What is imiate in islam?
Human beings need examples to imitate in every aspect of their lives from the moment they are born; because they learn their language, religion, morality, habits, and everything which shape their thinking, belief, and deeds from previous examples. Though, some small exceptions can be found, this is usually true. For instance, a child learns whatever language his/her parents speak. Then he/she can learn a second, third, and fourth language from other exemplary personalities. In other words, people’s education is nothing but, in addition to other agents, making them use their natural ability to imitate positive and negative examples from before them. In this way, people are affected from their parents and their environment; and in the extent of the strength of their ability to imitate, they join into society as a good or bad personality.
Even though learning a language and other similar outwardly characteristics usually do not constitute a big problem, great and serious obstacles emerge before achieving good manners and strong spirituality; because obstacles like the Devil and human ego try to deceive humans to do the opposite while imitating the meritorious deeds.
On the other hand, if people do not shape their religious, moral, and spiritual world based on the examples of mature and eminent personalities, such as prophets and friends of Allah, they will go astray and turn their eternal happiness into frustration and disappointment. In this respect, people always need fine, elegant, and soft-hearted personalities to follow. This is why people admire those whom they accept as their guides and try to imitate them as much as they can. What an awful waste and failure the situation of those today who try to imitate only the actors/actresses and accept them as their guides is!As a matter of fact this frightful state is nothing but the result of presenting an empty heart to wrong people in order to be filled. Jalal al-Din Rumi (q.s.) explains this state with the following example:
“It is no wonder that the sheep recoiled from the wolf; the wonder is that this sheep set its heart on (becoming friendly with) the wolf.”
 Mathnawi, Vol. I, 1293
Source: An Excellent Exemplar, Osman Nuri Topbaş, Erkam Publications