TRUE MEN, MANHOOD, AND MASCULINITY IN ISLAM – II

TRUE MEN, MANHOOD, AND MASCULINITY IN ISLAM – II

A true Muslim man does not allow himself to be dragged into the gutter of insults, mockery, and bitter arguments. It is the beneath the dignity of a believer to put down or make fun of others, as this contradicts the spirit of good will he should have.

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, RadhiAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said:

لَيْسَ الْمُؤْمِنُ بِالطَّعَّانِ وَلَا اللَّعَّانِ وَلَا الْفَاحِشِ وَلَا الْبَذِيءِ

The believer does not taunt others, he does not curse others, he does not use profanity, and he does not abuse others.

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 1977, Grade: Sahih

Ibn Abi Dunya reported: Sa’id ibn al-‘As, may Allah have mercy on him, said:

مَا شَتَمْتُ رَجُلا مُنْذُ كُنْتُ رَجُلا

I have not insulted a man ever since I became a man.

Source: al-Ḥilm li-Ibn Abī Dunyā 119

Al-Dhahabi reported: Ibn al-Mubarak. may Allah have mercy on him, said:

مَنِ اسْتَخَفَّ بِالْإِخْوَانِ ذَهَبَتْ مُرُوءَتُهُ

Whoever belittles his brothers will lose his manhood.

Source: Siyar A’lām al-Nubalā’ 17/251

Moreover, the authentic sign of strength is the ability to control one’s desires and impulses, especially anger. A man who cannot control himself is spiritually weak, even if he has the largest muscles of all.

Abu Huraira, RadhiAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said:

لَيْسَ الشَّدِيدُ بِالصُّرَعَةِ إِنَّمَا الشَّدِيدُ الَّذِي يَمْلِكُ نَفْسَهُ عِنْدَ الْغَضَبِ

The strong are not the best wrestlers. Verily, the strong are only those who control themselves when they are angry.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 5763, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

Abu Nuaym reported: Sufyan al-Thawri, may Allah have mercy on him, said:

الْمَرْأَةُ تَمُرُّ بِالرَّجُلِ فَلَا يَمْلِكُ نَفْسَهُ عَنِ النَّظَرِ إِلَيْهَا وَلَا هُوَ يَنْتَفِعُ بِهَا فَأَيُّ شَيْءٍ أَضْعَفُ مِنْ هَذَا

A woman will pass by a man and he cannot restrain himself from looking at her lustfully although there is no benefit in it. What could be weaker than this?

Source: Ḥilyat al-Awliyā 7/68

Mansur ibn Abdullah reported: Al-Kattani, may Allah have mercy on him, said:

العاجز من عجز عن سياسة نفسه

The truly weak man is he who is too weak to manage himself.

Source: Tārīkh Dimashq 54/254

It is good to have a healthy, strong body, but some men are naturally more muscular than others. This blessing they have not earned has no bearing on their value to Allah Almighty.

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, RadhiAllahu Anhu, was one such companion who had a smaller build than most men, yet he was absolutely huge in terms of his knowledge, righteousness, and service to Islam.

Ibn Mas’ud, RadhiAllahu Anhu, reported: He was harvesting toothsticks from an Arak tree and he had tiny shins. The wind blew and made him fall over, so people laughed at him. The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said:

مِمَّ تَضْحَكُونَ

What are you laughing at?

They said, “O Prophet of Allah, at his tiny shins.” The Prophet, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said:

وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَهُمَا أَثْقَلُ فِي الْمِيزَانِ مِنْ أُحُدٍ

By the one in whose hand is my soul, they will both be heavier on the Scale than the mountain of Uhud.

Source: Musnad Aḥmad 3981, Grade: Sahih

A true Muslim man might have a smaller build than most men, but still be better to Allah than most men. For this reason and many others, a real man should never make fun of another’s natural, physical appearance.

A true Muslim man is not ashamed to show his emotions in the appropriate moment. The Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) and his companions would cry and weep in public because their hearts were soft.

Abu Huraira, RadhiAllahu Anhu, reported:

زَارَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَبْرَ أُمِّهِ فَبَكَى وَأَبْكَى مَنْ حَوْلَهُ

The Prophet, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, visited the grave of his mother and he wept and made others around him start weeping.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 976, Grade: Sahih

Abu Mutarrif, RadhiAllahu Anhu, reported:

رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يُصَلِّي وَفِي صَدْرِهِ أَزِيزٌ كَأَزِيزِ الرَّحَى مِنْ الْبُكَاءِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ

I saw the Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, while he was praying and his chest was making a sound like the boiling of a water pot because he was crying.

