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Top 10 Traits of a Real Man (Muslim Style)

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By: Asif Balouch

Cross-posted from: http://philasify101.blogspot.com/2012/05/top-10-traits-of-real-man-muslim-style.html#more

A phrase that has long been thrown around is the popular term, “Real Man”. Being labeled  a “Real Man” has forever been seen as the ultimate compliment of respect a man could give another and to be viewed in this way has been regarded as the ultimate goal to achieve for the male population. But what is a “Real Man”?

In some parts of society this achievement is measured in terms of how much alcohol you can consume without keeling over and puking your guts out. Others regard a real man in accordance to how many fights one has participated in and won, even if the reason for the fight is for something completely idiotic and dishonorable. Another historic definition of a real man would depend on how shredded and cut up he is when it comes to his muscularity, never mind if the method of gaining it was questionable. Some societies label one a “real man” depending on how much money he rakes in or how many sexual encounters he’s had, disregarding whether the money is earned in a positive manner and overlooking the tremendous heartbreak of the poor women that agreed to be another tally mark to his bedroom antics. Catching a football, driving a pickup truck…I’m sure there’s plenty more.

The other day I came across an article on AskMen.com that provided a top 10 list of traits of a real man. Now granted, I don’t think the blog was supposed to be taken too seriously because it was from the perspective of a mafioso character. Despite that, I thought it was a good concept to dive into when properly defining a “Real Man”. I believe this top 10 list is significant since what constitutes a real man is not legislated by any regular humanfolk. Oh, no, no, no…the declaration of what a Real Man comes from the words of the Creator, Allah (God) of man himself, and was put into practice by a man who is without a doubt the epitome of a real man, The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Just by reading about this man’s life, his struggles and the description of his profound character, there is no one on this earth that the label “Real Man” fits more perfectly than him. So without further ado, here are the top ten traits of a real man.

Trait # 1: A Real Man Reads

That’s right, just like how your stomach needs to be regularly fed with food, your mind needs to be regularly fed with knowledge. Now there’s quite a few ways to attain knowledge of different things but a surefire way for it to stick in your brain is through reading. (A quick note: If you’re a real man, you didn’t groan when reading this first trait.) And no I’m not saying reading the newspaper, or your Twitter or Facebook news feeds does it. That is NOT true reading. That’s not manly reading. I’m talking about books. A man reads books. Books that can save him from making stupid mistakes, books that can inspire him to get off his lazy rear end and do something with himself, books that makes him realize why the heck he’s here in the first place. Though the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) himself was illiterate, he made it a high priority to seek knowledge and there are many sayings where he mentions the high value importance of attaining knowledge. Some include: “The pen(knowledge) is mightier than the sword” and “He who travels in the search of knowledge, to him God shows the way of Paradise.” A real man doesn’t stop seeking knowledge until his heart stops beating.

Trait # 2: A Real Man is a Focused Man

Alluding to the trait above, a real man who has knowledge, recognizes what is important and what is rubbish that ain’t worth his time. A real man doesn’t lose himself in the pretty bells and whistles of life that don’t bring him any real benefit. When a real man sees things that are a distraction, he keeps moving. A real man realizes why he’s here on this earth, that he is only here for a short time and that he has to do what he has to do to make sure he’s got a ticket to paradise. A real man focuses on what’s important: bettering himself, making a living for his family and preparing himself for the future. A real man lives by what the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:“Live in this world as (if you are) a wayfarer or a stranger.”, which in essence means to not get caught up by all the glitz and glamour of this world because it’s temporary. He doesn’t stick around and waste time. Don’t let things distract you because you have to make it to your destination. A real man manages his time wisely and gives the proper due to his work, his family, and his Creator. Stay focused and do what you have to do, because in the end there isn’t anybody to bail you out.

Trait # 3: A Real Man is Gentle but Firm

A real man recognizes that he’s a man with an intellect, not an animal. A real man speaks softly and doesn’t need to holler and yell at the top of his lungs to be heard or get his point across. A real man doesn’t create a scene, start trouble or “act hard” in front of others to show he’s a tough guy. When there is trouble ahead, he does his best to squash it in a civilized manner. A real man isn’t a punk either. Just because he doesn’t raise his voice or try to intimidate others, doesn’t mean he’s a floor mat that people can walk all over. If he has problem with something, he lets it be heard. A real man practices patience. A real man suppresses his anger like a caged lion. Sure he can open the door at anytime and unleash hell but knows there is more honor and dignity in holding back. Raising his fists is the ABSOLUTE last resort.The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “He is not strong and powerful who throws people down, but he is strong who withholds himself from anger.”, in addition he also said, “Deal gently with people, and be not harsh; cheer them and condemn not.” A real man lives by these quotes.

Trait # 4: A Real Man is a Family Man

A real man recognizes the importance of his family and does his utmost to be a contributing member of the family. A real man preserves and protects. A real man recognizes that his children are a blessing from God and treats them as such and brings them up to be upright human beings. A real man MAKES TIME for his family and does not neglect them because of work or his own personal dealings. A real man is the backbone of his family and doesn’t have time to be weak. A real man doesn’t just take care of his immediate household but looks after his family that he grew up with. He honors his parents to the utmost, especially his mother. He calls his family often and stays in touch. He’s good to his siblings and relatives. A real man strives to be the best father, brother, son and husband he can be and works hard to live up to be the best. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) once said, “The best of you is the one who is best to his own family, and I am the best of you towards my family.”

