A common stereotype is that Muslim men are dangerous fanatics and terrorists. However, many Muslim men have the same hopes and dreams as any man. Although there are variations in the social, cultural, economic, and even religious situations of men in the Muslim world, most Muslim men want to get a good education, a decent job, to marry and have children, and to be respected.
A man’s primary responsibility is to support his household. (This may mean supporting up to four wives, which is allowed in Islamic law, if he can provide for them equally.) Muslim cultures are dominated by men.
While a Muslim woman’s duties lie primarily inside the household, a Muslim man’s life and responsibilities are in the public sphere. Men and women often live separate lives. Far more men than women attend daily prayers at the local mosque, and only men lead the prayers and deliver sermons.
In very conservative Muslim communities, it is mostly men who frequent cafes, restaurants, and municipal offices. In the workplace, while things are changing rapidly, it is still mostly men who have managerial and leadership roles. As is true elsewhere around the world, men dominate politics in the Muslim world, though more Muslim women than ever before are becoming active in this realm.
Although twenty-first century ideas are, in some quarters, challenging traditional interpretations of gender roles in Islam, a man’s identity and role appear firmly rooted in seventh-century revelations and their subsequent interpretation in Muslim tradition (hadith) and Islamic law (sharia).
The Quran says that men and women were created from the same soul (4:1), that both are to be modest (24:30-31), and that both will be rewarded for their righteousness (33:35). People were created weak and forgetful (4:28) and need constant guidance to worship Allah.
All of the various schools of sharia law interpret the Quran to support the superiority and authority of men and endorse distinct gender roles: men protect and provide; women obey and receive. Since men have to provide for their families, they are entitled to a greater share of an inheritance (4:11).
Several verses encourage affection and mercy between spouses (see 30:21) but if a wife does not obey, a husband is instructed (ultimately) to beat her (4:34). Though the laws are complicated, the father is generally recognized as the custodian of children in the case of divorce.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
For "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 1 Peter 3:10-11
I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. 1 Timothy 2:8
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9
Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Titus 2:2
Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Titus 2:6
Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers. 1 Timothy 5:1
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
Pray for the Holy Spirit to soften men’s hearts to receive the love of Jesus.
Pray for courage to follow Jesus and to lead their families and communities to do the same.