Raising Boys vs. Raising Men

FD

We’ve all heard the phrase “Boys will be boys” when a boy does or says something immature or silly. However, there comes a point when a boy becomes a man. However, having the characteristics and physical traits that a man has doesn’t make one a man it makes one a male. We need to make a distinction between men and boys. A guy can be well into his mid-20s, 30s, 40s or even 50s and still be a boy. This is due to the nature of his inability to emotionally, spiritually and psychologically mature. We cannot seriously say the phrase “he’s just a kid” for 18-40 year old guys. This phrase removes any responsibility or accountability for a guy’s actions by simply writing it off as “they’re just being boys” or “they’re just being kids.”  That argument won’t hold any water in the court of law and it most certainly doesn’t in our day to day dealings with others. Our actions and words have consequences. Every action has an equal or stronger reaction.

 

Yes, we’re all learning about life in every stage of our lives, but to not be in a mode of learning, self-reflection, self-improvement and introspection at every point in your life will not help you to mature. Many guys today simply live with their egos, lusts and desires. They seek to simply feed all three (ego, lusts, and desires) and don’t care if in their pursuit of self-gratification of harming others in the process. The guys I see today are obsessed with athletes, celebrities, movies, TV shows, food, and sports. This may not be the case for all youth, but is definitely a trend I see in our youth today. The question is how can we slowly transition these youth out of this mindset to a more mature mindset of thinking deeply about life, reflecting about how they’re living life, and how to better themselves every day? The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was surrounded by youth who took on positions of leadership, took initiative and were key figures in the early history of Islam.

The question is, do we see that same level of maturity in our male youth today?

Sadly, many youth are growing up with this mentality of fast and simple self-gratification. These youth then become college students, then young professionals, and then husbands of families. Yet, as they may have progressed academically and career wise they still are emotionally, psychologically and spiritually at the level of a middle school kid. It’s scary to think that one day the youth that I see at the masjid and in our communities will be future husbands and fathers.

 

It’s easy to think and acts like a boy for all of your life. You can think that your actions and words have no consequences. You can think that everyone needs to respect you, demand respect from other and if anyone disrespects you you put them in their place by cussing them out or yelling at them. You can think that everything must come to you immediately. It’s sad to say though this type of behavior will not fly in the real world. If you have this boyish mentality in your school work, your work life, your family life, and with others you won’t live a very happy life. You’ll meet conflict after conflict, drama after drama and get yourself into more trouble than you want.

 

This is why I say there’s a difference between being a MAN and being a boy or simply thinking you’re a man because you’re male. A man is one who has good character, strong morals, ethics, and principles. A man is someone who is self-confident, respectful to others, builds people up and doesn’t tear them down. A man is someone who doesn’t demand respect, but earns it through his actions. A man is someone who respects women and doesn’t talk about them in a derogatory manner. A man is someone who doesn’t use bad language, yell at others or lose his temper. My question is where are the men today?

 

When I actually sat down to think about why there is such a level of immaturity in our male youth today I can only find one problem: bad parenting. Yes, there are different cases here and there that may be contrary to my finding, but at a core level the level of immaturity stems from bad parenting. If the father or mother doesn’t play a big role their son’s life by teaching him early on about ethics, morals, principles and values then how do you expect him to start adhering to them when he’s well into his teens? If a father doesn’t encourage his son to come to the masjid in his son’s early years and stress the importance of deen (Islam) in their lives how do they expect their sons to know the importance when they become 19 years old? We have parents going to imams, youth directors and the “cool uncle” and ask them “can you speak to my son? Can you encourage him to come to the masjid and remind him about Islam?” It’s sad that it’s come to this point where parents can’t even talk to their own children about their concern for the way they’re living their lives.

 

Another issue that leads to this immaturity is that we’re pampering our boys.We provide them early on with the latest gadgets, clothes, toys and demands early on and continue this trend into middle school, high school, and college. They learn to expect to get their demands at the drop of a hat. They feel entitled to certain things. They feel connected or attached to their gadgets and clothes. They feel that the latest brands are what make them better than others. They feel that can do whatever they want with no consequences.

 

This sets up our sons for failure in life. You can’t expect by giving your sons every luxury in this life at their fingertips while neglecting their Islamic education that they’ll be good human beings and successful in their lives. If you’ve given all the luxuries in the world to your son and not a firm understanding, appreciation and love of Islam then you’ve given your son nothing. We stress the dunya (this world) to such an extent to our sons that their entire lives are consumed by gadgets, clothes, TV shows, movies, etc. Lastly, as parents we can’t demand our kids to be more “religious” if we aren’t even practicing what we’re preaching. If you aren’t going to the masjid on a consistent basis, not reading Quran, not learning more about Islam how can you expect your son to take your request seriously?

