Saturday, July 11, 2020
Home News Reports Why Muslims are not allowed to keep long beard in the armed forces

Why Muslims are not allowed to keep long beard in the armed forces

Also Read

Hemant Bijapurkar
Contributor at OpIndia.com, Wish to write a great trilogy someday!

Rarely is religion in the equation when it comes to the armed forces, but in cases like sporting of facial hair on the basis of one’s religion, it has resulted into disputes and even dismissal of soldiers.

The issue came to limelight a couple of days ago when the Supreme Court dismissed the plea of Ansari Aftab Ahmed, who was sacked from the Air force in 2008 for sporting a long beard without permission. Ansari had claimed that he had the right to grow beard as per his religious beliefs and had refused to follow orders to shave it, but the apex court didn’t agree with that argument.

Court agreed with the view of Air Force, which had argued that all Muslims do not carry beard and that the practice of growing and keeping a beard was not among the central practices of Islam, hence the orders to shave off the beard was not impinging on any religious beliefs or rights.

Aftab was deemed to have violated the rules and discipline of the armed forces and hence his dismissal was upheld by the court. And this is not the first case, as we will find later in this article.

But at this point, a reader might wonder why should the armed forces be concerned about haircut or facial hair of soldiers to begin with? Isn’t that too small an issue? And shouldn’t adults be allowed to choose for themselves?

That argument might appear logical but we have to understand that we are talking about an organisation – the Indian armed forces – which is universally accepted and acknowledged as being one of the most disciplined ones. Grooming is a part of that discipline.

Armed forces have such rules for grooming – with a few exceptions for Sikhs – because they bring uniformity in appearance. The underlying belief is – a common citizen should see a solider whose appearance doesn’t reflect any religious bias.

In order to maintain this uniformity and discipline, our armed forces have some rules regarding sporting facial hair. Here are those:

Indian Air Force:

As per Defence Service Regulations, sporting a beard is not permitted except when religion prohibits shaving it off. The exact words are:

pdf source

Since Air force believes that Islam doesn’t prohibit cutting of the hair or shaving the beard, and thus the sub-section (b) was not applicable to Muslims, a directive was notified in 2003, which made things a bit clearer:

“Only those Muslim personnel, who had kept beard along with mustache at the time of commissioning /enrollment prior to 01 Jan 2002, would be allowed to keep beard and mustache… Muslims who have grown beard after joining service should shave off the beard. Under no circumstances, a Muslim person who had beard at the time of joining service before 1 Jan 2002 shall be allowed to maintain beard without mustache. Mustache would be a part of the beard.”

Indian Army:

Army too follows the Defence Service Regulation and they have similar rules that forbids sporting beards, though the mention of Sikh religion is explicit. The exact relevant portions are:

pdf source

In short, beard would not be permitted for non-Sikh soldiers, as was witnessed in the case of Maktumhusen. Maktumhusen, a 34-year-old Muslim from Dharwad, Karnataka, was a sepoy who joined the Army Medical Corps in 2001. After almost a decade of service he sought permission from his Commanding Officer to grow a beard on religious grounds. He was allowed the same but was asked to get a new ID card and was instructed not to change his look for the rest of his service tenure.

His request though was later turned down after the CO discovered the above amendment to Regulation No. 665 of the Defence Services Regulations, which stated that those other than Sikhs could not sport a permanent beard.

Maktumhusen grew a beard and was meanwhile transferred to Command Hospital, Pune. His CO there also asked him to get rid of his beard. After his refusal and a show cause notice, he was sentenced to a fortnight of detention and was later discharged from service. Later the Army Tribunal upheld the same and also noted that Sikhs were provided permission to sport a beard because:

“No one can dispute the fact that growing of hair and beard by Sikhs is an essential practice of their religion and, in fact, fundamental tenet of that religion. Recognising the religious faith, belief and practice followed by them in the case of Sikh military personnel an exception has been made allowing the Sikh military personnel to grow hair and beard.”

Indian Navy:

When it comes to the Indian Navy, it is probably the most lax when it comes to the facial hair and allows the blandishment of beards and moustaches provided they are neatly trimmed and prior permission has been granted by seniors.

Even though sporting beard is allowed, Sikhs still find a mention in the rules as officers and sailors are expected to keep their beard trimmed – something Sikhs can’t do. The relevant portion of the regulations are as follows:

pdf source

Interestingly, the last UPA government issued a few statements saying demands of devout Muslims will be considered, hinting that Army and Air Force could be asked to modify the rules. The then Defence Minister AK Antony is reported to have made that promise to a group of Muslims while blaming the previous NDA government for introducing the rules. But the UPA government backtracked in the court and didn’t force the armed forces to change their rules.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Hemant Bijapurkar
Contributor at OpIndia.com, Wish to write a great trilogy someday!

