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The Mark of a Real Man

Lotifa Begum discusses the making of a ‘real man’ by exploring qualities of the most perfect man of all time.

Most women long to meet the man of their dreams, the ideal man who will be their knight in shining armour. As Muslim women we don’t need to look to movies or fiction to teach us what makes a real man, rather we need only look to the beautiful example of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to truly understand the mark of a real man.

 
In this article, we explore just some of the marks of manhood as seen in the Prophet (SAW). This list is by no means exhaustive but they have been carefully selected to challenge the common misconceptions in our society of what really makes a real man.

 
He was a man on a noble mission
Without a doubt, the Prophet (SAW) had the biggest mission on Earth: to convey the message of Islam and spread it to others in a hostile and often unwelcoming world. This was a huge task which he undertook with his Companions (RA) and over the course of 23 years he strived tirelessly to deliver the noble mission Allah (SWT) had given him.

 

Allah says in the Qur’an: “And We have not sent you (O Muhammad) but as a mercy to the worlds.” (Al-Anbiyaa’:107) This is a remarkable mark of his leadership not only for the Muslim Ummah but also for any man ever noted in humanity as the most influential man in history. This should teach us women to raise sons and men who strive in the path of a noble cause; they should have a higher goal in their life than merely graduating and getting a good job. Instead, we should seek to raise sons who are devoted to the mission of being a good Muslim for humanity at large. The Prophet (SAW) said: “The best of people are those that bring most benefit to the rest of mankind.” (Daraqutni, Hasan)

 
He was a man of action
The Prophet (SAW) took responsibility for himself and was your DIY kind of man. His wife ‘A’isha (RA) narrates that the Holy Prophet (SAW) used to mend his shoes, sew his clothes and work in his household just as one of you works in his own house. She also reported that he was a man among men who used to patch his clothes, milk his goats and engage himself in work (Tirmidhi). In some communities, the idea of a man doing any domestic chores is frowned upon; however, we must teach our brothers, sons and husbands about the Prophetic model of taking responsibility for their own actions. We should encourage our men to have qualities such as taking responsibility and taking action at home.

 
He was a family man
The narration above also shows us how the Prophet (SAW), despite the demands of political leadership for the Ummah, always managed to make time for his family. Unfortunately, today we find many brothers actively volunteering for great causes outside of the home yet they are neglecting their family. It is essential that a real man seeks to strike a balance by giving his wife, children and family quality time as well as helping around the house. The Prophet (SAW) would ensure that he gave time equally and fairly to his wives as none of his wives ever complained about the lack of time they were given by him. Moreover, he was known to be humorous and playful with children which is essential for a man who is going to be a good father so we should seek these qualities in a good man.  It is also narrated in ahadith that the Prophet (SAW) would always stand up as a mark of respect and love whenever Fatima (RA) would enter a room – how many fathers would do that today?

 
He was a community man
Due to his very generous and soft nature, the Prophet (SAW) was known to be a man who cared not only for his family but also the community at large. He was a proactive man when it came to matters of social justice by encouraging others to give in charity and look after the elderly, the weak and the poor. What is particularly striking here is that he was a man who would enquire about the affairs and well-being of widows, elderly women and other weaker members of society, which is something we rarely see in our community leaders today. This is by far one of the most beautiful attributes of a real man – his care of the wider community. The men we know in our lives should be encouraged to get involved in the community by attending congregation prayers in the mosque regularly and being ready to help the less fortunate in their community.

 

He was a cool-tempered man
There are many narrations which teach us that the Prophet (SAW) would never express his anger (it would merely show in his facial expression). Unfortunately, in some societies and cultures, men may use their temper as a mark of their dominance. However this is contrary to the Islamic way of life as the Prophet (SAW) said: “The strong person is not he who defeats another in wrestling; rather, the strong person is he who has full control over himself during his anger.” (Bukhari)

 
He wasn’t afraid to cry
There is an age-old concept that men who cry are somehow considered weak or not masculine enough. Yet we have to remember that expressing our emotions is part of being human. There was a time when the Prophet (SAW) was holding his baby son Ibrahim when he died and tears were rolling down his cheeks. One of his companions, ‘Abdur-Rahman ibn `Awf (RA), said: ‘Even you, Messenger of Allah!’ Then he said: ‘Oh Ibn `Awf! It is but mercy.’ He continued (crying) some more and then said, “The eyes weep, the heart is full of grief and we are nothing but that which does not please our Lord. Verily, we are sorrowed for your departure, O! Ibrahim.” (Muslim) This example shows us that it is fine for a man to express his emotions when the situation compels him and he is no less of a man if he does.

 
There we have it: the six traits of the Prophet (SAW) which show us the mark of a real man contrary to what we may have been taught about manhood as we grew up. There are many more qualities of the Prophet (SAW) that we haven’t touched on. My message to the brothers of today is to strive to emulate these Prophetic qualities so you can be a better brother, a better husband, a better son and a real leader in your homes, communities and society. As for the sisters – well, I’d like to say you should only look for the man who ticks all these boxes but it might not be so easy! However, we can do our best to teach our brothers, sons, fathers and the men around us about these beautiful qualities which mark the signs of a real man.

 
Lotifa Begum is the Head of Productive Muslimah at ProductiveMuslim.com. She graduated in BA Politics & East European Studies from University College London in 2011 and was the former Head Sister at the Islamic Society. She has worked with the Muslim community in the UK over the past 5 years. Currently she is the Campaigns & Development Education Coordinator at Islamic Relief UK. Lotifa was a graduate of the NicheHero Leadership Programme with Shaykh Muhammad Al Shareef, she also completed the Young Muslim Leadership Programme with the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. As former Head of Content and Research at ProductiveMuslim.com she has gained insight to a wide range of productivity related issues with the global team and delivered workshops for sisters on time management, productivity and leadership. To contact her please email lotifa@productivemuslim.com