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Beards: Religious, Hipster, or Both?

During Ramadan, Ummahsonic tackled a whole host of topics in our podcast – one of the most popular of which was the debate on beards. At a time when facial fuzz is becoming a must have accessory for men, questions are raised in the argument of religion versus fashion; are beards a religious necessity for Muslims? Are they a fashion statement for Muslims (and non-Muslims for that matter)? Or are they actually a bit of both? Recently we sent our team onto the streets of London to find some beards…

According to a BBC website article from 2010, beards for Muslim men are a matter of recommendation, rather than compulsory. Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid says: “In my opinion, this is a bit like the issue of women wearing headscarves. It is not one of the compulsory pillars of Islam, like prayer or fasting”. Furthermore, the article states that because The Prophet Muhammad was believed to have had a beard, the practice is simply a way of emulating his actions in modern life. That’s certainly the case for American rapper Stalley, who by definition refers to himself as “not your traditional Muslim”, but that his beard is “something that keeps me grounded and rooted to the religion”. So is a new generation of young Muslim men, who aren’t necessarily devout, growing beards in an effort to have a connection to Islam?

If the reasons for having a beard aren’t as traditional as they once were, neither are the ways the hair is maintained. What was once a case of a quick trim (or not, for that matter) has now morphed into a labyrinth of options for grooming. Everything from special combs and brushes, through to flavoured waxes (vanilla and mango anyone?) are now available for the discerning beard-carrier. I guess the argument here would be: if you’re going to do something, take it seriously…

The fact remains that there are those who wear a beard for their religion, those who wear it for fashion, and probably those who wear it because, really, they’re too lazy to shave.

Where do you stand on the big beard debate? Listen to our Ramadan podcast on the subject here.

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