Sunday, November 2, 2008

Boys don't cry...

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

It was this day, I can still remember. The first time I had 'death' event in my family. I knelt down, leaned forward and planted a kiss on grandma's forehead. Her skin was cold and pale. The strong scent of the potpourri of flowers emanated from her. I looked up. All around me, women were teary-eyed. Some were clearly sobbing.

With a queue behind me waiting for their turns, I stood up and quickly made my way outside. At the corridor, the men stood around looking stoic and serious. Very little was said. A few were leaned agaist the parapet nonchalantly puffing on their cigarettes.

I was 8 years old. It was my first funeral. I didn't cry. Only girls were supposed to cry. Boys don't cry... 

Dad, the Discipline Master

The sound of shattering glass echoed in the living room. Mum rushed out from the kitchen to see what had happened.

"Wait till your dad gets back! You're really gonna get it..." she said swaying her ladel at me.

I quickly grabbed the soccer ball and hid it in my bedroom, and dreaded my dad's return. The thick leather belt hung ominously in my parent's bedroom. I could almost hear it sniggering, for we shall get reacquainted soon... yet again...

I grew up with my parents in very traditional roles. Just like the "Good cop, bad cop" routine you see on TV, Mum played the role of good cop while Dad played the other.

The loving Mum and the disciplinarian Dad.

This dualism of roles is not only played out in our Malay/Muslim community, but is inherent in most parts of the modern world. Reinforced by stereotypes, these roles were considered de facto standards in managing a family well.

However, the image of the strong, silent Alpha male is actually damaging towards the male's emotional and psychological well-being, and it also creates a false model of manhood that is followed by the younger generation.

To maintain this Alpha male facade, men usually try to remain emotionally detached from issues that occur around them. Even personal issues and family issues are sometimes dealt with in a "professional manner". That's why men are poor listeners because they wouldn't want to get too deeply involved emotionally, and they will quickly push aside these problems by providing quick fixes. Men gauge their success by the results gained from these quick fixes.

The important role of being a loving companion for both wife and kids are often much forgotten because this requires a whole lot of conversation and dads are never comfortable with breaking the image of being a pillar of strength for the family. But is true strength measured by a lack of emotional openness?

The Tears of Rasulullah and His Companions

Rasulullah saw, our true role model, was a model of manhood. He was not a man devoid of emotions. He got angry. He laughed. He cried...

“Rasulullah saw entered the room while his son, Ibrahim, was dying. Upon that, his eyes started shedding tears. Then `Abdur-Rahman ibn `Awf said, ‘Even you, Messenger of Allah?!’ Then he said ‘Oh Ibn `Awf! It is but mercy.’ He continued (crying) some more and then said:

“The eyes weep, the heart is full of grief, and we are nothing but that which does not please our Lord. Verily, we are sorrowed for your departure, oh Ibrahim!” [ Hadith Narrated by Imam Bukhari and Muslim ]

When the child (his daughter's son) was brought to the Prophet his breath was disturbed in his chest as if it were in a water skin. On that the eyes of the Prophet became flooded with tears, whereupon Sa'd said to him, "Oh Allah's Apostle! What is this?"

The Prophet said, "This is mercy which Allah has put in the heart of His slaves, and Allah bestows His mercy only on those of His slaves who are merciful (to others)." [ Hadith Narrated by Imam Bukhari ]

The first caliph of Islam, as appointed by Rasulullah saw, was Abu Bakr RA. He was well-known as the companion with the softest of hearts and hence his position as the companion most loved by our prophet.

When Rasulullah saw came to 'A'isha's house, he said: Ask Abu Bakr to lead people in prayer. 'A'isha narrated: I said, Messenger of Allah, Abu Bakr is a man of tenderly feelings; as he recites the Qur'an, he cannot help shedding tears... [ Hadith Narrated by Imam Muslim ]

The second caliph of Islam, 'Umar Ibn Khattab RA, was renowned as the brave warrior who was feared by the Quraish. But, he was the companion to grief the most upon the passing of Rasulullah saw. And there exist several narrations of his soft-heartedness and piety after being appointed caliph.

After the death of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) Abu Bakr said to 'Umar: 'Let's visit Umm Aiman as Rasulullah saw used to visit her.'

As we came to her, she wept. They (Abu Bakr and Umar) said to her: What makes you weep? What is in store (in the next world) for Rasulullah saw is better than (this worldly life).

She said: I weep not because I am ignorant of the fact that what is in store for Rasulullah saw (in the next world) is better than (this world), but I weep because the revelation which came from the Heaven has ceased to come. This moved both of them to tears and they began to weep along with her. [ Hadith Narrated by Imam Muslim ]

Boys Don't Cry?

The true problem of the culture of denying or repressing emotions is that it will manifest itself into different forms and will never be resolved. The male tendency to get angry and be short-tempered is a direct result of issues of grief not being directly addressed and overcome.

Yes, crying doesn't solve any problems, but it does provide a channel of emotional release. The creation of fads such as "The Sensitive New Age Guy (SNAG)" or "EMO" is also a result of our male teens and youth's need to address these negative feelings by being more open emotionally. It has its positive aspects but in truth, there is no need for such tags or labels.

Raise your hands in supplication. Seek help from Allah. Cry.

Curl up in bed. Hug your pillow. Cry yourself to sleep. It takes much more strength to cry than not to cry. Cry. Boys do cry... sometimes.

Cry it out... and seek help and refuge from Allah s.w.t. for He is the All-Listener, All-Knowing, the All-Sustainer.

Pondering over the following verses of Quran in the video below...

والله علم
والسلام عليكم


diddy said...

Crying is far better than bottling up the frustration inside.

I do. I cant help it, I get emotional and cry. To cry is easy, but to believe that 'the shortest distance between a problem and a solution is the distance between your knees and the floor, the one who kneels to the God can stand up to anything.' - now, that is really difficult. to me, embedding this line into my crying mind is the hardest part of healing the heart. But as always, doing right thing has never been easy.

Imran Razali said...

True enough doing the right thing is never easy because basically we are not used to do the right thing. All this while, we have been taught, being exposed, and all sort of other things in a wrong manner.

But is that a good excuse for us to deny the truth of the divine revelation once we have discovered it? Have faith my friend and strengthen your faith, for only the TRUE believers are the one who is truly successful.