Sunday, January 20, 2013

Middle East going Crazy For Mustaches, Sunnah Beards get no Love.

This ridonkulous newsbit I found on CNN.com below doesn't have an emoticon or internet acronym out there that can capture even an iota of its absurdity. Apparently, men in the Middle East have such a soft spot in their hearts (and a hard spot in their crotches) for big bushy Mustaches. 

Click the link here or just read the article entitled "Mideast Men Go Under the Knife for Manly Mustaches" and take special note of what I've highlighted in bold:


(CNN) -- Thick, handsome mustaches have long been prized by men throughout the Middle East as symbols of masculine virility, wisdom and maturity.

But not all mustaches are created equal, and in recent years, increasing numbers of Middle Eastern men have been going under the knife to attain the perfect specimen.
Turkish plastic surgeon Selahattin Tulunay says the number of mustache implants he performs has boomed in the last few years. He now performs 50-60 of the procedures a month, on patients who hail mostly from the Middle East and travel to Turkey as medical tourists.

He said his patients generally want thick mustaches as they felt they would make them look mature and dignified.

"For some men who look young and junior, they think (a mustache) is a must to look senior ... more professional and wise," he said. "They think it is prestigious."
Pierre Bouhanna is a Paris-based surgeon who, for the past five years, has been performing increasing numbers of mustache implants. He says the majority of his patients come from the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Lebanon and Turkey, with men traveling to France to have the surgery performed.

"My impression is more and more they want to establish their male aspect," he said. "They want a strong mustache."

Both surgeons use a technique -- follicular unit extraction -- in which groups of hairs are taken from areas of dense hair growth to be implanted in the mustache area.
Bouhanna said the patients were generally aged between 30 and 50, and were able to fly home the day after they had the procedure, which costs about $7,000 (€5,500) and is performed under local anesthetic.

They are able to wash the next day, had to abstain from shaving for 15 days, and could expect to see full results after six months.

Tulunay said some of his patients had specific looks in mind. "They have some celebrities as role models," he said -- Turkish singer and actor Ibrahim Tatlises had a look that many wished to emulate. Politicians in the region had also sought out his services to boost their appeal to voters.

Andrew Hammond, a Saudi Arabia-based journalist and author on Arab popular culture, said the mustache has a long history in the region.

"Having a mustache was always a big thing, ever since the Ottoman time," he said. "Most Arab leaders have mustaches, or some form of facial hair. I think culturally it suggests masculinity, wisdom and experience. "

Saddam Hussein's bushy whiskers were among the world's most recognizable, but all of Iraq's presidents before and since have also sported mustaches, as did Nasser and Sadat of Egypt (and the kings and sultans before them), Turkey's Erdogan (and the two prime ministers before him), Syria's Assad (and his father before him).

Christa Salamandra, an associate professor of anthropology at City University of New York, said that "traditionally, a luxurious mustache was a symbol of high social status," and had figured heavily in matters of personal honor in the Arab world. Men swore on their mustaches in sayings and folk tales, used them as collateral for loans and guarantees for promises, and sometimes even shaved their opponents' lips as a punishment.

The notion of a man's personal honor being bound up with his mustache appears to have survived into more recent times in some areas.

In 2008, militants in Gaza abducted a Fatah opponent and shaved off his mustache to dishonor him, while in 2003, in the lead up to the Second Gulf War, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri -- a senior aide to Hussein and, like the rest of the former Iraqi leader's inner circle, himself mustachioed -- created headlines when he yelled "Curse be upon your mustache!" at a Kuwaiti counterpart at an emergency summit of Islamic states.

Visitors to the region, too, have long seen a value in growing a mustache to help earn respect.

The American diplomat Joel Barlow, who in 1795 was posted as U.S. consul to Algiers, wrote to his wife that he had grown a thick black mustache, which gave him "the air of a tiger," and had proved useful in his work in the region.

