A few months ago a brother in one of my forums asked “What is masculinity?” Now this is a really profound question. No one could really answer the question. I thought about it and had no idea either. I said I needed time to think about it. Fast forward to now.
In Arabic this concept of ‘noble masculinity’ is called Futuwwa. Sometimes translated as “courage”, “chivalry” or “manliness”. Many of the medieval concepts of chivalry/knights/nobleness etc came from these Islamic ideals. Many of the writings include more qualities for men which I think of as more ‘ideal’ qualities than ordinary ones. I highly recommend bros look into this concept and research the Islamic literature of old. It’s really quite fascinating.
To answer this question I thought about the many men out there who I admire and love very much! My father, my brothers, my uncles, my guy cousins, my bro-in-law and my friend’s husbands (in a good way :)), the shaykhs of our community, speakers and activists that I know, good brothers over the years that have really helped and inspired, and still inspire me in so many ways and so on. I’ve even had many non-Muslim co-workers that I admired (in a good way! lol). I only dislike certain actions or a certain type of guy (shallow and/or uses women). I also have criticisms for women for things they might do. (But no one reads those posts! *cry)
So anyway I thought I’d write a post on what *I* think constitutes some good qualities of masculinity. Feel free to disagree and discuss in the comments, also interesting discussion would be to compare this list to what was written by Islamic scholars centuries ago.
1. Strength - This is not necessarily physical strength but put it this way…the knowledge of superior strength put to use in ways to help others. Like even ordinary things… like consistently taking out the garbage…or carrying those baby carriers to the door or going out to buy things for ur wife’s needs, setting up things at events, going out to do something for the family. Can you see what I mean? Even holding a door open. Of course a woman could do those things too, but I think the use of the physical to help the other is more a masculine trait. For us (females) it might be more in our nature to nurture in other ways.
2. Generosity - I mentioned this somewhere before as a noble quality for guys. And it’s true so many men have it. I’ve never seen a girl volunteer to pay for everyone at the table but I’ve seen many guys do it. Not to show off or anything, but just out of generosity. Any type of problem or difficulty that they perceive, the guys are the first to try to help and cover it. Being generous is a good quality for both men and women but I have to say it is really part of a lot of guys nature and something many of us (wommins) have to work on.
3. Being Protective - In the modern age this is seen as sexist but I think only in the cases where it goes over the top. It is a good quality that a guy always wants to protect his daughter or his family or even community from harm. I’ve seen bros take the blame/responsibility all the time for me out of a sense of chivalry/courage/honor. Part of their noble nature.
4. Supportive - Men are a lot more supportive than women. I can state this for a fact. A man can be 100% supportive at times while women can be a lukewarm 80%, 40% or 20%. Some men aren’t of course but the good one’s always are. I could choose to join a circus and I know certain guys would support me 100% but I know every girlfriend of mine would criticize me to death (perhaps for good reason hehe). Between women I think there’s a lot of jealousy,envy and even rivalry and stuff. Perhaps this is the same intra-guys too.
5. Honesty - Some women can see this as a negative. Like when they ask “Do I look fat in this?” lol and sometimes men really don’t know how to edit themselves, but being honest is a very good quality. It goes along with being earnest and having real relationships with people. When’s the last time you heard a guy say “Ooomygawwd I love what ur wearing” when they don’t mean it. They’re real and they’re honest.
6. Not (as) emotional - This is hard for me to see as a good quality sometimes but I think that it helps men remain objective a lot of times and weigh things, including decisions. Sometimes they are more objective about issues. They might (I say might :p) have a certain clear-sightedness or fairness about certain things.
7. Humility - This might be strange to add here as part of masculineness, but I think all the great men have this. They know their strengths and weaknesses. They know… how do i put it, the order of things. That they are under God and responsible for what’s under them. It always keeps them merciful, down-to-earth, normal and humorous.
8. Loyalty - Guys are very loyal to each other especially. Guys who grow up with each other are friends for life. College buddies usually remain so. My Dad has college friends all over the world he STILL connects with! Girls have a lot of cliques and drama <– Fact.
9. Action oriented - Whenever I tell a guy of a problem I have, he is ready to go out and fix it or lets me know how I can fix it. This I see as a really good quality in that they want to fix the wrongs in the world. They are ready to take action and do things. They can’t just sit back and let it go or even see me let it go. In a lot of ways I wish I could be more optimistic and take-action like that.
10. Romantic - Now I know you’re going to think I’m crazy, but I really believe men are more romantic than women. More romantic in the sense that they have ideals that they are always looking for and when they find them, nothing can move them from their loyalty. I see this especially with young guys. They have a very idealized view of marriage and what they want and of life. Ask the same to girls and they are a lot more practical and defined.
Sorry I couldn’t really express everything very well but I hope you got the jist of it So men may be different, and when good qualities go over the top or out of kilter it may drive us crazy, but there is much to appreciate about the male of the species.
More on Futuwwa:
- Amazing article related to single Muslim guys and Futuwwa: http://www.emel.com/article?id=71&a_id=1964
- A nice article: http://www.radicalmiddleway.co.uk/articles.php?id=2&art=165
- Talk by Habib Ali: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nqm7udFsAc
- Arts of the Muslim Knight: The Furusiyya Art Foundation Collection by Bashir Mohamed
- The Way of Sufi Chivalry by Ibn al-Husayn al-Sulami
- The Royal Book of Spiritual Chivalry : Futuwat Namah Yi Sultani by Kamal al Din Husayn Kashifi
Ok back to Venus with the ladies,
…and if ur still bored please watch this short educational video