A Way Beyond the Rainbow

#34 - On Support Systems: "Mankind Project" and the "Noble Man"

November 02, 2020 Ali Jaffery and Waheed Jensen Season 3 Episode 8
A Way Beyond the Rainbow
#34 - On Support Systems: "Mankind Project" and the "Noble Man"
Chapters
0:38
Episode Introduction
1:52
Introduction to "Mankind Project"
6:28
On "New Warrior Training"
23:33
Similarities and Differences with "Journey into Manhood (JIM)" + Some Critiques
34:18
On the Four Archetypes
50:11
Other Services Offered by "Mankind Project"
52:54
"Mankind Project" Contact Information
54:27
On the "Noble Man" Weekends
1:03:05
"Celebration of Being" Contact Information
1:04:28
Ending Remarks
A Way Beyond the Rainbow
#34 - On Support Systems: "Mankind Project" and the "Noble Man"
Nov 02, 2020 Season 3 Episode 8
Ali Jaffery and Waheed Jensen

In our last episode on support systems, Br. Ali Jaffery joins me again as a guest speaker and talks to us about the Mankind Project with its different services, like the New Warrior Training and integration groups, as well as a separate initiative called the Noble Man.

How does the Mankind Project help men in general with their growth, healing and masculine identity? What is New Warrior Training weekend, and what does it involve? How does the Noble Man deal with the feminine dimension, and what does the weekend involve? These and other questions are explored in this episode.

Links to resources mentioned in the episode:

- Mankind Project website
- New Warrior Training weekends
- Mankind Project's men's groups
- Celebration of Being website
- Noble Man workshops
- More about the Noble Man
- Workshops for Women
- Women's Immersion Weekend

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In our last episode on support systems, Br. Ali Jaffery joins me again as a guest speaker and talks to us about the Mankind Project with its different services, like the New Warrior Training and integration groups, as well as a separate initiative called the Noble Man.

How does the Mankind Project help men in general with their growth, healing and masculine identity? What is New Warrior Training weekend, and what does it involve? How does the Noble Man deal with the feminine dimension, and what does the weekend involve? These and other questions are explored in this episode.

Links to resources mentioned in the episode:

- Mankind Project website
- New Warrior Training weekends
- Mankind Project's men's groups
- Celebration of Being website
- Noble Man workshops
- More about the Noble Man
- Workshops for Women
- Women's Immersion Weekend

Waheed  00:38
Assalamu alaikom wa rahmatullahi ta’ala wa barakatuh, and welcome to a brand new episode of “A Way Beyond the Rainbow”, this podcast series dedicated to Muslims experiencing same-sex attractions and want to live a life true to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and Islam. I'm your host, Waheed Jensen, thank you so much for joining me in today's episode. Joining me in today's episode is brother Ali, you may remember brother Ali from episode #28 when he joined me and talked to us about his organization in the UK called Strong Support. He's joining me today to talk about the Mankind Project, particularly the New Warrior Training, as well as the Noble Man. Those are different initiatives that can help us in different ways, so we'll be exploring these together in today's episode, inshaAllah. 

Waheed  01:30
Assalamu alaikom Ali, thank you so much for joining me again in this episode. It's really a pleasure to have you with me. 

Ali  01:38
Wa alaikom assalam, it's a pleasure to be here, thanks Waheed. 

Waheed  01:40
Thank you. Okay, so today we're going to be talking about the Mankind Project, New Warrior Training, which falls under that, and we're going to be talking about the Noble Man, inshaAllah. So let's start first with the Mankind Project. You know, as someone who has attended the Mankind Project, we're going to be talking about your own personal experience with that. But first, you know, in general, what is the Mankind Project for anyone who doesn't know, in terms of its mission and vision, what are the services offered by that organization? 

Ali  02:09
Mankind Project (MKP) is a not-for-profit, so it's a charitable organization. It was basically founded in the USA, and at present, I think, about 21 nations have their own Mankind Project presence in them. It's been running for a long time, since the 1970s/80s. Three major people, Rich Tosi, Bill Kauth and Ron Herring got together, and, at the time, there was a lot of feminism, you know, feminism rising, and they said there needed to be an equivalent, you know, for men, basically. So their mission is to create a safer world by growing better men, and they'd say that we do this by training men and supporting them in circles. And the vision is to have a safe world where all men are brothers in relationship with one another. They’ve got values which go into their vision, like accountability, authenticity, compassion, generosity, integrity and leadership. And they also focus on multicultural awareness and respect. And that's quite nice, because the biggest thing about MKP is it's inclusive. So men of any background, any orientation, any age, any ability, anyone can, you know, and you really feel that from the organization. They say it's open for absolutely any man. So, in terms of the services, which are offered, to give its history, it started off with what we now know as the “New Warrior Training Adventure”, which is like an initiatory retreat for men. It started off in January 1985, and then continued. Again, these three founders came and they started this, and, basically, it got very popular, and it's grown to the level where it is at the moment. What they offer is the training, but they do realize, you know, a weekend is not going to change your life, so then they have what they call “I-Groups” or Integration Groups, which are peer-facilitated, they're led by an experienced member, and they're offered weekly. They also have something which is called “PIT”, which is Primary Integration Training. This is a facilitated training, which takes eight to ten weeks. At the moment, they're doing it by Zoom, because, you know, obviously due to Coronavirus and so on. But normally, it could also have been done in a two-day facilitated, and they call that PIT Intensive. So, they've got the New Warrior Training, the support groups, which are the I-Groups, PIT training, and then they've got training for people to then become leaders, because it's a completely volunteer-led organization, like I said, it's not-for-profit, its charitable. So everybody who is doing it is basically doing it from their goodwill, their volunteer time, and they have different training levels for different staff, which you can access. 

