Revisiting the Role and Significance of Man in Family

Revisiting the Role and Significance of Man in Family

The Creator of the world has created the man and women to complete one another and facilitate one another's development‌

Table of Contents

Introduction. 2

Manhood: an Identity which is the Product of Natural Human Inclinations. 3

Seeking to Earn the Love of Woman, the Manifestation of Man’s Nature. 5

Man’s Strategic Role in the Institution of Marriage. 7

Man as the Manager of the Family. 11

Masculine Jealousy, the Protector of the Integrity of the Family. 14

Conclusion: The Decline of Noble Masculine Inclinations, the Reason behind the Collapse of the Institution of Family and the Helplessness of Women. 16











The purpose of the creation of mankind in this world has been to give them a chance to prepare themselves for an eternal life in the hereafter, a life which constitutes the ultimate goal of human creation.[1]

The creation of the world has been an initial stage of creation which would culminate in the creation of mankind. Therefore the creation of mankind and his spiritual development toward perfection has been the ultimate goal of the creation.[2]

This, however, would not have been realized except by offering mankind, both men and women, freewill[3]; this unique ability would then enable them to choose, if they wished, to use material means toward both material and spiritual growth and attain a blissful eternal life in the end.[4]

The Creator of the world has created the man and women to complete one another and facilitate one another’s development[5]. However, development, whether material or spiritual, is only possible within the framework of family.[6] This is because the sole system which can bring about social recognition through the convergence of man and woman is the family system[7].

Accordingly, the studying the significance of man is impossible without  studying woman, since the Creator has created man and women with equal means with which they may be able to achieve material and spiritual goals.

It is noteworthy, that the gender, physical, and physiologic difference between man and woman and the differences in social responsibilities that they ensue do not mean that one is superior to another in material and spiritual development[8].


Manhood: an Identity which is the Product of Natural Human Inclinations

Obviously, the fairest law for any being is the one which conforms to the nature with which they have been created.[9]

Therefore, a fair law which can secure the political, social, and familial flourish of man must be based on the natural inclinations inherent within him and must conform to the original nature with which he has been created.[10]

Thus, the introduction of a law which takes for granted so many existential differences between man and woman and does not account for their different natural identities and inclinations and which views man based on the natural inclinations of woman will be an injustice to both men and women. This is clearly because such a law will sidetrack man away from the path to development and deprives woman from her natural and fundamental rights.[11]  

For instance, man and woman enjoy different physical and physiological differences which, in turn, cause different levels of physical and mental strength and stamina[12]. Given man’s relatively greater physical strength and mental stamina, the heavier social responsibilities are assigned to man[13]. Woman, on the other hand, who enjoys a more emotional character, is given the responsibilities which match her character[14].

Considering these drastic differences between man and woman, is it possible to act against their nature based on the laws which stem solely from human reason and promote gender equality?

As it was discussed above, there are substantial differences between man and woman; therefore, any attempt toward creating a law regarding them must maintain equilibrium between the created law and the natural inclinations of man and woman. Obviously, equilibrium can be established not through gender equality but through recognizing gender differences and planning based on them.

Logic also dictates that justice and not equality be the basis of decisions and actions[15].


Seeking to Earn the Love of Woman, the Manifestation of Man’s Nature       

Allah has created man to pursue love and to strive earn the love of his beloved; the woman, on the other hand, He has created to be loved. Understanding this inherent difference between the nature of man and woman is the key to understanding them correctly and regulating laws which are in compliance with their nature.[16] 

There is a famous tradition from the Prophet (s) which is clear proof regarding this issue[17]. According to this tradition, the Prophet (s) has been quoted as saying:

حُبّبَ‏ إلَىَ‏ مِنَ الدُّنْيا ثَلاثٌ: النّساءُ وَالطّيبُ وَجُعِلَتْ قُرَّةُ عَيْني فِي الصَّلاةِ

 There are three things which I love in the world: perfume, women, and Ṣalāt in which I find comfort. [18]

There are other, similar Islamic traditions which indicate that loving women is a sign of being faithful and that it is a character quality which the divinely-sent prophets enjoyed. The following tradition by the Prophet (s) is one example:

