umm abdillah, Radio Islam Programming | 2014.11.21 | 27 Muharram 1436
“Indeed (weak) horses run faster when they accompany stallions - so too, the path of Sunnah is much more enjoyable with the congregation.”
The above quote famously attributed to Moulana Jalaludeen Rumi (ra) allows us appreciate the value of doing things together. We like being led by example, and we also enjoy the feeling when our actions are endorsed by popular sentiment. It gives us courage. If anything, tedious, unpopular actions become tolerable, if not appealing when we know everybody approves. Having a Leader is a timeless sunnah, one which enables us to carry out any action purposefully. On that note, and in light of Radio Islam’s #BeardBro Campaign, the sunnah beard has gained a resurgence, becoming popular in unusual circles. Men (and women) of all ages have taken note how something once deemed "untidy" "ageing" and "too religious" is actually normal. Muslim boys and men who prefer a clean shave (fitting the monoculture) feel left out. It leads to many conclusions – among them - the fickleness of “fashion trends”; the timeless popularity of the Sunnah; how market trends are controlled and manipulated; and how men (and women) become pawns to cosmetic capitalism. It should at the very least have us desiring to follow the sunnah.
Razor Sales Drop
Over the last 24 months razor sales have dropped, and continue dropping across the globe. According to market analyst Euromonitor, beards have become more acceptable in the workplace. Hipsters and Movember participants are also being blamed for the steep drop in the profits of the razor industry, as men stop shaving in order to cultivate a face full of hair. Sales of shaving creams and Braun electric razors have also suffered. According to Bloomberg, Procter & Gamble, which owns Gillete and Energizer (Schick) say their sales have been dropping steadily in developed markets. Unit sales of razors have dropped between 10-15.5 percent.
Gillette and Schick say that they’re trying to counteract these dropping sales by aggressively punting and promoting male skin care, shampoo and grooming products.
What Women Want
A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of New South Wales found that women felt men with beards are more attractive. Not just that, but men with full-beards were perceived as better and more protective fathers. Past studies too have found that men with beards look tougher, more masculine, and would make better romantic partners.
Following a Leader is a timeless Sunnah
Follow what our local Imams and Ulama teach of the sunnah, for in it lies beauty, victory and salvation. It sounds droll, but it's true. The promotion of the Sunnah beard is just one example. At Hudaybiyya, after a seemingly preposterous treaty was signed, Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) said to his companions: "Get up and slaughter your animal sacrifices and have you heads shaved.”
A Companion of Allah's Messenger (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) relates:
'By Allah none of them got up, and the Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) repeated it thrice. He left them and went to Umm Salamah (radhi allahu anha) (his wife) and told her of the companions’ attitude. Umm Salamah said: 'O Prophet of Allah! Go out and don't say a word to anybody until you have slaughtered your sacrifice and call your barber to shave your head.' The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) did as Umm Salamah suggested. Seeing the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam), the Companions got up, slaughtered their sacrifices and started shaving the heads of one another.”
In the above example, given the conditions under which the treaty was signed, the Sahaba waited for a nudge by their leader to continue the command of Allah. Even if they disagreed or personally opposed the principals of the treaty, they were required to follow the group.
Contemporary Islam being a dynamic entity is always subject to interpretation. From goatees, to stubble, to less than a fist length of hair – they’ll always be those who’ll claim their version of beard is what God ordained Muslim men to have. Using this analogy, being part of the mainstream jamaa’ah, and obeying its leaders is observed. As inferred from the opening quote, Islam is easier to practice in an environment where leaders guide by example. Beard babble aside, its imperative to note that good, scholastic, pious leaders will always be under scrutiny and under subversive attacks in an attempt to create disharmony. Conscious of this, strive to promote the importance of following the jama'ah, or what is a unanimously accepted school of thought.
While "Groupthink" has many negative connotations especially that of being a sheep, in the context of following the Sunnah, the original definition as coined by William H. Whyte, Jr holds true:
We are not talking about mere instinctive conformity — it is, after all, a perennial failing of mankind. What we are talking about is a rationalised conformity — an open, articulate philosophy which holds that group values, in this case of the Sunnah and as meant to be followed by the Ummah of Muhammad (pbuh) are not only expedient, but right and good.
Wa billah at-taufeeq.
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