Trait # 5: A Real Man doesn’t Slander/Backbite/Cuss/Gossip

A real man keeps his mouth shut if he doesn’t have anything nice to say. A real man, when he hears others ripping on whoever–whether they know them or not, either goes over and shuts it down by warning the party or walks right on out of the room. A real man would say in that situation, “Hey, I wouldn’t like anyone saying that about me when I’m not around so ya’ll shouldn’t be talking about so-and-so like that”. A real man keeps a careful watch on his tongue because he knows that what he says can hurt him then or definitely in the future. A real man doesn’t discuss things he doesn’t know about or people he hasn’t ever met. A real man doesn’t cuss to be “cool” and chooses his words intelligently because he can get his point across better without dropping an f-bomb or an s-missle. A real man recognizes the hadith that says “most people that are in hellfire are in there because they couldn’t control their tongue.” In the Qurʾān, God states that he has given man “two lips and one tongue”, so the lips can control the tongue. [Surah Al Balad, 9]

Trait # 6: A Real Man Keeps His Promises

A real man’s word is his bond. If he can’t keep a promise, he doesn’t give his word. A real man is trustworthy and doesn’t flake out on somebody. He doesn’t use Insha’Allah (God willing) as a copout. He doesn’t break deals and he pays back debts. A real man knows that his words are as powerful as his actions, and that they must be taken at face value. A real man doesn’t say “I’ll try” if he doesn’t have to try it really. He either does or he doesn’t and if he can’t do it, he says he can’t. There’s no shame in saying that you can’t do a favor for somebody, or you won’t be able to come through. At least you’ll be upfront and honest about it rather than being relied on and letting someone down. What does the Qurʾān say about this? “O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? Most hateful it is with Allah that you say that which you do not do.” [Surah Saff, 2-3] From this quote, a Real Man knows that keeping a promise is serious business and doesn’t screw around on them.

Trait # 7: A Real Man Respects All Women

A real man doesn’t “holler” at girls. A real man doesn’t sit with other guys and talk about how sexy girls are and drool while discussing their body parts and wanting to “hit it”. A real man doesn’t treat women like a buffet. A real man pursues a WIFE, not a girlfriend and he goes about it the right way. If a Real man is interested in a female, he goes to their parents to let them know his intentions, like how they did it back in the days. A real man works on lowering his gaze when beautiful women walk by. A real man keeps his interactions with women short, cordial and to the point and doesn’t let it go longer so flirting and dirty thoughts can come into the mix. If a man is married, he stays faithful and doesn’t leer his eyes elsewhere – and that includes the TV, the internet and magazines. A real man is respectful to his wife, both in public and in private. A real man does not raise his hands to his wife no matter what the case is. A real man doesn’t point out his wife’s flaws and treat her like a second-class citizen. A real man treats every female (that isn’t his wife) he comes in contact with in the same way he treats his mother or sister.

Trait # 8: A Real Man Keeps His House in Order

Contrary to popular belief, a real man doesn’t live in a pigsty. There aren’t any pizza boxes on the counter, the sink isn’t filled with dishes and his underwear isn’t laying around. A real man is the master of his domain if he’s living on his own, because if not then he better move back in with his mom and get some lessons if he ever wants to land a wife. That’s correct! A real man DOES CHORES, even with his wife around. He does the dishes if they need cleaning, takes out the garbage, does his own laundry, irons his clothes, cooks from time to time. If you haven’t reached that level, you better work on it now. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) regularly did household work and did most of his own chores himself like fixing his shoes, doing his own laundry etc. Stop using manliness as an excuse and get your job done, clean your place up, get your documents in order and clean up yourself.

Trait # 9: A Real Man Handles His Own Money

A real man isn’t a charity case. He doesn’t go looking for handouts from mommy and daddy or friends. A real man isn’t satisfied with welfare checks. He goes out there and busts his tail to do something he wants to do and be the best at it. Whether it’s being a CEO of your own company or sweeping the streets with a broom, you be the best at whatever you choose to do and give it 100%. When you start making some bread, you don’t flaunt it like a douche or splurge it like an idiot. You budget your money and make sure you have some savings for emergencies.  A real man doesn’t buy a thing he can’t afford. A real man relies on his own sweat from hard work and God, to provide for him. Rather than being a charity case, a real man gives to charity and good causes. Unless he wants to rescue the world himself from all its issues, he should support those that are doing good things properly. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) once said that it was better for a man to take a rope and gather some wood on his back to sell then to go out begging for money. So do what you gotta do to make an honest living and give back and God will rain down good fortune on you here and in the next life.

