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Muslim Fathers Have to Man Up


As-Salamu Alaykum,
There is an old saying that goes “It takes a village to raise a child”. To me, that statement emphasizes the tremendous impact that a child’s environment and peers has on his or her development. In a hadith narrated by Imam Muslim, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) mentioned that sheep shepherds are meek and humble, whereas the caretakers of camels are proud and arrogant, indicating that these human beings are influenced by the innate character of the animals that they take care of. In commenting on this hadeeth, the Ulama have long mentioned that if people are susceptible to being influenced by the character of animals, then how much more susceptible must they be to being influenced by other people and cultures? Now, please take time to think about this in relation to the situation with Muslim families today. Take a quick scan of mainstream culture; check out what is playing on TV or in the cinema, what are the popular stories on the internet, see what your average co-worker or potential classmate for your child is talking about. While there are positive nuggets to be found, the overwhelming majority of what is buzzing and rumbling in the cloud of mainstream culture is petty, selfish, and indulgent, and “Muslim” cultures are not exempt from this. This is our new, global village. Our children deserve better. And the only person that can provide them what they deserve is you, Allah willing.

“Each of you is a shepherd and each of you shall be asked about his flock” – [Bukhari and Muslim], is what the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) told us. Was there ever a time in history where this hadeeth has been more pertinent to a Muslim parent? Has there ever been a time where adultery, disrespect for parents, heedlessness of the Creator, rudeness, and intoxication, which are sins condemned by all the world’s major faiths, are not just accepted, but actually advertised to children? I dearly wish that I was exaggerating, that I was some turbaned version of Glenn Beck, but take one long, eye-searing look at the popular media that is targeted at youth, such as MTV and hip-hop, and you might get upset with me for understating the problem.  And as I often have to point out, the Muslim community is not mystically protected. Just because our children are named Aisha and Muhammad, or because someone’s great grandfather was a hafiz of the Qurʾān, does not bestow a quasi-magical barrier of protection from society’s ills. Through research and personal accounts, I can guarantee you that our children fall prey to the same immorality that the children of all other communities suffer from. Permit me to lift the veil for just one moment: amongst Muslim youth, I know stories of zina, alcohol and drug use (including kids in Hifz school), apostasy, and even incest.  We are not immune! These children needed a protector. They needed a true Muslim Father.

Let me address the inevitable question: Why am I talking about Muslim Fathers and not Muslim Mothers? The simple answer is that the level of involvement of Muslim Mothers in the upbringing of our Ummah’s children is relatively high; look at Muslim parenting websites, masjid activities geared towards children, etc., and you will find that the majority of participants are mothers. Or even better, speak with the youth of your local community and ask them about their relationship with their parents. When it comes to their mothers, many may even complain that their mothers are too involved, “nosy”, or “smothering”. Ask them about their fathers and you will often get blank expressions, and vague, shy answers that they don’t spend much time together. Our sisters were not meant to bear this tremendous responsibility alone. Children need the unique dynamics that a father and a mother bring to a family. Allah has created everything with an inherent nature and purpose, as indicated by the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) statement, “People are minerals like the minerals of gold and silver, the best of them before Islam are the best of them in Islam when they obtain knowledge and understanding.” – [Bukhari and Muslim].  There is a specific role that men are supposed to play in the family, modern gender politics be damned. Failing to live up to that role is failure to be a man. Our Creator said, “men are the caretakers (Qawwamoon) of women” [An-Nisaa’, 34]. I understand that this verse has often been used as a bludgeon to enforce female subservience to their husbands, but that is the result of a backwards and impotent culture, and has nothing to do with our Creator’s intent in revealing this verse. As always, our salvation comes from the Sunnah of the Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). In dealing with his wives and children, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) demonstrated kindness, consideration, compassion, and patience that would put any modern relationship guru to shame. And he sealed the issue by saying, “The best of you is the one who is best to his family, and I am the best amongst you to my family” – [At-Tirmidhi, declared Saheeh by Al-Albaani], emphasizing that his implementation of Qawwamah is the only authentic one, and it is not open to a new American, Arab, Pakistani, or other interpretation. To reiterate: failure to be strong, kind, and caring to your family is failure to be a true man and Believer.

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There has never been a time when families have been more in need of this strong, caring figure. We live in an age where we can take nothing for granted. Can you wholly entrust your child’s education to the public school system, especially in such an evolving and dynamic world? Thousands of  educators and experts have written about the inherent flaws of our school system and those flaws are present in any school that models itself after that system (i.e. Islamic schools). Is the food in our supermarkets safe? Again, the testimony of countless experts highlights significant dangers in the way our food is produced. What about your child’s physical development? Hours and hours of play every day were once typical for a child, but current cultural trends are more likely to steer your child towards hours in front of the TV or computer. And what about their spiritual life? Is it enough to send them to Qurʾān class on Saturday and Sunday? Would memorizing and reciting lines from Grey’s Anatomy be enough to make them competent physicians? What about the immorality promoted by modern media channels that I discussed earlier? The list goes on and on, the challenges are relentless, and Muslim families will be overwhelmed, unless they can come together, cooperate, and help each other in the path to their Creator. This endeavor, like all great endeavors, needs a leader. That leader is supposed to be the Muslim Father.

