Monday, September 6, 2010

Can't Beard The Thought

I woke up one morning slightly dazed and perhaps running a wee bit late to work. I wondered if I should skip shaving for the day and just head out to work. I laughed, rolled out of bed, grabbed my trusty razor and shaving cream and slit of the offending stubble with Sumarai like ease.

I have thought about growing a beard. I can't. I just can't bear the thought of bearding up. For starters, I doubt I can grow a particularly respectable beard; I'd look awful, uneven patches and all that. Secondly, I don't want to deal with the hassle of a beard and thirdly I'm not shallow enough to need to prove to everyone how great a Muslim I am; I'm sure they're all well aware.

How does one identify a good Muslim? Well, one could try to get to know him, but that just sounds like too much effort. Let's just be consistently superficial and focus on what really matters to us. Looks.
Is it his zealous eyes (lowered of course), his terrific posture (kept fit through repeated prayer) and most importantly a long flowy beard, long enough to shame dumbledore on one hand and yet still reminiscent of Fidel Castro on the other.

Apparently, in order to be a good Muslim, you have to have a beard. Unfortunately, my french beards, pencil thin mustache strips and  pubescent chin scraggle don't qualify. You need to have a solid all encompassing beard that frames your face to such an extent that covers one skin blemishes as well as provides something soft for your pets to nap on....and your parrot to lay eggs in. 

Now, I'm the liberal sort of fellow and was always under the impression that in order to be a good Muslim...well...that you actually had to act like one....or preferably two, because two Muslims are better than one.

I find it offensive is when someone from Team Beard takes me to task for not having a nest sprouting from my face and feels that it is their moral imperative to convert me to their bearded ways with their eyes greedy for sawab much like a degenerate gambler on a hot streak.

One has to wonder, where did the sentiment is that anyone vying for the title of 'good Muslim' needs to have a beard, wear a skull cap and perhaps quote in the Quran in a language that he couldn't order a bun kebab in.

What does a beard say about a person? That he's too lazy to shave? Or think he looks dashing all furred up. I have seen beards that both suit people and some that don't. Some that are neat and others that look like they've made love to a hurricane. Regardless, if one thinks keeping a beard makes one a Muslim, then perhaps they believe that they can create a nation of Muslims by banning razor blades (I think the Afghani Taliban went down that route; sure worked out there). 

A few have pointed out to me how it's Sunnah, that the Prophet had a beard; granted, but isn't it possible that he just looked really freaking good with a beard? I'm sure glad for our sanity's sake that he didn't rock out a beard braid. Seriously, did they even have a Gillette Mach II back then?

I'd also like to point out that if we lived the same way the Prophet did, then by that same logic we'd all be brushing our teeth with a siwak (tooth stick) instead of toothbrushes. Anti Tooth Brush Fatwa anyone? Or better yet, we'd ban cars and ride Camel back everywhere.  

Whatever happened to tolerance? Why does my clean shaven (and rather dashing) face serve to offend the religious sensibility of others? Why does it provoke at best a superiority complex and at worst, yet another self righteous fundamentalist nut job. Is it because they aren't secure in their own faith and need others' approval for reassurance. If that's the case, I implore them to visit their local chai walla and empathize over the Pakistan cricket team. We all love Chai and Cricket, it's somewhere in our constitution. Yep...the Chai, Cricket and Islam loving Republic of Pakistan.

Why does it matter if I have a beard or not? I doubt God is that shallow when it comes to evaluating the worthiness of our souls. Doubt that God chose the Prophet because he could grow a particular spectacular beard. I may be unfortunately liberal but I imagine that it had something to do with what was in Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) heart. That said, maybe it just seems easier to look like a muslim, rather than be a muslim; which quite frankly, beard or not, we by and large certainly suck at.


Drake Sigar said...

My father had a great beard once. It was going well until he started enjoying a jam dougnut.

Alpha Za said...

@ Drake: Perhaps the solution is to ban Jam Doughnuts then....duh.

My Dad actually has a beard. He looks baller. He doesn't like jelly doughnuts.

Anonymous said...

