An absurd phenomenon among Muslims today is to wear the garb of Islam at some times and places and removing it off at other times and places. No, the garb is not mere physical appearance, but practices and characteristics that make us a Muslim.

For instance, you may meet a Muslim at the masjid who appears to be Masha Allah the best person you’ve met in your life. The warm smile, soft words, and loving character that you experienced in the masjid have no trace at all when you meet him at your workplace.

Another example: A Muslim boy grows up in a good household. He is taught the proper Islamic etiquette and manners. He knows the Halaal and the Haraam. He has lived a life that has helped him to implement Islam in all walks of life; in short, he is treading upon the path of success in this world and the hereafter.

The boy finishes his graduation and travels abroad for masters as a mature adult. The university where he is to study has a peculiar atmosphere, which is where the first test comes.

His classmates are involved in filthy deeds and have no proper etiquette towards the teachers and professors. The boy has two choices: One, he can live up to the ideals he grew up with or he can discard them for the “easier” filth he sees around him. The professors wouldn’t mind, because they aren’t used to dealing with good students; his classmates wouldn’t mind either, because the boy is just like them.

The other choice would be to stick to his principles. Live his faith and continue practicing what he grew up with. It would be going against the norm, but it may have good results. His classmates may realize and feel ashamed of their deeds when they come across the boy’s morals, and they may actually mend their ways. The professors would come across the way of life that teaches students to not only respect but also serve their teachers.

Honor, respect, and victory come by practicing Islam and implementing its teachings, not the other way round. The story of Umar Bin Al-Khattab, the second rightly-guided caliph, always comes to mind. When Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was on his way to take over Al-Quds (Jerusalem), he would take turns with his slave to ride the camel. Al-Quds was near, the city’s gates were almost in sight, and it was the slave’s turn to ride the camel. While Umar walked, he passed through a pool of mud, so his clothes got soiled.

Abu Ubaidah Bin Al-Jarrah, commander of the Muslim army, was worried. He came to Umar and suggested that he rode the camel as they were about to enter the city. He thought the Romans, who are used to pomp and glory, will not respect his leader if he entered with such simplicity.

Umar’s reply (may Allah be pleased with him) is worth engraving in stone. He said, “We were a people who lived in humiliation before. Allah gave us honor through Islam. If we sought honor through anything else (at the cost of Islam) then Allah will humiliate us again.”

It is reported that when he entered Al-Quds, people burst out in tears at seeing the simplicity of Umar. Early Muslims, when they went abroad for trade, told their customers the defects of their products. This “business model” astonished people who were used to cheating traders. The point is Muslims could have done what other traders were doing in foreign lands without having to worry about going to a Shariah court, but they didn’t.

They chose to be truthful and sincere to other people. This was the Iman of the early generations and this is why they were successful. They lived the Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “Fear Allah wherever you are and follow up a bad deed with a good one and it will wipe it out, and behave well towards people.” (Ahmad and Al-Tirmidhi)

In contrast, is the present generation of Muslims. We are eager to discard the garb of Islam – our principles – for filthy alternatives. The expert advice we receive nowadays is how to be treacherous; how to manipulate, cheat, and win. Sadly, some even boast of their cunningness and cleverness. This is a sure recipe for failure in this world and the hereafter.

The intention behind everything we do in our diverse roles – as a son, daughter, husband, wife, father, mother, employer, or employee – should be to please Allah alone. Ask yourself before every action: Is this good? Will Allah be pleased with this? If the answer is no, then leave it and do deeds that will please Him.

If Allah gave us talents like knowledge, maturity, and power, the responsibility that comes with them is to utilize them in the worship of Allah and in ways that are beneficial to women who stood up to Pharaoho people. Do we not realize that we have to return to Allah and give an account of our deeds.