What Makes a True Man
By: Anees Siddiqui
Taken from the Muslim Students' Association of University of Houston

She lays on the ground, bleeding, broken. The shadow of her attacker recedes in the darkness, followed by the tattered remnants of her security and honor. Blood has replaced her tears, and harsh pain has choked the cries from her throat. Bruises cover her body, but none scar her so deep as the one on her heart. There she lays, your sister, a Muslim. She is alone, and when the strength to rise returns to her she will pull herself up, alone. She will wash and bandage her wounds. Then humbly, meekly apologize to her attacker, her husband.

She is your sister, my people, and she is shunned by us all. She is the victim of an ummah that does not understand: the prey of a man that feels baseball bats is the Sunnah of our Beloved Prophet (Sal Allah alehi wasalam). "Men are the maintainers and protectors of the women, because Allah has given more (strength) to one then the other, and because they support them from their means." (Nisa:34).

There is a great injustice that has reared its head in the homes of many Muslims. It is an injustice that destroys people like the worst of tyranny. Oppression, suppression, and ultimately repression are the result of this horrid fact, and it is a fact. However, more often than not, we find ourselves forgetting its very existence and eventually denying its reality. This tyranny is not just the battery of women; rather, it is a precursor to that abuse. It is the blatant disregard for the foundation of marriage that The Most Wise has prescribed.

It may seem that the above statement is contradicted by reality. We are bombarded by letters, articles, speeches, and books about marriage and the rights that the parties receive as a result of this union. However, more often than not, there is a conspicuous lack of emphasis placed on the rights that a wife is entitled to receive due to the marriage. This void in our understanding, in the understanding of men, readily translates itself into the gruesome accounts that we hear regarding battery from all over the Muslim world. Perhaps, then, it is more our fault that this tyranny is occurring. Perhaps, we are the ones to blame for not disseminating the knowledge, the freedom. Perhaps, rather, when we spread the word of our Lord we will see a change, "Men are the maintainers and protectors of the women, because Allah has given more (strength) to one then the other, and because they support them from their means." (Nisa: 34).

In confronting the question of what responsibilities men, in fact, owe to women, it is found that this ayat embodies the Islamic answer: "Men are the maintainers and protectors of the women." It is so simple. In marriage, it is the OBLIGATION of the man, the right that the wife can legally enforce on her spouse, to take care of her. He must provide for her food, clothing, education, and all other physical needs of herself and the household. He must protect her in the face of danger. He must act as a father to the children. If he does not do these things, then it is a more than sufficient grounds for a divorce. These are the basic rights that are conferred upon the individual when entering a marriage.

It goes deeper.

The Prophet (Sal Allah alehi wasalam) once described women as a delicate ornament vase, and treated them accordingly. This does not mean that he looked down on them. Rather, he maintained them in a deeper sense then the superficial one that we are so familiar with. Maintaining is more than the immense responsibility of providing for the physical needs; rather, it is the gargantuan obligation to provide for the emotional ones.

In addition, the Prophet (Sal Allah alehi wasalam) has said that the best Muslim man is the one who is best to his wife (Bukhari). The ordinance, therefore, is clear and needs to be emphasized. Men are meant to cater to the needs of the wife, and aid whenever possible. Kindness to the wife has been emphasized over and over by Prophet (Sal Allah alehi wasalam). It is even said that putting a morsel of food into the mouth of one’s wife out of love may be viewed as charity.

This is exactly what women should expect of their men. This is what men should expect from themselves. It is the job of the husband to remember that they are, indeed, the captain of the helm, but who would argue that the ship is not of equal importance, if not more important?

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