Trait # 10: A Real Man Knows He’s Being Tested

A real man doesn’t whine, cry and complain when life isn’t going his way. He doesn’t mope, wallow in his own self-pity or ruminate about all the BS that’s going wrong with his life to anyone that will listen. “Why me?” is not in a real man’s vocabulary. A real man makes decisions and takes full responsibility of what follows. A real man shows GRATITUDE. He is grateful for what he has no matter how big or how small. He takes the cards he’s been dealt and runs with them. He doesn’t look at other folks and get jealous because they have more. A real man realizes he has weaknesses and works on controlling them and not being consumed by them. That’s because a real man knows what this life is all about. A man knows that he’s constantly being tested and the decisions he makes will have either a negative or positive effect in the end when he’s in front of his Maker on the day of judgment. A real man only cries out in private to his Lord and asks him for solace, forgiveness and comfort. A real man gives his best effort in anything he does and when life throws him a curveball he takes it in stride because he knows what the Qurʾān says “With hardship comes ease.” [Surah Ash-Sharh, 5-6] A real man knows that there’s always gonna be ups and downs in life and that the ultimate down is in the next life if he winds up in Hellfire and the ultimate up and the ultimate form of “ease” is being in Paradise maxin’ and relaxin’ for all eternity. In the end we’re all trying to get to the same place, and a real man knows that with Islam, he’s got a compass, he’s got the straight path and he knows what he has to do to make it there. Everything else is an obstacle in his way.

Conclusion

So what have we learned here today? Hopefully, we’ve learned that we guys have  some homework to do before we can even consider ourselves a real man, especially one of the caliber of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). I put this top 10 list together knowing that I do not possess all of these traits fully and it may take a lifetime before I can even confidently say that I meet all these requirements. But these traits are not impossible to attain. All it takes is some effort. A wise man once said that the essence of manhood is when a man has reached the pinnacle of his role. By the help of God, we very well can reach that pinnacle. Last but not the least, a Real man would share this with others. Till next time, this has been your favorite PhilAsifer, telling you to take care and be a man!

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50 Comments

50 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Arif Kabir

    August 28, 2012 at 12:26 AM

    Great piece, māshā‘Allāh. I’ve often seen that the best way to get a man to ‘man up’ is to precisely tell him just that. This post also goes far in dealing with those issues that need to be understood by every man.

    • Avatar

      alpha-male

      December 20, 2016 at 11:15 AM

      im quite late for reply but maybe someone just as I read that article now or will do so. there are dozens of bans, orders and advices what woman should/should not, have or have not to do. its really nice that someone came to conclusion that man not anly should but also CAN behave. it means that man is an intelligent being (not drived-by-instincts animal) and not only woman are the only full concious humans to be teached about dignity, modesty, faithfullness and so far. I also want to point out one thing – molesters…. ok, call a spade a spade: sex-animals, who harras woman (nevermind woman is covered enough – i saw fully covered woman harassed by mob) should be disrespected and punished.

  2. Avatar

    Ismail Shaikh

    August 28, 2012 at 12:35 AM

    masha’Allah really good article.

  3. Avatar

    Talha

    August 28, 2012 at 12:39 AM

    Didnt read the whole thing, skimmed thru most of it. but this is only ONE perspective or a very limited perspective. A Real man also stands up for justice and defends his fellow Muslims, weather it be emotionally, verbally, or with his Hands. A Real man isn’t afraid to speak out about injustices. A Real man fixes things that are wrong. I can go on an on with my list of what a Real Man is in my view. But those listed are part of it of course.

    • Avatar

      layth

      September 14, 2012 at 11:22 AM

      Trait # 1: A Real Man Reads
      (A quick note: If you’re a real man, you didn’t groan when reading this first trait.)

    • Avatar

      Heart

      January 23, 2014 at 4:47 AM

      Salaamu alaikum. :) Allah Loves those who are just. :) A thumb up on a good reply is just. A thumb down on a good reply is unjust. See? So were those two thumbs down from Muslims or from the unjust? Hmm.. It’s the little things we do that may not be so little. :) It may also be necessary to repent from giving an unjust thumb down. Right is right or what I like? An Nur 24:49: But if the right is on their side they come to him with all submission. See their trick? See. Allah takes every thing into careful account. Yes, even on this internet screen. Certain words and acts are not dreams. They’re either counted as good or bad deeds. Choose wisely.

  4. Avatar

    ummibaad

    August 28, 2012 at 12:48 AM

    good article. how does one advise someone who is always engaged in talking about girls with their friends in a disrespectful manner?

    • Avatar

      Chore

      August 28, 2012 at 4:24 AM

      Get him married

      • Avatar

        muslim

        September 18, 2012 at 11:28 PM

        not really a solution.. what’s to stop someone from doing that before marriage to after? men need to be taught to respect women and not talk about them like objects regardless of whether they are married or not.

  5. Avatar

    Ahram

    August 28, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    A real man PRAYS!

  6. Avatar

    Abdul-Qadir

    August 28, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    Assalamualaikum,

    This article is what I’m talking about. Power to you my brother, we need more just like this one. May Allah bless your life.

  7. Avatar

    Hujrah Wahhaj

    August 28, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Wow, Alhamdulillah. I’m glad you made the list and I wish more brothers would read it. There’s definitely more that can be added to it as the other posters said, but this is definitely a great start. http://hujrahwahhaj.com

  8. Avatar

    Yasmin

    August 28, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    Jazakallah khair for this great post!

  9. Avatar

    amber jaura

    August 28, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    Great article. I would say these are also the top 10 traits of a real muslim woman

  10. Avatar

    sooopa

    August 28, 2012 at 10:31 PM

    didnt read the article but judging by the picture, a real man is a black man with a melodious voice lool

    • Avatar

      Halima

      September 9, 2012 at 1:59 AM

      Uh….