 

We can no longer afford to continue this trend or it will hurt our community and our world. We cannot look and say in retrospect “where did I go wrong?” when our sons don’t listen to us, or they go down the wrong path or don’t listen to you when you tell them they should go to the masjid. We reap what we sew. “It’s easier to build strong children than repair broken men” as Franklin Douglass said. We cannot easily reverse years of lack of guidance and nurturing after-the-fact of realizing the wrong we did. Sadly, for most of the immature boys we have in our community it will take a tragic event or a life-shaking event to open their eyes to change their ways, wake up and mature. I pray it doesn’t come to that and may Allah protect us from tragic events (ameen), but it will take something to shake them to wake them up to change their ways and become mature adults and men.

 

 

We need to begin raising men and not simply raising boys. We need well-balanced men who live their lives with purpose, with a vision, with a mission, and understand how to live their lives with balance. We need men who live with a strong understanding of their Islamic identity, morals, ethics and values. We need men who can become strong husbands for their families. We need men who can protect our women from the ugliness of the world. We need men who can become strong leaders for our communities.

 

We need men, not boys. No more “boys will be boys,” let them be MEN.

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Facebook Marriages

FB Marriage

In the Muslim community we have a marriage and divorce crises….one element that usually isn’t spoken about in detail is how we live our married lives on Facebook and other social media and  what a detrimental effect it can have on married life. With that said….let’s get started….

Marriage: A Sacred Trust

Marriage. Yes, we’ve all heard the many scholarly lectures, Quranic verses, hadith, and stories from the seerah regarding marriage.  We know it’s a sunnah and encouraged by the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and many of us seek to get married or are already married. However, while many of us may intellectually know what marriage is and have an image of what marriage is, but truly don’t understand the essence and institution of marriage. We may be married, but may be struggling to piece together the marriage to make it work or maybe it’s working (alhamdullilah for those couples and keep them strong) or you may be seeking to get married.

Regardless if you’re single or married, we need to realize that in our community we have a severe lack of knowledge and understanding about the institution of marriage and thus, we have a marriage and divorce crisis in our community. Many marriages may be crumbling or not functional at all. We have emotional and domestic violence issues that are swept under the rug, we have miscommunication between husband and wife, we have anger issues, and the list goes on and on. There are several internal and external forces that seek to rip apart the sacred trust and bond of marriage. We must make sure we are not the cause to the best of our ability and ensure that our actions and words in our marriages are in accordance to Quran and Sunnah. Now that may sound vague, we hear “Quran and Sunnah” far too many times, but what is meant by that is that we need to fulfill each others’ rights and lower our wings and quell our egos. This goes for every relationship even with Allah and also with His creation. Thus, our relationship with our spouse (or future spouse) is a constant test and also a blessing for us to ensure we’re fulfilling the rights of our spouse, fulfilling the commandments of Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and also ensuring our own spiritual development and connection with Allah is strong.

After your relationship with Allah, marriage is the most intimate relationship you can have with another being. It is a sacred trust and relationship that helps individuals complete according to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) half of our deen. We are familiar with the oft quoted ayahs:

And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): Verily in that are signs for those who reflect.

 [Al-Rum: 21]

It is He Who created you from a single person, and made his mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her (in love).

 [AI-A`raf: 189]

Now, marriage is and can be a very beautiful and dynamic relationship in which both the husband and wife benefit from one another and grow spiritually and emotionally together. They learn about one another and learn about their Creator through their relationship. It can also be very challenging experience which both husband and wife can be tested severely with outside forces or internal forces in the form of weaknesses in both the husband and wife. What binds the husband and wife together is their sacred trust and commitment to one another and their duty to Allah.

As we mentioned before, there are several internal and external forces that seek to destroy marriages. We need to look at the institution of marriage like a fort. You and your spouse (or future spouse) are the guards and must ensure that no external forces breach your fort and cause chaos and destruction. At the same time, you need to ensure that you and your spouse (or future spouse) are working on your internal weaknesses and strive to become strong and build trust, caring, love, understanding, communication and mercy between one another. There are several doors of your fort that fitnah and challenges can enter through so it’s important to remain vigilant and also guard those doors jealously when it comes to your marriage. Our definition of jealousy can often be negative, but there is healthy jealousy in marriages when it comes to protecting the honor and dignity of your spouse and your marriage. Mutually agreed rules, regulations and modes of conduct must be agreed upon by you and your spouse to avoid misunderstanding, miscommunication, and fitnah in the marriage.

