A preacher in Turkey has caused uproar after making comments suggesting clean-shaven men ‘cannot be distinguished from women’ leading to ‘indecent thoughts’.
Speaking on the religious TV station Fatih Medreseleri (Madrasahs), Islamic preacher Murat Bayaral criticised beardless men and said there is ‘no need to receive permission’ from wives for a man to shave their beard.
According to the Hurriyet Daily News, the preacher said a beard is ‘one of two’ body parts differentiating men and women.
Men should grow beards. One of the two body parts that separate men from women is the beard.
For example, if you see a man with long hair from afar you may think he is a woman if he does not have a beard. Because nowadays women and men dress similarly. God forbid! You could be possessed by indecent thoughts.
According to Newsweek, a beard is widely considered a ‘symbol of devout Muslim men’. The Prophet Muhammad is believed to have had a beard, and religious Muslims ‘try to emulate him’.
But many Islamic scholars argue that it is not obligatory for Muslim men to wear beards, and there is nothing in the Quran that suggests men must grow their facial hair.
Bayaral’s comments have caused some kind of backlash, obviously.
Magdalena Kirchner, a fellow at the Istanbul Policy Centre, said outbursts like Bayaral’s are not uncommon.
She told Newsweek:
Turkish debates on piety and modesty reoccur frequently.
Erdogan declared in 2012 his intent to raise ‘devout generations,’ and former Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinç stated in 2014 that women should not laugh out loud in public.
This latest talk comes as Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ‘takes the country down an increasingly religious path’ with a new version of Islamic nationalism, writes Newsweek.
Erdoğan has ‘increasingly recommended’ religion become a part of public life.
This year, classes on evolution have been ‘removed from public school’ classes, and the government has permitted girls to wear headscarves in school, which was prohibited in the past.
‘One of two body parts’, is my favourite bit of the quote – I thought I knew a bit of biology.