“Men Are Hard … Women Are Soft”: Muslim Men and the Construction of Masculine Identity

Part of the International and Cultural Psychology book series (ICUP, volume 4)


Based on data gained from semi-structured interviews with 30 Muslim men in Glasgow (Scotland), this chapter considers how men perform and construct masculinity in their everyday life; the meanings they attach to, and associate with masculinity, how they construct and articulate their masculine identity, but also how masculinity acquires meaning. Particular attention is paid to the role religion plays in providing participants with a context through which they construct and negotiate their masculine identity, especially to understand and promote traditional forms of masculinity. The chapter begins with an overview of the studies that have dominated in the research of masculinity in the social sciences. Masculinity, for the purpose of this research is defined as the social construct comprising of values and qualities that are commonly associated with the male. A review of recent studies on the construction of Muslim men’s masculinity is also undertaken. This is followed by closely examining participants’ narratives on how they construct, define and maintain their masculine identities.


Physical Strength Dominant Masculinity Hegemonic Masculinity Masculine Identity Muslim Scholar 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Abd al ‘Ati, H. (1998). Islam in focus. Maryland: Sabira Publications.Google Scholar
  2. Al-Jibaly, M. (2000). The Muslim family volume 3: The fragile vessels: Rights & obligations between spouses in Islam. Texas: Al-Kitaab & as-Sunnah.Google Scholar
  3. Al-Khattab, H. (1997). Bent rib: A journey through women’s issues in Islam. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.Google Scholar
  4. Archer, L. (2001). Muslim brothers, black lads, traditional Asians: British Muslim young men’s constructions of race, religion and masculinity. Feminism & Psychology, 11(1), 79–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Archer, L. (2003). Race, masculinity and schooling: Muslim boys and education. Maidenhead: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Badawi, J. A. (1992). Women in Islam. In K. Ahmad (Ed.), Islam: Its meaning and message. Leicester: The Islamic Foundation.Google Scholar
  7. Badawi, J. (1995). Gender equity in Islam: Basic principles. Plainfield: American Trust Publications.Google Scholar
  8. Badinter, E. (1995). XY: On masculine identity. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Berk, S. F. (1985). The gender factory. New York: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bouhdiba, A. (1998). Sexuality in Islam (Alan Sheridan, Trans.). London: Saqi Books.Google Scholar
  11. Connell, R. W. (1987). Gender and power. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Connell, R. W. (1992). A very straight gay: Masculinity, homosexual experience, and the dynamics of gender. American Sociological Review, 5(6), 735–751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cornwall, A., & Lindisfarne, N. (1994). Dislocating masculinity: Gender, power and anthropology. In A. Cornwall & N. Lindisfarne (Eds.), Dislocating masculinity: Comparative ethnographies (pp. 11–47). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Delaney, C. (1995). Untangling the meaning of hair in Turkish society. In H. Eilberg-Schwartz & W. Doniger (Eds.), Off with her head! Denial of women’s identity in myth, religion, and culture (pp. 53–75). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  15. Doi, A. R. I. (1989). Woman in Shari’ah, Islamic law. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.Google Scholar
  16. Edley, N., & Wetherell, M. (1996). Masculinity, power and identity. In M. Mac an Ghaill (Ed.), Understanding masculinities: Social relations and cultural arenas (pp. 97–113). Philadelphia: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Edwards, T. (2005). Queering the Pitch? Gay Masculinities. In M. S. Kimmel, J. Hearn, & R. W. Connell (Eds.), Handbook of studies on men and masculinities (pp. 51–68). Thousand Oaks: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Farooq, S., & Parker, A. (2009). Sport, physical education, and Islam: Muslim independent schooling and the social construction of masculinities. Sociology of Sport Journal, 26, 277–295.Google Scholar
  19. Frosh, S. (1995). Unpacking masculinity: From rationality to fragmentation. In C. Burck & B. Speed (Eds.), Gender power, and relationship (pp. 218–231). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Frosh, S., Phoenix, A., & Pattman, R. (2002). Young masculinities: Understanding boys in contemporary society. Basingstoke: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  21. Gerami, S. (2003). Mullahs, martyrs, and men: Conceptualizing masculinity in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Men and Masculinities, 5(3), 257–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Goksel, I. (2006). Virginity and masculinity. In A. Jones (Ed.), Men of the global south: A reader (pp. 55–57). London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  23. Harris, I. M. (1995). Messages men hear: Constructing masculinities. London: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  24. Hearn, J. (1996). “Is masculinity dead?” A critique of the concept of masculinity and masculinities. In M. Mac an Ghaill (Ed.), Understanding masculinities: Social relations and cultural arenas (pp. 102–127). Milton Keynes: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Hopkins, P. E. (2006). Youthful Muslim masculinities: Gender and generational relations. Transaction of the Institute of the British Geography, 31(3), 337–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Inhorn, M. C. (2012). The new Arab man: Emergent masculinities, reproductive technologies, and Islam in the Middle East. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Khuri, F. I. (2001). The body In Islamic culture. London: Saqi Books.Google Scholar
