Monday, 27 May 2013

Top 10 Elements of a Charming Muslim Man

  Yup, I went there...

  This is a blog. You can take it with a grain of salt, or you can take it and run.

   This next list is not "Top 10 desirable traits in a husband" or "Top 10 traits that attract women", it's a list brought up after consulting many young women and taking inspiration from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that tries to dissect elements of that charming man with a special presence about him. Charming, not prince Charming that is, but as in someone who can be described with adjectives such as "noble", "sharp", "gentle","considerate","engaging" ,"devoted", "thoughtful" and many more of that category. All of these traits fit into one mysterious code that was difficult for us to decipher since we understood the vibe that came with this type of individual and agreed on it, but had a hard time deciding what the basic elements of that vibe was. You will find overlap in this list with the "Top 10 elements of a beautiful Muslima" list. You will also find this list applicable to women as well. That's because we believe character building is independent of gender. Nevertheless, this list is more specifically directed towards men (from young women's perspective) only because that way it can be most relatable and realistic.

  What you'll be surprised to know is that these elements are not physical in nature. Even elements like humour and confidence are not included. Some things are a matter of personality differences and thus we didn't think could be basic elements. We all agreed on material success and physical attractiveness as hardly an indicator of this vibe we spoke of. We tried to dissect elements of particular men who stood out in character to us. The ordering is not nearly as important as the full incorporation of all the elements.

Here's our list of top 10 elements of a charming Muslim man:

10. Not afraid to smile:

   His smile nearly never leaves his face and it's directed to everyone. Not in a creepy way or anything. But in a compassionate way to young and elderly alike. A smile is a symbolic act of vulnerability because it often calls for reciprocation which can be an intimidating and scary thought so we avoid it sometimes. But that's why it's charity and this man knows this very well and isn't afraid of being vulnerable or appearing "feminine" to others because his smiles and salams are first and foremost, directed to Allah (subhanahu wa ta'laa).

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "When you smile to your brother's face, it is 

9. Understands the significance of language:

  Knows the power of language on others and chooses persuasion over assertion of opinion. Does not need to use foul language to make a point either. Speaks on point and is articulate.

  Persuasion was a fundamental tool that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to correct his companions’ mistakes. It is reported that a man from Banu Fazarah came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: 'My wife has given birth to a black boy' - and he wanted to disown him. He said:
         'Do you have camels?'
         He said: 'Yes.'
         Prophet (pbuh) said: 'What color are they?'
         He said: 'Red.'
         Prophet (pbuh): 'Are there any gray ones among them?
         He said: 'There are some gray camels among them.'
         Prophet (pbuh): 'Why is that do you think?'
         He said: 'Perhaps it is hereditary.'
         Prophet (pbuh): 'Perhaps this is hereditary.' And he did not permit him to disown him. (An-Nasa’i)

  What I find fascinating in this particular example is the method in which the prophet (pbuh) chose to relay this piece of information. He issued questions which gave the man a sense of control and asked for his opinion regarding the matter with "why is that do you think?" He also mirrored the words of the man saying "perhaps this is hereditary" which gives a sense of relatedness and results in effective persuasion. Also, using the word "perhaps" keeps the issue open to discussion. No mind games here. Since the prophet (pbuh) could have easily given him a one sentence response and there could have been nothing wrong with that. But he was gentle subhanallah and knew the power of language on others.

8. Is generous:

Relax. No one's talking about your wallet. Although these times are tough on all of us and those who are able to give zakat have their reward with Allah (subhanahu wa ta'laa). Generosity lies with one's ability to give time and effort to others' concerns or needs. A man who is willing to sacrifice from what he has in time, wealth and energy into others for the sake of Allah and not for his own egocentric desires naturally possesses a vibe of positive energy that drives people to want his company. Oftentimes, we confuse our intentions and perhaps without realizing it, carry out favors for others or share our knowledge in the pursuit of appearing in a good light. The way to know whether you fall into that category is to ask yourself of how often you help out someone in need or share knowledge when it is of inconvenience to you. And when no one is watching.