    • Avatar

      نصير

      September 9, 2012 at 4:41 PM

      It’s amusing that this is a comment though, only because of the countless other posts over the years that don’t speak of the Arab or White men. Just something to point out.

    • Avatar

      Shona

      July 13, 2014 at 3:58 AM

      Jesus said don’t throw pearls to swines. So also u can’t give good advise to fools.

  11. Avatar

    Kirana

    August 29, 2012 at 4:52 AM

    If you are not very literate you can still read as a real man – the book of Nature. :)

  12. Avatar

    Brother

    August 29, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    the most important characteristic that was missing- humbly submits himself to Allah

    • Avatar

      Asif Balouch

      August 29, 2012 at 4:47 PM

      ASA

      Thanks for all the feedback both positive and negative to my article.

      In regards to this comment, “humbly submitting themselves to Allah” well that’s a trait that should come with being a practicing Muslim. I was merely focusing on a Muslim Man’s daily conduct and manners in the face of life situations and mindset in worldly dealings as opposed to the conduct and manners that are prevalent in mainstream non-Muslim dominant society.

      • Avatar

        Heart

        January 23, 2014 at 6:26 AM

        Salaamu alaikum. :) Those brothers spoke the Truth. The most positive word and deed is truly humble. Laa ilaaha illlallah. Islam means submission/humility to Allah. Qur’an 31:19 Be modest in thy bearing and lower thy voice. 25:63 The believers walk on the earth in humility. 53:32 Do not claim purity (from faults) for your selves. Allah knows best who is God-fearing. Humbleness is Islam/G-dliness. Are our words humbly worshiping Allah only or not? Shun every form of shirk. The angels are recording every word and act of ours on this online and offline. Outdoors and indoors. Til the Allah’s Day of Irreversible Judgment.

    • Avatar

      Heart

      January 23, 2014 at 3:06 AM

      Right. I often don’t reply but I kindly had to this time. Submission and humility is all Islam means. That’s the central point of Islam and Qur’an. Prophet Muhammad peace be to him said: the most excellent Jihad is the conquest of self. Pride denies truth and looks down on others. Humility seeks and admits Truth above self. Prophet Muhammad was not a proud or boastful man. He was a humble man. Very meek, humble, and respectful. Would you like a light or firm hand shake? :) Subhan’Allah. Salaamu alaikum. :)

      P.S. The Qur’an is so pure. No holy book is as real to monotheism as the Qur’an. That’s all that matters. The Truth is the monotheism. The first commandment. No holy book defends monotheism against polytheism at every approach except the Qur’an. That’s what a true friend does.

  13. Avatar

    NaeemA

    August 30, 2012 at 12:48 AM

    Article is nice, but why are the brothers from Native Deen shown at the top? Are they Real Men? Should I aspire to become like them? What if my voice isn’t as smooth as theirs? :-)

  14. Pingback: 10 Traits of a Real Man Muslim Style | khidrsthoughts

  15. Avatar

    Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

    August 31, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    ApproveApprove

    • Avatar

      Heart

      January 23, 2014 at 4:55 AM

      Salaamu alaikum. :) Laa ilaaha illallah. Only seek Allah’s approval. No one else’s. Allah takes every thing into careful. Even on this computer screen.

      • Avatar

        Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

        January 23, 2014 at 3:06 PM

        Dear Heart

        Our Comments Policy requires a valid name or Kunyah to be used when commenting. You may also use a blog handle provided your blog is linked, the email address is a valid one, and it is not advertising a product.

        The Approve was actually a mistake and was supposed to approve the comment which was held under moderation due to certain filters. Somehow the approve via email process backfired and Approve ended up being a reple to the comment. :)

        Best Regards
        Comments Team

  16. Avatar

    Mawaddah

    August 31, 2012 at 9:23 PM

    Would the same goes for women? Why not write an article about real women too?

  17. Avatar

    Daniel Nelson

    September 1, 2012 at 1:17 AM

    Beautiful words that r true

  18. Avatar

    Bilal

    September 2, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    Good article except that Prophet Muhammad was not an illiterate. That’s your definition of literacy.

  19. Avatar

    Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

    September 3, 2012 at 11:19 PM

    ApproveApprove

  20. Avatar

    muslim

    September 5, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    “When you start making some bread, you don’t flaunt it like a douche “… really? like a douche? Couldn’t a better adjective be used to inspire our brothers? One that is perhaps less vulgar.

    • Avatar

      Halima

      September 9, 2012 at 1:29 AM

      Super vulgar word I might add….

      • Avatar

        HMK

        September 10, 2012 at 11:22 AM

        Why use this word when your point was already strong without it? Plus, its use contradicted one of the traits of a Real Man….

      • Avatar

        Heart

        January 23, 2014 at 8:01 AM

        Qur’an 49:11 Nor call one another by nicknames; evil is a bad name after faith, and whoever does not repent, these it is that are the unjust. Humor is no excuse.

        5:49 And this (Allah commands): Judge thou between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, but beware of them lest they beguile thee from any of that (teaching) which Allah hath sent down to thee. And if they turn away, be assured that for some of their crime it is Allah’s purpose to punish them. And truly most men are rebellious.

        Audhoo billahi min sharri nafsi.

        The angels are recording every word and deed of ours til the Day of Judgment.

