by Fudia Muhammad
If you are the mother or father of a daughter, surely one of your many prayers for her is that she will one day have a meaningful courtship with an outstanding young man – which will ultimately lead to a healthy, strong marriage. The prayers, of course, are the same for our sons. The additional burden that parents carry when rearing a son is that they remain keenly aware that one day, if it is the Will of Allah (God), their sons will have to be the head of their own households. This responsibility entails many things; but primarily the man is charged by Allah (God) as being the spiritual leader of his family. He must also be a good provider, maintainer and protector of his wife and children.
The head of anything leads the body. The body of organizations and families are a reflection of the condition of the head. Black women and children are especially in need of good husbands and fathers to return to their God-given position as the natural head of the family. Every mother and father of a son is in a crucial position because preparation for manhood and fatherhood begins as a child. Learning how to be responsible for self and others should begin in our youth; not as adults. So, the role of parents is to prepare our children for adulthood, a time which will constitute approximately 85% of their lifespan!
The physical differences between boys and girls are obvious; but as early as the toddler years, the evidence is clear that there are distinctive differences in the character and behavior traits of boys and girls that bear witness to the nature in which God created them from the womb. The brain of a boy is structurally different from the brain of a girl. Allah (God) intentionally wired our brains differently to emphasize different character and behavior traits so that our natures would complement each other, not repel one another. Hundreds of studies have been done in various countries over the decades that highlight innate differences in boys and girls. These differences do not make one superior to the other; but being aware of these natural differences allow parents to rear their children according to their nature and not societal trends.
According to these studies, girls are more in-tuned to people’s emotions while boys are more interested in objects. Research shows that very early on, boys have an advantage when it comes to spatial skills, “the ability to solve problems involving size, distance and the relationship between objects.” Boys are certainly faster and have more brute strength than their counterparts, but girls have more endurance and can withstand more heat. Girls that are exposed to higher than normal levels of testosterone in the womb also show an above average interest in trucks and cars – an interest that boys generally express naturally. Beginning in the womb, boys are more physically active than girls and are also more aggressive. However, with environmental factors being equal, girls consistently begin talking sooner than boys and maintain larger vocabularies.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches that a woman should be a comforter and consoler to a man who is working to be a good provider, protector and maintainer. The aforementioned innate qualities make her the perfect candidate for this role. These physiological differences were clearly designed by Allah (God). Evidence of the nature in which He created us is also provided in the scriptures. The Holy Qur’an reads, “He it is Who created you from a single soul, and of the same did He make his mate, that he might find comfort in her” (7: 189). It also reads, “And of His signs is this, that He created mates for you from yourselves that you might find quiet of mind in them, and He put between you love and compassion. Surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect” (Holy Qur’an 30: 21). Referencing the man, the Holy Qur’an states, “Men are the maintainers of women, with what Allah has made some of them to excel others and with what they spend out of their wealth” (4: 34).
Every child, boy or girl, needs their mother to be the primary nurturer and most influential person in their life from birth through adolescence. She is the first nurse, teacher and trainer for a reason. But as mothers, we must be careful to remain mindful of the nature in which our sons were created. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said that a concern in the Black community is that we are rearing our daughters to be strong and our sons to be weak. As a consequence, there are too few men in the community to show Black men how to be real men. So, what can we do to reverse this trend?
Boys are naturally aggressive; that aggression should not be destroyed, just redirected. In his book, A Torchlight for America, The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan wrote, “We need to do more to curb and guide the natural aggressive tendencies among young men. In the wealthy communities the rich are able to channel the aggression of their young men into meaningful activities.” Boys in particular need athletic involvement – competition in league and team sports or camps; even regular access to an athletic facility used to channel their aggression will help. There is also a need in our sons to prove to themselves and their parents that they can handle increased independence and responsibilities. Mothers of sons have a tendency to be overly protective and doting – this can feed weakness and dependence instead of fostering strength and autonomy.
This does not exempt our boys from things like household chores. They should learn how to cook, wash dishes, clean, do laundry, etc. But more importantly, they must gain a level of comfort and mastery in those skills that involve mechanics – car maintenance, lawn care, appliance repairs, home restoration and basic construction. This does not mean that our girls cannot also acquire these skills, but our boys MUST have them! It is also important for a young man to be physically fit and know how to defend himself and those he loves. He must always remain prepared by regularly practicing and training in the art of self-defense. Every woman wants the peace of mind of knowing that her husband is not just willing, but physically able to defend her.
While it may be ideal for our daughters not to leave the home of her parents until she is ready to move directly into the home of her husband; this is not necessarily ideal for our sons. Getting a handle on real-life responsibilities like sustaining an income, paying bills, saving and budgeting all while maintaining a household, outside of the protective bubble of his parents is necessary before the addition of a family.
When our boys reach adolescence, which starts at age 10; he needs a man, ideally his father, to now become the primary and most influential person in his life. We know that there are exceptions – many single women have and are rearing boys to become outstanding men. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan is a notable example that it absolutely can be done. But, it is very difficult because it requires a special woman, who must be willing to go outside of her nature to teach and train a boy to become a man.
In the Nation of Islam we are taught, “Make all men and boys join the F.O.I. Train them fast and make them brave fighters willing at any time to give their lives for Allah’s sake and righteousness.” The men’s class in the Nation of Islam is called the Fruit of Islam (F.O.I.). It is the name given to the military Training of the men that belong to Islam in North America. This class is private, meaning women and girls are not allowed. The Sisters also have a private class that complements the Brothers’ class, called the M.G.T. & G.C.C. (Muslim Girls’ Training & General Civilization Class). Men must be properly taught and trained on how to become protectors, providers and maintainers; all while being the spiritual head of their families. These skills will not be infused into them through osmosis, they must be taught and trained.
It is very difficult for most parents, especially mothers, to allow their children to venture out into adulthood. Rarely does a parent believe the child is ready because it is impossible to prepare them for every scenario they could possibly encounter – but that is not the objective. We cannot protect our children from all trials, difficulties or pain because struggle is ordained by Allah (God) for each and every one of us. They have to go through what Allah (God) has deemed necessary for their development. However, we can help them to not experience the EXACT same trials, difficulties and pain that we endured by sharing our experiences and doing our best to give them an advantage through teaching and training.
Water seeks its own level. So, if we give our sons a strong foundation and help them to prepare as best we can, to become good husbands and fathers, then God-willing, they will attract a young woman whose parents have done the same – they will complement one another and be on their way to building a healthy and powerful union.
(Sister Fudia Muhammad is a member of Muhammad Mosque No. 64 in Austin, Texas. She is married to Student Minister Robert L. Muhammad and they have been blessed with four children. Sister Fudia holds a Master’s degree in Education – she is a writer, an educator and an advocate for God-centered child-rearing.)