Penjihad's Blog

"To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable"

Beards & Chinese Oppression of Muslims

Normally, this blog is only for my own thoughts that I want to share with others but once in a rare while, I come across something that demands to be placed in my blog and Revd. Father Frank Gelli’s “Rant” is one such piece. A British Anglican Priest, Fr. Gelli and I have been long acquainted. I find his thoughts to be very reflective of my own beliefs except that he is a bit more scholarly than I could aspire to being (did I just say that?).

For those who use the word “Trrrrzm” rather loosely and as an echo of the institutional search for Muslim enemies, Fr. Frank’s article might be a bit enlightening as to what is happening to Muslims in China and why Muslims there and in other places as well, might be tempted to lash back at their own country. Then again, if you would like to understand a brief history of beards, you came to the right place…

Here is his article in its entirety, English spelling and all….

Rant N. 727          18 May 17
‘Abnormal beards’ are forbidden. In China’s huge Xinjiang region. Because they could stir up ‘religious fervour’. Meaning of course Islamic consciousness. As the area is East Turkestan, home to a Muslim nation, the Turkic-speaking Uighurs. An ancient people, mentioned in Marco Polo’s medieval travels. Now struggling against alien, forced assimilation to preserve their culture and their religion. An unequal fight, like David versus Goliath. Perhaps 15 million Uighurs against 1.300 million, mostly Chinese. Looks desperate so…why are Beijing’s pseudo-Communist rulers scared by peaceful facial hair?
Or not so peaceful? Many Uighurs have flocked to the black banners of ISIS, the barbarous, head-chopping Caliphate. The ‘abnormal beard’ is then a sign of militancy or extremism. But would the Uighurs have turned to violent Jihad if they had been permitted to practice their faith in their own land? To give their children Muslims names? To pray at home and in the mosque? And to grow their beards as bushy or ragged as they wished? Maybe it is the repression that has helped to radicalise them. Beijing has made a rod for its own back.

The Qur’an does not mandate beard-wearing. However, at least one Prophetic hadith says ‘trim the moustache short and leave the beard’. (is that why Turkey’s Erdogan, a creeping Islamist, wears a tiny, rather ridiculous moustache?) Sharia’ law of course blends both Qur’an and hadiths. Whether beard-wearing is obligatory or not is disputed. Depends on the particular school of Islamic law. That also regulates the beard’s length, style and so on. The imitation of the Prophet Muhammad for some includes wearing a certain kind of beard, though the beard of Shia’ Muslims is usually short. Despite Ayatollah Khomeini’s substantial beard. That suggests the type of beard depends on hierarchy, spiritual rank. A former President of Iran, Ayatollah Rafsanjani, was mocked because he could not grow a proper beard. Tough.

On a trip to East Turkestan, I was struck by how many words spoken in the local souks were Turkish-sounding. When I tried out my modest Turkish, people festively gathered about me, as if I was a returned lost relative. They assumed I was a Turk. A burly fellow with a wispy beard (that was before radicalisation, I suppose) pointed to his daughter, suggesting I had found a wife. An offer I was sad to decline, as the girl was rather pretty. When I inquired about their lives, the people lowered their voices and glanced about, fearing being overheard. Some Chinese-looking men nearby seemed police spies. An old guy said through an interpreter: ‘We aren’t free. They are destroying our culture. We can’t fast during Ramadan. I can’t go on the pilgrimage. The young aren’t allowed into the mosque.’ So much for Beijing’s hypocritical assertions of religious freedom.

Beards are no exclusive Muslim prerogative. Eastern Orthodox priests also must wear them. In Catholic Christianity beards are recommended for the goodly Capuchin friars – my favourite religious Order. And I have seen Protestant Evangelicals sporting the prickly stuff. Imitation of Christ? No doubt he wore a beard, a Hebrew sign of virility and dignity, but, unlike in Islam, there is no Christian ‘Sunna’. No tradition or duty to imitate the outward habits or customs of first century Palestine, like wearing a tunic, sandals and being circumcised. One who desires to follow Christ should strive after his sublime teachings, not waste time in outward similarities.

There are also left-wing, revolutionary beards. From Karl Marx’s bushy one to Fidel Castro’s ragged affair – via Lenin’s neat goatee. The Italian national hero, Garibaldi, wore a fair beard and so did his feisty followers. However, that was more general fashion than ideology. The Victorians too sported fine beards but it had little to do with politics. As to ancient Greek philosophers, I imagine they all wore beards. Emblems of wisdom, virility, asceticism, all that wonderful patriarchal stuff.

Paranoia about Muslims apart, beard-phobia isn’t new. In both French and Italian “c’est une barbe” – being a beard – means being a bore. My girl-friend Maria swore she’d abandon me if I dared to grow a beard. (I grew it later, not to annoy her but out of youthful ‘Sturm und Drang’.) Emperor Julian the Apostate actually wrote an essay – The Beard-Hater – in amusing satire against the snooty, clean-shaven people of Antioch. He boasted about lice teeming in his beard – hope that was a joke!

China is desperate to crush Uighur nationalism. Because Uighur resistance might encourage other minorities to rebel. That’s why the Communist dictatorship screams about separatism and terrorism. But Human Rights organisations document plenty of oppression against the Uighurs. Further, Beijing has altered the ethnic make-up of the population, pouring in millions of immigrant Chinese, while forcing natives to emigrate. ‘Nativism’ has become a dirty word in the liberal West but for the Uighurs it means sheer survival. The survival of their people, their culture and their religion.

China is plugged as the economic and financial wonder of the world. An unbelievable success story. Even Trump cosies up to it. Yet the Communist regime is insecure. Above all, it fears religion. From the harmless Falun Gong meditation practitioners with their breathing exercises to the Catholic Church, threatened by a ‘patriotic’, alternative entity subservient to the atheist authorities. But it is above all Islam, a beard-wearing faith on the march, which could be the nemesis of the heirs of Mao’s Long March. God willing.
Revd Frank Julian Gelli

May 18, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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