Emulation of others is a natural instinct and from the innate nature of humans. We are born upon a fitrah that would if it is not polluted, acknowledge the one Lord and Creator and worship Him alone – and the innate nature rejects idolatry and polytheism. Alongside that, we are born ignorant of the environment around us and unable to fend for ourselves. So, we are created such that we learn through seeing and following step-by-step. A baby is like a seed in uncultivated soil that is in need of water and that is why you see young children watching intently the conduct and actions of adults, and then they mimic them.
It is known by every parent, every child psychologist and every teacher that copying the behaviour of adults is the first school of learning. This is seen in a child when he or she first learn to speak; he repeats what he hears regardless of whether he understands its meaning or not. He blindly follows his father and mother, feeling safe under their care, and likewise whoever is older than him, such as his brothers or sisters – the baby will parrot their movements, signals and speech.
However, this trait is not restricted to young children. Adults too, have an innate mechanism that inclines them to imitate and follow. Ibn Al-Jawzi (rahimahullāh) said in Talbees Iblees, “The character of a person steals the traits and behaviour from the those it mixes with.” (الطبع يسرق من خصال المخالطين)
Sometimes, a person will behave like those he mixes with and spends time with without even realising; and this is solely on the basis of intermingling with them. So, this is the nature of children and people (i.e. their fitrah) that Allah has created them with; they are affected by the example and behaviour of others more than what they read and hear especially as it relates to emulating actions.
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