And Allah knows best.

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

I was an 18 year old beliigerent atheist when the Quran entered my life and rocked my world. Reading the Seerah later sealed the deal. I studied Arabic everywhere I could, from America to the Levant and somehow an invitation to study with Muhammad Ibn Salih Al Uthaymeen landed in my lap, may Allah have mercy on his soul. I went, I met, I sat, I studied, and words simply can't do justice to the privilege and the experience. I am still trying to figure out how to be thankful for it. I live in the States, I work in IT, and I have two boys who I am trying to help to grow into admirable men.



  1. Ramadan

    July 3, 2012 at 6:37 AM

    Jazakallahu khayr

  2. Umm Zakiyyah

    July 3, 2012 at 8:05 AM

    Thank you for writing this.

    I wrote a similar piece some time ago “Dire Need for Manhood Parenting” and I wished more *men* would write on the topic.


  3. AnonyMouse Al-Majnoonah

    July 3, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    BarakAllahu feek, this is a great article and something that has bothered me for a very long time.

    Too many Muslim men think that their role is only as a financial caretaker, and forget that the seerah’s example of fatherhood is vastly different from the cultural standards most Muslim men have been raised with.

    Where are the Muslim male role models? Where are the Muslim fathers who spend weekends with their kids, who tell them bedtime stories of the seerah and the sahabah, who educate their sons on how to be good sons, brothers, future husbands and fathers?

    It’s sad that many Muslims have regulated parenthood to mothers alone, and forget the incredible role that fathers have to play in their childrens’ lives.

    • Yahya Whitmer

      July 4, 2012 at 12:52 PM

      I agree. I run a facebook page and have a hard time getting other fathers to contribute. Our sense of priorities are extremely distorted and unfortunately, most khutbahs and classes ignore this fundamental aspect of life.

  4. Pingback: Muslim Fathers Have to Man Up

  5. Aishah M Nasarruddin

    July 4, 2012 at 6:58 AM

    Jazakallah khair for bringing this up. I always thought that our muslim community will very much excel if fathers play more roles in helping mothers to shape children’s potentials and personality. Children learn different things from both parents, their potentials won’t be maximised if the input is unbalanced.

  6. Sadaf Farooqi

    July 5, 2012 at 8:46 AM

    I really liked this article, brother. May Allah reward you for writing it.
    Barak Allahu feekum.

  7. ZuberiAA

    July 6, 2012 at 12:08 AM


  8. Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

    July 7, 2012 at 6:04 AM

    I was never “close” to my father and even today sometimes I prefer discussing issues with my mother as I just have a better connection with her. I always resolved to be different when it was my turn but as fathers, we often focus
    so much on being the bread-winner that we forget our number one priority is raising great
    children. Reminders every now and then of needing to get more involved in our children’s lives are much needed. Jazak’Allah Khairin Shaykh for this reminder.

  9. Babar

    July 8, 2012 at 12:27 AM

    JAK for writing this important piece. Nothing can replace the time, attention, love and knowledge that a father provides his children.

    A few years ago my wife and I decided to turn off the TV in our home (for good) and decided to spend that time to play with the kids and to studying Quran and Sunnah together. This simple change has made a huge difference in our family life.

  10. Faria

    July 9, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    Alhamdulillah, amazing. May Allah grant this ummah more responsible and sincere fathers, ameen. BarakAllaahu feek for this writing. I would expect more writings on effective fatherhood from you, as mashaAllah that is what you seem to achieve in the long-term, so please share your experience with the world as well.

  11. nlightme please

    July 18, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    Fathers busy watching tv, accumulating material things, and keeping up with the Jonses that they forget about their role

  12. Azhar

    July 18, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    SubanAllah brother. This was very inspiring to me on a deep personal level.

  13. Maryam

    July 20, 2012 at 4:26 AM

    I commend you for writing this piece. A lot of Muslim fathers are oblivious of their responsibilities to their wife and children. Marriage is a complete package and it comes with children and taking care of them and if a man wants to evade his responsibilities as both a husband and father then he shouldn’t get married. Period.

  14. Atif

    July 25, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    Silly title- Kind of similar headlines targeting muslims in UK. Do you write for The Mail.

    • Husband that works 12hrs a day.

