All too often we hear Muslims and non-Muslims pointing a finger at what a Muslim has done or has not done that may not be in accordance with Islam (Qur'aan & Sunnah) or that is morally questionable. In the case of a non-Muslim, the finger-pointing is done as an attempt to discredit Islam based on that Muslim(s) action, and with an underlying motive aimed at not accepting the teachings of Islam. For the Muslim, this finger-pointing is done because of one's lack of knowledge or a weakness of faith and committment. In either case, both have severe applications on the Day of Judgment, and the informed Muslim must be ready to fully educate those individuals that the best example for the correct practices of Islam in today's society is to follow Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam).
Surely, if we are talking to non-Muslims, the simple reply to those who point to the failings of Muslims would be that people are not perfect, and that there are also Christians and Jews who are not following the teachings of their religion. Basically, this argument is true and irrefutable and can be pointed out even to Muslims. However, taking this position does not lead the Muslim to fulfilling one of the most important duties, and that is calling people to or spreading the knowledge of Islam.
Four Important Issues
As Muslims we must know - May Allah show us mercy! - that it is incumbent upon us to continue to strive to master four issues that will provide us the ability to intelligently counter this kind of talk by a non-Muslim and to strengthen uneducated Muslims. The first is knowledge.
Namely, the knowledge of Allah, of His Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) and of the religion of Islam along with acquisition of it by evidence. The second is implementation of knowledge; The third is the call to or spread of knowledge The fourth is perseverance in all these tasks despite all mental, physical or social hindrances.
The evidence that such issues must be conquered is found in Allah's following words:
By the token of time! Man is indeed in peril, except those who have faith, do the righteous works, and counsel each other to uphold the truth and to stand firm in patience. (Suratul-Asr 103:1-3).
In this day and time, when most people, including many Muslims, blindly live only for themselves, constantly influenced by the West to attain material gains and to involve themselves in un-Islamic acts and behaviors, the Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) has provided comfort in this regard to Muslims who are looking for the last best role model by saying: I have been sent to complete the best morals. (Al-Hakim and Adh-Dhahabi). That is to say, the morals, sayings and practices (Sunnah) of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) are the best and only example we must follow, and likewise we must convey this to the Muslims and non-Muslims.
Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) As The Model
The Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) has no doubt demonstrated the best qualities of a human being. Allah the Exalted said: Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example to follow....(Qur'an 33:21). The Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) was not sent merely to deliver the word of Allah, but also to explain the divine Book, to interpret it, to expound it, to demonstrate the ways of its application, to present a practical example of its contents, to teach it and to train people to run their lives in accordance with its requirements. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) delivered the Message in the best way and demonstrated the religion as it should be. He counseled the Ummah for the better and unified their thoughts. He also succeeded with his Companions (radiallahu 'anhum) in opening their hearts to Tawheed. Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: I have left among you two things: you will never go astray as long as you hold fast to them: the Book of Allah and my Sunnah. (Al-Hakim)
Holding fast to the Qur'aan and Sunnah can only begin when we have enough faith and knowledge to implement the hadeeth of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) that says: Whoever observes something wrong should change it with his hands. If he is unable to do so, then he should speak against it with his tongue. If he is unable to do even that, then he should at least hate it in his heart - and this is the lowest level of faith. (Muslim) This hadeeth also indicates that we must be knowledgeable in our religion so that we can properly implement the Qur'aan and Sunnah of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) to change and educate others, and to grow in our own faith. Without the knowledge that we must follow the example of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam), we will be susceptible to losing hold of the rope of Islam. We pray for the Muslims who have committed and are commiting wrong doings, Aameen.
Having the practical knowledge of our Rabb Allah, of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam), and of our religion, Muslims are armed with the necessary tools to sufficiently reform ourselves or inform others who are pointing a finger at Muslims and using that person's poor behavior or actions as an indictment of the whole of Islam. In educating ourselves in the Deen, we will be enlightened to the fact that Islam should not be held against the Muslim. The Muslim should be held against Islam, and the best Islam is that of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam).
Complied from: Islamic Guidelines - Muhammad bin Jamil Zino, The Authority of Sunnah - Justice Muhammad Taqi Usmani, and Three Essays on Tawhid - Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab.