The image of masculinity is usually discussed by non-Muslims, but if we look at the role models that men take on today, they do not match up to the roles of Muslim men in the past. Without realizing, we have Islamized the Western understanding of what it means to be a man in our everyday lives.
As Muslims, we tend to focus on issues that in fact take us away from the real heart of the matter, which is, "What does it mean to be a man in Islam?" We have this notion of constantly comparing ourselves to others, whether they are Muslims or not. It is not that we should not look to our predecessors as models and guides — not at all, and quite the opposite.
Reflecting Whose Image?
With our materialistic world view, however, we seem to only emulate our predecessors' external ways of doing things. We tend to conveniently pass on their teachings of substance — that is, the esoteric teachings. So many of us are so preoccupied with "acting" and "appearing" to be certain things (by following this sunnah and that sunnah) that we lose sight of what made the Muslims of old (and there are still many around; we just do not notice them). Their lives were lives of love, dedication, and service to Allah — all substance.
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