"When you admire someone, you adopt their principles, and when you idolize someone, you imitate them."
I found this quote recently and it made quite an impact on me (although, to my regret, I don't remember where I read it or who said it - if I come across it again, I'll post the source).
This is important food for thought, particularly for Muslims. So many Muslims are convinced that it is *impossible* to be a Muslim and yet not follow (imitate) the hadith/sunnah attributed to Prophet Muhammad. It's important to clarify that the hadith are ATTRIBUTED to him. We don't know that he ever said or did even a portion of what people claim -- people who weren't there at the time, but said they were told by someone who was told by someone who was told by someone else what someone else saw or heard him do. In any other field of study, such a method of validation would be mocked and laughed off, not taken seriously.
But I digress.
Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but you run the risk of committing shirk. There's a fine line between respecting and admiring someone and worshipping them. This is particularly true when it comes to the prophets, the messengers of Allah sent to convey the message and warn those who do not believe in God to repentance.
The prophets told us "God is one. Worship only Him." That's precisely what they did. I encourage you all (and myself) to adopt their principles instead of imitating them.