 "Never will you attain the good [reward] until you spend [in the way of Allaah] from that which you love..."[Quran 3: 92]     

Narrarated Abdullah bin Umar: Allah Apostle (Prophet Muhammad pbuh) said, "a Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection." (Sahih Bukhari)

7. Comfortable with expressing his feminine side:

    Is comfortable enough with his character to know that possessing traits or asserting behavior typically ascribed to women does not make him less of a man. Because his manhood is not tied to gender stereotypes.

   The Prophet's beloved wife, A'ishah, said of her selfless husband :
"He always joined in household chores and would at times mend his clothes, repair his shoes and sweep the floor. He would milk, tether and feed his animals."(Bukhari)

6. Has little to hide:

   A man who doesn't have a wall up on display is quite comfortable with his faults as well as his merits. He does not mask his true feelings in order to appear masculine and is a transparent honest communicator. Recognizing one's insecurities and being confident expressing vulnerability has an appeal like nothing else. This is not about revealing everything because there are some things which should stay private between you and Allah (subhanu w ta'laa). But it's about acknowledging it exists and not being ashamed of these flaws and being open to working on ourselves for the sake of Allah that matters. Not anyone's opinion.

Abdullah Ibn Masoud (May allah be pleased with him) related, `A man came to the Prophet and said: `O Messenger of Allah! I have mingled with a woman in the far side of al-Medina, and I fulfilled my desire short of actually having sexual intercourse with her. So, here am I, judge me according to what you decide.' Umar Ibn al-Khattab (May allah be pleased with him) then said: `Allah had kept your secret, why did you not keep your secret?' [Sahih Muslim]

 This man came to the prophet (peace be upon him) with an embarrassing fact that he was ashamed of. However, he had enough taqwa and fear of Allah to expose this secret in order to get a shot at repentance and to figure out the truth and the punishment for his actions. We find out later that this act in itself was unnecessary, but seeing this man put Allah's judgement first and foremost before his reputation and ego says something.

It was narrated that Aslam, the freed slave of 'Umar ibn al-
Khattab (4^,) said: "Some merchants came to Madeenah and camped
in the prayer-place. 'Umar said to 'Abdur-Rahman ibn 'Awf, 'Shall
we go and guard them tonight?' He said, 'Yes.' So they guarded them
overnight. They prayed and 'Umar heard a child crying. He went
towards him and said to his mother, 'Fear Allah and look after your
child.' Then he went back to his place. At the end of the night, he
heard the child crying again, so he went to his mother and said to her,
'Woe to you, what a bad mother you are! Why has your child not
stopped crying all night?' She said, 'O' slave of Allah, I am
distracting him from nursing but he refuses to accept that.' He said,
'Why?' She said, 'Because 'Umar does not give a stipend except to
children who are weaned.' 'Umar had allocated a stipend to every
child who was weaned. He said, 'How old is this son of yours?' She
said, 'So many months.' He said, 'Woe to you, do not hasten to wean
him.' When he prayed Fajr, the people could not hear his recitation
clearly because of his weeping. He said, 'Woe, to 'Umar, how many
of the Muslims' children has he killed?' Then he ordered a caller to
cry out: 'Do not hasten to wean your children, for we will give a
stipend to every child bom in Islam, ' and he wrote instructions to that
effect to all regions."

  Notice the transparent nature of Umar Ibn AlKhattab who was known for his strength yet was sensitive to other's needs and did not let his reputation mask his true feelings. His ability to admit his mistakes is also inspiring.

5. Practices gentleness:
   Practices gentleness with women, elderly and children. It quite easy for people to figure out who's doing it for show and who really means it. But at the end of the day, your intention is yours and other people's opinions shouldn't effect your treatment.
Whenever the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) passed by children, he tried to be the first to greet them and say “Assalaamu Alaikum.” When riding he would let children sit on his camel or donkey. 

In some prayers, the Prophet (peace be upon him) read long Surahs. But if he heard a baby crying, he would read a short Surah and say a short prayer.