Waheed  06:28
Okay, so let's start by talking about the New Warrior Training in detail. I've been kind of browsing the website and skimming through it, and I saw that there are six stages involved, and it's like a weekend training for men. And as you said, it's global, there are so many different nations that are involved, and people can attend after registration and all of that. Can you tell us more about New Warrior Training? What do people do in those trainings? 

Ali  06:53
Right, okay. So, obviously, there's confidentiality as in I can’t discuss everything, there's a part where they say, don't ruin it, basically, for people who haven't been, but as you say, there’s the six stages, which they call the six stages of initiation. But basically, it's based off the idea that, you know, masculinity is something which, when a boy turns into a man, there's a certain expectation to step into manhood, and a certain challenge, and a lot of the times, this initiation doesn't happen. And they refer to this initiation as something which is actually a very, very difficult journey for boys to step as men. So they've got six steps, as you've mentioned, the New Warrior Training itself starts on a Friday night and ends on a Sunday afternoon. And each of those, in those times, you're stepping through different stages of initiation. So, when you start the weekend, which is on a Friday night, they'll take away all of your, like, belongings, you can't use your phone, so you're completely cut off from the outside world, you know. And that's called separation, so the first part is separation. Then Saturday morning is what they call descent, which is basically you're exploring issues in your life, where there’s conflict, you’re revisiting your history, you’re going back. And so it's called descent, because you're basically going back and looking into it, and then towards the afternoon of the Saturday, the third stage is called ordeal, because there's a challenge. Now, it isn't a military type of challenge, or you know, people think like, there’s new warrior, so you'd be challenging - the challenge is very much more looking at your own issues, and looking at what that means for you, and how you connect with other men. Towards the night, there is a sense of feeling that masculinity, and then having been welcomed into a circle of men, so they call that initiation, that part's like an initiation. The next day is then more geared towards relationships, purpose, connection, it's called integration, on Sunday morning, where you're exploring your relationships, you’re exploring connection with nature, with humanity, and then the afternoon is what they call celebration, which is, you know, kind of like a wrap-up and sense of community. So it starts off as something which is very hard, you know, so you won't be getting lovely food, you know, nice treatment, it'll be very much the warrior archetype at first, and you're treated with that. And the processes are there to break you down, but to break you down in a safe container, so you can really explore yourself. And you can, at any point, say, “Pass, this process is too much for me.” And yeah, it's based out of Gestalt psychology. I would say one of the biggest things in the weekend is called “GUTS”, and what that basically means, it's a facilitated psychodrama, which enables most inward release or catharsis, where you would enact something which is traumatic for you, and you'd have psychodrama. So the founders are very interested with Gestalt, and you can see that in the weekend, what they call the “GUTS” process. Normally, you'll be in a group of about 25 to 40 other men, and the staff themselves are larger, they'd be about 35 to 55 men, which are staffing. Some might be staffing first time, some might be, you know, very experienced, like I said, they've got a lot of training and experience with that. And they give you meals, break, and time for sleep, but it's very full on. So I had to tell them - they don't show you what time it is, so I had to say to them, “You need to tell me, to wake me up for Fajr.”

Waheed  12:47
Oh yeah! That’s true. 

Ali  12:47
And I remember saying, “You need to tell me when it's Dhuhr, and during lunchtime if it's still Dhuhr so I can pray.” Because you have no sense of the outer world, you're completely detached from it. And that's a good thing, because, finally, you can hold space for yourself, when you're just looking at yourself, and you're looking at your issues. People think about it, like New Warrior, they think, there are assault courses, that it’s a military style training, like violence, no, there's nothing like that. And there is no alcohol, caffeine, or you know, kind of anything, which is going to be that kind of thing. So, it's very much catered to, like I said, to break you down, but then for you to emerge out of that on Sunday. 