كُلَّما ازْدادَ الْعَبْدُ إيماناً إزْدادَ حُبّاً لِلنّساءِ

 The more the faith in Allah is strengthened in the hearts of the servants, the greater their love will be for women.[19] [20]    


Based on another tradition, Imam Sadiq (‘a) is quoted as saying:

مِنْ أخْلاقِ الْأنْبِياءِ حُبُّ النّساء

 One of the character qualities of the divinely-sent prophets was their love for women.[21] [22]
Moreover, in many Muslim and non-Muslim communities, it is a custom for men to seek the hand of women for marriage, not the other way around. This also confirms that the identity of the man is that of seeking love.[23]

Despite this natural inclination of man toward love, there are some who promote monasticism which requires a lifetime of celibacy. The proponents of monasticism believe in a purely spiritual life and they take the marriage bond and love between a man and a woman as a wicked hindrance to spirituality.

As a result of this deviation from human nature, great sex-related scandals have been caused in monasteries, involving the monks and nuns. Sometimes these scandals were so large in scale that they created a veritable crisis; in one such cases, Pope Innocent III described one of the monasteries as a  brothel [24]![25]   

According to sociological findings on monasticism and those who practice it, seclusion has a negative effect on the monks and nuns and is a source of depression, despair, and illusion. These findings also indicate that seclusion can ultimately result in very severe psychological disorders in such people[26].[27]

Additionally, monasticism and celibacy are in sharp contrast with the man and woman’s nature and have destructive effects on their mental and emotional health. Celibacy, in particular, can cause psychological disorders and lead to homosexual inclinations which threaten the institution of marriage.[28]

The inauspicious issue of monasticism and social isolation, which is in effect the abandonment of one’s social obligations[29], runs counter to the existential laws of nature. It is a deviation from human nature[30] which has never been permissible in any undistorted religion[31].

Like all other true religions, Islam has firmly rejected monasticism, something that is well-reflected in the following tradition by the Prophet of Islam (s):

لَا رُهْبَانِيَّةَ فِى الإسْلَامِ

 Monasticism is not permissible in Islam

This outright rejection of social isolation in Islam is because the religion places great importance on human’s social life which is initially realized through the institution of marriage.[32]


Man’s Strategic Role in the Institution of Marriage

Mankind has different kinds of needs which can be classified into several distinct categories. One of such categories is the  social needs  of mankind which includes man’s need of relating to other people and living within a community.

It should be noted that this is not a need created by the outside world, but a need inherent within human nature.[33]

The attempts toward satisfying such  social  needs of men and women as well as the attempts toward the regulation of social relations leads to the creation of the institution of marriage. This institution, which is created for the man to assume his special role within the framework of mankind’s social obligations, is in line with the overall aim of religion which is guiding mankind toward the proper development[34].

It should be kept in mind that, the moral values and the social practices such as marriage, which stem from human nature and instincts, are obviously the same across communities. This is because regardless of their place of birth, all human beings are born with the same original nature, natural inclinations, and instincts. It is this same nature which defines one as human being and it never undergoes any change by the passing of time[35].

Based on this natural inclination of human beings, all men and women feel a natural drive toward the institution of marriage without which living a normal life is almost impossible for them.[36]

Moreover, unlike other creatures which have social lives, man’s social life is deeply rooted in his need for development, not merely his instinct. Therefore, the love of a man for a woman is, not only a natural inclination, but is also a means of securing the long term development of both the man and woman through marriage.[37]

Needless to say that the greater human communities consist of smaller building blocks, i.e. the families created through marriage. Naturally, the strength of the greater human communities is a product of the strength of its building blocks.[38]

The institution of marriage, when based on correct values and standards, can, on the one hand, play a significant role in regulating human relations and solving person and family problems and, on the other, have a constructive role in resolving social problems.[39]

Meanwhile, the role of man in the institution of marriage and family is a pivotal one. In fact, it is the man who, by expressing his love to the woman and seeking her hand, begins the process of the creation of a family[40]. Obviously then, the reason behind the use of the term  Nikāḥ  [meaning lexically sexual intercourse of married couples] in Islamic jurisprudence for making reference to  marriage  is to indicate its deep connection with basic human inclination.[41]

This is a sort of intercourse which is far from licentiousness; it is authorized based on certain principles and a deep commitment between the couples in order to guarantee their mental and emotional union besides their sexual union.[42]


Needless to say that the purpose of marriage is not the mere sexual gratification; the greater purpose served by this bond is the creation of an emotional union which can provide an emotionally secure environment for child upbringing and the personal development of the couple.

