BEARD: NOT SYMBOL OF A TERRORIST

2012-08-09 21:12

Muslims and conscience driven individuals are shocked at the manner in which Muhammed Fayaaz Kazi died following an assault in Ventersdorp. North West Premier Thandi Modise and Former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils have also condemned the assault. (News24, August 9).

According to reports the perpetrators of this heinous crime allegedly made some racial slurs, made mockery of the deceased’s beard and called him ‘a terrorist’.

While emotions are running high, it is important to stoke that fire correctly, constructively and usefully in order to ensure that human rights and justice are achieved and promoted. One of the beautiful names of Almighty God in Islam is “the Peace” and his path is described as “the path of peace”. Muslims are also taught in the Quran to “enter into peace” and to avoid conflict, which is depicted as a satanic endeavour.

Unfortunately, after September 11 and the escalation of the “war on terror”, for no justified reason, a cloud of suspicion continually hovers over many ordinary and peace loving Muslims, not only in the United States of America, but all over the World.

Undoubtedly some quarters of the mass media are responsible for widespread misinformation, if not ignorance, about Islam and related issues. Groups or individuals who kill innocent people are not martyrs or Muslims but are heretics for Islam forbids violence and unjust killings.

While in the Western mass media the late Bin Laden, Al Qaeda and terrorism featured often and significantly, the late Al-Qaeda leader and his organisation barely features in Islamic media. Images depicting Muslim men with beards brandishing rifles, women in black cloaks shouting anti-American or Western slogans is now mistakenly identified by some as being part of the Islamic teachings. One of the many shortcomings which have arisen, especially in the West, is judging Muslims by the behaviour and conduct of a minority of misguided followers. Such thinking distorts the true teachings and reality of Islam. Muslim identity is no longer an expression of faith but is regarded or taken as being an extremist person or terrorist or fundamentalist.

It seems, having a long beard, wearing a hijaab or nikaab (headscarf, veil or covering the face by Muslim women), are now grounds to be insulted, harassed, and in some cases violently abused, by ignorant and prejudiced groups or individuals.

Just as with other faiths like Judaism, Sikhism or Christianity, faithfulness in Islam does not imply violence, coercion or extremism, but rather a commitment to being spiritual, caring, sharing, empowering and peaceful co- existence with every creation of Almighty God irrespective of race, colour, gender, creed or nationality.

The beard has great significance in most Abrahamic faiths and most priests, clerics, religious personnel and ordinary people have beards.

The tradition of growing the beard in Islam has its roots in the teachings of the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH). Prophet Mohamed said: “Trim the moustaches short and leave the beard long” (Sahih Bukhari). Most Islamic scholars, religious authorities and ordinary Muslims wear or have beards to fulfil this prophetic injunction and in emulation of the Prophet.

This is what many individuals fail to understand about Muslim males who choose to correctly express their devotion to Prophet Mohamed and Islam by growing their beards.

The Beard, turban, head gear, Muslim woman covering herself and the kurta (clothes that some Muslim men wear) should not be taken as a symbol of backwardness or associated with terrorism and violence.

In making wild allegations against Islam - ignorance generally plays a large role in these claims. Individuals that condemn Islam and its followers need to study Islam with a neutral mind and examine the actions of true believers who live by the proper values and teachings of Islam.

Islam and its teachings are not the problem. Misrepresentation, ignorance, inequalities, injustice, greed and fear mongers are our obstacles to progress and to co-existence.

We all need to join the increasing chorus of voices and contribute to the global movements that are striving to ensure that human rights, justice, equality and a life of dignity are attained for all.

We should not accept injustices to individuals of other beliefs or heartlessly ill-treat them because of their different faiths, but embrace them as fellow human beings with common hopes and dreams for their loved ones as we wish for ours.

In conclusion I quote once again from our internationally acclaimed statesman Mr Nelson Mandela: “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another”.

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