Waheed  13:51
That's wonderful, thank you for explaining all of that. So, I know that you've said that there's a confidentiality agreement that you sign, but in case someone is wondering, so, you said that there are some activities that are designed to kind of “break you”, but not break you physically, obviously, but in terms of like, you dealing with particular traumatic events. So, what is one generic example for example you can tell us out of that, just for people to kind of understand what happens? 

Ali  14:20
So, you would be discussing your fears, you know, as a man. So like, I mentioned the “GUTS”, which is psychodrama, and in that, you will be going back and saying “Okay, what is something which has been very traumatic for me, and you'd be enacting that out.” So, that in itself would break you down, because most people would have never done psychodrama before, you know. And seeing other people's work, because you're also with other people in a group setting, this can be triggering. So if you're seeing someone who's had years of trauma, and you're looking at how that's affected them, that's quite difficult, as well. There’s certain exercises, they kind of give you a notebook, so you're doing certain exercises, and you're remembering what that is, and you're going into your childhood, you're going into the wounds of your childhood, and you're exploring that. So it's kind of designed, and the aura in which they do it is what they call “warrior energy”. So, it's not that lovey dovey kind of, you know, for example, a lot of things are done in silence, and silence has this energy of being uncomfortable, for example, you know? So yeah, there's definitely things which are like that, which, you know, from your first experience of meeting, and when they take your stuff, you're sensing, “Okay, this is warrior type of energy.” And we can go into the archetypes – this isn’t “lover” energy, but this is much more “warrior” energy we're experiencing. 

Waheed  16:39
And as I was going through the website, one thing that I was really pleased with, and now that you're describing it in detail, is this idea that you're all men. And as you said, you know, people come from different orientations, so it's not just men who experience SSA, it can be like “straight men”, and all of these men are coming together to support one another, to embrace one another, even in their most vulnerable moments when they're re-experiencing, for example, previous traumas, or talking about deep wounds or shame that they have, instead of, you know, seeing other men in their vicinity making fun of them or shaming them, no, this is kind of a positive environment where people feel embraced, especially from other men. And I think that many of us didn't have that chance before, and I find that very beautiful. So how was your experience with that, when it comes to like being embraced by others, and kind of sharing things that you haven't shared before? How was that experience for you? 

Ali  17:40
Yeah, I completely resonate with what you said, and my going to New Warrior was exactly for this purpose. Because I felt, you know, at that point in my life, I was already in a community with people with SSA. So you know, I had told people, I was in this circle of support, where people who had SSA knew I had SSA as well. So I had a kind of a support network. And in my head, I always used to think, “Well, what about other men, would they accept me if I told them I have SSA? Would they, you know, how would that happen?” And that's why I chose to go on the weekend, because I thought, I need to get it off my chest, and I also need the affirmation, I need the sense of belonging, I need the sense of “I'm a man among men, I fit in, I'm the same.” And that's when it was powerful, because, like, we're discussing “GUTS” work, my own “GUTS” work was exactly on this point; on one side, it's my desires which are pushing me one side, and the other side is my faith, which is saying “No, this SSA isn’t something [to act upon].” And, at that time, I was very scared, because I was thinking, you know, “Is there going to be a gay-affirmative person here? Are they going to say, ‘What is he doing?’” And they weren't. In fact, they blessed me, they blessed my journey and what I was doing. So I found that, you know, incredibly supportive, and that was huge for me. And when I did that, when I did my work, and a lot of the participants came up to me and they said, “That was really brave of you, what you've done,” they could imagine that it wasn't easy to share. When I went, I was perhaps the only Muslim there, and I was perhaps one of the youngest people, because I did that in 2016, so, that was four years ago. But even with the difference in ethnicity, religion and age, I still felt that I wasn't different, and everybody had their own stuff which they came with, and it was okay, and it was an environment where, you know, there wasn't any judgement. 

Waheed  20:44
So now that you've touched upon your experience with Mankind Project, can you tell us, how did that particular event benefit you personally? What are some things that you have taken home with you, that you have expanded upon, that you feel that that event has really been worth it? What can you share with us? 

Ali  21:03
I guess the biggest realization was, when I told, you know, a group of “straight guys” that I have SSA, and the world didn’t fall down, you know, because I had so much anxiety, because I thought, “I'm in a safe circle with people who know I have SSA, because they have SSA themselves, but if I tell someone else, how are they going to treat me?” And it wasn't, and people said I was brave in saying that, and in saying that, it was something which wasn't me, it was in my faith, then I finally got that, actually, I can be understood. And for me, it wasn't the weekend, it was the I-Groups, which were afterwards - in this year, I went back and rejoined the group in Manchester, and that's powerful, because that's a weekly check in with these men. It was just the feeling that I'm not different, you know, I think that was the biggest thing. And that's why I went there in the first place, because I was like, “Well, I could go for SSA-friendly environment. But no, I really need to challenge myself.” And I think if people are considering it, then it's that level of maturity, I guess, which is needed for that, because at that point of the journey, I wanted to say, “Okay, Ali, what's the next step for me in my growth?” And that was the next step, that I could stand in a group of men who didn't know anything about SSA and say, “This is what I have, and not only do I have it,” I guess the thing, which is probably harder to say now, is “I don't agree with it, and it doesn't align with my faith values.” I guess that's harder than the previous one. And they were still affirming. And, you know, I didn't experience shame in that weekend, which is quite powerful. 

