The Obligation of Differing From The Disbelievers
Author: Shaykh Saleh ibn Fawzan al-Fawzan
Jumah Khutbah: Riyadh, Date: October 12, 2001 (Rajab 25, 1422)
All praise is due to Allaah Who has promised those with patience a reward without measure. He has
rewarded those who are thankful for His bounties with preservation and protection as well as with a
generous increase with regard to these bounties. I testify that there is nothing worthy of worship except
Allaah, with Whom there is no associate, beyond any shadow of doubt. I testify that Muhammad is His
servant and Messenger; the leader of all Messengers and the chosen one from among all mankind.
May the blessings of Allaah be upon him, his family , his companions and all those who will follow them
sincerely until the Day of Judgement.
O Allaah’s servants! Allaah, the Most High, has granted the Muslims a complete Sharee’ah, or
comprehensive set of rules, that cover all religious and worldly matters. He made happiness both in
this world and in the Hereafter contingent on working according it and adhering to its guidance. Allaah,
Most High says that which means: “Whoever follows My guidance will neither go astray [in the world]
nor suffer [in the Hereafter].”(T aa Haa: 123).“ Whoever follows My guidance – there will be no fear
concerning them, nor will they grieve.”(Al-Baqarah: 38).
This Sharee’ah is the straight and correct way , which is the way of those on whom Allaah has
bestowed His Grace such as His Prophets, the sincere, the martyrs, and the righteous. Anything other
than this is the way of those who have earned the wrath of Allaah such as the Jews, the Christians and
Dear Muslims! In every rak`ah, or cycle, of your prayer , you invoke Allaah to show you the straight path
and keep you away from the path of those who have earned His wrath and those who have gone
astray . Y ou do this because you recite Surat Al-Faatihah. This recitation in every rak`ah is one of the
pillars of Salaah, or prayer . Therefore, you should reflect on this Du`aa’, or supplication, its objectives
and its positive results.
First and foremost, it implies following Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and adhering to
Allaah’s Sharee’ah concerning acts of worship, business transactions, morals and inward and outward
manners. It also entails differing from the disbelievers with regard to their specific acts of worship,
business transactions, morals, and manners. This is because imitating them outwardly leads to
loving them inwardly.
Therefore, the Qur ’aan and the Sunnah are replete with evidences that command the Muslims to differ
from the disbelievers and forbid imitating them in order to keep the Muslims away from all harmful
matters. This is because the actions of the unbelievers are false and only for show , their endeavours
are misleading and their end is certain destruction.
Consequently , all the actions and affairs of a disbeliever are blighted and fruitless. Allaah, Most High
says that which means: “But the disbelievers – their deeds are like a mirage in a lowland which a
thirsty one thinks is water until, when he comes to it, he finds it is nothing.” (Al-Noor: 39)and also: “ The
example of those who disbelieve in their Lord is [that] their deeds are like ashes which the wind blows
forcefully on a stormy day .” (Ibraaheem: 18).
O Muslims! Although Allaah has warned us severely against following the way of the disbelievers, He
knew that this would happen as His Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam reported that Allaah has
decreed this according to His Knowledge.
Al-Bukhaari and Muslim reported on the authority of Abu Sa`eed al-Khudri, may Allaah
be pleased with him, that Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallamsaid: “Y ou
will follow the errors of your predecessors so completely and literally that if they
should go into the hole of a lizard, you would follow them.” The people asked: “O
Allaah’s Messenger! Do you mean (by ‘your predecessors’) the Jews and the
Christians?” He sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam replied, “Who else?”
Al-Bukhaari reported on the authority of Abu Hurairah, may Allaah be pleased with him, that Allaah’s
Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “The Hour will not come until my nation will follow
completely and literally the errors of the previous nations.” The people asked: “O Allaah’s
Messenger! Are you referring to (the people of) Persia and the Romans?” He sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa
sallam replied:“Are there other than these?”
Therefore, Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam reported that his nation will follow the
Jews and the Christians, who are the People of the Book, as well as the people of Persia and the
Romans. Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam forbade imitating all of them.
Despite the fact that he sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam told us that his nation would imitate the errors of
the disbelievers, he sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam also stated that a group of his nation will firmly
adhere to the truth until the Hour comes. He sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam also said that Allaah
would make it such that the Muslim nation would not unanimously agree on falsehood. Also, he
sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam assured us that Allaah frequently raises certain persons for the sake
of His religion whom He uses and appoints for obeying Him.
As a result, it becomes clear from the authentic Ahadeeth of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam
that there will be a group of people who follow and adhere to his guidance, the religion of Islaam. On
the other hand, some Muslims will deviate to the doctrines of the religion of the Jews or that of the
Christians. Such deviation is made alluring by Satan. That is why a servant of Allaah is commanded to
ask Allaah to guide him to the straight path, which is far away from Christianity and Judaism.
O servants of Allaah! The wisdom behind the prohibition of imitating the disbelievers and commanding
us differ from them is so clear . This is because imitating them outwardly leads to imitating them
inwardly which in turn results in resembling them in their morals and actions. However , being different
from them outwardly leads to differing from them inwardly , which in turn leads to being so completely
distinct from them that one is rescued from the causes of Allaah’s wrath. Being distinguished also
saves one from going astray and leads to being directed to the way of guidance and Allaah’s pleasure.
