WHY RELIGIOUS IMMITATION IS AN ABSOLUTE NO-NO FOR MUSLIMS
Before we proceed, please note that immitating the disbelievers , when it comes to the Islamic realm - Means immitating non Muslims in matters that are distinctively used as their identity , culture or religious association. It also includes imitating them in anything that is forbidden in Islam  such as celebrating their auspicious days of Halloween, as has started in the Muslim world since a few years now [ as if natural ugly faces of some wasn't enough for them to now adorn even uglier masks]
For details see: https://islamqa.info/en/2322
 For e.g. Men adorning themselves with female accessories presuming they are the mighty pharoah of a vast Egyptian dynasty of 1500 B.C or simply to copy some pink-purple-orange haired guy who shouts at the top of his voice for money [aka rockstar].
Shaykh Ibn Hajar al-hayTami rahimahullah said:
" يَحْرُمُ التَّشَبُّهُ بِهِنَّ [ أي : بالنساء ] بِلُبْسِ زِيِّهِنَّ الْمُخْتَصِّ بِهِنَّ اللَّازِمِ في حَقِّهِنَّ كَلُبْسِ السِّوَارِ وَالْخَلْخَالِ وَنَحْوِهِمَا بِخِلَافِ لُبْسِ الْخَاتَمِ " . " الفتاوى الفقهية الكبرى" (1/261) .
It is haraam to imitate them (i.e., women) by wearing fashions that are unique to them, such as wearing bracelets, anklets and the like, unlike wearing rings.
[Ref: Fataawa al-Kubra, 1/261]
The issue of not imitating the disbeliever's religious practices and to prevent them from copying ours [ keeping the future turn-out in mind] was so important that
(خبر أن عمر: " أمر بجز نواصى أهل الذمة وأن يشدوا المناطق وأن يركبوا الأكف بالعرض "
`Umar (radhiallahu `anhu) ordered the disbelievers (living in a Muslim country) to keep the forelocks shaved, to wear the belts, and they should ride animals keeping both legs to one side and back to the other side.
(خبر إسماعيل بن عياش عن غير واحد من أهل العلم قالوا: " كتب أهل الجزيرة إلى عبد الرحمن بن غنم إنا شرطنا على أنفسها أن لا نتشبه بالمسلمين فى لبس قلنسوة ولا عمامة ... الخ
Narration of Ismaa`el bin Ayaash reported from many knowledgeable people, they said,
„The people of Al-Jazeerah (who were ahl adh-dhimma) wrote to `Abdur-Rahmaan: We are bound with the condition that we will not copy the Muslims in wearing hats and turbans………..‟
عن خرشة بن الحر ، قال : رأيت عمر يضرب أكف المترجبين ، حتى يضعوها في الطعام . ويقول : كلوا ، فإنما هو شهر كانت تعظمه الجاهلية
Kharasha ibn al-Hurr narrated that I saw `Umar ibn Khattab he used to beat the people who would not eat, in respect or out of veneration of Rajab (i.e by fasting) till he (`Umar) made them sit to eat and would say Eat! This is the month that the people of ignorance era used to venerate (by over doing it)
[Ref: Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah 2/182/2]
- حَدَّثَنَا زَيْدُ بْنُ يَحْيَى، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللهِ بْنُ الْعَلَاءِ بْنِ زَبْرٍ، حَدَّثَنِي الْقَاسِمُ قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ أَبَا أُمَامَةَ يَقُولُ: خَرَجَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَلَى مَشْيَخَةٍ مِنَ الْأَنْصَارٍ بِيضٌ لِحَاهُمْ فَقَالَ: " يَا مَعْشَرَ الْأَنْصَارِ حَمِّرُوا وَصَفِّرُوا، وَخَالِفُوا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ ". قَالَ: فَقُلْنَا: يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ، إِنَّ أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ يَتَسَرْوَلَونَ وَلْا يَأْتَزِرُونَ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: " تَسَرْوَلُوا وَائْتَزِرُوا وَخَالِفُوا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ ". قَالَ: فَقُلْنَا: يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ، إِنَّ أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ يَتَخَفَّفُونَ وَلَا يَنْتَعِلُونَ. قَالَ: فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: " فَتَخَفَّفُوا وَانْتَعِلُوا وَخَالِفُوا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ ". قَالَ: فَقُلْنَا: يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ إِنَّ أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ يَقُصُّونَ عَثَانِينَهُمْ وَيُوَفِّرُونَ سِبَالَهُمْ. قَالَ: فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: " قُصُّوا سِبَالَكُمْ وَوَفِّرُوا عَثَانِينَكُمْ وَخَالِفُوا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ "
Abu ‘Umamah reports: The Prophet (sallalahu `alayhi wa sallam) once came to some old men of the tribe of Ansar. These men had extremely white beards. Seeing them, the Prophet remarked: ‘O People of Ansar dye your beards in red or golden colours and do not follow these People of the Book’. They declared: ‘O Prophet these People of the Book do not wear shalwars and loin cloths’. At this, the Prophet said: ‘Wear shalwars and loin cloths and do not follow these People of the Book’. They declared: ‘O Prophet these People of the Book neither wear shoes nor socks [while praying]’. At this, the Prophet said: ‘Wear shoes and socks and do not follow these People of the Book’. They said: ‘O Prophet these People of the Book lengthen their moustaches and shave their beards’. At this, the Prophet said: ‘Clip your moustaches and lengthen your beards and do not follow these People of the Book’.