I tried to grow a beard not so long ago, well didn't shave for a day or two - I thought I was actually heading for designer stubble - but I discovered to my absolute horror that my beard is ginger! Do you have any idea what that means in the west? Gingers are practically the last group against whom one can legally discriminate. To be a ginger (pronouced with a hard 'g's' so that it rhymes with 'winger') is to be a figure of loathing and fun.
My bro, who also grew an apology for a beard a year ago, says 'you never go hungry with a beard'. Christ is assumed to have had a beard, but that doesn't seem to have bestowed any aura of sanctity on facial fuzz as far a Christians are concerned. Perhaps in the west we like to make up our own minds about some things; things about which an Almighty, all-seeing, all powerful God, who doesn't have the benefit of fashion magazines and footballers to advise him, might be a little bit off message. We are quite comforted that God, like the rest of us, can't always get it right. I bet he really shows himself up by doing Dad-dancing at parties as well. Love, Alec xx

Amna K said...

haha! I mean... good serious post. But.. ahah! the part where you describe your own 'potential' beard is just so hilarious! ahaha! :-D

Even Muslim women grow beards. Promise. I checked under the 'abayas' once. Not that I'm making fun of the 'abaya'. I completely respect that. Just leaking some good information!

Alpha Za said...

@ Alec: All beard start with not shaving for a few days as laziness ensues and a 'designer' stubble beckons. Unfortunately it doesn't work out that way for most of us.

Ginger beard...for real? Maybe you can dye it?...purple maybe.

I think in the west they figure God cares more about ones character than ones makes rather logical sense!

@ Amna: If you ever say my potential beard you may find it worthy of the hilariousness.

I have no desire to check under a women's abaya again. Good info to leak. I'll let all the men know.

Ghausia said...

I particularly like the ending. I don't need to wear an abaya or cover my hair(Which I spent half an hour carefully styling) to be a good Muslim.

Pencil thin mustache strips lol.

Alpha Za said...

@ Ghausia: thanks for the comment, no you don't but making me a turkey sandwich would make you a fantastic caring Muslim in my book (white bread, toasted with a dash of mayo).

It's odd the things we choose to care about.

drama queen said...

"pubescent chin scraggle"
LMAO! I dont mind men with beards. It's the mustache that annoys me particularly. *jitters*
Good post!

Alpha Za said...

@ drama queen: Thanks for the comment, everyone finds the pubescent chin scraggle bit funny, but I so wish it wasn't true.

Mustaches are cool! Look at Robert Mugabe....err bad example. Brad Pitt from Inglorious basterds?

Thanks again!

Maryam said...

LMAO!! this was hilarious!

Alpha Za said...

@ Mia: Thanks for the comment. Welcome to Alpha Za, may you linger long and prosper (the latter being optional).

Ghausia said...

Food is important man. You shouldn't eat to live, but live to eat. I don't do turkey however, anything but chicken disgusts me, unfortunately for you.

Alpha Za said...

@ Ghausia: :(

Asad said...

I really liked this post.
You put my own thoughts and feelings on the beard issue into words.
Kudos. :)

Alpha Za said...

@ Asad, thank you for the comment, glad you enjoyed the post. I'll accept your kudos with whatever humility I have left.

nuffsaid. said...

Hahahahhaa! I like you, you give me hope for university AND you're amusing.


Alpha Za said...

@ Amna C: Haha, Thanks for the comment. Glad you enjoyed the post and my irreverent humor.

University is all about having fun and learning a few basic skills till you're considered old enough to be employable. You'll do fine.

Maryam Zahoor... said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maryam Zahoor... said...

//in order to be a good Muslim...well...that you actually had to act like one//

isn't dressing up a certain way an act as well?

1. as far as i know, Islam doesn't lie in a beard, but the beard Is to be respected and (in the case of men) be sported if you follow Islam.

2. //.. same logic we'd all be brushing our teeth with a siwak (tooth stick) instead of toothbrushes. //

that's illogical. in this case he never forbade anything to use anything other than miswak. miswak is an option.

however, in the case of sporting a beard, it was highly discomforting for the Prophet (S.A.W) when he once met a Sahabi (R.A) who had gotten rid of his facial hair.

3. //Is it his zealous eyes (lowered of course), his terrific posture (kept fit through repeated prayer) and most importantly a long flowy beard, //

Unfortunately (for your argument of course), that is pretty much how the Prophet (S.A.W) looked like.

eyes lowered, a humble posture and a long beard (with the moustaches trimmed short).

