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How will our boys become men?

I went to visit our village home. At night, I could only hear the chirping of baby chicks, which was a bit disturbing. I found out that my mother had brought the chicks to the upstairs balcony. I asked why she kept them there instead of in the coop. My mother explained that the longer the chicks stay with their mother, the later they start laying eggs, whereas if separated, they start laying eggs sooner.

This made me quickly shift my thoughts from the chicks to the ‘boys’ of our modern generation, who, even at the age of twenty-five to thirty, can’t become mentally mature.

My friend Sharif is a second-generation British Bangladeshi. His father went to the UK in the sixties. Sharif once shared a remarkable story from his life. On his seventeenth birthday, his father called him and said, “According to British law, you are now an adult, an independent man. From now on, you have to take care of your own responsibilities. You will have to bear your own educational expenses, and if you stay in my house, you will have to pay rent and food expenses.” His father meant what he said and gave no concessions. Sharif had no choice but to find a part-time job at a shop, working there after school.

He paid the rent and food bills with that money. As he was studying in a public school, he managed to save a bit. Although this behavior was normal in British culture, it was hard for Sharif to accept it as a Bangladeshi. During this time, he felt a lot of anger and resentment towards his father. How this anger and resentment turned into respect and love will be discussed later.

This first shock in life brought him a lot of maturity. He got married at the age of nineteen, and now, at just forty-five, his children have grown up.

In my twenty years of friendship with Sharif, I have seen him take numerous good initiatives and participate in many. He has helped many helpless people and families.

On the contrary, in our society, you will see many people who remain immature boys even at thirty, never becoming men. They are not capable of taking any responsibility, are indecisive, lack goals, and have no achievements.

You will often hear people saying they work hard and build houses for their children. When asked, they say, “We went through hardships so that our children wouldn’t have to.” In most cases, it is seen that the children of such parents are very incapable and irresponsible.

These children, for whom their parents worked hard, cannot even take care of themselves, let alone repay their parents. They depend on the property left by their parents, and when that runs out, they live a miserable life.

Those among us who are a bit smart and realistic think it’s not our responsibility to leave houses and cars for our children; our responsibility is to educate them well.

Such people spend a lot of money on their children’s education, keeping them away from all worldly troubles and realities, resulting in them becoming ‘educated fools.’

Very few people take the necessary steps to truly raise boys into men. The inevitable result is that we fall behind as individuals, families, societies, and nations.

If a person can start contributing to the world from the age of fifteen or sixteen, their contributions will be greater in both quantity and quality. On the other hand, by the time one finishes a so-called master’s degree and becomes a corporate slave, the time to contribute is lost, and the quality of contribution often does not become very good.

I learned to drive around the age of thirty-three. A friend told me then, “You will never become a first-class efficient driver; you will be an ‘uncle driver.’ Your life will be spent driving behind another car.” I realized that this was very true. Many cars pass me by, and I find it safe and comfortable to stay behind the car in front of me. Thus, delaying the acceptance of responsibility not only makes one irresponsible but also reduces the quality and ability to fulfill responsibilities.

Do you remember Sharif’s anger and resentment towards his father? Now let’s talk about how that turned into respect and love. Two years after getting married, when Sharif needed a good amount of cash to start a business, that strict father handed him a bundle of pounds, saying, “This is the money you paid for rent and food. I saved it for a time of need.” Although at one time Sharif felt hatred towards his father, now he considers his father’s strictness a priceless asset in his life and feels genuinely proud of him.

Let’s return to the story of the chicks and to the social thoughts guided by Islam. Just as chicks won’t lay eggs while under their mother’s wings, your son won’t become responsible if you keep him under your wings for too long. This is an unalterable law set by the Creator within the nature of creation. Islam states that a boy is considered a mature adult when he exhibits any of three signs:

  1. Experiencing wet dreams
  2. Growth of pubic hair, or
  3. Reaching the age of fifteen

After this, according to Islamic law, he is a fully mature adult man, responsible for adhering to all Sharia laws. Allah has set this limit so that from this age, he will start fulfilling the responsibilities entrusted to him.

We should have made our children aware and capable of their responsibilities before they reached this age. Instead, by spoon-feeding them for a prolonged period, we are raising an incompetent and unworthy generation.

This article was originally written in Bengali by Bayzid Sarker and translated into English by Inu Etc.

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