Dilemmas of Muslim Dads

2 April 2005

Here’s a scenario for current (and future) dads: you and your son are walking along the high street on a busy Saturday afternoon, enjoying the sunshine and window shopping. It’s your wife’s birthday tomorrow, and you and your little bachu have decided to get her something really special. As you walk past the Ann Summers store, your eye catches the titillating display in the window. You lower your gaze and decide that such gifts are left for another day. You look down at your son – not quite a boy, not yet a man – and his eyes are glued to the offending window. Taken aback by his bold interest you:

a) give him a stern “Oi! Lower your gaze you foul young man… is that what they are teaching you at school!” and promise a serious licking when you get home, accompanied by a trip to the mosque and immediate enrolment in the local madrassah;

b) pat him on the back and smile broadly. “That’s my boy,” you say proudly to anyone who’ll listen. “The apple doesn’t fall from the tree, he’s got the mojo just like his dad!”

c) hurry past the store, but take it up with him over halal chicken and chips later. Let him know that he can talk to you about growing up and that Muslims aren’t ashamed to talk about love and sex. The last thing you want is him learning about the birds and the bees from Sex in the City or Maxim.

Being a Muslim dad has never really been easy. Being a Muslim dad today is almost heroic. It about navigating through our children’s increasingly complicated lives, balancing work and family and making ends meet in ways our fathers never imagined. Today’s Muslim dad is expected to be a superman – loving and firm, empathetic and decisive, a democrat and an authoritarian. Given the importance of fatherhood in the Islamic tradition, it is surprising so little is written or said about it these days. The April 2005 the Fathers Direct national conference includes – as it did in 2004 – a specialist forum on Fatherhood in Islam sponsored by The Muslim College, An-Nisa Society and QNews, who are contributing to this website section too. These are small, but significant steps in giving Muslims dads hope that they can pull off the impossible and be the kind of fathers that the Prophet wanted them to be. Email us with your tips for managing Muslim fatherhood in the 21st Century . . .

An earlier version of this article was the introduction to the Fatherhood section of Q-News, Edition 355, April 2004, http://www.q-news.com