These benefits and blessings cannot be gained except through the promotion of marriage, a contract which makes a man and a woman belong exclusively to one another, and through the prohibition of the illicit and extramarital relations.[43]

This being said, it must be kept in mind that repressing a natural drive and failing to satisfy it through lawful ways can entail adverse physical and psychological consequences.[44] 

This is why many people, who do not get married in young age, suffer from various psychological problems such as anxiety, ill-temperedness, inability to concentrate, excessive indifference, hopelessness, and excessive pessimism. Of course marriage can heal the severest of emotional and psychological ailments; therefore, whenever a person gets married, he will find healing and comfort in its soothing atmosphere.[45]

The Quran has also referred to the great psychological and emotional benefits of marriage on several occasions, one of which is as follows:

وَمِنْ ءَايَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا

 And of His signs is that He created for you mates from your own kind that you may find comfort in their company[46] [47]


By accepting the commitment of marriage, a man is transformed from an unprincipled individual who is free to make just any decision at any moment for his future, into a manager responsible for the well-being of the most basic unit of the society, the family.

This commitment, therefore, prevents him from making rash decisions which would jeopardize the well-being of his family. It also ensures the family’s sexual health by keeping the man faithful to his wife. [48] 


Man as the Manager of the Family

Considering the substantial physical and psychological difference between the man and the woman, the man has been placed in charge of managing the family, and the woman has been appointed his right hand.[49]

It should be noted that the Divine Wisdom dictates that responsibilities be assigned based on the abilities that individuals have. Therefore, the fact that man has been charged with the management of family indicates that this heavy task is in accordance with his greater physical and psychological stamina in facing different challenges.[50]

This issue has been referred to by the Quran in the following verse:

الرِّجالُ قَوَّامُونَ‏ عَلَى النِّساءِ

 Men are the overseer and guardians of women [51]

 This does not mean that men are forcibly and undeservingly put in charge of the family and that they are free to wrong women! This means that family, like any other organization, needs a single manager to direct it and to solve the problems which it faces. Therefore, considering certain privileges which man has within the framework of social relations, he has been left in charge of the management of the family.

However, just like any other privilege, this one also comes with obligations and responsibilities. For instance, men are held responsible for paying the expenses of the family, something that women have no responsibility for.[52] 

Clearly then, since man alone is held responsible for providing for the family and seeing to its well-being, he has also been given the power to make the necessary decisions toward that end.

Therefore,  the term  قوّامون  (meaning  overseer  or  guardian ) means that the man is always one step ahead of his family to guard and protect them against any incoming danger or problem. Obviously, then, it does not mean that he is the owner of the woman, as some have mistakenly taken this word to mean.[53] 

As regards the woman, she is superior to the man emotionally and she has the physical privilege of bearing the next generation of mankind. Therefore, she has been encharged with the upbringing of her children since she has the necessary means toward that end.[54]

Considering the fact that in women the emotions are more powerful and in men reason has the upper hand, the union of these two makes a perfect balance for ensuring the development, well-being, and survival of the family.[55]

Given the facts discussed above, the view of some who insist on promoting gender equality is refuted as being inconsistent with the reality of the nature of men and women.

Even in the communities where gender equality is promoted strongly, the majority of the key positions in governments and organizations are still being offered only to men.[56]

Considering their enormous physical and psychological differences, how is it possible to say that the man and woman must be treated equally in every respect?![57] Is it not true that justice must be upheld in the society? And is justice anything but giving everyone the duty which they are created for and which is based on their inherent qualities and capabilities?[58]

It is because of the promotion of justice that Islam has given the man precedence over the woman in certain matters which require great physical and psychological stamina and has made the woman his advisor in these matters.[59] Similarly, it has given the woman responsibilities which are in accordance with her capabilities, and which are by no means less important than those given to the man.[60]


Masculine Jealousy, the Protector of the Integrity of the Family

Unfortunately, moral values are compromised in the world of today, particularly in the west where extramarital relations are no longer denounced.

