We recall the authentic report from the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), "Whoever imitates a people, he is one of them." And also, "You will follow the tradition of those people who came before you exactly..." (this portion is in the two
Saheehs) And he confirmed, when asked whether he meant the Jews and the Christians, by saying "who else?" (Ahmad, Aboo Dawood,
Hasan Hadith, authenticated by al-Albani in Sahih Jami` us-Sagheer 6025)
The rulings on imitation cannot be dictated in details because each case has its own barriers set by the texts, based upon a principle of the shar` which is accepted by the people of knowledge, and the understanding of the religion.
But there are some universal rulings, concerning a group of general categories of imitation which are not specified:
1. The type of imitation of the kuffaar which constitutes Shirk and Kufr. Like imitation in creed, imitation of the Jews and the Christians or the Zoroastrians in matters that affect Tawheed, and creed. Like ta`teel: it is the negation of a name of
Allah ta`ala, and an attribute of His, and limitation in them, like the belief that
Allah ta`ala is limited inside one of His creatures and that He unites with His creation. As well as glorifying certain
prophets and righteous people, and worshipping them, and calling upon other than
Allah. As well as legislating with a legal system other than the Shariah, all of these are either
Shirk or Kufr.
2. Some imitation is disobedience and sin, like copying the kuffaar in some of their manners, like eating with the left hand, and drinking with it, and wearing gold, and adorning oneself with it by the men, and shaving beards, and the women resembling the men, and the men resembling the women, etc.
3. Some of it is Makrooh in which its ruling is that it is between the lawful and the unlawful.
And one question remains: "Is there anything which the Kuffaar do that is lawful?"
I say, the allowable is that which is not characteristic of them in their matters of life. That means it is from the Muslim characteristics. This permissible action (imitation of it) must not be harmful to the Muslims, nor contribute to the interest of the
Kuffaar. One of the permissible actions (actions in which imitation is permissible) is the positive materialistic production which does not harm the Muslims. Also, material science which does not affect religion and morals, these kinds of actions are permissible. Additionally, sometimes the Muslims must benefit from the worldly sciences of the
Kuffaar. And what we mean here by worldly, is that the science does not affect our belief or the principles of
Shariah or cause the Muslims to fall into subjugation and belittlement. This is what is meant under the section of worldly.
By: Dr. Nasir al-Aql