"How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man?"-Bob Dylan , 'Blowin in the wind'.

What defines a man? Is it due to his ever growing beard or the receding hairlines? Or is it because he reads newspaper and is enthralled by politics? Or because of his voice, when he talks and everyone else listens to him?

There are clear signs which signify the metamorphosis of a boy to a teenager. Voice becomes husky. Hair starts to bud out in barren places before. And you start to have a hobby; collecting stamps, reading, music, you know, the cliche stuff. The pimples. Hormones go haywire and you start peeking at the opposite sex. However, the jump from being a mere teenager to a man is a mystifying leap in a boy's life. Generations after generations, the baton is passed down from the grandfather to the father, and the father then passes it down to the son. Like a 4x100m relay.

'Hey son. Take this baton. You're a man now. Go, and change the world.'

The thing is, nobody really knows when they'll accept that baton of manhood. The borderline between a teenager and an adult or a man is obscured in the clouds.

But really, tell me, what defines a man? Car loans? Mortgages? Can you say that a man is a male who starts paying bills on his own? Or the one who ties the knot and commits himself to a girl? Or is a man the person who summons all of his wisdom to solve all the problems he faces? Or when he decides to have kids of his own?

Those questions were rather rhetorical. Nobody really knows when does he become a man. And Bob Dylan answers the question in the same song, 'the answer my friend is blowing in the wind.'

And as for me, there are certain things which still spark that youthful exuberance, that, of course, excludes my looks because i do look like a man in a midlife crisis; the receding hairline, untrimmed edges of my beard, the thick lens which adorn my glasses. I still support the same Liverpool side, i still listen to some music from my youth, i still waste a lot of my time, which i think a man should not be doing since he knows there are much better things to do, like saving the universe. Well, i still buy S-sized t-shirts thinking that my body is as sexy as it was 4 or 5 years ago. And i only realized that my dream of becoming a musician passed away 3 years ago, all the time i was already deep into studying medicine.

I am still stuck in that man-boy realm, that intermediate stage which neither defines me as a youth nor a man.

Of course, i am waiting for that signal too, the signal for me to take hold of the baton and become a man by heart and by soul. That's the real mysterious part, because the signal almost always never comes. It's just pure instincts, i guess, which make a man realize he has entered a new phase of his life, manhood. The Qur'an states that a man would fully attain the age of full strength at 40, an age where one could assume that he has enough experience to weigh and solve each problem as it arrives at his doorstep. The Prophet received the first revelation when he was forty himself, while meditating in a cave on Mount Hira'.

46:15 We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. The carrying of the (child) to his weaning is (a period of) thirty months. At length, when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years, he says, "O my Lord! Grant me that I may be grateful for Thy favour which Thou has bestowed upon me, and upon both my parents, and that I may work righteousness such as Thou mayest approve; and be gracious to me in my issue. Truly have I turned to Thee and truly do I bow (to Thee) in Islam."

And as Russia celebrates its Men's day on the 23rd of February (actually it's a day to celebrate people involved with the army, but has evolved to become the men's day), i would like to wish all my male friends, may Allah make us more bold in our judgement, more wisdomful and hopefully more handsome for the years to come. Let us all become better people.

Happy men's day.
top