More than 200 years later, a unit of American Marines in Iraq's Sunni stronghold of Fallujah attempted to follow his example in 2004, growing mustaches in an attempt to help them win local sympathies.

In Turkey, different styles of mustache carry their own political nuances. According to one research paper, mustaches with drooping sides signify a conservative, nationalist bent, left-wingers favor mustaches like Stalin, while a "political religious" mustache is carefully groomed, with "cleanliness as its guiding principle."
 Alright, alright you can stop laughing now because to the Middle Easterners, this is not a joke. Mustaches are serious business, my friend.

This article stood out to me because for myself, being Pakistani, I always noticed that Paki folk LOVED mustaches. Everyone had them. You were either clean shaven, or had a mustache, there was no in-between. If you had a beard, you were a religious nut. The average joes who decided to beard it up were made fun of for being too "extreme" and the Mullahs (sheikhs, imams or religious leaders) are treated like the guy on the street corner saying 2012 is the end of the world.

The funny tidbit from the article was the classes of mustaches which are notable and the "poltical religious mustache" being a popular trend. What religion is this? Islam? If I recall, the only mentioning of facial hair in regards to the religion were beards, not pube-y, caterpillar looking staches. And the fact that men are are going under the knife in droves just to make sure they have a fuzzy lip-buddy that'll put Stalin's to shame, is just unbelievable.

My dad even has a mustache and that's always been his style. I often wondered why he wouldn't change it up and when I got older and gained more Islamic knowledge about the obligation (pretty much) for a Muslim to don a beard, I wondered why my father wasn't adhering to the sunnah(practice) of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the hadith of "letting your beards grow and trimming your mustaches off/short".

Personally, I've never liked mustaches myself. In my younger days while tinkering with a razor blade, I groomed myself a mustache and just looked like a Pakistani version of Super Mario; it was not a good look for me. There's only a certain niche of people that can pull it off, and they ain't Muslim so the sunnah doesn't apply to them (Eddie Murphy; can you imagine him without that big ol' mustache?, Ron Swanson from "Parks and Recreation" would be nothing without his bushy tag team partner and "The Simpsons" Ned Flanders couldn't be his lovable corny Bible-thumpin self without his hairy diddily-doodily)




I'm not trying to hate on those that wear whiskers, but the question I want to bring up is why is there so much hate towards a beard? I was watching a documentary a while back that covered crime and corruption in Karachi, Pakistan and at one point it showed a police raid of a village looking for suspected Taliban members. 

All the Pakistani and supposedly practicing Muslim po-pos run up on the village and scan for Taliban operatives and nab a guy. A defenseless old man who had a beard. That was evidence enough for them. They took pictures for the media like a ghetto version of George W. Bushes "Mission Accomplished" photo op and took the dude to jail. There was nothing that indicated the man of any wrongdoing. But beard=religious nut. Mustache=pious, sexy, masculine, honorable studmuffin. Ugh.

From a Muslim perspective, I've heard guys make cases that it shouldn't matter. Some don't grow it in their countries because of the unwanted negative attention that would be received from it, others complain that beards are too itchy and make people look poor and raggedy. I beg to differ. You can keep the sunnah and still look gorgeous with a nice beard. I mean come on, look at me!



The way I see it, you have Muslim women who wear hijab. Yeah a good number don't and still spout that they can be religious without wearing the headscarf but for the ones that do, they should be lauded and given the utmost respect for walking out in public like a steak thrown to a pack of wolves and perservering through the weird looks, catcalls and insensitivity for the sake of pleasing their creator. I feel the beard is the male equivilent of the headscarve. Just like how you can immediately tell a sister is Muslim when she has a headscarf, my sunnah beard is that badge to the public saying I'm a Muslim male and I'm not afraid to show it.

But whatever Middle East mustache crew, screw the sunnah of the Prophet then, it's your loss. I'll take a nice clean-cut well-groomed beard over a Hitler 'stache anyday!




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