Prophet (peace be upon him) used to teach children that failure doesn't exist. Narrated Anas: "I served The Prophet for ten years, and he never said to me, "Uf" (a minor harsh word denoting impatience) and never blamed me by saying,"Why did you do so or why didn't you do so?" (Sahih Albukhari)

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) loved to play with children. He made them stand in a straight line, then he himself stood at a distance, spread his hands and told the children, “Come running to me. Whoever touches me first will get a prize,” they would all come, running and breathless. When they reached the Prophet (peace be upon him), they would fall all over him. He enjoyed this sport, gave prizes of dates and sweets to the winners and hugged and kissed the participants.

4. Grounded belief:

   Muslim men do not necessarily need to have an indicator of their religion in their dress. While many sisters would argue that this is easier on them, it comes with its own disadvantages. A Muslim woman can wear a higab and a long dress and in this way becomes a symbol of Islam to the public and her behavior can oftentimes be associated with her religion whether or not this is the case. This makes issues such as gender relations for example much easier for her since men know not to shake her hand or make inappropriate gestures towards her. I say this because a Muslim man may have a harder time asserting his beliefs and integrating them into his lifestyle. The key solution to this issue is consistency. A man who has confidence in his core beliefs and is consistent in his treatment and behaviour, regardless of who he encounters, wears his Islam on his sleeve and that becomes his label.

3. Knows when to be dominant and when to relinquish control:

    This point is very similar to number 3 in the "Top 10 elements of a beautiful Muslima". It also means taking some matters with a sense of ease and flexibility. Being ready to take control when you are needed and when circumstances ask for your assistance is a great thing to have. It's also pretty awesome if a man also knows when to relinquish control and let others try things on their own. Even when deep down inside, he knows he's a better fit for the job. This is very much related to number 1, but don't peek just yet.

2. Passion and thirst for knowledge:

    Now is my chance to bust a myth running around. Some may assume that the degree/career of an individual is a direct indication of their character. So one with a more prestigious degree is perceived as more competent or eligible in the eyes of others. That's actually not the case. All of  the women I spoke to agreed on this. A degree is nice to have under your belt for your future and for financial purposes. But the "charming" man we speak of won't be made with a degree. That secret ingredient is passion. Passion to take on a meaningful purpose with a goal in mind. Ultimately the goal must be oriented towards serving Allah (subhanahu wa ta'laa) and we agree on getting married, having a career and starting a family as not falling under the passion category. A man who has a selfless passion wants to leave behind something in this life for future generations and is willing to go as far as sacrificing his lifetime for this passion. He also has no time for senseless drama and how he is perceived by society. He has a vibe of focused positive energy and he brings this energy into his family. Passion must come with a thirst for knowledge as well. This man reads books. The Quran being his number one book.

“Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists).

He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood).

Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous.

Who has taught (the writing) by the pen.

He has taught man that which he knew not”

[al-‘Alaq 96:1-5] 

“It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah”

[Faatir 35:28] 

 The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When a man dies, all his deeds come to an end except for three – an ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge or a righteous son who will pray for him.” (Muslim)

1. Modesty: 

  Arrogance can kill any character. So it's our number one. To add to the point from the previous list, modesty can mean taking time to listen with the heart. The prophet (peace be upon him) used to direct his whole body towards who was speaking to him and would not turn his face away or leave the meeting before the other did. How many times in our life did we kneel down for a child, look him in the eye and let him speak?

 Arrogance can come in unexpected forms. For example, a woman visits her friend's modest home and begins bragging about the thousands of dollars she spent on her wedding. That is one indirect way of expressing arrogance. It's always important to be mindful of the person we are speaking to as much as possible.

  In surat elkahf, it tells a story of a man who Allah has blessed with green fields and good fortune in which one of them stated that it would never perish. This is arrogance towards Allah (subhanahu wa ta'laa) which was labeled as shirk when he put himself and his fortune before Allah's might. The story of the prophet Musa (Alayhi asslam) and Al-Khidr also teaches us about never being too sure and too proud in the face of Allah.

“Musa said to him (Khidr): “May I follow you so that you teach me something of that knowledge (guidance and true path) which you have been taught (by Allah)? But no one knows its true meanings except Allah” (Alkahf, 18:66)