Islam is the proper name to use when referring to the religion practised by Muslims. It is an Arabic word that means two things: To surrender your will to God and to acquire peace in your soul. The legitimacy of using this word comes from the Muslim holy book, the Quran; and it is the only name Muslims use to refer to their religion. One of the most important characteristics of a true Muslim man is the ability to forgive others even when the opportunity for revenge is available. This quality of compassion stands opposed to the false belief of the ‘alpha male’ as domineering and vengeful. Allah says:
وَأَوْرَثَكُمْ أَرْضَهُمْ وَدِيَارَهُمْ وَأَمْوَالَهُمْ وَأَرْضًا لَّمْ تَطَئُوهَا وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرًا
“And He caused you to inherit their land, and their houses and their properties and land not you (had) trodden. And Allah is on everything All-Powerful.” (Surah Al-Ahzab 33:27)
A true Muslim man should be kind towards people and love for them the same as he loves for himself. He should give off a friendly and non-threatening aura, while also putting the needs of others over himself. In contrast, it is not the characteristic of a true man to put on a show of bravado to others, as if the sign of a man were his ability to incite fear and project strength. Rather, a real man is known by the measure of his trustworthiness and his refrain from hurting others; in a word, his virtue. Allah says:
وَجَاءَ رَجُلٌ مِّنْ أَقْصَى الْمَدِينَةِ يَسْعَىٰ قَالَ يَا مُوسَىٰ إِنَّ الْمَلَأَ يَأْتَمِرُونَ بِكَ لِيَقْتُلُوكَ فَاخْرُجْ إِنِّي لَكَ مِنَ النَّاصِحِينَ
“And there came a man running from the farthest end of the city. He said, ‘O Moosaa (Moses)! Verily the chiefs are taking counsel together about you, to kill you, so escape. Truly, I am to you of those who give sincere advice.” (Surah Al-Qasas; 28:20)
A true Muslim man is just, kind, compassionate, forgiving, responsible, hard-working, humble, patient, forbearing, truthful, trustworthy, courageous, soft-hearted, honouring women, controlling his lower desires and impulses, fulfilling the needs of others before himself, continually refining his intellect, improving his character, seeking knowledge as a life-long learner, avoiding undignified behaviour and sinful deeds, and emulating the character Prophet (ṣ) and his righteous followers to the best of his ability. Allah says:
مِّنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ رِجَالٌ صَدَقُوا مَا عَاهَدُوا اللَّهَ عَلَيْهِ فَمِنْهُم مَّن قَضَىٰ نَحْبَهُ وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَنتَظِرُ وَمَا بَدَّلُوا تَبْدِيلًا
“Among the believers (are) men (who) have been true (to) what they promised Allah [on it]. And among them (is he) who has fulfilled his vow and among them (is he) who awaits. And not they alter (by) any alteration.” (Surah Al-Ahzab 33: 23)
Manhood is a quality that is pursued by people of high ambitions and serious thinking men. It is a basic quality that is needed by every man, for when men lose the qualities of manhood, they cease to be real men. Manhood is deeply implanted in a person through strong belief, nurtured by sound upbringing and developed by a good example. A real man is one who has good and virtuous deeds to his credit and possesses good manners and conduct.
Following five distinctive features, attributes or qualities:
- They stick to the divine path
- Determination and self-discipline
- Persistence in remembering Allah
- Humility, forgiveness to the full extent
- They support and defend Allah’s Messengers
- Prefer obedience to Allah and Muhammad (PBUH)
- They advise believers while in a state of fear
- They constantly remember Allah and establish the Prayer
- Their hearts are attached to mosques and they love to purify themselves
- Loyalty and trustworthiness are also among the qualities of true manhood
So how do we raise our sons to grow into men who exemplify all these manners of manhood as defined above?
- We should bring them to the gatherings of their elders, so that they may learn wisdom and maturity from them.
- We should teach our children to be respectful to all humans, especially to their elders. The best way to do this is by example. If we treat our wives disrespectfully in front of our sons, they will learn this habit. Similarly, if we backbite other Muslims in the presence of our youth, they will follow us in this example.
