This article was originally published on ciibroadcasting.com
Scientific and social research has shattered the myth that men with beards are unattractive. The Quran and Sunnah have always enlightened us to the benefits of the beard and now modern science has recognised them as well.
Cii Radio spoke with Dr Gohar Mushtaq, author of the 2001 book Growing a Beard In Light of the Quran, Sunnah and Modern Science, about his upcoming revised edition. Mustaq has authored a number of subjects considered controversial by some sections of the Muslim community and troubling to Muslim youth.
“In addition to Quran and Sunnah which are superior to everything else I also decided to write about the hikmah (wisdom) of those [subjects] in the language of the modern age which is science,” said Mushtaq.
The beard is a distinct part of the way Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) looked and reviving this greatly neglected Sunnah, as per the Hadith, influenced Mushtaq to write about the beard despite it being regarded by some as a “trivial matter in a world with many major issues that need discussing”.
“Another reason is that now we have the apologetics and modernists amongst the Muslims. We even have those people who are what Imams called inventor sheikhs or scholars for dollars who are actually creating a lot of misunderstandings… All these people have played their part in creating this misunderstanding that the beard is only a mustahabb (recommended) but in reality the beard is actually something which is Waajib (compulsory) and it is a communal identity. Just as Hijaab is communal identity of Muslim women, the beard is communal identity for Muslim men.”
The Islamic beard is meant to look like that of our beloved Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and be a fist length long. Men who are unable to grow a beard can find comfort in the hadith in which a Sahabah who only could grow a beard of a few hairs had cut them and Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) asked him why he had cut it when the angels used to play and swing on those hairs.
Various psychological, social and scientific studies conducted since 1973 prove the male bearded face is regarded as more masculine, independent, sophisticated and mature as compared to a clean shaven male face. From his studies, social scientist Dr Daniel Friedman concluded that the beard actually increases sexual magnetism and attractiveness and makes a man more appealing to women. The presence of a beard makes a man appear more masculine to a woman and she feels more feminine towards him.
In another research professional photographs of eight Caucasian men in four different stages of beardedness, the full beard, goatee, moustache and clean shaven, were captured to obtain an unbiased result about the impression of a man’s personality based on the presence or absence of the beard. What they found was there “was a positive correlation between the amount of hair on the face and the person was perceived as masculine, good looking, dominant, mature, courageous, liberal, non conforming, older and self confident”.
Sometimes Muslim youth are pressured to shave their beards to better their chances of finding a job or a bride. Social research scientists examined the influence of facial hair on the perception of job applicants by business professionals. Over a hundred men and women in management positions responsible for hiring decisions at 177 different companies in four major cities in Texas judged six male job applicants, dressed in business suits each with three facial hair dimensions, clean shaven, moustache and bearded.
The results demonstrated there were more positive perceptions of social and physical attractiveness, personality, competency and composure for men with facial hair. Again shattering the myth. Bearded men, by the research were perceived as more honest, professional, reliable and charismatic.
Additional to this there are various medical benefits to the beard. Among these, it corrects facial flaws and gives more uniformity to the face. The beard protects from harmful chemicals and pollution in the air which may cause cell damage and increase wrinkling. Research concludes beard hair is different compared to cranial hair and has the ability to absorb more harmful chemicals or vapours in the air before they would get to the skin. The beard protects the skin glands from being attacked by bacteria, preventing acne or pimples. Some doctors have also prescribed growing a beard for a chronic cough.
“Shaytaan has victory early in the morning over those Muslims who start their day by disobeying Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) by shaving their faces. What can we expect for ourselves in following the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) when we have already lost the first battle against shaytaan in the morning,” writes Mushtaq.
With the war on Islam so evident, many men disregard the beard so as not to be conspicuous targets for Islamophobia. But there are also deep psychological reasons for people’s inferiority complex when it comes to wearing a beard explains Mushtaq. “As Albert Mamy wrote that the colonised people do not merely seek to enrich themselves with the coloniser’s virtues, they actually try to look like the coloniser because they start to suffer from the inferiority complex.” After imperialist countries colonised Muslim countries and then left, dismantling their educational systems leaving their secular one in its place, “Muslims were classically conditioned and they were brainwashed to think that they have to look like their coloniser.”
“In addition to that with the advent of the media, Muslims are being bombarded with images of beardless men, or clean shaven men in the movies, sports, advertisements, on billboards, in magazines, on television. Everywhere they are bombarded they are bombarded with this image and they started to think that it is the norm whereas that is actually the deviance in the society but Muslims started to view it as the norm in society.”
Huge aspects of Islamic practices have been eroded by western practices. A contention raised by many Muslims is that Islam is in their heart resulting in a battle between Islam being in the heart only versus Islam being on the outside also.
“We have to go to Quraan and Sunnah and we know that Quraan doesn’t just talk about the heart … but the Quraan talks about not only belief but also that we do good deeds. So, just a statement without the action is actually meaningless. When we look at Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the Sahabah (radiallahu anhum), then we’ll notice that they were the people of action. The Quraan itself is a book of action. It is not a ceremonial book which has to be recited and put on the shelf. The Quraan is actually a book of action and that action has to be manifested from our limbs. That is part of Imaan, not only statement but action also. That statement that Islam is in my heart is absolutely not accepted and that statement must have been first concocted by shaytaan and then it became popular among the Muslims. I sincerely believe that.”
It is important to note that the beard is a sign of respectability and religiosity in other cultures including the faiths of the people of the book. They also looked at the beard until a certain point as a symbol of their faith and piety. It is detrimental to one’s faith to cut out the Sunnah from their life.
“Quraan and Hadith make the Shari’ah and Islamic scholars, for example Imam Ibn al Qayyum al Jawziyyah, said that the whole purpose of Islamic Shari’ah [which the West is very afraid of these days, just to hear this word], the whole purpose of Shari’ah is to benefit the people and to remove harm from the people. We may not be able to understand the wisdom (hikmah) behind every single commandment of Islam and we don’t have to but it would only increase our Imaan.”
To those encountering challenges in growing a beard shouldn’t be judged but encouraged as Allah SWT alone knows who has Taqwa.
“The beard is that Sunnah which is waajib, it is not something which is just recommended. I believe those Muslims without a beard also sincerely love Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) as much as the bearded Muslims and we just have to emphasise that if you love Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) remember that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) may turn his face away from you when he is going to see you at the Fountain of Kauthar on the Day of Judgement and inshaAllah that will be effective [in encouraging] because really Rasulullah’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) personality is the centre in Islam and every Muslim loves him.”
LISTEN TO CII RADIO’S INTERVIEW WITH DR MUSHTAQ HERE