Beards are not just for terrorists

This year I gave up on the high life and grew a beard - trust me, a bit of facial hair can change your life forever.

Syed Faiq Najeeb January 29, 2011
For years I lived any young adult’s dream; there was music, parties, banter, unorthodox festivities, substance abuse and a fair degree of foul play. Then things changed radically - it was nothing short of a revolution; I grew a beard.

After extensively studying and reading about both Islam and other religions, I started to pray five times a day and even encourage friends and colleagues towards the path of salvation. I have finally chosen spirituality over (supposed) rationality and have given up on worldly desires to pursue those of an eternal life.

Why did I grow a beard?

For me it was simple: a beard would let people know that I am a "practising" Muslim. I no longer wished to be part of activities which I used to indulge in before.

As I let the beard grow, it raised some eyebrows as people around me also noticed a visible difference in my personality. Airport authorities were interested in why I did not resemble the guy in my passport picture (the picture was taken at the Pakistan High Commission in London and I looked funkier at the time). But I did not realize what a difference my new facial hair made until I returned to Pakistan for vacation.

Bearded in Pakistan

Ironically, in Pakistan the beard has become synonymous with terms like jaali mullah (deceitful priest), chor maulvi (thief priest), dehshatgard (terrorist), or ‘brainwashed fool’. Moreover, if you happened to have a beard with no moustache, people are not afraid to call you ‘Taliban’ to your face.

Bearded people particularly when they wear shalwar kameez (the national dress of Pakistan) are regarded as criminals, kidnappers or rapists. What is worrying is that everyone has a story to tell of how they have been wronged in some way by a ‘bearded mullah-type person’.

Beards badnaam hui...

Sadly, some do feel that a beard and all that it represents, gives you the ‘licence to kill’ in Pakistan. It seems that far too many have taken advantage of the beard to gain the trust of innocent people merely to wrong them. What these sinning souls have done is tarnish the image of the beard which was once the symbol of a pure mo’min (believer of Islam).

So, therein lies the lesson: with great beard comes great responsibility.
Syed Faiq Najeeb A teaching assistant and PhD Student in Finance at the University of Nottingham in Malaysia.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


BP | 13 years ago | Reply Faiq sahib, you seem educated enough to know there is no h in mulla. Why then do you give in to propagating an error.
redsnapper | 13 years ago | Reply You say, "a beard would let people know that I am a “practising” Muslim. I no longer wished to be part of activities which I used to indulge in before." Why do you have to let people know you're a practicing Muslim? If it is to stop being part of "activities", a simple NO would be enough. This shows you don't have the courage to say NO and want your old associates to move back automatically after seeing your beard. The other thing with neo-converts like you is that instead of having a life based on faith and belief, you guys like to do things which only outwardly show you as the pious ones. Beards, tableegh etc. Pretty insecure wouldn't you agree? Rather than build self-confidence you hide behind a label. And then blame others for doubting you. Slick.
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