  28. Kimmel, M. (1987). The contemporary “crisis” of masculinity in historical perspective. In H. Brod (Ed.), The making of masculinities: The new men’s studies (pp. 121–153). Boston: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
  29. Kimmel, M. (1994). Masculinity as homophobia: Fear, shame, and silence in the construction of gender identity. In H. Brod & M. Kaufman (Eds.), Theorizing masculinities (pp. 119–141). Thousand Oaks: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kimmel, M. S., & Aronson, A. (2004). Introduction. In M. S. Kimmel & A. Aronson (Eds.), Men and masculinities: A social, cultural, and historical encyclopedia (pp. xv–xxvi). Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.Google Scholar
  31. Kynaston, C. (1996). The everyday exploitation of women: Housework and the patriarchal mode of production. Women’s Studies International Forum, 19(3), 221–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Macey, M. (1999). Class, gender and religious influences on changing patterns of Pakistani Muslim Male Violence in Bradford. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 22(5), 845–866.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Maqsood, R. W. (1995). Muslim marriage guide. London: Quilliam Press.Google Scholar
  34. Maududi, A. A. (1972). Purdah and the status of woman in Islam (Al Ash’ari, Trans. ed.). Lahore: Islamic Publications (PVT) Limited.Google Scholar
  35. Mirandé, A. (1997). Hombres y Machos: Masculinity and Latino culture. Boulder: Westview.Google Scholar
  36. Modood, T., Berthoud, R., Lakey, J., Nazroo, J., Smith, P., Virdee, S., & Beishon, S. (1997). Ethnic minorities in Britain: Diversity and disadvantage. London: Policy Studies Institute.Google Scholar
  37. Murthy, D. (2010). “Muslim punk” music online: Piety and protest in the digital age. Retrieved from:
  38. Nilan, P., Donaldson, M., & Howson, R. (2007). Indonesian Muslim masculinities in Australia. Asian Social Science, 3(9), 18–27.Google Scholar
  39. Okkenhaug, M., & Flaskerud, I. (2005). Introduction. In M. Okkenhaug & I. Flaskerud (Eds.), Gender, religion and change in the Middle East: Two hundred years of history (pp. 1–13). Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
  40. Ouzgane, L. (1997). Masculinity as virility in Tahar Ben Jelloun’s work. Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture, 4(2), 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ouzgane, L. (2003). Islamic masculinities. Men and Masculinities, 5(3), 231–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ouzgane, L. (2006). An introduction. In L. Ouzgane (Ed.), Islamic masculinities (pp. 1–8). London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  43. Parsons, T. (1955). Family structure and the socialization of the child. In T. Parsons & R. F. Bales (Eds.), Family, socialization, and interaction process (pp. 35–131). Glencoe: Free Press.Google Scholar
  44. Parsons, T., & Bales, R. (1955). Family, socialisation and interaction process. Glencoe: Free Press.Google Scholar
  45. Piper, J. (1991). A vision of Biblical complementarity: Manhood and womanhood defined according to the Bible. In J. Piper & W. A. Grudem (Eds.), Recovering biblical manhood and womanhood: A response to evangelical feminism (pp. 25–55). Wheaton: Crossway Books.Google Scholar
  46. Riaz, H. (1991). Halal (lawful) and haram (un-lawful) in Islam. Lahore: Islamic Book Centre.Google Scholar
  47. Roald, A. S. (2001). Women In Islam: The western experience. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Samad, Y. (1998). Media and Muslim identity: Intersections of generation and gender. Innovation, 11(4), 425–438.Google Scholar
  49. Sarantakos, S. (2005). Social research. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  50. Schippers, M. (2007). Recovering the feminine other: Masculinity, femininity, and gender hegemony. Theory and Society, 36, 85–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Schleifer, A. (1996). Motherhood in Islam. Kentucky: The Islamic Texts Society.Google Scholar
  52. Shirazi, F. (2008). Men’s facial hair in Islam: A matter of interpretation. In S. Cheang & G. Biddle-Perry (Eds.), Hair: Styling, culture and fashion (pp. 111–122). Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
  53. Siraj, A. (2006). On being homosexual and Muslim: Conflicts and challenges. In L. Ouzgane (Ed.), Islamic masculinities (pp. 202–216). London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  54. Siraj, A. (2010). “Because I’m the man! I’m the head”: British married Muslims and the patriarchal family structure. Contemporary Islam: Dynamics of Muslim Life, 4, 195–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Smith, G. D., & Winchester, H. P. M. (1998). Negotiating space: Alternative masculinities at the work/home boundary. Australian Geographer, 29(3), 327–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Tapinc, H. (1992). Masculinity, femininity, and Turkish male homosexuality. In K. Plummer (Ed.), Modern homosexualities: Lesbian and gay experience (pp. 39–53). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  57. Wadud, A. (1999). Qur’an and woman: Re-Reading the sacred text from a woman;s perspective. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  58. West, C., & Zimmerman, D. H. (1987). Doing gender. Gender and Society, 1(2), 125–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Whitehead, S. M. (2002). Men and Masculinities: Key themes and new directions. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Weeks Centre, Dept. of Arts and Human SciencesLondon South Bank UniversityLondonUK

Personalised recommendations