Trending now

1500-year-old Cathedral Hagia Sophia converted to a mosque, President Erdogan says it’s Turkey’s ‘sovereign right’

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that a 1500-year-old Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Istanbul named Hagia Sophia would be converted into a mosque

Kerala: Locals in Coronavirus hotspot Poonthura protest against lockdown restrictions, spit on healthcare workers collecting swab samples

Locals of the fishing suburb of Poonthura near Thiruvananthapuram attacked a team of health workers, including a doctor, who had gone to collect swab samples

The spin around Vikas Dubey encounter reminds about the police-raid against Mohammad Shahabuddin in Siwan

While people are saying “dead men tell no story” after Vikas Dubey encounter, Md Shahabuddin narrated no tales even after jailed for years

When Rajnath Singh fought for the country but lost an election

Today is the birthday of Defense Minister Rajnath Singh. And let me tell you a story about the time Rajnath Singh lost from Mohana Assembly constituency in the 1993 elections to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly.

Delhi anti-Hindu riots: Sahil’s father Parvez died in 3 different ways, in 2 different locations, 16 Hindus named in the FIR

Sahil Parvez had stated that his father was shot in front of their house in his statement to the media. His complaint letter to the police several weeks later suddenly shifts the location, identifies 16 'attackers' by name and makes a lot of contradictory claims, read details.

The Wire issues half-hearted correction after being called out by NCPCR for their blatantly fake news about ‘eight-fold increase in complaints post lockdown

The Wire retracted it after the author of the article said that she had no evidence to support her stunning claim.

Recently Popular

The curious case of ‘Drone Boy’ who has made 600 drones using broken mixer grinders and televisions. A fact-check

While 'drone boy' Prathap NM has claimed to have made 600 drones using e-waste, not a single photo or video of them exist

Netizens ask Netflix to cancel comedian Kenny Sebastian’s special show after he hurls obscene abuses

Social media users are demanding that Netflix reconsiders special show of Indian comic Kenny Sebastian after he was allegedly found hurling obscene abuses to people on his Instagram page.

The Wire accused Yogi Adityanath of being ‘casteist’ for not killing Vikas Dubey hours before the encounter of the gangster

Notorious gangster, Vikas Dubey, who was arrested from Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh was killed in an encounter in the wee hours of the morning on Friday

After obscene comments, clip of comedian Kenneth Sebastian calling Sanskrit ‘most useless language ever’ goes viral. Watch video

In the video titled "Journey to the centre of my brain", Sebastian is seen thanking God because 'all the people who spoke Sanskrit are dead'.

Vikas Dubey killed in an encounter after he attempts to flee from police custody: Here is what happened

The encounter broke out between Vikas Dubey and the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force (STF) after the gangster tried to flee upon reaching Kanpur.

‘Safeguarding cows is our priority’: Minister says Karnataka preparing to implement a ban on cow slaughter

Prabhu Chauhan, the Animal Husbandry Minister in Karnataka, informed that the BJP government is in the process of implementing cow slaughter ban in the state

1500-year-old Cathedral Hagia Sophia converted to a mosque, President Erdogan says it’s Turkey’s ‘sovereign right’

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that a 1500-year-old Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Istanbul named Hagia Sophia would be converted into a mosque

Kerala: Locals in Coronavirus hotspot Poonthura protest against lockdown restrictions, spit on healthcare workers collecting swab samples

Locals of the fishing suburb of Poonthura near Thiruvananthapuram attacked a team of health workers, including a doctor, who had gone to collect swab samples

Terrorist Abid Hakani went to Pakistan for training before killing BJP leader Wasim Bari, caught on CCTV footage near Bandipora

The Islamic terrorist, who unleashed terror and killed the BJP leader Wasim Bari and his two family members at their shop in Bandipora, north Kashmir has been identified by the security forces.

The spin around Vikas Dubey encounter reminds about the police-raid against Mohammad Shahabuddin in Siwan

While people are saying “dead men tell no story” after Vikas Dubey encounter, Md Shahabuddin narrated no tales even after jailed for years

“I feel free after ages. This is an end to the era of terror”, says Lallan Vajpayee who was on the hit-list of slain...

Vikas Dubey had multiple attempts to kill Lallan Vajpayee in the party, Vajpayee celebrates the death of Dubey in Police encounter

Journalist shares image of a Pakistani cannibal who ate a baby as ‘RAW agent captured in Nepal’

The photo of a RAW agent supposedly arrested in Nepal is actually photo of a Pakistani cannibal who was convicted of eating children

NIA names 6 ISIS terrorists in the charge-sheet filed in the murder case of Tamil Nadu cop SSI Wilson

6 terrorists charge sheeted by NIA in the case of murder of SSI Wilson in January 2020 in Tamil Nadu

Chinese app ban: Govt sends 70 questions to concerned firms, gives 3 weeks to respond

The response of the firms will be evaluated by a high-level panel and any discrepency may lead to a permeant ban.

Watch: Nellore Municipal Corporation uses earth-mover to dispose of COVID-19 bodies, investigation ordered

In a shocking apathy, officials of Nellore municipal corporation are seen dumping the bodies of coronavirus patients using an earth mover

Connect with us

235,429FansLike
403,025FollowersFollow
272,000SubscribersSubscribe