Between Beard And Muslimness
THE other day Satiricus read in the papers that “the US Supreme Court appears likely to side with a prison-inmate who said his Muslim beliefs require him to grow a half-inch beard”. Well, now, what does Satiricus have to say about this supreme legal acumen of the Supreme Court of America? He admits the hirsuit pursuit of Islam is beyond this hopeless Hindu. But he recalls that some years ago there had been a heated debate on this very topic in Pakistan’s parliament. A controversy had arisen when the Pakistan Air Force ordered its pilots to do away with their untamed beards, and many pak Pak parliamentarians had condemned the fiat as “secular”, that is, anti-Islamic. Satiricus does not now recall what finally happened to this hairy heresy and what exact length of beard was determined as acceptably Islamic. Nor does he know the evidence produced before the US Supreme Court to satisfy the learned judges that a half-inch beard is enough for full faith in Islam. Maybe the judges decided in their wisdom that despite a half-inch beard the said prisoner need not be considered only half a Muslim. But Satiricus cannot help wondering—if the length of a Muslim’s beard determines his Muslimness, would that mean no beard would mean not a Muslim at all? And thereby hangs a tale. Years ago a friend had shown Satiricus a picture of a mansharp eyes, a clean-cut face, a vaguely Indian-style turban. What’s this, Satiricus asked. It’s a photo of an ancient painting kept in a museum in a middle-eastern Muslim country, the friend replied. Who is he, Satiricus asked. Prophet Mohammed, the friend replied! Satiricus stared at the man’s face in the picture. It was without a beard! This clean-shaven cuss was clean bowled.