Waheed  23:30
I'm very happy to hear that. So, you told us earlier that you went to Journey into Manhood (JIM). I'm assuming that happened before you went to the Mankind Project, correct? 

Ali  23:40
That's right, yeah. So Journey into Manhood, they're very similar. So you’ve spoken to Rich Wyler, and Rich Wyler’s program was based on Mankind Project’s New Warrior Training, but he changed it. It's adapted with more “lover” energy than “warrior” energy, and it's adapted to be for people with SSA. So, there's a lot of similarities between the two weekends. 

Waheed  24:14
So this is what I actually wanted to ask you, and then you answered it, what are the similarities and the differences? So, in terms of differences, obviously, Journey into Manhood is catered to men who experience same-sex attractions, whereas Mankind Project is more general to any man. And the similarities are basically the kinds of activities, a lot of them are similar in terms of psychodrama and bonding, and all of that, correct? 

Ali  24:38
Yes, yeah. So, in terms of the differences, and this is a very big difference, and this is one which I really struggled over, and that's one of the - I don't know whether I would call it a disadvantage, probably it is a disadvantage, because it wouldn't be something, if I were to hold a weekend, it probably wouldn't be something that I would do, but I can understand why they're doing it. Perhaps the most controversial part of New Warrior Training is, there is nudity in it. So, there are stages where there's nudity. Now, when I did it, they told us that you reach a point as much as you're comfortable with. So when I did it, I had my boxers on, because I was like, we've got our awrah [body parts which should be covered], we've got our, you know, Islamic obligation. When I started, and I was like, “Okay, how many processes are there? And how much is that?” I was very unsure about that. The good thing, I guess the experience was, during the weekend, I was never triggered. You'd think that, with SSA, you'd go in and you'd be triggered. But it was more that it was designed to strip - you know, so like I said, they break you down. So that's one of the ways they kind of mentally break you down, by being that vulnerable. Now, again, I had all of this with the Islamic teaching, and I had this confusion, because for me, it was and I had asked scholars at that point, and they said, you know, some of them say outright “No.” Some of them say, “Okay, if it's done for a medical purpose or a therapeutic purpose, then perhaps.” You know, and I struggled with this, and I was like, but the, I guess that's the biggest difference. And that's the biggest difference which makes me lean more on to the JIM format than the MKP format, for that reason. It could be that someone who is mature enough can go through it and isn't triggered, or doesn't have a negative experience because of that, and actually takes a positive message of their body, because it's to do with body shame, so there's a part which is they're focusing on body shame. 

Waheed  27:21
So, basically, just to kind of clarify it for people who are listening to us. Obviously, they're not asking people to get naked just for the sake of that, or for people to engage in any inappropriate behavior. The idea in their perspective is to kind of remove that aspect of being ashamed of one's body and to feel comfortable in one's own body and one's own skin, and not to feel inferior with respect to another man, correct? 

Ali  27:44
That's right. It's all about body shame. So, one of the huge things in my journey was being ashamed of my body. And, you know, for me, being in my boxers was effectively be naked. And it was letting go of that vulnerability, because I would always cover myself, you know, wherever I'd go, I'd cover myself, because I just didn't like my body. So the nudity is there, partly to make you very, very vulnerable. You know, so you're kind of in that - there's a segment where you talk about what the phallic symbol, what the penis means to you. If someone was hearing that, they'd be like, “Oh my God, this is crazy!” But when I did it, I wasn't triggered. So even though people were sharing very intimate stuff about them, they were discussing their pain, their trauma, and their disconnectedness with their partners or their sex, and it actually made me think, “Oh my God! I have all this SSA business going on, and these people, they don't have SSA, but they've got other issues going on around sex and sexuality.” So, for me, it was like, it was eye-opening to see that, just having issues with intimacy and vulnerability isn't an SSA thing, it's a male thing, you know. So when we think “Oh, we can't have sexual intimacy because we have SSA,” well, other men have other problems around sex and intimacy. So the nudity is there not designed to be some something which is like from a lust perspective, it's designed for you to accept your body. And I know I was conflicted at the start for me, because it is something that’s conflicting, when I heard it I was like, “Oh my God, is this right? What if people find out?” And you know how the community is like, “Oh my God! you've done that, astaghfirullah!” And that's why, in terms of the recommendation, what I do is, I say, “Okay, this is what's in there, and so you're going and you know that's coming with it. And if there's something which isn't aligned with your faith and values, then don't do it.” You know, that's what I would tell people. But if you're going to explore yourself, and you're trying to reach kind of a level – basically, at that moment of time, I remember when I took it, I just needed, in my recovery, I just felt like I was flat lined, and I wasn’t moving. So I said, “I need to do something which challenged me.” And MKP really challenged me for that. The thing which, like I said, I like most about them is the sense of acceptedness, not just in the weekend, but even in the I-Groups, the weekly I-Groups, which I share, and they know what I'm doing, they know the work which I'm involved with, and they’re still supportive. 