        The root of all good and evil was proven before earth even existed. Humility vs. arrogance. http://harunyahya.com/en/Books/962/the-basic-concepts-in-the/chapter/12440

  21. Avatar

    Halima

    September 9, 2012 at 1:30 AM

    The title reeled me in. Nice topic…something that needs to be discussed.

  22. Pingback: Top 10 Traits of a Real Man (Muslim Style)

  23. Pingback: Real Men « HIS PEACE UPON US

  24. Avatar

    ahmed

    October 25, 2013 at 5:11 AM

    the real man is the target of his self and knows why to came in the world and knows the meanig of life, the real man every time his main knows allaha is waiting for his self. so that every day is doing to salat and knows his family and all family nearly of his house our lives and helping all people can’t get a food or daily meals and helping all peoples of poors they don’t have home and food and any thing he can helping that time

  25. Pingback: Top 10 Traits of a Real Man (Muslim Style) - Mu...

  26. Avatar

    Shadab

    May 13, 2014 at 8:53 PM

    “Glory be to Allah”. Nice article..!! You could have included few more points ofcourse like being just and always speaking the truth, but having said that great effort brother in putting up these traits of a “Real Man”. InshaAllah, Allah will give rewards for your hardwork.

  27. Avatar

    Shona

    July 13, 2014 at 4:07 AM

    I am a christian and was confused as to what qualities should I look for in a husband . Your article has guided me I will also develop such qualities in me.

  28. Avatar

    Vernon

    April 4, 2015 at 8:01 PM

    As a Christian, I applaud the contents of this article!
    Such information transcends all denominations.

    Again, I thank you and may God continue to inspire you.

  29. Avatar

    Ani

    April 12, 2015 at 11:14 PM

    Masha’Allah Asif Bro!!!
    You rock!
    This article gives me hope!!!
    Be the man, dude!!!
    Wasalam Alakum,
    Ani ;)

  30. Avatar

    Anonymous

    May 2, 2015 at 1:11 AM

    Shukran jazeelan. I really moved by what you put a cross on reminding us how real men actually possessed such a nice character. We are living in a world of error where an individual with good qualities are rare to be found. Let us steer away from a trocious things so that good things will become our common habitual.

  31. Avatar

    Tim

    September 20, 2015 at 12:59 PM

    I’m not muslim. Just curious about what it is to be a muslim man. I live in Canada and I’ve been to school and worked with many muslim people. I like to ask questions, get the information from the source I guess you can say. I’ve had one young muslim girl talk about new muslim and old muslims. The “real muslim man” you speak of, would you say its a more modern form of a muslim man?

  32. Pingback: Comment on Top 10 Traits of a Real Man (Muslim Style) by Tim | Souqhub | Blog

  33. Avatar

    Ghulam hussain

    December 12, 2015 at 5:12 PM

    I would like to use this post about ‘top 10 traits of a real man’ on my upcoming muslim marriage website.

    You will be fully linked an referenced I would just like to get your approval to do this.

    Look forward to your reply.

    Ghulam Hussain.

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A master of hadith and Qur’an. A sufi, spiritual guide and teacher to thousands. A pioneer in the establishment of a religious education system. His death reverberated through hearts and across oceans. We are all mourning the loss of a luminary who guided us through increasingly difficult times.

Monday, September 9, turned out to be a day of profound anguish and sorrow for many around the world. In the early morning hours, news of the death of Mawlana* Yusuf Sulayman Motala, fondly known as “Hazrat” (his eminence) to those who were acquainted with him, spread. He had passed away on Sunday at 8:20 pm EST in Toronto, after suffering a heart attack two weeks earlier. (May the Almighty envelope him in His mercy)

His journey in this world had begun more than 70 years ago in the small village of Nani Naroli in Gujarat, India, where he was born on November 25, 1946 (1 Muharram 1366) into a family known for their piety.

His early studies were largely completed at Jami’a Husayniyya, one of the early seminaries of Gujarat, after which he travelled to Mazahir Ulum, the second oldest seminary of the Indian Sub-Continent, in Saharanpur, India, to complete his ‘alimiyya studies. What drew him to this seminary was the presence of one of the most influential and well-known contemporary spiritual guides, Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi (d. 1402/1982), better known as “Hazrat Shaykh.” He had seen Mawlana Zakariyya only briefly at a train stop, but it was enough for him to understand the magnitude of his presence.

Mawlana Yusuf remained in Saharanpur for two years. Despite being younger than many of the other students of Shaykh Zakariya, the shaykh took a great liking to him. Shaykh Zakariya showered him with great attention and even deferred his retirement from teaching Sahih al-Bukhari so that Mawlana Yusuf could study it under his instruction. While in Saharanpur, Mawlana Yusuf also studied under a number of other great scholars, such as Mawlana Muhammad ‘Aqil (author of Al-Durr al-Mandud, an Urdu commentary of Sunan Abi Dawud and current head lecturer of Hadith at the same seminary), Shaykh Yunus Jownpuri (d. 1438/2017) the previous head lecturer of Hadith there), Mawlana As‘adullah Rampuri (d. 1399/1979) and Mufti Muzaffar Husayn (d. 1424/2003).