The masculine jealousy, which is the guarantor of the integrity of the family is not only being forgotten, it is now considered as a sort of blind hatred. This is truly a great disaster because without this positive sort of jealousy, which is in fact a protector of the family, it is impossible to effectively protect the family’s values and honor.[61]    

What is meant by  jealousy  in Islamic teachings is the natural feeling of the man toward protecting his honor and virtues and preventing others from trespassing against his rights and invading his privacy.[62] In our common law, however, the meaning of masculine jealousy refers to the man’s protective feelings toward the female members of his family.[63]

In this sense, masculine jealousy is a great moral virtue; it is the vigorous defense of the female members of one’s family against any disrespect. And what is a greater virtue than protecting one’s family honor to death against anyone who intends to disrespect one’s wife or daughters?[64]    

In this sense of the word, jealousy is completely consistent with logics. Moreover, a person who is jealous and protective toward the female members of his own family will understand perfectly how others feel about their families. Therefore, such a person will never do anything to disrespect or harass another person’s wife or daughters.[65] 

Therefore, jealousy can also be a deterrent against indecent relations, because all men understand that trying to have illicit relations with other women or, even worse, harassing them can jeopardize their own female relatives. This is because when sexual harassment, assault, or illicit relations become rampant, this will naturally put all families at risk.[66]

Therefore, the more the male members of the community understand and cherish this sort of jealousy, the more modest the entire community will be and the more secure its female members will feel[67].


This fact also is reflected in the Islamic traditions. According to one such tradition, Imam Ali (‘a) has been quoted as saying:

مَا زَنَى غَيُورٌ قَطُّ

 A man with masculine jealousy never commits adultery[68] [69]

This is because masculine jealousy and modesty are intertwined: the more protective men are toward their female family members the more modest the society will be. On the other hand, the more modest a person is, the more protective he will be toward his female family members.[70]

Therefore, Masculine jealousy provides some sort of protection for family honor; it is also a defense against the sexual promiscuity which, in turn, secures the long-term interests of the family.

On the contrary, when this sacred masculine virtue is undermined, not only the family, but the society will face insecurity and promiscuity.[71]


Conclusion: The Decline of Noble Masculine Inclinations, the Reason behind the Collapse of the Institution of Family and the Helplessness of Women     

It should be noted that the proper relationship between men and women is defined based on their inherent potentials and their current capabilities. In this sense, the man and the woman complete each other, a fact which, as it was discussed above, is referred to in the Quran as well:

وَ مِنْ‏ آياتِهِ‏ أَنْ‏ خَلَقَ‏ لَكُمْ‏ مِنْ‏ أَنْفُسِكُمْ‏ أَزْواجاً لِتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْها وَ جَعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ مَوَدَّةً وَ رَحْمَةً

 And of His signs is that He created for you mates from your own kind that you may find comfort in their company; and He established (a relationship based on) affection and compassion between you [72]

In other word, the man and the woman, when united in marriage, can eliminate one another’s shortcomings and take comfort in one another’s company.[73]

This issue has also been addressed in the Islamic traditions as well. An example is the following tradition by Imam Ali (‘a)[74]:

...وَجِهَادُ الْمَرْأَةِ حُسْنُ‏ التَّبَعُّلِ

 … and women can also engage in Jihad in the way of Allah by performing their conjugal duties to their husbands well [75]


Therefore, trying to undermine the masculine identity in the society under the pretext of feminism will, not only lead to the destruction of the institution of marriage, it will create a deep conflict between the two genders. This conflict will in turn lead to an increased rate of divorce, domestic violence, single parent families, and emotional divorce in families.

Moreover, since the family is the building block of human society, such problems within the family can then extend to the society, creating social problems such as a decreased marriage rate, the spread of homosexuality, and sexual promiscuity.[76]

In the end, undermining the masculine identity will hurt women more than men, as social problems always affect the more vulnerable members, the female members.

This is, in fact, the key issue which is neglected by feminist movements. They promote gender equality and they neglect the fact that the rights and responsibilities of human beings must suit their physical and psychological potentials and capabilities. When these capabilities are neglected, any law which is created for the regulation of human affairs will be sheer injustice.[77]


Researched and edited by the news editorial of the website of the office of Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi:





[1] Answering Religious Questions, p. 77.

