In many Muslim-majority societies,the widely accepted Islamic doctrine that men are to act as the ‘imam’ or leaders of the family lies at the bedrock of Muslim masculinity and male religious identity, but its meaning changes for Muslim men who live as a minority in liberal and increasingly secular societies such as Australia. Based on a sociological study of the issues and challenges facing Southeast Asian Muslim men living in Melbourne, I argue that the family does serve as a secure zone for preserving and exercising Islamic-associated practices of masculinity, but also that men are pressed to redefine the meaning and continually negotiate practices of leadership to cope with the demand for individual freedom and autonomy in the family as fits the much different social context. Finally, I call for more attention to the importance of masculinity as an analytical framework in religious studies.
Rachmad Hidayat is a fellow and Project Director in the Kalijaga Institute for Justice, State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga, a research associate at the Asia Institute, the University of Melbourne and previously was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Politics, Religions and Society, the Australian Catholic University. He earned a PhD in 2016 and MA in 2010 both at Monash University. Rachmad had worked at the State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga as a project officer and research officer for programs fostering gender mainstreaming in religious contexts. His academic interests focus on how the discourse of masculinities and femininities sociologically shape and are shaped by dominant imbalance power relationship in families, institutions, academia, and religion. He has published Ilmu yang Seksis (Sexism in Sciences, Jendela 2004), Men’s Involvement in Reproductive Health, an Islamic Perspective, (with Hamim Ilyas, PSW 2006), some book chapters and journal articles about gender and masculinities.