Inputs by Ustazah Siti Nuurunnuur
What does it mean to be a “real man” through the lens of Islam? In truth, there is no one single definition, because of the diversity of cultures and contexts in which Islam is being practised.
That said, in these times, old ideas about masculinity have become obsolete. As a result, some men may no longer know what a “real man” should be like. Aquaman, Iron Man, or Superman? Only half-kidding.
At the same time, others may also argue that masculinity in Muslim societies is in crisis. Recently, an article was published in a national paper that seemed to endorse domestic violence as a way for men to “handle” their stubborn wives. Unsurprisingly, it elicited strong backlash from many Singaporeans who found it misogynistic.
Despite all the confusion about what manliness is, surely, Muslims do not have to look far for the best human role model of what a “real man” should be like.
"Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad SAW) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much."
So for all our manly men out there, here are 5 traits of our Prophet s.a.w. to emulate:
Protectiveness is not only defined through being able to physically defend oneself and one’s nearest and dearest from external threats, but also in protecting others from one’s own anger.
The Prophet s.a.w. said:
"The strong man is not the good wrestler; but the strong man is he who controls himself when he is angry."
Moreover, the Prophet s.a.w. never laid a hand on his wives. It was narrated that his wife Aishah said:
"The Messenger of Allah never beat any of his servants, or wives, and his hand never hit anything."
The Prophet s.a.w. was a leader who led from the front, even in frightening situations.
"Once, during the night, the people of Medina got afraid (of a sound). So the people went towards that sound, but the Prophet s.a.w. having gone to that sound before them, met them while he was saying, "Don't be afraid, don't be afraid."
Abu Hurairah narrated that a man came to the Messenger of Allah and said:
"Teach me something that is not too much for me so that, perhaps, I may abide by it." He (S.A.W) said: "Do not get angry." He repeated that (the request) a number of times, each time he replied: 'Do not get angry."
Al-Mawardi reported: Umar ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, said,
"The foundation of a man is his intellect, his honor is in his religion, and his manhood is in his character."
So don’t forget to also exercise those muscles of integrity on Leg Day.
The Prophet s.a.w. was not the kind of man to simply put his feet up while at home. He knew that his responsibilities did not end there.
Narrated Al-Aswad: I asked `Aisha what did the Prophet s.a.w. use to do at home. She replied.
"He used to keep himself busy serving his family and when it was time for the prayer, he would get up for prayer."
Our Prophet s.a.w displayed all of the noble traits above that can still very much apply to Muslim men in the modern world. These are also the characteristics that can elevate us as a community for both here and the hereafter, rather than the toxic expressions of masculinity such as dominance and oppression. And as a final note -
It was narrated from 'Abdullah bin 'Amr that the Messenger of Allah said:
"The best of you are those who are best to their womenfolk."