 66:1, and 66:9.)
-  Meaning of Soorah Al-Maa'idah (5):67. The phrase, "O Messenger!" is also found in the 41st verse of Soorah Al-Maa'idah.
-  Meaning of Soorah Al-Baqarah (2):35 (Translator's note: Allaah calls oÂn Aadam by his name four times in the Qur'aan. The remaining verses are 2:33, 7:19, and 20:117.)
-  Meaning of Soorah Al-Maa'idah (5):110 (Translator's note: Allaah calls oÂn 'Eesaa by his name three times in the Qur'aan. The other two verses are 3:55 and 5:116.)
-  Meaning of Soorah Al-Qasas (28):30 (Translator's note: Allaah calls oÂn Moosaa by his name ten times in the Qur'aan. The other verses are 7:144, 20:11-12, 20:19, 20:36, 20:40, 20:83, 27:9, 27:10, 28:30, and 28:31.)
-  Meaning of Soorah Hood (11):48 (Translator's note: Allaah also calls oÂn Nooh by his name in the 46th verse of Soorah Al-Hood.)
-  Meaning of Soorah Saad (38):26
-  Meaning of Soorah As-Saaffaat (38):104-105 (Translator's note: Allaah also calls oÂn Ibraaheem by his name in Soorah Hood (11):76.)
-  Meaning of Soorah Hood (11):81
-  Meaning of Soorah Maryam (19):7
-  Meaning of Soorah Maryam (19):12
-  Aboo Nu'aym discussed this point more precisely in his book Dalaa'ilun-Nubuwwah (p.9-11), and As-Suyootee it all in his book Al-Khasaa'isul-Kubraa (3/141), saying, "The scholars say that from Muhammad's distinctions (sallallaahu 'alayhe wa sallam) was that Allaah did not address him in the Qur'aan by his name..."
And Allaah knows best