Upon completion of his studies, Mawlana Yusuf’s marriage was arranged to marry a young woman from the Limbada family that had migrated to the United Kingdom from Gujarat. In 1968, he relocated to the UK and accepted the position of imam at Masjid Zakariya, in Bolton. Although he longed to be in the company of his shaykh, he had explicit instructions to remain in the UK and focus his efforts on establishing a seminary for memorization of Qur’an and teaching of the ‘alimiyya program. The vision being set in motion was to train a generation of Muslims scholars that would educate and guide the growing Muslim community.

Establishing the first Muslim seminary, in the absence of any precedent, was a daunting task. The lack of support from the Muslim community, the lack of integration into the wider British community, and the lack of funds made it seem an impossible endeavour. And yet, Mawlana Yusuf never wavered in his commitment and diligently worked to make the dream of his teacher a reality. In 1973 he purchased the derelict Aitken Sanatorium in the village of Holcombe, near Bury, Lancashire. What had once been a hospice for people suffering from tuberculosis, would become one of the first fully-fledged higher-education Islamic institutes outside of the Indian-Subcontinent teaching the adapted-Nizami syllabus.

The years of struggle by Maulana Yusuf to fulfil this vision paid off handsomely. Today, after four decades, Darul Uloom Al Arabiyya Al Islamiyya, along with its several sister institutes, also founded by Mawlana Yusuf, such as the Jamiatul Imam Muhammad Zakariya seminary in Bradford for girls, have produced well over 2,000 British born (and other international students) male and female ‘alimiyya graduates – many of whom are working as scholars and serving communities across the UK, France, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, the US, Canada, Barbados, Trinidad, Panama, Saudi Arabia, India and New Zealand. Besides these graduates, a countless number of individuals have memorized the Qur’an at these institutes. Moreover, many of the graduates of the Darul Uloom and its sister institutes have set up their own institutes, such as Jamiatul Ilm Wal Huda in Blackburn, Islamic Dawah Academy in Leicester, Jami’ah al-Kawthar in Lancaster, UK, and Darul Uloom Palmela in Portugal, to just mention a few of the larger ones. Within his lifetime, Mawlana Yusuf saw first-hand the fruit of his labours – witnessing his grand students (graduates from his students’ institutes) providing religious instruction and services to communities around the world in their local languages. What started as a relationship of love between a student and teacher, manifested into the transmission of knowledge across continents. In some countries, such as the UK and Portugal, one would be hard-pressed to find a Muslim who had not directly or indirectly benefited from him.

Mawlana Yusuf was a man with deep insights into the needs of Western contemporary society, one that was very different from the one he had grown up and trained in. With a view to contributing to mainstream society, Mawlana Yusuf encouraged his graduates to enter into further education both in post-graduate Islamic courses and western academia, and to diversify their fields of learning through courses at mainstream UK universities. As a result, many ‘alimiyya graduates of his institutes are trained in law, mainstream medicine, natural medicine and homeopathy, mental health, child protection, finance, IT, education, chaplaincy, psychology, philosophy, pharmacy, physics, journalism, engineering, architecture, calligraphy, typography, graphic design, optometry, social services, public health, even British Sign Language. His students also include several who have completed PhDs and lecture at universities. His vision was to train British-born (or other) Muslim scholars who would be well versed in contemporary thought and discipline along with their advanced Islamic learning, equipping them to better contribute to society.

Despite his commitment to the establishment of a public good, the shaykh was an immensely private person and avoided seeking accolade or attention. For many decades he refused invitations to attend conferences or talks around the country, choosing to focus on his students and his family, teaching the academic syllabus and infusing the hearts of many aspirants with the love of Allah through regular gatherings of remembrance (dhikr) and spiritual retreats (i’tikaf) in the way of his shaykh’s Chishti Sufi order.

During my entire stay with him at Darul Uloom (1985–1997), I can say with honesty that I did not come across a single student who spoke ill of him. He commanded such awe and respect that people would find it difficult to speak with him casually. And yet, for those who had the opportunity to converse with him, knew that he was the most compassionate, humble, and loving individual.

He was full of affection for his students and colleagues and had immense concern for the Muslim Ummah, especially in the West. He possessed unparalleled forbearance and self-composure. When he taught or gave a talk, he spoke in a subdued and measured tone, as though he was weighing every word, knowing the import it carried. He would sit, barely moving and without shifting his posture. Even after a surgical procedure for piles, he sat gracefully teaching us Sahih al-Bukhari. Despite the obvious pain, he never made an unpleasant expression or winced from the pain.

Anyone who has listened to his talks or read his books can bear testimony to two things: his immense love for the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his love for Shaykh Mawlana Muhammad Zakariya Kandhlawi (may Allah have mercy on him). It is probably hard to find a talk in which he did not speak of the two. His shaykh was no doubt his link to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) in both his hadith and spiritual transmissions.

Over the last decade, he had retired from most of his teaching commitments (except Sahih al-Bukhari) and had reduced meeting with people other than his weekly dhikr gatherings. His time was spent with his family and young children and writing books. His written legacy comprises over 20 titles, mostly in Urdu but also a partial tafsir of the Qur’an in classical Arabic.

