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IN order to get a handle on the rules regarding Islam and beards, today I watched video (screenshot above) showing precisely what’s permitted and what’s not with regard to facial hair.
My dive into YouTube was prompted by news that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is suing US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and the State Department on behalf of Devin Brooks, a West Virginia security guard and devout Muslim, who was told his beard for safety reasons.
In an April 18, 2022, letter, quoted in the lawsuit, a Department of State representative said:
We have these policies on beard length in place to protect the guards and to ensure that if engaged in a physical confrontation they cannot be grabbed or pulled and used to manipulate a guard in such a way as to expose their weapons.
This mention of safely is spurious, alleges CAIR in the case brought before the US District Court for the District of Columbia.
The Department of State provided only one justification for its refusal to accommodate Brooks’s faith: purported safety concerns. But vaguely gesturing towards a risk of harm isn’t enough to overcome the law’s protections for religious practice in the workplace.
In fact, the Department of State’s safety excuse rings especially hollow given that Brooks is employed
today in a very similar position at the Department of Homeland Security, which allows him to grow his beard to fist length
The lawsuit makes the point that Brooks “believes it is a sin to shave his beard below fist length.”
In a press statement CAIR said that Brooks was hired as an Armed Uniformed Protection Officer with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security by the State Department through Inter-Con, a security services company. He accepted the position after being told his beard would not be an issue.
When in mandatory training for his new position, Brooks was told that he would be sent home if he did not shave his beard. Forced to choose between his faith and his job, Brooks made the painful decision to shave. He then asked for permission to maintain a beard the length of which would be determined by holding it with his fist, a traditional length supported by many Islamic scholars.
The State Department denied Brooks’ request and later ended Brooks’ employment, forcing him to find another job.
Said CAIR Staff Attorney Zanah Ghalawanji:
A fist-length beard doesn’t pose a safety problem, and we look forward to proving that in court.
The suit says:
As result of Defendants’ unlawful actions, Brooks has suffered a loss of earnings, wages, seniority, and benefits, a loss of earning capacity, a loss of future earnings, a loss of enjoyment of life, embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress and related damages.
Defendants acted with malice and reckless indifference to Brooks’s federal protected rights.
From Just Shaver:
Shaving is not allowed in Islam because it is considered to be a form of mutilation. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘Do not mutilate yourselves.” (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 8, Book 73, Hadith 59).
There are two types of mutilation:
1) Permanent mutilation, such as cutting off a limb; and 2) Temporary mutilation, such as shaving the head or face. Both types of mutilation are forbidden in Islam.
Shaving the head or face is considered to be a temporary form of mutilation because the hair will eventually grow back. However, it is still considered to be a form of mutilation because it is an act of changing the natural state of the body, which is not allowed in Islam.
So how come circumcision and FGM gets a free pass?
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