Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said, "Whoever resembles a people is one of them."(Recorded by Abu Dawud). This is a very important principle in the Shariah. Ulama have written that it is part of the goal of the Shariah to distinguish those people who follow the straight path from all other people.
A look at the Qur'aan and the hadith of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam will show us that we Muslims are not supposed to imitate or be blind followers of any other peoples. We have our own unique guidance and this is what we must turn to.
There are different hadith that clearly state that we are supposed to be different from the Jews, Christians, Romans, Persians, Magians, polytheists, people of jaahiliyyah, bedouins who had not embraced Islaam completely and so forth.
After hearing this long list of groups one will realize the following: We Muslims are a unique people. We take our way of life, our values and our customs only from Allaah's guidance - the Qur'aan and the Sunnah - and the way of the believers. We don't care what other people may follow. In fact, in our hearts, we have no desire whatsoever to follow them or to be like them. We want to be like the true believers and only the true believers.
In fact, we pray for this in every rakah in Surah al-Faatiha of every prayer we perform. In every prayer, we state,
"Guide us to the straight path - the path of those whom You have blessed."
Unfortunately, many people make that du'aa and they do not realize who are those people whose path we are asking Allaah to guide us to. By our actions, sometimes, we make it very clear that we are not sincere to that du'aa that we make at least seventeen times a day! When we make that du'aa we must realise that we are asking Allaah to guide us to the path of certain people - those who have earned Allaah's pleasure and grace. They are the ones whom Allaah has described elsewhere in the Qur'aan,
"And whoso obeys Allaah and the Messenger, then they will be in the company of those on whom Allaah has bestowed Grace of the Ambiyaa’, the sincere, the martyrs and the righteous. And how excellent these companions are." (an-Nisaa, 69)
These are the people whose path we face Allaah seventeen times a day and beseech Him to guide us to. It is very sad that today many Muslims are striving and working hard to follow the footsteps of the opposite people - the people that they ask Allaah against following. We also say in al-Faatiha,
"Not the path of those who have earned Your wrath nor of those who have gone astray." (al-Faatiha, 7)
These people whose path we are seeking to avoid are none other than the Jews and Christians, in particular, as Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam explained.
Today in many western countries many people are calling for us to follow in the footsteps of the Jews. They think that we are a minority like them and they have done very well for themselves. It is amazing that we are calling upon each other to follow in the footsteps of those who have earned Allaah's wrath. Don't you realize that they gained their place in this society by means that are completely unacceptable in Islam? Do you want us to behave like them and you think that Allaah will be pleased with us if we behave like them? Don't you see that by their means they have actually given up a great deal of their faith and done many things that go against their own teachings?
There is an expression in the that states, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery". The fact is that an individual would not imitate and follow another unless he has some respect or love for what that other person is and what he is doing. Or, perhaps, he has the desire to be one of them and he does not want to be an outsider as he may not have enough iman and courage to show himself for what he should be: a Muslim, believing in and submitting to God.
When this desire to imitate and follow the ways of the disbelievers happens to a Muslim, it is a very sad thing. It is a sign that there is some weakness or defect in his iman and in his heart - otherwise he would never desire or aspire to be like those who displease Allaah and are destined to the Hellfire.
Following the ways of the disbelievers - as opposed to the ways of the believers - and trying to come close to them is actually one of the characteristics of the hypocrites. Allaah says,
"Give to the hypocrites the tidings that there is for them a painful torment. Those who take disbelievers for protectors and helpers instead of believers. Do they seek honour with them? Verily, all honour is with Allaah (alone)" (an-Nisaa, 138-139)
This is exactly what many of those who imitate them are doing. One of the main reasons why one imitates and appears like the disbelievers is that he wants to be accepted, liked or respected by them. He does not want to be looked down upon by them as an outside or as one from a different religion and way of life. But Allaah says,
"Verily all honour is with Allaah (alone)" (an-Nisaa, 139)
The only one that a believer should try to please is Allaah - and this is achieved not by trying to be like the disbelievers but it comes about by following the Qur'aan and Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam). In reality, the acceptance and approval of the disbelievers should really, in essence, mean nothing in the eyes of a true believer. In the sight of Allaah, they have no value or honour. Allaah states in the Qur'aan:
"Honour belongs only to Allaah, His Messenger and the believers" (al-Munaafiqoon, 8)
A hadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) demonstrates that they are worth nothing in the sight of Allaah. That is why Allaah gives them of this world and in the Hereafter they will be nothing but fuel for the Hellfire.
(To be continued in shaa Allah)