O Muslims! T oday many Muslims, both men and women, imitate the disbelievers in their manners of
speaking, dressing, appearance and in so many other areas that time does not allow me to enumerate
Among these aspects is the shaving of beards and growing moustaches. Allaah’s Messenger
sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, commanded trimming the moustache and allowing the beard to grow in a
generous manner , thus being distinct from the disbelievers who shave their beards and grow their
We must know that clipping the moustache and growing the beard are among the characteristics of
Fitrah, or human-nature and from the guidance of the Prophets, peace be upon them all. It is a symbol
of being distinct from the enemies of Allaah and His Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. This is
because clipping the moustache brings about cleanliness, keeping it away from the phlegm of the nose
and because when it becomes long and hangs over the lip; it becomes immersed in food and drinks in
a disgusting manner . I stress again that growing the moustache long distorts one’s appearance,
despite the fact that some people may approve of it.
Wearing the beard is a symbol of a man’s handsomeness and dignity . Therefore, when he becomes
old his attraction remains due to the existence of the hair of his beard. In contrast, the one who
disobeys Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam by shaving it will have a distorted face
devoid of any beauty when he becomes old. The habituation and blind imitation of these people lead
them to misjudging a bad thing as good and vice versa. What we say to those people, may Allaah
guide us and them, is: Y ou must repent and return to the truth, for returning to the truth is far better
than continuing with falsehood. The Sunnah of Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has
become clear to you and you have been commanded to obey and follow in his footsteps.
Allaah says that which means: “ There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allaah an
excellent example.” (Al-Ahzaab: 21).Therefore you have to adhere to his Sunnah and not to change it,
despite the great number of Muslims who neglect it.
Another example of imitating the disbelievers is speaking in their languages unnecessarily; this
happens even among the native Arabs in their own countries. The reason why this is so disliked is that
when a person speaks a foreign language, he becomes accustomed to this practice and deserts the
Arabic tongue which is the symbol of Islaam. In fact, the language spoken is among the greatest of the
symbols that define the culture and practices of any given group of people. Therefore, the majority of
Islamic jurists are of the view that offering Du`aa’, or supplication, within Salaah, or prayers; and saying
Dhikr , or the mentioning of Allaah’s names,in a language other than Arabic is Makrooh, or not
Allaah has glorified the Arabic language, revealed His Book in it and made it the native language of
Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, the last of His Prophets. So, being accustomed to speak in
language other than Arabic is Makrooh – if a person knows Arabic – for it leads to resembling nonMuslims, deserting the Arabic language, and replacing it by another language.
Arabic is a part of the religion and learning it is obligatory , because comprehending the Qur ’aan and
the Sunnah is obligatory; and they cannot be comprehended except by knowing Arabic. Therefore what
is necessary for fulfilling an obligation also becomes obligatory .
As for learning foreign languages, Muslims are allowed to learn and speak in them, but only when
necessary . If it is unnecessary , then speaking in them is Makrooh. However , it is very saddening to see
that when you enter public buildings, such as hospitals and airports, in the Arab countries, you will find
people communicating in foreign languages as if they were in Europe.
The disbelievers are also imitated in certain acts of worship, such as building up the areas around
graves and making them places of visitation and worship. Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi
wa sallam said: “May Allaah’s curse be on the Jews and the Christians, for they build places of worship
at the graves of their Prophets.”
He sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam also said: “If any righteous man dies amongst them, they would build a
place of worship at his grave and make pictures of him to place therein; they are the worst creatures in
the sight of Allaah.”
These sayings of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam reveal that exaggeration with regard to
graves leads to the gravest shirk, or polytheism, which is obvious to everybody . All this is owing to
imitating the Jews and the Christians. Other forms of imitation are celebrating polytheistic and
innovated days such as the Prophet’s birthday and those of presidents and kings. Celebrating these
occasions may be for one day or a week such as National Day , Mother ’s Day , Cleanliness Week and
so on. All these celebrations came to the Muslims from the disbelievers.
In Islaam, there are only two days of feasts: the Day of Fitr , or ending the fast of Ramadhaan, and the
Day of Adhaa, or sacrifice. Celebrating any day other than these two is bid`ah, or an innovation in the
religion, and imitation of the disbelievers. Muslims should be mindful of this and not be lured by the
great number Muslims participating in these sinful events. Such people either do not know the ruling of
Islaam concerning it and celebrate these days due to ignorance, or know the ruling of Islaam and
celebrate them despite that. The sin of the latter class is of course, much greater . I seek refuge with
Allaah from the outcast Satan. Allaah says that which means:“There has certainly been for you in the
Messenger of Allaah an excellent example for anyone whose hope is in Allaah and the Last Day and
[who] remembers Allaah often. ” (Al Ahzaab: 21).
Say (O Muhammad ): “O Allah! Possessor of the kingdom, Y ou give the kingdom to whom Y ou will, and
Y ou take the kingdom from whom Y ou will, and Y ou endue with honour whom Y ou will, and Y ou
humiliate whom Y ou will. In Y our Hand is the good. V erily , Y ou are Able to do all things.
Y ou make the night to enter into the day , and Y ou make the day to enter into the night (i.e. increase and
decrease in the hours of the night and the day during winter and summer), Y ou bring the living out of
the dead, and Y ou bring the dead out of the living. And Y ou give wealth and sustenance to whom Y ou
will, without limit (measure or account). (3:26,27)