Waheed  31:49
That’s great. And if there is any aspect of the program that you feel that you don't want to do, you can clearly tell people that this conflicts with my values, and I'm going to skip that particular aspect. 

Ali  32:01
You can, yeah. I was the only person who said “No, I'm not going to take my boxers off.” And that was difficult. But they allowed that, because I was like, “Well, that's a boundary.” 

Waheed  32:14
Right. Or even, you know, because such activities also involve looking at others, a lot of us, you know, consider this haram, from an Islamic perspective, so it would be okay to pass on these particular activities, right? 

Ali  32:27
Yeah, you can pass any activity. Yeah. 

Waheed  32:32
Because I feel that a lot of us would benefit from going to Mankind Project, but in that particular hour or the event where this particular nudity is involved, we would pass on that, but not miss the other aspects like psychodrama and bonding which would really be helpful. So I just wanted to clarify for anyone listening right now that that is the case. 

Ali  32:54
Yeah, yes, you can pass on any of the processes. 

Waheed  32:58
And at this point, obviously, in the podcast, it's worth mentioning that we're not condoning these practices, we're not saying that we approve of them as Muslims. Obviously, we as Muslims have rules and regulations, especially when it comes to awrah, what we are allowed to look at and what we're not allowed to look at. So this is one thing to take into account, if anyone wants to join the Mankind Project who’s coming from an Islamic background. And this has to be laid out there for people to know, because a lot of people don't know this, I certainly didn't know this before talking to Ali. So this is very important for us to know. And it's important to know that such weekends do bring a lot of benefits, as we have seen, but you know, there are certain things that we have to pass on, having this Islamic background, and having all of these values, and obviously we can pass on these things and participate in the other things that are permissible, inshaAllah. And if anyone wants to participate in the Mankind Project where they feel that they're not ready for such an event, or they feel that they might be triggered, even if they pass on these things, then this needs to be taken into account, and feel free not to force yourself to be part of that, if you're not ready for it. So this is just an FYI at this point for all of us to know, inshaAllah, and consider. 

Waheed  34:18
So as you've been talking about the different archetypes, a lot of us don't know what these are. And the weekend itself is based on these archetypes that originally came from Carl Jung. So can you explain to us more about these for anyone who doesn't know about them?

Ali  34:33
So, you know, Carl Jung has this idea of archetypes. So you have the self-persona, the shadow, the anima and animus, which are the male and the female types, and then they have a concept of the “collective unconscious”, so Carl Jung says that we are all linked collectively with this unconscious, and these archetypes are behaviors or thoughts or they’re energies which people have. Now, Robert Moore, who is a psychologist, he took Jung’s archetypes, and then he put them in a framework that could described the development of masculinity. What Robert Moore believed was, we've got these archetypes, which are King, Warrior, Magician and Lover, and this is what the training is based on, it's very much based on these archetypes and this idea, which is also what Journey into Manhood is also, you know, it touches on these. Now, the disadvantage, I guess, for both weekends is, in attempting to understand masculinity, we have taken from a very secular perspective. Robert Moore argues, in order for a man to achieve mature masculine strength and energy, he must be in touch with all four. But that's a different way of looking at masculinity, this is different from, say, what Islam would consider, or even if we put the concept of masculinity in Islam, we can still say, “Okay, we can be the king, we can be the warrior, but we can also exhibit both.” And I guess that's what it's trying to do. Because you have to recognize, like I said at first, it's not catered for Muslims, it's catered for anyone and everyone. So you would have to have a frame of reference, which would then make sense, because, you know, you have to do something, you have to have some theology or some basis. But a lot of it is also, kind of like, North American. So for example, they will say “AHO”, which means, “Yes, we agree”, you know. They'll have a staff, which is like a wooden stick, again, that's very North America kind of history. They also have, at one point, they do what's called a “sweat lodge”, so, again, that's like Native American purification ritual. So you have these Native American undertones. They use animal names, for example, so you're given an animal name when you're speaking. So that's why, you know, like, when I was at the weekend, it was like, “Okay, some of it, this is, you know, a bit strange, as a Muslim experiencing that.” But I could see that they had done it, because it was meant for anyone and everyone. And that's why, you know, a part of me thought, “Oh God, if we made it into, you know, slightly more Islamic!” or perhaps even Rich Wyler when he did it, he’s like, “Okay, let's change this and make it a bit more SSA friendly.” So there's definitely types of that, which, at least for me, conflicted with, you know, kind of my worldview and my beliefs, but at the same time, I could understand why it was a part of the weekend. 