Alpha Za said...

@ Maryam Zahoor: Thank you for the comment. There is a massive difference between being a Muslim in spirit and actions and merely dressing up like how society thinks a 'pious fellow' looks like. Oddly enough the pious fellow image is slowly being morphed into the Pakistani Taliban.

1. Why are we respecting a beard? It makes us sound shallow.

Should we also respect someone's Allah tattoo?

2. Perhaps Sahabi didn't look very good without his beard. Besides, if you met someone who've you've always known to have a beard, without one, it's rather disconcerting.

3. I didn't know you personally knew the Prophet, you look rather sprightly for your age.

Looking like how history records the Prophet looking doesn't make you a Muslim any more than dressing up as Burqa clad Muslim lady on Halloween makes you a Ninja.

Thanks again for the comment, really enjoyed it. End of the day I'm the sort of fellow who feels that Allah judges us for how we conducted our lives, not how long our beards were.

Maryam Zahoor... said...

oh you are welcome :)

Actually the thing is that being a Muslim, I follow the Quran which says...

"O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger ...".
(Quran, Surah 4 verse 59)

How do I follow the prophet?
No, I was born 1400 years After him... so now how do I follow him?? may be Allah must have way to help me follow him?

Oh yes, The hadees and sunnah books in my school's library.. yes!

But hey even though Mr. Universe looks faintingly handsome in his currently-clean-shaved-large-square-but-soon-to-be-wrinkled-with-age-jaws, I still have to follow the Prophet (S.A.W) when he said...

*Sahih Bukhari, Book 72 ( The book of dress) , Number 780:
Narrated Nafi':

Ibn Umar said, The Prophet said, 'Do the opposite of what the pagans do. Keep the beards and cut the moustaches short.' Whenever Ibn 'Umar performed the Hajj or 'Umra, he used to hold his beard with his hand and cut whatever moustaches. Ibn Umar used to cut his moustache so short that the whiteness of his skin (above the upper lip) was visible, and he used to cut (the hair) between his moustaches and his beard.

**Sahih Bukhari, Book 72, Number 781:
Narrated Ibn 'Umar:

Allah's Apostle said, "Cut the moustaches short and leave the beard (as it is)."

now, i don't care about whether people think of me as shallow, ninja, taliba, etc. All i am concerned about is following the Prophet (S.A.W.) because I believe in the Quran.

Alpha Za said...

Haha, Self Righteous Much?

I was referring more to your indepth knowledge of how important his looks were to being the ideal Muslim.

Looks are skin deep, I'd imagine that most sensible people would agree with that sentiment.

So apparently in your mind, all the people of the book are pagans. Right. Pity the jewish orthodoxy wear beards, as do the Sikhs. There ought to be a marginal difference between Monotheists and Pagans.

I honestly don't know enough about these particular hadith or the context in that the Prophet bestowed his wisdom, or if they are even accurate (Yes, I'm one of those) or perhaps that the Prophet merely favored the look or was tolling out fashion advice.

Opposite of the Pagans sounds like a very widespread command. taking your pick.

I hope you realize that none of what you quoted came from the Quran. Though I am appreciative of the strength of your faith. It's quite wonderful actually.

Maryam Zahoor... said...

//So apparently in your mind, all the people of the book are pagans//, i don't know where u got that from.

Looks are skin deep?

What looks are you talking about?

natural beauty, to that I'd agree.

but dressing isn't looks. dressing in a certain way is an Act.

if I go and buy myself a 2-crore dress, it's extravagance.

if I wear a bikini at school, it's vulgarity.

.. and so on.

dressing is equally a part of our actions.

But again, the convo is useless if you don't believe in the hadees of the Prophet (S.A.W.)

Maryam Zahoor... said...

I did quote from the Quran btw, hope u didn't miss out the references, in the rush to argue against it.

Alpha Za said...

@ Maryam:

This is where I inferred it from.
""But hey even though Mr. Universe looks faintingly handsome in his currently-clean-shaved-large-square-but-soon-to-be-wrinkled-with-age-jaws, I still have to follow the Prophet (S.A.W) when he said...

*Sahih Bukhari, Book 72 ( The book of dress) , Number 780:
Narrated Nafi':

Ibn Umar said, The Prophet said, 'Do the opposite of what the pagans do.""

