Balochistan: Styling your beard could get you in trouble

Dr Abduljalil Sajid
Dr Abduljalil Sajid

Trimming your beard in a stylish fashion is an offence in several parts of Balochistan.

On Monday, authorities in Balochistan’s Dilbadin city issued an order prohibiting barbers from trimming beards in a fashionable way. A notice issued by the assistant commissioner of the city said legal action will be taken against those violating the order.

“Keeping in view the Sunnah of Holy Prophet (PBUH), all barbers are directed not to cut their customers’ beards with designs,” the order said. “There is a complete ban on this act.”

However, the order was withdrawn later in the day, saying the issuance of such decrees weren’t within his jurisdiction.

Interestingly, this is not the first time Balcohistan has attracted international attention for its attempts to banning stylish beards. Last year, the local administration in Kharan and Ormara in Gwadar District banned fashionable beards saying it was against religious norms.

Religious intolerance

Many feel these orders point towards deeper problem of religious intolerance in the country.

Dr. Shah Muhammad Marri, author and socio-cultural critic, told media outlet TNS that putting a ban on trimming beards is a result of conservative mentality. “When university students demand for ban on beard trimming and ACs issue orders to that end, then we have a much bigger problem which is not limited to religious seminaries only,” said Marri.

The Taliban, back in 2007, issued similar orders urging clean-faced men to grow beard, or face consequences. In 2015, the Islamic State had also issued a decree ordering all men in Mosul to grow beards, saying shaving of facial hair is forbidden under Shari’a law.

Muslims and beard

There is a lot of debate on whether it is compulsory for Muslims to grow beard. Religious figures who insist that devout practitioners of Islam grow facial hair do so because Prophet Muhammad is believed to have had a beard. They want followers of Islam to emulate the Prophet’s actions.

However, there are others who feel wearing of beards should not be enforced upon followers of Islam. “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,” Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid, an Islamic scholar, was quoted as saying by the BBC.