[Ref: Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hambal, Hadeeth 22283 in shamela or vol. 5 p. 264 ; إسناده حسن رجاله كلهم ثقات غير القاسم وهو حسن الحديث - the hadeeth is hasan and has also a shaahid by tabraani in Mu`jam al-Kabeer 7924 with a certain addition . the rijaal all are thiqah except al-qaasim who is ibn `abdur rahman ad-dimishiq and he is hasan. Imam haythami, suyuti, albani, the recently deceased shaykh shu`ayb al-Arnout, have all reported variants of this and is saheeh. More so certain individual commandments within this hadeeth are also reported separately in other narrations ]
THERE ARE TIMES WHEN IMITATING NON RELIGIOUS ACTS ARE OKAY, RECOMMENDED, BENEFICIAL AND MANDATORY
However, there were times when the prophet sallalahu `alayhi wa sallam, his companions, their students and scholars till this date allow and encourage copying the disbelievers in some non-religious matters .
For e.g. the below tafseer excerpt explains it all:
(Do not stand) pray (in it ever) He sent some people to pull it down and burn it and they put it in its place a rubbish heap where they threw carcasses. (a mosque founded on taqwa from the first day) Established the day you came to the abode of the Hijra, and it is the mosque of Quba' as it says in al-Bukhari. (has greater right that you should stand in it) to pray. (in it there are men) the Ansar. (men who love to purify themselves. Allah loves those who purify themselves) i.e. He rewards them. The Prophet went to the mosque of Quba and said, "You have been praised for purification in the story of your mosque. What is this purification by which you purify yourselves?" They said, "By Allah, Messenger of Allah, we do not know anything but that we had some neighbours who were Jews and they used to wash themselves after going to the lavatory and so we wash as they wash." In a hadith related by al-Bazzar, they said, "We use water after stones." He said, "It is that. You must do it."
Ibn `Abbas (r.a) narrated that : The Prophet (sallalahu `alayhi wa sallam) used to let his hair fall naturally, and the mushrikoon used to part their hair, and theAhl al-Kitaab used to let their hair fall naturally, and the Prophet (sallalahu `alayhi wa sallam) liked to follow the Ahl al-Kitaab in matters for which he had not been given any instruction, but later on the Prophet (sallalahu `alayhi wa sallam) started parting his hair.
[Ref: Saheeh al-Bukhari #3944]
Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar briefly commented on this hadeeth by saying:
قوله : ( ثم فرق النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – رأسه ) بفتح الفاء والراء الخفيفة ، وقد سبق شرحه في صفة النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – ، وفيه دليل على أنه – صلى الله عليه وسلم – كان يوافق أهل الكتاب إذا خالفوا عبدة الأوثان أخذا بأخف الأمرين ، فلما فتحت مكة ودخل عباد الأوثان في الإسلام رجع إلى مخالفة باقي الكفار وهم أهل الكتاب .
His statement, “but later on the Prophet (sallalahu `alayhi wa sallam) started parting his hair” – its explanation has already preceded in [the chapter on] the attributes of the Prophet (sallalahu `alayhi wa sallam). And in this is a proof that he (sallalahu `alayhi wa sallam) used to agree with the the Ahl al-Kitaab when differing with the idol worshippers was the easier of the two matters. But then with the opening of Mecca and the entrance of the idol-worshippers into Islam, he returned to differing with the remaining kuffaar, who were the Ahl al-Kitaab.
[Ref: Fath al-Bari #3728]
Other acts such as their technology, their discipline in day to day life, war-fare, etc. becomes mandatory as and when needed.
THE IMMITATION DONE BY THE KHAWARIJ AND EXTREMISTS
By the way, Shaykh Hatim al-Awni may allah preserve him for goodness and rid his heart from the anti-salafi bias , once wrote an article online which i saved. He enlisted many ways in which the khawarij or extremist who taint Islam's name immitate the disbeliever's past and many times present practices . He said the following actions of neo-khawarij and ilk groups resemble imitating too:
1. Extremism and Fanaticism [Qur'an 5:77]
2. Disunity and Secterian Group Mentality [3:105]
3. Resembling the Disbelievers in Fighting each other
4. Taking scholars as Lords [Qur'an 9:31]
5. Some Claimants of Knowledge and Pseudo-Jurists/Muftis Exercising Church Type Authority or Dogmatism.
6. Creating Loopholes in the Religion as the Jews did with the Sabbath
7. Fighting the Intellect (‘Aql) in the Name of Revelation (Naql) [67:10]
so on and so forth
The original Arabic can be accessed here: http://www.al-madina.com/node/541501
If you didn't understand how or why the khawarij immitate the disbelievers, please see this article titled : 25+ distinguishing modern day features of the khawarij: http://the-finalrevelation.blogspot.com/2015/08/25-distinguishing-traits-of-khawarij.html
BOOKS WRITTEN AGAINST IMITATION
i am sure there are many more, however these are the only ones i know:
Iqtiḍa al-Siraṭ al-Mustaqeem Mukhaalafat Aṣḥaab ul-Jaḥeem | اقـتـضـاء الصراط المـسـتـقـيـم (The Necessity of the Straight Path in order to be different from the Inhabitants of Hell) by Ibn Taymiyyah - Some say this was the first book penned down with such ferocity
Tashabbuh alKhasees bi-Ahl al-Khamees fee radd al-tashabbuh bi’l Mushrikeen (The Despicable Imitation of the People of Thursday, Rejecting the Imitation of Polytheists) by the famous student of ibn taymiyyah - Shamsuddin ad-dhahabi rahimahullah
Liberals take note : Thursday appears to refer to Maundy or Lentil Thursday, which Christians celebrated as part of the last days of the Lent holiday leading up to Easter. Dhahabi’s disgust for these festivities mimics that of Ibn Taymiyya. He criticizes Muslim imitation of mundane activities such as baking flat loaves of bread, painting eggs, dyeing hair, wearing special attire, burning incense, and hanging crosses made of tar.
Ḥusn at-Tanabbuh lima warada fi-Tashabbuh (The Beauty of Awakening to what has been transmitted regarding Imitation) by Imam Najmud-deen al-Ghazzi ash-shaf`i from Shaam.
This shaykh was a known sufi shaykh. Ironically, modern day claimaints of sufism could never reach the level of the actual sufi shuyukh when it comes to wala al-bara or even basic inter-islamic taqwa like this . Several features distinguish this work from its predecessors. First, this treatise is really an encyclopedia; it took Ghazzi nearly forty years to complete this project. Imam ghazzi rahimahullah did not limit himself to emphasizing the difference between Muslims and non-Muslims.
He took it to the next level by discussing imitation/relations between men and women, Arabs and non-Arabs [yes arab notion of self-superiority always existed even back then; however when scholars use this word it has a different unbias intention and meaning], free persons and slaves, scholars and commoners, and humans and non-humans (angels, devils, and animals). Most importantly, however, unlike any other treatise written against tashabbuh in Muslim history, Ghazzi stresses the positive possibilities of tashabbuh as well. Inspired by his Sufi sympathies, he devotes nearly half of his encyclopedia to good tashabbuh. This is published in 12 huge volumes [yes 12 ! by dar al-nawadir 2011]
Ḥusn as-sayrfi Bayaan Aḥkaam Anwa’ min at-Tashabbuh bi’l-Ghayr (The Beautiful Journey in Clarifying the Rulings concerning the different types of Imitation of the Other) by Muhammad ibnal `Awad al-Dimyati as-shaf`i al-Misri (Died 1912 - before the collapse of the ottomon caliphate)
Now shaykh ad-dimyati was literally troubled seeing how Egyptian Muslims back then when mingled with Non Muslims , tend to copy them from head to toe. To the extent that shaykh dimyati finally decided to pen it down. He categorized his book into many subsections, including criticizing egyptian males dying their hand in henna which was actually something the women did only.
Then he saw egyptian Muslims partaking in many non islamic festivals, rituals celebrations etc. Then the shaykh went on to discuss how common muslims should not wear the religious dresses of other religions.
These shuyukh and their worries reminds me of our era ! And also of this particular tweet :
Then from 1950 onwards , Muslim scholars witnessing the slow but steady changes in Muslims made them write many books on this topic. From almost every Middle eastern country and even by schools such as deobandhi scholar Qari Muhammad Tayyab (d. 1983) Islami tahzeeb o Tamaddun . He wrote this when India was still under british colonialism and muslims left Urdu as their language and adopted other languages esp. english and french.
Today, in the modern India - the young Muslims barely know how to read or write Urdu. BARELY !
Even the secular Turkey had some scholars writing on this topic. But for turkey perhaps it was too late.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah:
“The reason why the religion of Allah and its rituals is vanishing, and kufr and sin are prevailing, is because of imitation of the kaafireen, just as the means of preserving all good is by following the ways and laws of the Prophets. “
[Ref : al-Iqtidaa`, 1/413]
I remember shaykh ibn uthaymeen rahimhullah in one of his tapes saying and giving references of how the world back during abbasid and ummayad caliphate rushed to learn arabic. Foreigners would learn arabic to impress the arab muslims. foreigners would teach their kids arabic the way we teach them english today. That was because we were the super power and the shaykh r.h made a very subtle point that people tend to copy the strongest. They feel ashamed of their own traditions when someone else becomes more powerful in the world .
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