That was your connection.

I actually thought you were being humorous when you said that this surah
"O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you".
(The Holy Quran, Surah 4. "The Women", verse 59)
means that one should keep a beard.

Please don't tell me you infer keeping a beard from this. That's a bit warped, even for me. Particularly as you mesh that surah with a hadees of your choosing.

That again, you seem fairly satisfied by judging a book by it's cover (thank God the Quran has a great cover), but hey if that works for you, then great. Keep Spreading the Faith Sister Maryam!

Anyhow, this has been fun.

Rukhsana Shama said...

Yea, You are right Alpha, when you say that we judge the book by its cover. Religious interpretations and translations are taken as absolute, and literally...the fact that how intertwined the translations are with the facts of that time is ignored...*Sigh*

Alpha Za said...

@Rukhsana: Thanks for the comment. I think that at times we choose to take the easy way out by making our choices based on skin deep impressions. What can I say, it's simpler. And as much as we would like it, religion in particular is not simple. We all think we have the correct answer, and we feel that the more people that agree with us validates what we believe. Comfort in Strength in numbers rather than understanding the whys and using reasoning....sigh indeed.

Abdalla Osman said...

Dear 'Alpha Za',

I've read your post.

Well, it is obvious that your knowledge on the subject is very limited. To seek knowledge is to defeat ignorance.

Since you consider yourself to be Mulsim, and I consider myself to be one also (good, great, or not so great, only God has the right to judge), it is a responsibility of mine to point out your weaknesses to you.

Is this not being socially responsible?
Consider it to be constructive criticism.

And so I say, Peace unto you!

Now, believe me, when I say, that a Muslim advising another, benefits both, and not to be taken as an act behind which an agenda lies of shallow nature.

The Sunnah of the beard, is not only Muhammad's (phuh) tradition, but of all Prophets before him. It is mandatory, patches or no patches. No excuses.

Prophets were sent for a reason, so that people would know, what is acceptable (in God's view) regarding behavior, appearance, manners, belief, religion, pretty much every aspect of life.

This is a mercy, for those who wish to find Him, and return to Him, so they do not have to look too far.

Sure, there is no compulsion, everyone is free to choose the path they wish, but to believe there would be no consequences, is to live in denial. It is also far worse to preach what is false (remember the social responsibility I mentioned earlier).

You've posed some questions. You want proof. Understandable.

Here is your proof:

1. He who starts a good sunnah (way) will be rewarded for it, in addition to receiving rewards equal to the rewards of those who follow him into it. Whereas he who starts a bad sunnah will be burdened with it, in addition to receiving burdens equal to the burdens of those who follow him into it. [Muslim]

2. Allah does not pull the knowledge abruptly from the hearts of people, but he takes away the knowledge by taking [the lives of] the `ulamaa (true scholars). When no `ulamaa are left, people will take ignorant persons for leaders. Those will give them fatwa (religious verdicts) without knowledge. By doing this, they will stray and lead others astray as well. [Al-Bukhari]

3. A Disobedience to Allah (T)
Shaving the beard is a disobedience to Allah (T). The ruler of Yemen, appointed by the Persian emperor Kisraa, sent two envoys to the Messenger (S) to summon him. When they came into his presence, he noticed that they had shaved their beards and grew their moustaches. He hated to look at them (because of their odd appearance) and he said: Woe be to you, who told you to do so? They replied: "Our lord! (referring to Kisraa.)" The Messenger (S) then said:

But my Lord, may He be exalted and glorified, has commanded me to leave alone my beard and to trim my moustache. [Recorded by Ibn Jar r a-abar , and judged to be Hasan (good) by al-Albani.]

4. A Disobedience To the Messenger (S)
Shaving the beard is a disobedience to the Messenger (S). In many hadiths, the Messenger (S) commanded men to leave alone their beards. These different hadiths have a similar meaning:

Trim the moustache and save the beard. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Obeying the Messenger (S) in that is equivalent to obeying Allah (T) who said (what means):

He who obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allah. [An-Nisaa 4:80]

I live in Hungary. I am Hungarian. I have a beard. I look Fantastic.

I thank God, for all He has given.

Hope this was informative.

Abdalla Osman.

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