[2] A Selection of Tafsīr Nemūneh, vol. 3, p. 572.

[3] Ibid, vol. 4, p. 333.

[4] One Hundred and Eighty Q&As, p. 461.

[5] Tafsīr Nemūneh, vol. 2, p. 178.

[6] The Message of the Quran, vol. 2, p. 454.

[7] The Light of Guidance: a Series of Moral Teachings, p. 413.

[8] Ibid, p. 418.

[9] The Creator of the World, p. 143.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Tafsīr Nemūneh, vol. 2, p. 157.

[14] The Creator of the World, p. 143.

[15] Kitāb Al Nikāḥ, vol. 3, p. 111.

[16] A Selection of Tafsīr Nemūneh, vol. 2, p. 65.

[17] Biḥār Al Anwār, vol. 73, p. 141.

[18] The Message of Imam Amīr Al Mu’minīn, vol. 13, p. 809.

[19] Biḥār Al Anwār, vol. 100, p. 228.

[20] The Message of Imam Amīr Al Mu’minīn, vol. 13, p. 811.

[21] Kāfī, vol. 5, p. 320.

[22] The Message of Imam Amīr Al Mu’minīn, vol. 13, p. 811.

[23] How to be a Husband or a Wife in the Family, p. 33.

[24] Will Durant. The Story of Civilization. Vol. 13, p. 443.

[25] The Genesis of Religion, p. 55.

[26] Samuel King. Sociology. P. 428.

[27] The Genesis of Religion, p. 56.

[28] Ethics in the Quran, vol. 3, p. 451.

[29] A Selection of Tafsīr Nemūneh, vol. 5, p. 112.

[30] Ethics in the Quran, vol. 3, p. 450.

[31] Religions Q&As, p. 175.

[32] The Encyclopedia of Comparative Fiqh, vol. 1, p. 69.

[33] Ibid, p. 68.

[34] Ibid, p. 69.

[35] Religious Q&As, p. 100.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid, p. 101.

[38] How to be a Husband or a Wife in the Family, p. 16.

[39] Ibid, p. 17.

[40] Ibid, p. 18.

[41] Tafsīr, Nemūneh, vol. 2, p. 134.

[42] Kitāb Al Nikāḥ, vol. 1, p. 16.

[43] The Rays of Light: a Selection of Moral Teachings, p. 587.

[44] Christianity in Today’s World, p. 62.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Rūm, 21.

[47] Christianity in Today’s World, p. 63.

[48] The Sexual Problems of the Youth, p. 24.

[49] A Selection of Tafsīr Nemūneh, vol. 1, p. 206.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Ibid, p. 396.

[52] Kitāb Al Nikāḥ, vol. 6, p. 115.

[53] Tafsīr Nemūneh, vol. 3, p. 370.

[54] Ibid, vol. 2, p. 164.

[55] The Message of Imam Amīr Al Mu’minīn, vol. 9, p. 698.

[56] Tafsīr Nemūneh, vol. 2, p. 158.

[57] Ibid, p. 164.

[58] Tafsīr Nemūneh, vol. 2, p. 164.

[59] Ibid.

[60] Tafsīr Nemūneh, vol. 3, p. 370.

[61] Ethics in the Quran, vol. 3, p. 432.

[62] The Message of Imam Amīr Al Mu’minīn, vol. 12, p. 311.

[63] Ethics in the Quran, vol. 3, p. 431.

[64] Ibid.

[65] The Message of Imam Amīr Al Mu’minīn, vol. 12, p. 311.

[66] Ibid, p. 504.

[67] Ibid, vol. 12, p. 312.

[68] Nahj Al Balāghah: the aphorism No. 305.

[69] The Message of Imam Amīr Al Mu’minīn, vol. 12, p. 312.

[70] The Teachings of the Infallibles, vol. 1, p. 139.

[71] Ethics in the Quran, vol. 3, p. 440.

[72] Rūm, 21.

[73] A Lexical Survey of Tafsīr Nemūneh, p. 39.

[74] Nahj Al Balāghah, Aphorism No. 136.

[75] The Message of Imam Amīr Al Mu’minīn, vol. 13, p. 123.

[76] The Encyclopedia of Comparative Fiqh, vol. 1, p. 85.

[77] The Religious Rulings for Women, p. 14.