Why the Muslim Beard Bodes Trouble

To develop a thorough understanding of Islam, one must learn to “connect the dots.”  For instance, Muslims who adhere to non problematic aspects of Islam, indirectly indicate their acceptance of problematic aspects of Islam—such as enmity for infidels, death for apostates, subjugation for women, and so on.

Consider the Muslim beard.  Because Muhammad wanted his Muslims to look different from infidel Christians and Jews, he ordered them to “trim closely the moustache and grow the beard.” Accordingly, all Sunni schools of law maintain that it is forbidden, a “major sin,” for men to shave their beards—unless, of course, it is part of a stratagem against the infidel, in which case it is permissible.

Prior to Ramadan, Islamic leaders in Egypt called for a million men to grow their beards and show Egypt’s adherence to Muhammad’s commands.  Popular and enthusiastic preachers such as Muhammad Hassan went as far as to pray for the day when 80 million Egyptians grew their beards—a figure that presumably includes women and children, as 80 million is the size of Egypt’s entire population.

Amr Adib, a popular talk show host on Cairo Today, mocked this call for a “million man beard” with his trademark sarcasm: “This is a great endeavor!  After all, a man with a beard can never be a thug, can never rape a woman in the street, can never set a church on fire, can never fight and quarrel, can never steal, and can never be dishonest!”

He and his Egyptian viewers know quite well that it is precisely those Muslims who most closely follow the minutia of Muhammad—the Salafists—that are most prone to violence and deceit, which were also advocated by the prophet.  Towards the end of the program, Adib spoke seriously, ominously, saying this issue is not about growing a beard, but rather, “once you grow your beard, you give proof of your commitment and fealty to everything in Islam.”

While Egyptians instinctively understand how fealty to the Muslim beard evinces fealty, or at least acceptance, to all those other things Muhammad commanded, even in fuzzy Western op-eds, the connection sometimes peeks out.  Consider the following excerpt from a recent New York Times piece titled “Behold the Mighty Beard, a Badge of Piety and Religious Belonging”:

[A]ll over the Muslim world, the full beard has come to connote piety and spiritual fervor. It is such a powerful cultural signifier, in fact, that it inspires non-Muslims, too…. Of course, the beard is only a sign of righteousness. It is no guarantor, as Mr. Zulfiqar [a Muslim interviewee] reminds us: “I recall one gentleman who came back from a trip to Pakistan and remarked to me, ‘I learned one thing: the longer the beard, the bigger the crook.’ His anticipation was people with big beards would be really honest, but he kept meeting people lying to him.” [emphasis mine]

The italicized portion speaks for itself.  Whereas the Muslim beard represents piety, some people, mostly Westerners, are shocked to find that those who wear it are often “crooks” and “liars.”  In Islam, however, outer signs of religiosity on the one hand, and corruption and deceit on the other, are compatible. After all, the same source—Muhammad, as recorded in the hadith—that tells Muslims to grow a beard also advocates deception and all sorts of other practices antithetical to Western notions of piety.

The hijab, or headscarf, which cloaks Muslim women, also on Muhammad’s command, produces the same symbiosis.  Tawfik Hamid, a former aspiring jihadist and acquaintance of al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri, accurately observes that “the proliferation of the hijab is strongly correlated with increased terrorism…. Terrorism became much more frequent in such societies as Indonesia, Egypt, Algeria, and the U.K. after the hijab became prevalent among Muslim women living in those communities.”

The question is simple: Why do some Muslim men wear the prescribed beard and why do some Muslim women wear the prescribed hijab?  Most Muslims would say they do so because Muhammad commanded them to in the hadith.

Yet if such Muslims meticulously follow the minor, “outer” things of Islam simply because their prophet made a few utterances concerning them in the hadith, logically speaking, does that not indicate that they also follow, or at the very least accept as legitimate, the major, “inner” themes Muhammad constantly emphasized in the hadith—such as enmity for and deceit of the infidel, and, when capable, perpetual jihad?

  • turkp

    "The question is simple: Why do some Muslim men wear the prescribed beard and why do some Muslim women wear the prescribed hijab?"

    It is funny you asked. Why, you prefer men wear hijab and women wear beard?

    How do you know, did you conduct a survey? Obviously not. Had you conducted a survey I bet that most common answers would have been that women were covering their bodies and that men were saving money and trouble of shaving. By the way why do orthodox Jewish men grow beard? And why do orthodox Jewish women wear hijab? Any surveys there?

    "Most Muslims would say they do so because Muhammad commanded them to in the hadith."
    Do you also read mind? A very silly answer to a very stupid question. I hope this Islamophoby Inc. is not paying much for this garbage.

  • gray man

    Hmmm… another moron who missed the point of the article. I hope you didn't pay a lot for higher education.
    Unless your trying to obfuscate the point.
    Taqiyya anyone?

  • burke

    The mind of millions of people cannot be known with certainty, but Sharia law and normative Sunni Islam is well known and the rules are clearly laid out. 'turp' is attempting to throw off the scent. We have observed him.

    The meaning of the Islamic beard is a MILITARY one. A man with an Islamic beard will not be mistakenly slain in jihad. The clipped mustache is the outward sign of a jihadist.

    The Islamic beard is a POLITICAL sign, rather than a religious one.