For example, sometimes my dad might show that he has an anger problem while my uncle doesn't show that he has an anger problem. I am unsure if this relates to all men, whether they are Arabs or non-Arabs.
Could you please explain how differently men and women think and behave? I would appreciate if you took the time to answer this question of mine. Thank you.
In this counseling answer:
• Arabic culture is a broad concept. Thus, your focus should be more on understanding the patterns and trends of your individual family members directly within the broader context.
• You can also open up conversations about why someone in your family thinks or behaves in certain ways.
As-Salaam ’Alaikum sister,
Great question! First of all, there is no absolute framework for how men, Arabs, or Arab men think. Let’s look at a few definitions to help you organize your experience.
Culture is anything that shapes a person. I see culture as a broad force which includes mediums for one’s beliefs, values, attitudes, customs, language, and mannerisms. Society is how a group of people work together within a collective structure. For example, I live in an American society, yet my personal culture includes American, Islamic, and Arabic elements.
Families are made of several individuals, and family culture can reflect some aspects of the broader culture or society, but in some ways, it may not. For example, most Americans will offer you a beer if you are invited for a barbecue while an American Muslim family will not. Both may serve you the same food, be hospitable in their own way, and yet vary with some customs in treating their guests. This has to do with the layers of culture that each family or person has been shaped by.
We do know that there are trends and patterns which are more common in some cultures over others. For example, in America, individualism is more valued while collectivism in Arabic culture is generally more important. This does not mean that “all” Americans don’t care about family or community, but that being independent and self-reliant is more important than community expectations.
When it comes to your own family, my point seems evident. On the one hand, your father acts a certain way, and on the other hand, your uncle acts a certain way. Both are men and both are Arabs. What you should know is that Arabic culture generally emphasizes pride, honor, respect for elders, and prioritizing the family needs over individual needs. Depending on the person and their state of self-awareness, how one will manifest the importance of pride or self-respect will vary. For some, getting angry and denying their mistakes is how they maintain a sense of pride. Others find that being sincere and honest about their faults is how they are honorable.
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The second part of your question is about the difference between males and females. Similarly, while we have trends in behavior, attitudes, and thought processes between genders, it also comes down to the individual. For instance, generally, women are more empathetic and sensitive while men are mechanical and systemic in their approach towards the world. Men are inclined to problem solve; they are competitive and generally better at math and engineering. Women are inclined to strength in language and cooperation, and they are generally better at caretaking and people skills. Yet, there are men who have great people skills and women who are awesome at math!
In summary, I would suggest watching one of my videos on YouTube on gender roles to learn more about this. In the video, I offer some sources that you can read up on regarding the science of gender differences.
Arabic culture is a broad concept; Sudanese, Lebanese, and Kuwaitis identify as Arab and have similarities and differences in customs and outlooks. Thus, your focus should be more about understanding the patterns and trends of your individual family members directly within the broader context of whichever Arabic culture they identify with. The more time you spend with someone, the better you can predict their behaviors, learn what makes them happy or upset and develop a deeper grasp of who they are, despite the cultural framework they are a part of.
You can also open up conversations about why someone in your family thinks or behaves in certain ways. When you approach anyone with curiosity and genuine respect, people will tend to open up and want to explain why they hold their position on a matter. I hope that helps clarify your question.
May Allah (swt) bless you,
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.