- We should also show respect to our children and give them their right in gatherings, and not deny them.
- We should show our children importance. We should say salaam to them, we should listen to them, and we should give importance to their opinion.
- We should not dress little boys in silk and gold, because silk and gold are for women and not for men, even if they are still boys.
- We should tell our children stories of our religion and the companions of Muhammad (PBUH) to teach them perfect etiquette and morals.
Allah Almighty says in The Holy Quran:
- “And get two witnesses out of your men.” (Surah Al-Baqarah: 282)
- “And men have a degree (of responsibility) over them (women).” (Surah Al-Baqarah: 228)
- “In it (the masjid) are men who love to clean and purify themselves.” (Surah At-Tawbah: 108)
- “…those who do not possess vigour (towards women) from among the men.” (Surah An-Noor: 31)
- “And if there are not two men (available), then a man and two women, such as you agree for witnesses.” (Surah Al-Baqrah: 282)
- “And We sent not before you (as messengers) any but men unto whom We revealed, from among the people of townships.” (Surah Yusuf: 109)
- “Amongst the believers are men who kept true (i.e. fulfilled) their covenant with Allaah.” (Surah Ahzaab: 23)
- “Is it a wonder for mankind that We have sent Our Revelation to a man from among themselves.” (Surah Yunus: 2)
Real manhood is expressed by exerting all efforts to reach real servitude. A true Muslim man does not allow himself to be dragged into the gutter of insults, mockery, and bitter arguments. It is beneath the dignity of a believer to put down or make fun of others, as this contradicts the spirit of goodwill he should have. Allah says:
فِي بُيُوتٍ أَذِنَ اللَّهُ أَن تُرْفَعَ وَيُذْكَرَ فِيهَا اسْمُهُ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ فِيهَا بِالْغُدُوِّ وَالْآصَالِ
“In houses (which) Allah ordered that they are raised and be mentioned in them His name. Glorify [to] Him in them in the mornings and (in) the evenings.” (Surah An-Nur 24: 36)
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. When the qualities of manhood disappear among men, society falls into crisis, homes are ruined, the nation becomes weak and disgraced, and moral corruption becomes widespread. Allah Says:
وَأَنزَلَ الَّذِينَ ظَاهَرُوهُم مِّنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ مِن صَيَاصِيهِمْ وَقَذَفَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمُ الرُّعْبَ فَرِيقًا تَقْتُلُونَ وَتَأْسِرُونَ فَرِيقًا
“And He brought down those who backed them among (the) People (of) the Scripture from their fortresses and cast into their hearts [the] terror, a group you killed and you took captive a group.” (Surah Al-Ahzab 33:26)
Nations need planners and those who have determined hearts to fully utilize these resources. The greatest of all needs is that for real men. When the qualities of manhood disappear among men, society falls into crisis, homes are ruined, the nation becomes weak and disgraced, and moral corruption becomes widespread. Allah Says:
وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ شِقَاقَ بَيْنِهِمَا فَابْعَثُوا حَكَمًا مِّنْ أَهْلِهِ وَحَكَمًا مِّنْ أَهْلِهَا إِن يُرِيدَا إِصْلَاحًا يُوَفِّقِ اللَّهُ بَيْنَهُمَا إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا خَبِيرًا
“And if you fear dissension between (the) two of then send an arbitrator from his family and an arbitrator from her family. If they both wish reconciliation, Allah will cause reconciliation between both of them. Indeed, Allah is All-Knower, All-Aware.” (Surah An-Nisa 4:35)
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. Nations need planners and those who have determined hearts to fully utilize these resources. The greatest of all needs is that for real men. Allah says:
وَجَاءَ مِنْ أَقْصَى الْمَدِينَةِ رَجُلٌ يَسْعَىٰ قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اتَّبِعُوا الْمُرْسَلِينَ
“And coming from (the) farthest end (of) the city a man running. He said, “O my People! Follow the Messengers.” (Surah Ya-Sin 36: 20)
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 misbehaviour 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.