Privacy, Facebook and Marriage

 FB Marriage 2

With that said, we come to the main point of this: privacy in marriage. Just as we used the analogy of the fort and several doors being entry points, privacy is one of those doors. There are several ways to destroy a marriage and removing the hijab of privacy from your marriage can destroy trust between spouses. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) elaborated on maintaining the privacy of a marriage:

“On the authority of Asmaa’ bint Yazid who narrated “that she was once in the presence of the Prophet and there were both men and women sitting. The Prophet then said:  “Perhaps a man might discuss what he does with his wife, or perhaps a woman might inform someone what she did with her husband?” The people were silent. Then I said: “O, Yes! O Messenger of Allah verily both the women and men do that.” Then the Prophet said: “Do not do that. It is like a male Satan who meets a female Satan along the way, and has sex with her while the people look on! “

[Reported by Ahmad]

Yes, marriage can be a very joyous occasion and merits celebration. However, when it comes to a point where your married life is starting to be lived on Facebook or other social media it becomes problematic. Several young couples (or even “veteran” couples) post various pictures, statuses, etc. about intimate events, moments or quotes of them or their spouse. When you share intimate moments freely and openly online or with anyone for that matter, it cheapens the value of it. As we mentioned before, marriage is a sacred trust and one of the most intimate relationships you have with another being. Thus, the love, mercy, compassion and feelings you have for one another should be considered a sacred trust. Facebook and other forms of social media you may be connected to on it who neither care about your marriage or may harbor ill-will, may backbite about you and your spouse, use that information against you in a vile way, or may be jealous and overall may hate you without you knowing it.

Imagine if we were to live our lives in real life as we communicated on Facebook. Would we literally go up to everyone we see on the street and tell them about what we had for breakfast with our spouse, what vacation you went on with your spouse, how cute/handsome/beautiful your spouse looked, etc.? The obvious answer to that is no. We would not. We value our relationship with our spouse too much to go tell strangers. When you do expose too much information about yourself and your spouse that is intimate it’s basically like opening every door to your house and letting complete strangers into your house and telling them everything that goes on in your house.

Now, this isn’t to say we shouldn’t share our happiness or joy with others, but do so with discretion.

It’s funny, when we complain about the government spying on us or invading our privacy, yet when we put private lives out on the internet for all to see it isn’t a problem. Whenever we post something on the internet or any social media platform we need to make sure we are not exposing too much of ourselves to people who don’t care or don’t matter to us. Share your intimate moments with people who genuinely care for you and appreciate your comments, thoughts and ideas—not with a random social media network of thousands of people. You want to protect your fort from invaders who may spread rumors or seek to undermine your marriage in other ways.

Now, we mentioned the good stuff people share, but what about the bad stuff? When/if we have marital problems we shouldn’t share them with strangers period. Now this isn’t to say we shouldn’t seek the advice of counselors or trained therapists, but don’t go expose your problems with your spouse or their weaknesses to the world. As the Quran says, you are a garment for them and they are a garment for you, thus, you need to cover their problems and shortcomings just as you would expect them to. If you are going through marital problems and you do post them on Facebook or any other social media you may be causing more problems than solving them. When you use Facebook as your counseling tool you’ll realize it’s really not that effective and 99.99% of the time won’t solve your marital problem.

 

The righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah would have them guard.

[Al-Nisa: 34]

The above verse addresses women, but also pretty much should be the same mode of thinking for men as well. Protect your spouse’s honor, dignity and character. There will be several shaytaans in the form of “friends” who may drop a rumor or make a comment to character assassinate your spouse. You must know and trust your spouse enough to defend their character, honor and dignity in public. Also, exposing your marital problems essentially opens the door to your house to complete strangers and allows them to literally know what’s happening in every inch of your house. That is the ultimate breach of privacy and allows for more invaders to come and destroy your fortress of marriage.

There have been several instances of how Facebook has broken marriages and caused divorces, so why expose yourself and your spouse to so much scrutiny and unneeded attention. If you value something or someone you should protect them and not put them unnecessarily in harm’s way and allow them to potentially become targets of jealousy and evil-eye.

Think Twice

FB Marriage 3

Facebook and other social media can be amazing tools for good and education, however, as with any technology they can have terrible consqeuences. As much as social media has made us more connected it has the ability to make us more narcissistic, self-absorbed and attention-seeking. It also has the ability to make us waste a lot of time which many of us agree 🙂

  With that said, we must be careful about what we post on Facebook and social media in general, but also when it comes to information about our spouse or married life and make sure that what post or say be misconstrued, misinterpreted or used against us. We need to ask ourselves: is this information I am posting up too intimate? Is it private? Can the information or post or comment I put up be misconstrued or misinterpreted? Who is this being shared with? Am I sharing this information with people who genuinely care?

What we post and what we post about can also become the object of gossip and backbiting. Why put someone you love in that position to be exposed to such filth?

“Man does not utter any word except that with him is an observer prepared [to record].” (Qur’an 50:18)

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet; said, “A slave (of Allah) may utter a word which pleases Allah without giving it much importance, and because of that Allah will raise him to degrees (of reward): a slave (of Allah) may utter a word (carelessly) which displeases Allah without thinking of its gravity and because of that he will be thrown into the Hell-Fire.”  ( Bukhari, Book #76, Hadith #485)

All in all, we need to think twice about what we post, what we post about and be more protective of our character, honor, dignity and the honor, dignity and character of our loved ones and our spouse (or future spouse).

We need to stop being so concerned with our virtual connections and stop having Facebook Marriage lives and begin having more intimate in-person relationships with our spouse and Allah.