Let’s list the words we most use to associate events with Islamist fanatics:

JIHADIST – This word refers to any Muslim who involves himself in the delusional global project of fighting non-Muslims and “unauthentic co-religionists” violently in order to destroy their “evil” civilizations or to convert them to the “true faith”.  Ousama Bin Laden was a jihadist.  He sported a beard.

Is the beard the cause of all these deviant beliefs?  Does a mere beard cause a man to believe he is directed by the Creator to kill and destroy?  Hmmmm.

TAKFIRI – This refers to fanatical Muslims who believe that God (Allah) has given them the special ability to denounce others as “kafirs”, “mubdi’in”, “murtaddin”, inter alia,  (i.e. infidels) and to kill them in cold blood.  Most takfiris are proven morons who sport beards.  Takfiris resemble in many ways sociopaths who, also, are driven by some voice which speaks to them in the privacy of their simian crania, urging them to kill humans who don’t share their views about slaughtering innocent babies in their cribs.

Lawyers who have been practicing criminal law can immediately detect in Ramzi Ibn Al-Shibh a sociopathology which enables him to kill thousands of innocent people because they are “kafirs”.  You see, a voice speaks to him.  He also sports a beard..

SALAFIST – This is the Amish Muslim on amphetamines.  He wants to emulate the ways and traditions of those who preceded him;  these are usually early Muslim Companions of Muhammad the Messenger, or Caliphs who were renowned for their “piety” or early thinkers known for taking a “no fun” view of life like Ibn Abi Al-Dunya.  Salafists pick up the ugliest stories about early Islam and adopt them as maxims for their conduct today.

He’s looked better, maybe.  This is Abu Mus’ab Al-Zarqawi, salafist sociopath, who brought glory to Islam by video-taping beheadings of innocent people.  Although your editor opposed the American-U.K. assault on Iraq and viewed it as a war crime, this is one moment when he it gave full-throated adulation.  And, by the by, his carcass sports a beard. 

You editor can assure you that almost every Salafist knows next to nothing about Islamic history, Shari’ah, Fiqh or anything that would require reading.  Salafists are uniformly from rural areas noted for nurturing ignorance and intolerance.  They are the second leading political party today in Egypt.  This is an indication of how reactionary thought and mindless repetition of meaningless incantations has gnawed away at the Egyptian brain. 

But why beards?  We know from the annals of Muslim historiographers, sayings of Muhammad’s Companions and memoirs of Muhammad’s contemporaries that he and his coterie of “radicals” wore beards.  We also know from our own history that the Gillette Blue Razor was not invented until the 20th Century. In the Middle Ages, it was hard to find a barber who could slather foam on your face and give you a clean, close shave with a well-stropped razor blade.  So it sounds like every male in the world had a beard of some length.

 In the movie, Spartacus,  directed by Stanley Kubrick, there is a constant howler throughout:  the main actors, Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton and Tony Curtis appear in ancient Rome (pre-Caesarian Rome for Pete’s sake!) with totally hairless visages.  Stanley Kubrick, the director, wore a beard behind the camera, but not his major characters. 

Wasn’t it nice of the Romans to give Spartacus a shave before crucifying him?  Well!  If you believe that you’ll believe a Russian Jew, Kirk Douglas (ne Issur Danielovich) gets the same treatment as another one in Roman-occupied Palestine a short time later.  At least Christ had a beard.   

Kubrick’s intense, Bronxy eyes can’t give away the reason why he has a beard and his 60 B.C. characters do not.  You figure.

Beards are symbols of a time gone by when Muslims were redoubtable, devout, just, and, without getting too importuned by the need to find adjectives to stress their inherent perfection; imbued with some saintliness which made them acceptable to a Semitic, desert God – One who demands constant worship and who promises the slackers among us an aeon or two in a live,  industrial furnace.  The beard is an affirmation of one’s backwardness, hence:  love for dead people, essentially saints, but, Oops!  Salafists and their ilk reject the canonization of humans.  I could be beheaded for writing that.  Let’s just say that they are confused.

The beard is easy to grow. All you have to do is ignore ritual hygiene.  It is the polar opposite of auto-eroticism;  it exalts auto-indifference for the sake of a preposterous, non-existent afterlife filled with overly finite numbers of boring women and meandering, subterranean rivers .  It is spiritual nihilism at its purest.  It requires no thought or reflection…only the slow, inexorable, ineluctable devolution of the face, as Dasein, into a phenomenology of lethal dread.  So much for their beards.   

“by thy long gray beard and glittering eye, now wherefore stops thou me?”