Waheed  39:07
And you told me something very interesting when we were kind of talking about the Mankind Project, you said that, for us, the Prophet (PBUH) is the perfect example of a complete man, in terms of, you know, everything, but also in terms of his masculine identity. So can you elaborate more on this, taking into account the archetypes that you told us about? 

Ali  39:29
Yeah, I mean, we spoke about the archetypes of Robert Moore: King, Warrior, Magician and Lover, and they use that as a compass to see masculinity. But looking at the Prophet (PBUH), we see that, you know, at battlefields, he would be the warrior, people would be afraid, but when someone's throwing rubbish at him every day, he doesn't respond, because he has that humility, and he goes to check on them, “Oh, the rubbish wasn’t thrown today, why not?” And he goes and visits that lady? So, you have this antithesis of, you wouldn't expect that from a warrior who would be at the battlefield, you know, this masculine energy to be crying for forgiveness from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, or to be praying long period of the night, crying for forgiveness. These are antithetical qualities, yet we find these in the Prophet. I guess they could say, “Okay, there's the lover and the warrior energies,” they can give a frame around it. But the Islamic understanding is so much better, you know, it does complement. We have in the Qur’an a better understanding. So, one of the things for example they teach is the Anima and the Animus. So, the Anima is the male kind of energy and then [the Animus is] the female, and they say “Okay, this is within us. So, within masculinity, we have femininity.” Well, we have to just look at the Qur’an when Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, in Surat Al-A’raf, “It is He who created you from one soul” (7:189). So, we have already this concept of masculinity and femininity being encapsulated in one, in the Qur’an. So, again, like the Qur’an, further, in terms of roles, it will talk about masculine roles. I mean, there's a verse in the Qur’an, which is in Surat An-Nisa’, “Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth” (4:34). So, men have this role, and I think it's important to recognize that, in Islam, the man has a role to provide for his wife, because that's what the verse says, they are responsible to spend out of their wealth and their possessions for the women. So, men are basically protectors of women, they have been given that authority by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. So, when we look at that model of gender roles, and then the females have their own gender role, which is different from what the man has, and it's recognizing that they're equal, but they're different in terms of their role. But there is still commonalities. For example, the very famous verse, “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another” (49:13). So, you have a bit of both in you (male and female), and then “We have created you in tribes, that you may get to know each other.” What does that mean? What does it mean get to know each other? It means we're different, you know, essentially different, we’re made of some of the masculine archetypes and some of the female archetypes, and we have that in us. So Allah is already putting that, you know, this is already something that we know. But, of course, it takes time, I guess, and we probably don't have the psychology of masculinity explored to the extent that possibly we could do and what the Qur’an does refer to, the state of it, and that's what I feel like, sometimes, you know, with these archetypes, that actually, the Islamic perspective is already there, or that Allah is telling you all of these things, but we haven't really dug them out. I mean, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says "Man was created of haste” (21:37). So, we always go for something, “Oh, everyone's doing the archetypes, or everyone's looking at that!” So we'll go towards that. But actually the Prophet and his Sunnah, that’s where masculinity is. We derive our framework, we derive our reference, we derive everything from that. Okay, if I'm looking at masculinity, the Arabs wouldn't kiss their children, they thought it was disgusting, you know, and the Prophet initiated that [i.e. being loving and kind to one’s children]. They were like, “How can you do that?” They used to bury their daughters alive, and the Prophet gave so much importance to Sayyida Fatima [and to women in general], you know, he would get up when she would arrive. And, you know, again, Islam came, and it changed these kind of norms of what masculinity and femininity were. And I feel that, you know, that vision of masculinity, or the roles of masculine and feminine and how they're equal, but they're different in terms of the roles which are given to them. That's something which isn't really understood nowadays. 

