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Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam ( 14 Jun 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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What’s In a Beard: Christianity or Islam?


By Craig Considine

June 14, 2013

Cathie Adams, former chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, stated recently in her speech ”Radical Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood” that a beard is a sign of a man’s Muslim identity.

In the speech, which is posted online by the Far North Dallas Tea Party, Adams can be heard saying that Grover Norquist, a conservative Republican and founder of Americans for Tax Reform, is showing signs of being Muslim, citing his beard as evidence. Norquist is “trouble with a capital T,” Adams added, “As you can see he has a beard, and he’s showing signs of converting to Islam himself.”

Adams highlights an important stereotype: that having a beard means that you are a Muslim. I am frequently confronting this stereotype because while I am not a Muslim, I do have a beard. I am often asked if my beard is a sign of my “Muslimness.” Even my family and friends have wondered if my ever-growing beard is a sign of my conversion to Islam.

A recent article in the Guardian by actor Alex Andreou sums up my experiences of having a beard:

Andreou, who grew a beard for an acting job, wrote about an experience in getting on a bus, at which point passengers gave a collective “oh crap” roll of the eyes. One woman even pointed at him, leaned over and said: “Stop it, or I’ll call the terrorist.” Feeling like the “monster under the bed,” Andreou experienced emotions which many people with a “Muslim appearance” deal with regularly.

My beard, like Andreou’s, is not a sign of my Muslim identity, but rather a different identity. For me: it’s a Catholic identity. That’s right, my Catholic identity. In fact, there is nothing wrong with a Catholic or any other Christian man having a beard.

The Bible and other artefacts of Christian history show us the long history of the beard in Christianity. The most clear biblical passage to condone beards comes from Leviticus (19:27):

“You shall not cut the hair on the sides of your heads; neither shall you clip off the edge of your beard.” To cut off another man’s beard, according to Samuel (10:4) is an outrage.

According to Jeremiah (41:5), to shave or pluck one’s own beard was only appropriate during times of mourning. In other passage of Holy Scripture, Leviticus (21:5) states that “You shall not shave your beard for the dead [a pagan practice] with a baldness on the… continue reading @

A Point worthy of note:

Every prophet (including Jesus (pbuh) is always portrayed with a beard.

 That brings up another discussion: What do you call a Brown Guy with a Beard?

Ever wondered what a Brown guy with a Beard is called?

…few months back my brother and I came to the realization that it is Wajib (command) on Muslim men to have beard.

Different people were asking me questions about why I am not shaving, what does it represent? Is beard the tribal pride or something? Of course there were some Muslim brothers who were supportive of this, many thanks to them for being there and more importantly to Allah Ta’ala for giving me the company of such friends.

I really like when people are eager to learn and they ask me questions. So I was happy that people were asking me questions that they would not ask such questions before but there were some others who resort to passing out judgement.

One such judgement among others was that my brother looks like a “Mini bin Laden.” This came to me shocking; I have heard the word “Terrorist” before but never thought that some people would actually compare us with Bin Laden. So I replied back saying that “It is like I see a picture of Jesus and I say that he looks like Bin Laden!“

The rebuttal was even more stunning. I was told: “He (Jesus) was White not Brown!” At that point I gave up, I thought it is useless to argue the colour of Jesus Christ, because if I started on this topic it might offend other Christians around me who might not agree with this particular person.

This mentality leads to the support of racial profiling on Airports; this mentality can even lead to the support for policies that might force Muslims…  What do you call a Brown Guy with a Beard?

Craig Considine is a Ph.D. candidate, Trinity College Dublin; Film director, ‘Journey into America’; Interfaith activist