Real men don’t cry. They weep
Real men don’t cry. They weep
Not too long ago, a German study came to the conclusion that not only do women cry considerably more often than men, but when they do so it is generally because they feel inadequate, are confronted by difficult situations or recall past events. Nothing ground-breaking there then.
After all, we are living in a time when it is has become common practice to pour scorn over any feminine quality, from female sensitivity to reproductivity, society is now also reminding us that a woman’s tendency to cry more somehow indicates a weakness on her part, inadequacy and a lack of control over her emotions. In a world where strength, ruthlessness and aggression are deemed praiseworthy qualities, it is hardly surprising that such an interpretation has been made of the fact that women cry.
What I would like to posit at this point is that the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was someone who was not only very much in touch with his emotions, but was also recorded on many accounts of being in a state of weeping!
As reminded by a friend the other day, the Prophet (SAW) was surrounded by women. His sons did not survive past infanthood and so his home life was spent predominantly in the company of his wives and daughters. When we learn that the Prophet (SAW) told us that “the best of you is the best to his family and I am the best amongst you to my family” [Narrated by At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah], that “none but a noble man treats women in an honourable manner and none but an ignoble treats women disgracefully,” [Narrated by At-Tirmidhi] and that “whoever is deprived of all gentleness is deprived of all good,” [Narrated by Muslim] we are reminded of his deep respect and admiration of what society has deemed (negatively) as ‘female’ traits. After all, we know that the Prophet (SAW) had the softest of hearts; how could a heart which carried the weight of the Quran have been otherwise?
The Prophet (SAW) would weep in prayer and weep while listening to the Quran. He would weep out of mercy for the sick and dead, fear and compassion for his Ummah, and out of a deep fear of Allah (SWT).
The Prophet (SAW) cared deeply for his Ummah and was also concerned for the eternal wellbeing of his followers. Once Surah An-Nisa was recited to him, the Prophet’s (SAW) eyes overflowed with tears upon the verse “how will it be then, when We bring from each nation a witness, and bring you [O Muhammad] as a witness against these people?” [Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]. In another instance, the Prophet (SAW) came across a group of people digging a grave and when the companions reached him they saw his tears had soaked the earth and he turned to them and said ‘O my brothers! Prepare for a day like this!” [Narrated by Al-Bukhari]. On yet another occasion after reciting verses which mentioned statements from Prophet Ibrahim and Prophet Isa (AS), the Prophet (SAW) cried “O Allah (SWT)! My Ummah! My Ummah!” Allah (SWT) then said to the Angel Jibril (AS), “O Jibril, go to Muhammad (SAW), and your Lord knows, and ask him what makes him cry”. The Prophet (SAW) told Jibril (AS) that just how Ibrahim and Isa (AS) were concerned for their Ummah so was he also concerned for his Ummah. To this Allah (SWT) told Jibril to reply “We will please you regarding your followers, and will not cause you grief”. [Narrated by Muslim]
The most righteous state of weeping is to weep out of fear of Allah (SWT). It is to weep for His forgiveness, to weep in fear of His punishment and to weep for His mercy. To do so gains the servant one of the highest of rewards: shade on a day when there will be no other shade. The Prophet (SAW) has told us that one who remembers Allah (SWT) when he is alone and his eyes flow with tears will be amongst the seven granted Allah’s (SWT) shade on the Day of Judgement [Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim], and that the eyes of the one who weeps out of fear of Allah (SWT) will never be touched by the fire of Hell [Narrated by At-Tirmidhi].
Such fear is not supposed to seize an individual and render them inactive. It is a fear produced from understanding and recognising the true purpose of life, and consequently is a fear that should move us to act with integrity and live life to our full potential.
To conclude then, with an answer to whether or not crying is something which is a praiseworthy act, the question I wish to posit to those who object is, when we will be gathered with our deeds in front of our Creator with our deeds-good and bad, and there will be the Gardens of Paradise on the one side, and the blazing fires of the Hellfire on the other as eternal abodes, how can we not but cry?
By Sister Abida