Waheed  47:14
Correct. And actually, as you were talking, I mean, we talk now about toxic masculinity, and obviously, it has social and political repercussions. But, back then, in Arabia, before the Prophet was given the Message, the men back then, you know, they were the embodiment of toxic masculinity, right? And then, the Prophet (PBUH) came, Islam came, the Message came, and he put things in proper perspective, he changed things, and he modified things in line with the fitrah, in line with our disposition, in line with what Allah created for us. So, the way that you described it is so beautiful, like the way that he treated kids in the most beautiful way, the way that he showed compassion towards others, the elderly, men, women, the different ways of interacting in a beautiful way, the Islamic message is so beautiful. And when we look at masculinity, unfortunately, for a lot of us, because of all the traumas that we've been through, we associate masculinity with evil and viciousness and hatred and darkness, when masculinity is something that is very beautiful, and so is femininity, when given the proper, you know, Divinely-ordained ways they should manifest themselves, that would be the appropriate way. And I think that all of these initiatives are trying to kind of get back in touch with the fitrah that we all have, to show us what masculinity is and what femininity is, and to, you know, kind of put things back in balance. And, as you were talking about all of these matters, it just shows that there is a lot of work to be done in our own Muslim communities, in general, but also when it comes to all of these initiatives, because, you know, I've spoken to Rich Wyler, he talked to us about Journey into Manhood. Now we’re talking about the Mankind Project. And it just goes to show that, you know, we as Muslims have to have our own versions of these things, in ways that are more, as you say, God-conscious or God-centric, with our own Islamic views and Islamic identity. So, I really hope, inshaAllah, that one day we will be able to implement these initiatives, taking into account our Islamic values and backgrounds and morality, that would help not just men and women with same-sex attractions, but men in general, Muslim men and women achieve the identity that they want to achieve, that is God-conscious and God-centric, inshaAllah. So, I really hope that that would be accomplished.  

Ali  49:34
Yes, that’s what's missing at the moment, and yeah, that’s something that we definitely need to have, like you said, a God-centric approach to it. Because there's so much more, and it's better that we have, and it's just about realizing that and then putting it into a weekend like Mankind Project, New Warrior or Noble Man. 

Waheed  50:11
You said at the beginning there are the I-Groups, and there are the PIT initiatives and others, can you just walk us through those very quickly and tell us about what they involve? 

Ali  50:23
So the “PIT” is basically an intense training, so it can neither be done in an eight- to ten-week format, which is a better one, because there's quite a lot of material, or it's what they call the PIT intensive, which is a two-day, you go somewhere, a bit like the weekend, you go there, and it is different from the weekend. I haven't done the PIT, so I don't exactly know, but what I know is that it's facilitated. The one which is done in Zoom, which, you know, kind of what people are doing at the moment is in the evenings and runs eight to ten weeks, and it's proved to be helpful for a lot of people. So I do recommend that. And at the moment, it’s on standby, at least in the UK. So it's something which is quite good. The one which I really recommend is the “I-Group”. Actually, the way the I-Group is formatted is very similar to Strong Support, like I'm doing facilitation, a lot of it is from the MKP and how they're doing it. And I really recommend that. You have that sense, you know, to say, obviously, a weekend isn't going to save you, you need that continual support. And that's what the Integrated Group or the I-Group offers. So, they still have the archetypes, they go through the archetypes, and each of those have rounds. Actually, the I-Groups you can join, they allow uninitiated men to join the I-Groups as guests. They have a cycle which runs for eight weeks, and like on one of those evenings, it's an open evening, so any man can join the group and see what it's like. And all of these I-Groups are completely free. So they're run and they're completely volunteer-led, again, it's a really good resource for men to take. 

Waheed  52:52
Okay, perfect. So if anyone's interested in reading more about the Mankind Project and the New Warrior Training and the other services that are offered, how can people get in touch with the organization and register or find out more details? 

Ali  53:07
So the main website which is the Mankind Project is the US one, and each of them you can go and it directs you to one which I know, Mankind Project United Kingdom and Ireland, which I did. The cost is around 595 pounds, or equivalent to that in euros, and anyone can attend. And, like I said, it's all volunteer-led, it takes them a lot of time to prepare, do all the logistics and you can imagine there’s like 55 staff over there, it's charitable, they're not really doing it for the money. And yeah, you can register, I think they do in Ireland and then they do in Scotland, but they're doing other locations as well. I just know these, because obviously I'm familiar with the UK section of Mankind Project. 

Waheed  54:26
Alright, so let's talk now about the Noble Man. I know that you said that you know some people who have staffed there or some colleagues who have been there. So what can you tell us about that? 

Ali  54:36
So, Noble Man is a weekend organized by an organization called “Celebration of Being”, and it was something that these two founders, Rajyo Markman and Paritosh Peachey, they co-created in 1993. I think one of them, I think Rajyo went to live in the USA, so they have a USA version of it. And then what we have in the UK is Gina Holland and Debbie Beauchamp. So they're the ones who are in the UK who offer these. Noble Man is one of these workshops, so they host other workshops as well. They started their mission focused on women only, but then they introduced men as well, and they've had about 2,000 participants from all age groups, faiths, races, so similar to Mankind Project in that it's open to everyone. I guess for Noble Man, especially, the vision is to work on the feminine and the feminine wounds. The vision, overall, they say is to create a world where both masculine and feminine stand side by side in their glory and magnificence and co-create in harmony. So you see, whereas the MKP warrior has very much to do with masculinity, the Noble Man is kind of designed for men to connect with the feminine energy. And, one of them, I think, Debbie is actually an accredited counselor. She works with individuals, couples, children, and family therapy, and she also specializes in trauma work. And I think there's another person who's involved who’s a counselor as well. I know people who have staffed it, who highly, highly rank it. And I would say, especially for a lot of us, men with SSA, we have issues around the mother or the feminine, or just a feeling that women are out to hurt us, or unresolved issues. And what the weekend is for is to actually honor that shadow part of ourselves which believes that, and embrace that and embrace that fear. And that's what they provide. It happens in Isle of Wight, so you can get a train from Waterloo, it's about two and a half hours, you start on Thursday afternoon about 5pm and you're done by Sunday 2pm. And the cost is slightly higher than New Warrior’s, I think it's around just under 900 [pounds], but then you can, if you book early, you can get it at 850 pounds. 

