Hayat-ul-Muslimeen, Life of Muslims, is perhaps the pinacle of Hazrat Ashraf Ali Sahab Thanwi (RA)'s books.
This is extraction of teachings of Islam that would appeal to the modern mind for the formalism is approached in that manner.
The last chapter in that book has the title that I am using as the heading of this thread.
I end up on this topic because of my personal journey.
Having born and brought up in India this sinner faced that inevitable situation where the best of the national environment presented the preposition of perennilism. All religions are right, they say.
Above mentioned chapter is an anti-thesis of this perennial assertion.
This chapter asserts that Muslims have to strive to distinguish themselves from others.
From the current situation in the world in general and India in particular this is a shocking assertion. It simply means that Muslims will never completely mix with others. Worse still, they have to strive to keep a distinct profile.
This might look very unnerving yet it is true.
The alarming situation can be put to some rest only if we know the truth in detail.
We can live amicably with others and Islam does not rule out that.
But it completely shields and protects our way of life from all external influences.
Here is that chapter in the doc format.
Two or three personal experiences should be mentioned here to outline my personal journey to this conclusion.
(1) One of the 'Aamal of the two Eids is that we return home after Wajib two unit prayers in Eidgah by a route that is different from the one we took to to go there.
Reason? To impress upon non-Muslims our strength.
(2) Some of our brothers were witness to and some even participated in discussions with that Australian atheist called Russel. He simply listened to our sweet, amicable and friendly arguments for a long time. after that he simply started rejecting them out of hand.
This was reveling for this sinner. faith is after all blind, even for atheists. It is not only impervious to reason, logic and argument but even to empirical reality. After all faith is about unseen reality.
Faith is also impervious to friendly disposition. People will not believe jsut because we behave nicely with them.
Clearly we ourselves have to develop a certain amount of resistence towards these characteristics that do not work onnon-Muslims.
Isolating our way of life from them is one way.
Hazrat Thanwi (RA) does that in above linked chapter using the noble qur'an and Hadith.
(3) I have spend last one and half a year on Facebook with mostly secular Hindus. many of them are liberals and some even communists. A few are religious. These are all sweet people for I simply did not waste my time with Modi supporters.
It turns out that the very topic that as a Muslim I would like to live my life completely according to Islam can not be simply breached with my friends.
I resisted making fun of the principles of Hinduism but my friends would criticize many principles of Islam and expected that I shall be fine with that. I was not and that is a clear indication towards what Allah swt says in the noble Qur'an. Non-believers will never stop encroaching upon your beliefs till you become like them.
That is the crude and unpleasant reality. It will be silly to ignore that.
I must warn that to begin with this realization presents before us the most difficult path towards Islam.
yet I advocate this route because once you take this route all the hurdles that will come subsequently will be less dounting and cumbersome.
And the ability, capability and opportunity to do anything is from Allah swt only.