I think the topic of men/boys in Muslim ummah and their role and responsibilities is a topic that has been neglected for far too long in our community. We often stress the propriety and the rules of modesty, etc. upon the women/girls/sisters. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be modest or encourage modesty or even that we’re oppressive to women. Rather I’m saying that if we are just as adamant about stressing modesty and propriety on the sisters, why aren’t we stressing the same on the brothers?
We brothers get away with so much because we believe in our minds that we are not ordained by Allah or His Prophet SAW to dress a certain way, act a certain way, etc. We definitely do get away with a lot more than sisters. Brothers can easily dress a certain way and get away with it, but when a sister does it’s like “Oh man, I can’t believe she dressed like that” and then the talking/gossip ensues. Similarly a guy can do certain things if a girl were to do she’d be looked down upon by other as a “social butterfly” or “flirtatious.” This is obvious when we see guys talking to girls (all be it innocently), but people talk/gossip/slander them and say “oh he’s interested in her/she’s interested in him.” But, in that scenario who’s the one that’s the one blamed? It’s the girl. She’s seen as flirtatious and loose. The guy gets away clean and moves on. A girl’s image/character tarnishes so much more easily than a guy’s in my opinion. I could be wrong, but that’s what I see. I’m not saying that the sister may not be flirtatious or social, but I’m speaking about when talking is done innocently without any motives/intentions behind it, the girl is often seen as the perpetrator/criminal.
A guy has more freedom to talk to whom he wants, go where he wants, and do what he wants. A sister on the other hand, when she approaches a brother or talks to him, she’s seen as loose or flirtatious. But if a guy approaches a sister and talks to her, no blame is put on him. What the brothers forget is that while the sisters are required to wear hijab, they have to observe hijab as well. Not in the head-scarf term of speaking, rather hijab in their dress, adab (character), speech, etc. Funny that in the Quran it mentions the brothers are mentioned first before the sisters in regards to modesty, yet we always stress the modesty of women:
"Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty, that will make for greater purity for them¦ Say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty O you believers! Turn you all together towards Allah that you may attain success." (Quran 24:30-31)
So brothers need to be modest in that respect in the sense of adaab, speech, dress, etc. Now we come to the treatment of sisters by the brothers. We often find the brothers amongst us as harsh with the sisters, yet soft with the non-Muslim girls (talking to them more freely and openly). We see them often put down the sisters verbally, emotionally, psychologically. This obviously is not the Sunnah of the Prophet SAW or the Quran. Rather the Quran says:
“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women…” (Surah Nisa: 34)
Brother back home in Egypt, Pakistan, etc. act like dogs (yes DOGS) and harass covered from head to toe, sisters in hijab and abayas. They do unspeakable things that I don’t want to mention. Stuff that if it happened to your own biological sister or mother you’d turn red with anger. The Prophet SAW said:
"None but a noble man treats women in an honorable manner. And none but an ignoble treats women disgracefully"(At-Tirmithi)
If we aren’t respecting our own women, how is anyone meant to respect us? How do you expect non-Muslims to respect Islam if this is the way we treat our sisters? They say “Oh this is Islam since Muslim men are doing it.” How dare we treat our sisters like this. Shame on us brothers for neglecting our sisters when they’re in need, in trouble or are in harms way, may Allah forgive us for all the harm that could have been prevented by us, but we failed to act, Ameen. If we brothers remember our mothers, we wouldn’t dare to treat our sisters like we do now. Imagine treating your own mother the way we do. The same woman who went through pain to bear you, woman who raised you, stayed up at night when you were sick, fed and clothed you.
"O Messenger of Allah! Who is most deserving of my fine treatment?'' He (PBUH) said, "Your mother, then your mother, then your mother, then your father, then your nearest, then nearest"(Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
And another thing must be mentioned is when our sisters are in trouble and cry out for help, where are the so-called MEN of the ummah to stand up for them? Where are we to protect them? Where are we when they call out and are telling us their husbands are abusive, they need financial help, or are homeless/hungry? A man who places his hand on a woman, is not a man and deserves the utmost punishment of the law. A man who psychologically, emotionally and physically abuses his wife is not a man. We brothers are doing this knowingly or unknowingly to our sisters, it’s time for us to wake up to this problem and solve it. This whole image of Manhood (i.e. don’t show emotion, don’t show your feelings, etc.) is a thing of the past and is counter-productive. We need to get rid of this inferiority complex/insecurity of feeling inadequate and putting sisters down. You show no respect, you deserve none. You show no mercy, you deserve none. This is a wakeup call for all of us, this is reality. We’ve been neglecting the protection of our sisters from harm’s way and have neglected implementing Quran and Sunnah to ourselves. We are complacent being harsh on the sisters, but never on the brothers. We need to be modest just as badly as the sisters need to be modest. We need to step up and become the sources of strength and protection for the sisters. The Prophet SAW said:
"Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers." (From the last sermon of Prophet Mohammed SAW)
"The best of you are those who best treat their women with kindness"
(Narrated by Tirmidhi and graded as Saheeh by Albani)
It’s about time the brothers did some introspection and evaluated their treatment of the sisters and started applying the modesty which the push so hard on the sisters and started applying it to themselves. It's about time the brothers stepped up to the plate and learned their responsibilities to the sisters. People say "boys will be boys" because they're young but I say, boys will be boys, but let them be MEN!