Waheed  58:39
So, in terms of activities, you know, and when you talked about the New Warrior training, you said that there are activities that go back to traumas and deal with this in a very supportive environment surrounded by men. So, how does the Noble Man differ from that, what sorts of activities are done? And, you know, is it like a man who's surrounded by a group of women, or is it men and women together? Just for us to kind of get an idea about what happens. 

Ali  59:11
So there’s definitely more of a feminine energy to it. So it's designed to address wounds especially, so you're going into wounds with your feminine. They focus on your relationship with your mother, and from that then, they say, “Okay, how does that affect your current relationships with the feminine?” So, you know, it's designed, so if people are having relationships currently with females, if they're not comfortable with the women in their life, or they have, you know, usually with men with SSA who do this would have a smearing or involved mother, for example, and the processes would be experiencing love, I'm guessing there would be holding, that would be kind of support from a woman. So you're able to feel that women energy, which, perhaps for people who are going to do the weekend, is something which is what they've not experienced, or a healthy version of femininity. So what they try to do similarly in New Warrior is that you’re in a safe container, and you are discussing your unresolved issues, and the women are hearing you, so it's like a place for them to listen. And I guess it's an opportunity for them to be, to go in - there's two levels of Noble Man. There’s two weekends, there’s level 1 and there’s level 2. Level 1 is more about, like I said, the mother and the current unsatisfactory patterns you have in life with women. And level 2 then goes on to the archetypes as we discussed, other parental figures, like the father, it goes into seeing if you've got any unmet needs, and if you're projecting them. So, if you're projecting your anger at your mother, at your wife, you know, and not realizing that. And yeah, so the second one is, I guess it's a bit more mature group, because you've already done [the previous ones]. But, again, it's all female staff, it's a completely female staff, and that's the major difference. What I've experienced is, men with SSA who've had issues with their mother have really, really benefited from that. And I know Muslims who've gone in, and they've benefited from it. 

Waheed  1:02:42
That's really great. It actually reminds me of phase four of Richard's Cohen's four stages of healing, when he talked about the fourth phase, which is kind of healing the hetero-emotional wounds, so it deals with the mother for a man experiencing same-sex attractions and the feminine wounds. So that's kind of, you know, an entire initiative that's dedicated to that. I'm very happy to hear about that. If anyone wants to know more about the Noble Man, you know, the schedule of events, to know more about how to register and all that, how can they access that? 

Ali  1:03:16
So their website is www.celebrationofbeing.co.uk, and you can go there and then see when they're holding their Noble Man. It usually occurs in April/May kind of time, so I imagine that would be, if you're considering it, it would be next year, April/May time. And then, like I said, it's around just under 900 pounds, and you've got to give a deposit. And it's in the Isle of Wight. So if you go on the website, you can register.  

Waheed  1:04:02
Brother Ali, thank you so much, I really appreciate your time, I have learned so much today, and I'm pretty sure a lot of the listeners have learned about the Mankind Project, New Warrior Training and the Noble Man, and many of us are actually excited to check these out. Jazak Allah khairan, I really appreciate your time. Thank you very much. 

Ali  1:04:18
Thank you. Thanks for having me. 

Waheed  1:04:28
And with this, we have come to the end of today's episode, and this is our last episode in the series on support systems. In the next episode, inshaAllah, Chris from Melbourne, Australia, who spoke to us about the 12-step programs and sexual recovery programs, is going to be joining me again as a guest speaker, and he is one of the two guest speakers that are scheduled for this season to be sharing with us their stories. Until next episode, stay safe and healthy, and I look forward to talking to you in a couple of days’ time. This has been Waheed Jensen in “A Way Beyond the Rainbow”, assalamu alaikom wa rahmatullahi ta’ala wa barakatuh.

Episode Introduction
Introduction to "Mankind Project"
On "New Warrior Training"
Similarities and Differences with "Journey into Manhood (JIM)" + Some Critiques
On the Four Archetypes
Other Services Offered by "Mankind Project"
"Mankind Project" Contact Information
On the "Noble Man" Weekends
"Celebration of Being" Contact Information
Ending Remarks