After the news of his heart attack on Sunday, August 25, and the subsequent effects to his brain, his well-wishers around the world completed hundreds of recitals of the Qur’an, several readings of the entire Sahih al-Bukhari, thousands of litanies and wirds of the formula of faith (kalima tayyiba), and gave charity in his name. However, Allah Most High willed otherwise and intended for him to depart this lowly abode to begin his journey to the next. He passed away two weeks later and reports state that approximately 4,000 people attended his funeral. Had his funeral been in the UK, the number of attendees would have multiplied several folds. But he had always shied away from large crowds and gatherings and maybe this was Allah Most High’s gift to him after his death. He was 75 (in Hijra years, and 72 in Gregorian) at the time of his death and leaves behind eight children and several grandchildren.

Mawlana Yusuf educated, inspired and nourished the minds and hearts of countless across the UK and beyond. May Allah Almighty bless him with the loftiest of abodes in the Gardens of Firdaws in the company of Allah’s beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) and grant all his family, students, and cherishers around the world beautiful patience.

Dr Mufti Abdur-Rahman Mangera
Whitethread Institute, London
(A fortunate graduate of Darul Uloom Bury, 1996–97)

*a learned Muslim scholar especially in India often used as a form of address

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Reflection On The Legacy of Mufti Umer Esmail | Imam Azhar Subedar

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“An ocean of knowledge which once resided on the seabed of humbleness has now submerged below it, forever.”

“Why didn’t you tell me!! You call me your younger brother, but you couldn’t even tell me you were ailing?!”

I could’ve called you or visited you so I could apologize for all the pain I caused you; thank you for all the good you did for me throughout my life despite all that pain. if nothing else, just so I could say goodbye to you.”

(My selfish mind continued to cry out as I stood in front of his grave— praying.)

As I sat down to compile my thoughts, upon returning home, I put my feelings of loss aside and tried to analyze your decision of not informing me about your illness from a different perspective.

Possibly, your own.

Why would you tell me?

This was just like you. You never wanted to hurt a soul; forget about making them worry about you, augmenting their own worries. For you were the sponge for our worries, the shock absorber of our concerns, and the solid wall that shouldered the pain of those around him.

You weren’t just a big brother, my big brother, you were a true human. A lesson on humanity.

You were always there for me.

“I GOT A QUESTION” sent at 2 AM.

“Sure” was your response.

We spoke for over 40 min.

That night.

Your strength reflected my weakness- always urging me to do better, be more like you.

I was told you were in hospital by a close family member early Friday morning before Jummah prayers. I was supposed to call you. That was my responsibility. However, the preparation of the Friday Sermon was my excuse not to do so.

As I exited from delivering the Friday services, I received a message from you, the one who was spending the last days of his life in a hospital, never to be seen outside of the confines of those walls ever again.

That message you wrote- you knew me so well.

“As-salaam alaikum, I thought you were already American?”

(You were catching up with me as I had become an American citizen the day before. You wanted to congratulate me, without complaining to me.)

“I heard you are in the hospital?! How are you? What’s going on?” I asked immediately.

“Getting some treatment done. Mubarak on your American citizenship” was your response.

Diversion. A stubborn man with a heart of gold. You wanted to celebrate people even at the cost of your own life.

Your last words to me were digital, even though your connection with me spans a lifetime. As much as I wish I had heard your voice one last time, I try to find the beauty in that communication too as I can save and cherish those last words.

We grew up together in Canada in the ’80s- Mufti Umer and I. Our fathers were tight- childhood buddies. He ended up becoming the inspiration for my family to trek towards a path devoted to Islam, beginning with my brother and then myself.

He was my support from the time when I came to England to study at the Dar Al Uloom and wanted to call it quits and go home, to when he hosted me when I visited him in Austin in 2002, all the way till 2019, after I was married and settled with kids he loved like his own.

He visited us here in Dallas and had met them in his unique way of showering them with love. And why wouldn’t he? My wife and I are here under one roof all because of his earnest desire to help people.

He introduced us to each other.

“I want you to marry my younger brother.” A message he sent to my wife over 17 years ago.

She was his student. He was her mentor, support beam, confidante, and best friend. (Well, we all feel like he was our best friend, only because he truly was.)

I am sharing my life story not only because he was an integral part of it, but throughout (he was also a major part of my wife’s life when she really needed him) but because that final text message wrapped it all up- the gift that he was to me and my family. It showed how much he was invested in us as individuals, as a couple, and as a family.

That message wrote:

“I thought you’ve been a citizen since marriage.”

(FRIDAY, AUGUST 30TH @ 3: 07 PM)

This is just my story featuring Mufti Umer Ismail.

I am confident that there are thousands more out there without exaggeration.

I’ll conclude with a word he corrected for me as I misspelled it on my Facebook page a few months ago when Molana Haaris Mirza, a dear colleague, passed away in New York. He didn’t do it publicly, he did it through that same Facebook text messenger that kept us in touch- with love and sincere care for me in his heart.

“As-salaam alaikum the word is Godspeed. Sorry for being [a] grammar freak.”

(MARCH 28TH, 2019 @6: 04 PM)

Godspeed, my dear brother. Godspeed.

Azhar Subedar

imamAzhar.com

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The Passing Of A Mentor: Shaykh Mufti Mohamed Umer Esmail

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The past couple days I haven’t been able to write, thinking and reflecting over the passing of a great man, a mentor, someone I consider among the people that helped me become who I am. He was the Imam of Austin, a man who dedicated 18 years of his life to the community I grew up in and spent a good portion of my young adult life, Austin, Texas.

