What makes a “real man”? What defines what a “real man” should be? This question is vital to the future of our Ummah. But which definition do we really follow? Are we following the definition of a real man of this time? Have we unknowingly buried alive the characteristics of our Prophets and the Sahabah (the Companions)? Who are our children’s heroes? Rock from the World Wrestling Federation?
How can you define who your children’s heroes are? Look at their favorite TV programs, video games, magazines, posters, and movies. Who are their idols? Who do they want to be like? Long are the days when children want to be like their fathers, let alone the Prophets of Allah and the Companions. As though they are just “made-up stories” of long ago.
We need to take a long look into how we raise our boys and what outside influences and pressures are on them. How do we raise our boys, what are we telling them directly and indirectly?
We know only one thing: WE MUST NOT RAISE A WIMP! We are so afraid that our child will be bullied or abused that we learn to shut down their emotionally sensitive side at the earliest age. From watching a mother hold her crying six-month-old baby boy telling him “You’re a big man, don’t cry, you’re a big boy”.
I have seen this over and over again. We have quickly turned the key and locked out our boy’s feelings at an early age. Why? Because we “fear” what others will think of him. Yes, it is normal that we must teach our boys how to defend themselves and help them develop their masculinity. Encourage all of the wonderful characteristics that Allah has given them. Yes, boys will become men, but they are the first Muslims who so vitally have the right to feel and be what a true Muslim man is supposed to be.
The problem is we don’t really know what to do with our boys, we yell at them more than girls if they do something wrong, we beat them for “their own good” instead of talking to them, and we emotionally shut down when they need to talk, we are not there for them when they need a safe place to express their inner most deep feelings and fears, smacking them into humiliation.
We teach them to fear us, not to respect us. We are afraid and are repeating the same child-rearing behaviors that our parents and society have done. We are afraid that we will raise a sissy or an oddball. We are so afraid that we break them down into what we call “boys will be boys” without really thinking about what we are turning our boys into. We shrug our shoulders when we see them pull the legs off a spider; we shake our submissive heads when we see them bully the neighbor’s child secretly happy that he is standing up for himself.
We subconsciously have told our boys that it is their place to yell and discipline their younger siblings as they see fit. In addition, we turn a blind eye and let them play video games where they unmercifully kill and beat cyber women and men to death. Car racing games that allow them to run people over and beat up prostitutes and police officers. (See: Raising Cain, The Culture of Cruelty, by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson.)
“Boys are desperate for role models as they head into this uncertain age, and in most cases, the dominant image of masculinity is one that requires strength and stoicism. Among themselves, boys engage in continuous psychological warfare. Older boys pick on younger boys – dominating them by virtue of their greater size – and younger boys mimic them, creating an environment that pits the strong against the weak, the popular against the unpopular, the power brokers against the powerless, and the conformity drive “boy pack” against the boy who fails in any way to conform with the pack expectations.”
What defines our role in raising our boys? The movies, situation comedies, magazines, videos? As Muslims, we have been instructed to raise functionally tuned boys who can both fight to the death (when they have to) and be as kind and compassionate as the most gentle loving man. It is not a conflict of interest; it is an emotionally balanced boy who grows up to be an emotionally balanced man, son, husband, father, brother in Islam, community member, etc.
The ideal Muslim man is a well-rounded man. Nowhere in any religion has the role of a man been laid out like in Islam. Not just some “man’s” opinion, but from the Qur’an, Sunnah, and the Sahabah. Why are we turning our backs on these important characteristics that we are obligated to instill in our boys? Yes we have to deal with the real world, but that is like saying that “the Qur’an, Sunnah and Sahabah are just “idealistic” and not applicable in this world” (This is forbidden to believe the Qur’an, Sunnah, etc. are not applicable, it is for all mankind until the Day of Judgment)