Source: Sunan Abī Dāwūd 904, Grade: Sahih

Abu Huraira, RadhiAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam , said:

مَا نَفَعَنِي مَالٌ قَطُّ مَا نَفَعَنِي مَالُ أَبِي بَكْرٍ

The wealth of no one has benefited me as much as the wealth of Abu Bakr.

Abu Bakr, RadhiAllahu Anhu, wept and he said:

أَنَا وَمَالِي إِلَّا لَكَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ

Myself and my wealth are only for you, O Messenger of Allah.

Source: Musnad Aḥmad 7397, Grade: Sahih

It is healthy to release emotions and even gracefully display them in public by crying if the moment is appropriate. The idea that ‘boys don’t cry’ is harmful to a man’s emotional well-being, because although he suppresses his emotions, they will eventually be released and likely in harmful ways.

A true Muslim man is chivalrous and honorable towards the women in his life: his mother, sisters, daughters, aunts, cousins, sisters in Islam, and women in general. The measure of a man’s character is directly related to how he treats women.

Abu Huraira, RadhiAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said:

أَكْمَلُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِيمَانًا أَحْسَنُهُمْ خُلُقًا وَخِيَارُكُمْ خِيَارُكُمْ لِنِسَائِهِمْ خُلُقًا

The most complete of the believers in faith are those with the most excellent character, and the best of you are the best in behavior to their women.

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 1162, Grade: Sahih

Abdullah ibn Amr, RadhiAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said:

خِيَارُكُمْ خِيَارُكُمْ لِنِسَائِهِمْ

The best of you are the best to their women.

Source: Sunan Ibn Mājah 1978, Grade: Sahih

A true Muslim man is not ashamed to appropriately express his love for the women of his family and his wives. The Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was not shy to tell others how much he loved his wives.

Amr ibn Al-As, RadhiAllahu Anhu, reported: I said, “Which of the people is most beloved to you?” The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said:

عَائِشَةُ

Aisha.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 3462, Grade: Sahih

It is not the characteristic of true men to ‘dominate’ women, degrade them, exploit them, or brag about their sexual ‘conquests.’ In fact, it is precisely the opposite; a real man protects women who are vulnerable to abuse and injustice.

Abu Huraira, RadhiAllahu Anhu, reported: The Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said:

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أُحَرِّجُ حَقَّ الضَّعِيفَيْنِ الْيَتِيمِ وَالْمَرْأَةِ

O Allah, I have issued a warning in regards to the rights of two vulnerable groups: orphans and women.

Source: Sunan Ibn Mājah 3678, Grade: Sahih

This is most apparent within the marriage relationship, which should be based upon love, mercy, and partnership. The worst men are those who mistreat their wives by finagling the law to circumvent its ethical underpinnings. Though a scholar might hold an opinion that a husband’s misbehavior is ‘legal’ in the sense it carries no legal consequences, it is nevertheless corrupt, immoral, sinful, and unmanly.

Raja’ reported: Dawud ibn Abi Hind, may Allah have mercy on him, said:

جَالَسْتُ الْفُقَهَاءَ فَوَجَدْتُ دِينِي عِنْدَهُمْ وَجَالَسْتُ أَصْحَابَ الْمَوَاعِظِ فَوَجَدْتُ الرِّقَّةَ فِي قَلْبِي وَجَالَسْتُ كِبَارَ النَّاسِ فَوَجَدْتُ الْمُرُوءَةَ فِيهِمْ وَجَالَسْتُ شِرَارَ النَّاسِ فَوَجَدْتُ أَحَدَهُمْ يُطَلِّقُ امْرَأَتَهُ عَلَى شَيْءٍ لَا يُسَاوِي شَعِيرَةً

I sat with the learned jurists and I found my religion with them. I sat with the preachers and I found softness in my heart. I sat with the elders of people and I found manhood among them. I sat with the worst of people and I found that one of them would divorce his wife for an offense that does not even amount to a hair.

Source: al-Mujālasah wa Jawāhir al-‘Ilm 458

In sum, a true Muslim man is characterized by a balance of all of the virtues taught by Islam: justice, compassion, forgiveness, kindness, humility, patience, truthfulness, courage, responsibility, chivalry, and so on. The concept of the ‘alpha male’ as domineering, aggressive, vengeful, thuggish, and ‘strong’ is a false and toxic belief that encourages misbehavior in general and the mistreatment of women in particular. On the contrary, truly strong men are those capable of controlling themselves and traversing the higher, straight path of virtue in opposition to the animalistic tendencies of the human soul.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.