It’s an understatement to say that his passing was a shock to us all. A young 45-year-old, who left behind a loving wife and three daughters. It sent a powerful moment of reflection to us all. God loves those who work for His Sake and as our Beloved Prophet (peace be on him) has said that God said,

“… I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about taking the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him.” (Bukhari)

There is no doubt that Sh Umer Esmail was one of those faithful servants of God. A pillar in the community in his work. Someone that worked at every level and left a mark in the lives of people. He was involved in all aspects of our lives; he was there for the baby showers (aqiqahs) celebrating life, gatherings where one of our young finish reading the Quran for the first time (khatm), he was there for when we married; he conducted the nikah (wedding ceremony) of my own sister, he welcomed us to faith when one of us accepted Islam, he was the counselor when there were marital problems, he listened to the struggles of thousands and imparted the blessing of Prophetic wisdom to all walks of life, and he was there in sickness & in passing of the members of our community in their final moments and prayed over them in their funeral.

Now we have prayed over his. Thousands came to his janazah.

Mufti Umer Islamil Janazah

Moments of loss allow us all to really reflect over the impact we have left in life. Everyone remembers in sadness the person who we lost and the impact they made in their life. For me it was no different. I remember Shaykh Umer’s soft voice and calm tone. He had a soothing presence that would render you calm no matter what you were going through. His advice had helped countless university students and others going through things from crisis of faith to personal struggle or in need of advice. He taught with compassion.

One thing that struck me almost immediately, how dedicated he was to his family and his community. He taught that true impact was being in the service of people in what is tangible. Shaykh Umer was an embodiment of that.

He wasn’t involved in the non-issues of social media or the issues of matters that come and go. He was a hallmark of positivity in people’s lives and lived the Prophetic calling, servitude to God and service to creation.

I was reading over our exchanges in messages over the years remembering fondly moments with him. I remembered his soft tone in his sermons, and sometimes his humor where he literally enacted in an Eid khutbah the impact of superheroes but left us with powerful wisdom at the end. The lesson of empowering and being superheroes for others. I remembered when I went to Madinah to study, how happy he was for me. He would always remind me of the responsibility to the community. Knowledge must be imparted to those closest to you first, he would say. He would keep in contact with me and in his humility would ask me questions to ask my teachers for him.

Dec 4, 2011 he said, “As salam Alaikum, I make dua your studies are doing fine. I was wondering if you could ask your (teachers) …”

He kept a secret once when my wife and I planned to come to town to completely surprise my mother and father for my sister’s marriage nikah ceremony.

He wrote “I’ll keep hush about it. Mubarak to your and your family… let me know if you want to perform the marriage. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) did his daughter’s nikah, big bro doing little sis’s nikah.”

I responded, “I think [the] best thing to ask my family iA once I see them, I’ll talk to them about it. You are our Imam, after all, Sh Umer : )”

Every time I visited Austin, he would always insist and invite me to give the sermon and conduct classes. He was a scholar who understood that we all work together in one service to the community.

He was a silent giant that many did not know. He had not only memorized the Quran but taught the different recitations of the Quran (the qira’at) for over a decade. On Seekers Guidance, he was a specialist in financial transactions in Islam and studied with some of the most prolific scholars of our time, ie. Mufti Taqi Usmani and others.

All in all, that one lesson just rings in my heart and soul: his mark and legacy was in the lives he touched and in his dedication to a community. In an increasingly digital world where our relationships are even increasingly becoming digital, he lived and imparted that the real, lived experiences we have are what matter the most. With your family first, your community, and those around you. Shaykh Umer touched our lives because he was present and invested in these relationships.

If one can summarize his life’s work it was the example of our Beloved Prophet peace be on him lived by, a mercy to mankind, and as he said,

“Indeed, God did not send me to be harsh or to turn people away, rather he sent me to teach and bring ease.” (Muslim). The gentle and humble teacher, whose presence gave ease.

He wrote to me last month informing me that he would be coming on the minor pilgrimage (Umrah) this December. We consider this an honor and invitation from God to walk in the footsteps of the prophets and Prophet Abraham to the Sacred House that is a mark of the servitude of God. As a friend said, little did we know that “he went to meet Allah in a different way.”

Imam Al Ghazali quotes in his Ihya, Imam Ali (may God be pleased with him) said once,

“The collectors and keepers of wealth have died even though they’re alive, but the scholars live on and remain so long as time is in existence.”

Shaykh Umer will forever live in our hearts and Insha Allah, God willing, in our prayers. It is no surprise that our Prophet said that scholars are the inheritors of Prophets and that the best of people are those that teach good to others, the best that we can leave behind is the knowledge that carries on.

Shaykh Umer remains in our lives because of all of this. May his legacy remain and may we live up to that legacy to carry it on. May God have mercy on him. May his family be blessed, protected, and reunite with him in the highest levels of Paradise.

I could not help as I read his messages except to respond. I know he won’t be able to read it in this life, but we believe that our actions in this life make a mark in the next. I hope I can tell him when I see him what I wrote to him after he had passed, “I love you Shaykh Umer. May these exchanges witness for us on the Day of Judgment. May we be united with our beloved Prophet peace be on him with our families hoping to be gathered as having served Allah’s faith.”

Please donate to the fund for his family:
https://www.facebook.com/donate/1016962988662732/10219028206712024/

Hasib
Muharram 1441/September 2019

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