Wisdom, Human, Understanding Patriarchy

Issue 1041 » March 8, 2019 - Rajab 1, 1440

Living The Quran

Luqman (Luqman) Sura 31: Verse 12 (partial)

"And We gave Luqman wisdom."

Know that wisdom is correct activity or correct speech. Correct activity is to preserve the balance of interaction with self between fear and hope, with the people between tenderness and cajolery, and with the Real between awe and intimacy. Correct speech is that you do not mix levity with the mention of the Real, you preserve reverence, and you connect the end of every talk with its beginning. The wise man is he who puts everything in its own place, does each work as is worthy of that work, and ties each thing to its equal.

This wisdom comes forth from someone who renounces this world and perseveres in worship. Mustafa said, "When someone is a renunciant in this world, God will give wisdom a home in his heart and bring his tongue to speak with it."

Ali ibn Abi Talib said, "Vivify the hearts and seek for them the fine qualities of wisdom, for they become weary just as bodies become weary."

Husayn ibn Mansur said, "Wisdom is an arrow, and the hearts of the faithful are its targets. The shooter is God, so error is made nonexistent."

It has been said, "Wisdom is God-given knowledge." It has also been said, "It is the light that distinguishes between inspiration and Satanic disquiet."

It was said to one of them, "Whence is born this light in the heart?" He said, "From reflective thought and heedfulness, and these are bequeathed by sorrow and hunger."

Compiled From:
"Kashf al-Asrar wa Uddat al-Abrar" - Rashid al-Din Maybud,. p. 388

Understanding The Prophet's Life


Abdullah ibn Busr reports that the Prophet (peace be upon him) stopped at his father's place and he gave him a rug. The Prophet sat on it.

This hadith does not tell us anything about what went on between the Prophet and his host. The reporter merely mentions how the Prophet was received. Apparently, there was nothing special on this occasion to comment on. It shows that the Prophet's companions reported his every movement, action, and word. In this instance, nothing of importance took place. Therefore, the reporter merely mentions that the Prophet sat on the offered rug.

Muslims never tire of stressing that the Prophet was a human being in every sense of the word. His feelings and manners were what is normal with all men, except that he had a greater share of every good thing, and was without fault in his morality and manners. He behaved naturally. He sat the way that was most comfortable at the time and place. Hence, his companions report what they saw of him, giving us a detailed picture of his character.

Compiled From:
"Al-Adab al-Mufrad with Full Commentary: A Perfect Code of Manners and Morality" - Adil Salahi


Understanding Patriarchy

Patriarchy is the single most life-threatening social disease assaulting the male body and spirit in our nation. Yet most men do not use the word "patriarchy" in everyday life. Most men never think about patriarchy—what it means, how it is created and sustained. Many men in our nation would not be able to spell the word or pronounce it correctly. The word "patriarchy" just is not a part of their normal everyday thought or speech. Men who have heard and know the word usually associate it with women's liberation, with feminism, and therefore dismiss it as irrelevant to their own experiences.

Patriarchy is a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence.

Psychotherapist John Bradshaw's clear-sighted definition of patriarchy in Creating Love is a useful one: "The dictionary defines 'patriarchy' as a 'social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family in both domestic and religious functions'." Patriarchy is characterized by male domination and power. He states further that "patriarchal rules still govern most of the world's religious, school systems, and family systems." Describing the most damaging of these rules, Bradshaw lists "blind obedience—the foundation upon which patriarchy stands; the repression of all emotions except fear; the destruction of individual willpower; and the repression of thinking whenever it departs from the authority figure's way of thinking." Patriarchal thinking shapes the values of our culture. We are socialized into this system, females as well as males. Most of us learned patriarchal attitudes in our family of origin, and they were usually taught to us by our mothers. These attitudes were reinforced in schools and religious institutions.

Clearly, we cannot dismantle a system as long as we engage in collective denial about its impact on our lives. Patriarchy requires male dominance by any means necessary, hence it supports, promotes, and condones sexist violence. We hear the most about sexist violence in public discourses about rape and abuse by domestic partners. But the most common forms of patriarchal violence are those that take place in the home between patriarchal parents and children. The point of such violence is usually to reinforce a dominator model, in which the authority figure is deemed ruler over those without power and given the right to maintain that rule through practices of subjugation, subordination, and submission.

Keeping males and females from telling the truth about what happens to them in families is one way patriarchal culture is maintained. A great majority of individuals enforce an unspoken rule in the culture as a whole that demands we keep the secrets of patriarchy, thereby protecting the rule of the father. This rule of silence is upheld when the culture refuses everyone easy access even to the word "patriarchy." Most children do not learn what to call this system of institutionalized gender roles, so rarely do we name it in everyday speech. This silence promotes denial. And how can we organize to challenge and change a system that cannot be named?

Until we can collectively acknowledge the damage patriarchy causes and the suffering it creates, we cannot address male pain. We cannot demand for men the right to be whole, to be givers and sustainers of life. Obviously, some patriarchal men are reliable and even benevolent caretakers and providers, but still they are imprisoned by a system that undermines their mental health. Patriarchy promotes insanity. It is at the root of the psychological ills troubling men in our nation. Nevertheless, there is no mass concern for the plight of men.

Compiled From:
"The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love" - Bell Hooks