      November 10, 2016 at 1:45 PM

      Sounds like written by a woman who can’t take care of the household /kids n husband.

  15. Yusuf's Daddy

    July 26, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Jazakullahkhaire Yahya. There is a nice khutbah about fatherhood here: Wasalam.

  16. Pingback: Muslim Fathers Have to Man Up | Words of love.. words for love…

  17. Abuyusuf

    January 20, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    I think the sisters have a part to play in this as well. you find that the muslim women of today put such enormous pressure on the men to provide that the father ends up working like a mad man just trying to keep her happy and not complaining. I really think we need to look at both sides of the coin. These days it seems fashionable to bash on muslim men all the while fashion hijabis and so on get a free pass…

    • Husband that works 12hrs a day.

      November 10, 2016 at 1:47 PM

      Correct. Few women smiles when cash flows, else won’t even smile.

  18. hhamidaa

    October 18, 2016 at 5:37 AM

    It is not only that father’s are busy with work. There are fathers who are so religious that they become sacrilegious. My father, may Allah bless him is considered the saint of the society. Praying tahajjud, doing extra nafl acts, doing charity, extremely kind etc. But he doesn’t spend time with us or has ever stood for us. It’s always my mother who has done that. He never hugs us. The only time I hug him is during did and that too he will pay me on the back to end the hug. I don’t have a single memory where he played with us or held us in his arms as kids. He never takes us out on weekends. I am not asking for dinner in expensive restaurants. Any outing or any restaurant is fine. Me and my sister make plans with our friends. The only time we go out as a family is during winter for BBQ or eid. Once we went out for dinner and it was isha azan and he left us to pray. It was a mall and there is no formal jamaah. People go to the prayer room and do their own jamaah. The sunnah is to eat first and then pray. He could have eaten and then gone to pray and joined another jamaah. The situation is such that when he comes home me and my sister are in our rooms. We don’t come out to see him. If we come out for some work we say salaam to each other that’s it. I remember when a male cousin was harassing me I complained to my mother and she told my father and he said to ignore him. He couldn’t call up my cousin and tell him to stop calling me. It continued for weeks and then I told my mother to speak to my cousin. After that he stopped. My father won’t even see proposals for us. As we grew up we were taught having boyfriends is haram. So I did not have relationships. But after finishing my university it’s my father’s job to find me a husband. He never did. Now I m 29 and still single. It would have been better if I fell in love with someone in my early 20’s and got married. He got my elder sister married without meeting her husband before marriage. And now she’s suffering. Which father does not meet the guy before giving his daughter in marriage? Her husband is abusive and it is my mother who will be speaking to the son in law to help them solve problems. My father would be just lying on the bed and let her do the talking. Once our house was robbed and I had to speak to 15 police officers and CID. I went to the police station with my father as he could not talk and had frozen. I went for the follow ups. He cannot judge people. He trusts people blindly. God bless my mother who always guides him to make decisions. If it was any other woman she would have taken all his money and he wouldn’t even have known. My mother has always saved his money. If I compare to other fathers who had hit their children. I am grateful my father never did that. But sometimes I really need someone to stand behind me. I am a manly woman and very independent and I always defend myself because I know my father will not defend my honor. As a child of 2 years I was molested by his colleague and he did not do anything. He just told him to stop coming to our house. Now his incapability is affecting my relationship with my mother. She’s saying that all my friends are married with kids, my life will go like this. I understand that she’s worried but I was tired of her constant taunts. So I told her if my father was responsible I would also have been married like my friends. My father never encouraged us. It was always my mother who encouraged us to do masters, get a license etc. I got my skydiving license and everyone was proud of me except my father. He didn’t even acknowledge it. When my aunt says you don’t understand your father and he does so many things. I tell her I don’t care what my father did for others all I care is what he was to me.

    • Yahya

      October 18, 2016 at 12:34 PM

      Assalam alaikum sister,
      I am the article’s author and I simply could not agree more. From my own experience as a student of knowledge at one of the world’s preeminent learning institutions, I believe the root cause of this is that the great social teachings of Islam have been sidelined from the core curriculum of what religious Muslims are taught. We are taught to cherish aqeedah, to delve into fiqh, to appreciate worship, to honor the ulama and their incredible works, but the social teachings are given superficial attention. There is no book on racial equality that is memorized and taught, no book on raising sons and daughters that is memorized and taught, no book on attending to the poor and disabled that is memorized and taught. This is all due to the institutionalization of religious knowledge and how the religious class began to focus on their needs and station rather than the needs of the community or even the religion itself. I have opened a thread discussing this topic on the muslimfathers Facebook page and we would love to hear your voice. You will find there a letter, written from an Imam to his own daughter, where he apologizes for 30 years of negligence similar to what you have described. Perhaps your father will find guidance in this other man’s regret.

