Facial Hair

It’s time to address the issues that matter. From Online Pravda:

by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

“You can say a lot about a person from an analysis of his beard”, according to barber Nazirullah, in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Barber Nazirullah declares that “Osama Bin Laden is a leader and a fighter. He does not need luxury or comfort. He is a man who can lead a hard life for a long time. He is not worried about anything else”.

Barber Nazirullah says that a man’s beard, in his culture, can speak volumes about his character. “You can say a lot about someone from the way they grow their beard. Cuts depend on tribal custom and personal preference”. He states that his family have been barbers for three generations and that he understands intrinsically the psyche behind the beard.

“All Afghans have a beard. It is very important. You can only shave it off to go to a funeral or maybe for the first night with your wife”. Regarding Osama Bin Laden, barber Nazirullah is certain that “he is not worried about his beard like a young man. He lets it grow strongly and naturally. He is also greying, which shows a certain degree of wisdom”.

Concerning Taleban leader Mullah Omar, barber Nazirullah declares that “I have heard that he has a good beard. Some say that it grows a lot over his nose. Normally, religious people let it grow below the nose”.

Do you think that you understand — intrinsically or otherwise — the “psyche behind the beard”? There might, of course, be another reason as to why all Afghan men have a beard. Ahmed Rashid, in the fine book that Tony Blair’s supposed to be reading at the moment, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia reminds us (pp.114-5) that:

“The plight of Afghanistan’s women often hid the fact that urban males did not fare much better under the Taliban, especially non-Pashtuns. All Kabul males were give just six weeks to grow a full beard, even though some of the ethnic groups such as the Hazaras have very limited beard growth. Beards could not be trimmed shorter than a man’s fist, leading to jokes that Afghanistan’s biggest import-export business was male facial hair and that men did not need visas to travel to Afghanistan, they just needed a beard. The religious police stood at street corners cutting off long hair and often beating culprits…”

If the reindeer is the counter-giraffe (see below), is the eponymous hero of the magnificent Njal’s Saga, a wise Icelander, famous for his inability to grow a beard – and mocked on that account by his enemies, best understood as the counter-Osama-bin-Laden? It’s a fascinating thought.

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