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Can masculinity be preserved in 2022?

by Zahid Jadwat

The fast-paced 21st century has shifted cultural paradigms and continues to do so at an unprecedented rate, with masculinity not being spared. Some believe there is an active onslaught on masculinity, while yet others may have demonised the concept.

Those who believe masculinity is being diminished (nudge: Tate fans) feel the urgent need to restore it in the most fundamental sense. Conversely, those on the opposing end of the gamut argue that masculinity stands for an aggressive patriarchy and everything evil thence.

There needs to be a balance between either extreme, according to Seyed Jamaluddin Miri, a counsellor and co-founder of the ISIP Foundation.

“On one end we have one part of the spectrum, which is one extreme, which is to denounce masculinity – you shouldn’t have masculinity at all. [This] is contrary to the Islamic belief. On the other extreme is this toxic masculinity which we find in popular culture through music, through movies which is like being almost like an aggressive person in a sense where you’re not allowed to label your emotions,” he said.


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According to Miri, the age old concept and practice of futuwa provides a solution to developing a sound Islamic masculinity. The aim, he explained, was to develop and empower men all-round instead of slipping into extremes on either end of the gamut.

“We’re stuck in these dichotomies, but the Islamic fitri masculinity which is connected to the futuwa and the noble character traits is actually to be balanced,” he said, before adding, “It’s about labelling your emotions, about being balanced with them, you should be a spiritual warrior and take responsibility for your community, for your family, but at the same time being holistically involved within yourself and outside your community as well.”

Miri explained that futuwa aimed to provide an all-round education to young males, which catered for emotional, physical and spiritual growth. He said it was a tradition which died out with the rise of contemporary culture, but had much to offer boys in the present era.


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Human beings are social creatures. As such, we are always seeking a sense of belonging and tend to grab it wherever it is found. This is particularly critical for adolescents as not finding sound company could lead them on the path to destructive behaviour.

“Why a lot of Muslim youth, specifically in the diaspora are gravitating towards these destructive coalitions is because they want somewhere to belong; somewhere they’re trusted [and] where they’re worth something,” said Miri.

“While this society as a whole is stigmatising Muslim boys through Islamophobia and discrimination, this type of gangs give them a sense of belonging and this is the same for other minorities as well.”

He stated futuwa institutions could prevent youth from getting involved in gangsterism as it tackled head-on the lack of belonging.

“The futuwa gave also this belonging [and] created a trajectory for young boys to become men, had similar inauguration processes but in the sound Islamic way according to the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) and that’s why I believe that we could utilise our futuwa tradition in order to break this vicious cycle of gang-related violence,” he said.

Miri said it was possible, through the revival of the practice of futuwa, to develop a non-toxic sense of masculinity among men. This, he said, would benefit society as a whole as it would create men who take responsibility for their emotional wellbeing while at the same time take care of those around them.

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