    • Respect elders.

      November 10, 2016 at 1:58 PM

      Alhamdulillah you have a father. Some men are like this accept the way he is n show ur patience. Respect the waybhe is as he is not an angry man or harsh.
      Pls don’t write ur personal matters like molestation n stuff here.
      Keep it between u n Allah n don’t let the 3rd person know ur secrets, this is also from sunnath.
      When it’s time for ur marriage mr. Nice will come to ur way.

      Respect ur father n elders n husbands.

    • Trained to hate

      November 10, 2016 at 2:43 PM

      Can anyone remember what happened when they were 2 yrs old… I think u r definitely being trained to hate ur father. Whoever it may be telling you these stories are either good for you and ur father.
      May be this person is the cause of ur fathers so called inability to react.

  19. Yvonne wakaka

    October 24, 2016 at 12:25 AM

    If islam is a religion of peace,acceptance and holliness how can a muslim man make you pregnant then he starts to talk bad and act badly if those are islamic MEN i free myself and deny islam the teaching and everything its so hurting i used to look up to muslims they conduct themselves so nice But a certain islamic man has taken it away… may Allah forgive us

    • Yahya

      October 24, 2016 at 9:01 AM

      Yvonne, I am so sorry to hear about your situation. A Muslim man may only be intimate with a woman within the bounds of marriage and it is his sacred duty to provide for her emotionally, spiritually, and financially. But the reality is that many Muslims (in my opinion, the majority) are ignorant of the teachings of their own faith, and cannot be looked to as a representative of the beauty of Islam. For that, we have the Prophet Muhammad, who was very gentle and caring of his spouses, and commanded us to follow his example. May Allah grant you ease after hardship, ameen.

  20. Asheeqah

    May 25, 2018 at 8:03 AM

    Assalam alaikum,

    I have been married for 22 years and 6 months ago found out my husband was having an affair with a married colleague.
    She is a 27 Year old Muslim woman who has been married twice before and has 3 kids from 3 different fathers.
    We are married both islamically and by our law of the country.
    I am from South Africa and we are now taalaq but still married by the law of the country. He married her and left me too attend to ALL financial affairs, rent, school fees, food, electricity etc.
    He doesn’t even call to find out If the kids are eating or anything “just moved on with his life and never looked back”
    I need to ask, in the eyes of our Almighty and of our Prophet PBUH what is the punishment for this in the Quran.
    His 18 years older than this woman and he broke all promises in life and in all our married life. “WILL NEVER BE UNFAITHFUL”
    I know in life, no marriage is perfect and as a revert “I embraced Islam 23 years ago” I don’t even get support from his born muslim brothers. of which I may add is a Shaikh.
    I have been so down and kept my faith strong in my Almighty and believe he will leave no stone unturned.
    My ex has lied, manipulated me for 9 months with his adulteress wife and he supports her and her children(that is not even his)
    I pray that the Almighty help me through my circumstances.
    I am so worn and tired both mentally and physically, having a full time 10hr job and having to console my children.
    My kids are 21 years, 19 years and 8 years old.
    I have moments where I feel Islam has failed me, please help me, direct me I am loosing myself slowly.
    My ex has belittle me, and disrespected me after by doing what his done and is still doing, 22 years of so much sacrifice surely this will be justified… I pray that Almighty has mercy on him.

    Shukr and looking forward to a positive response


    • Yahya Whitmer

      May 25, 2018 at 10:26 AM

      Assalam alaikum sister Asheeqah,

      I am the article’s author and am very sad to hear your story. Unfortunately men of this type are common in all cultures and all religions and no major faith would condone his actions, least of all Islam. Islam demands that we attend to our responsibilities, even in the case of divorce, and act truthfully and openly. The simply fact is, assuming that all the details of this scenario are true, that this person is not much of a man and a poor excuse for a Muslim. If I may, I would recommend the following steps.
      1. Reach out to family and friends and the local community for support. Often the instinct in such difficult times is to withdraw into depression, and while feelings of sadness are certainly appropriate, it’s important to bolster oneself with the support of caring people.
      2. Pursue a legal divorce so that the local laws will force this person to provide for you what his conscience is unable to.
      3. Seek strength through patience, prayer, and the Quran. The greatest test to a believer’s faith often comes from the hypocrites, the ones that espouse Islam and duty, but whose hearts only understand selfish desires. This life is a test and you are undoubtedly being tested. Read and ponder the verses that describe the betrayals that the Prophets suffered and you will find in them an example of faith and fortitude and hopefully be inspired to fight for your own faith and happiness.
      4. Make dua and remember that your Creator is heedful of the complaints of the oppressed.

      I pray that this moment of loss be transformed into a period of strength and renewal for you and that Allah replace what was untrue and unworthy with something faithful and beautiful.

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