PIA Ban on Beards: Leave My Facial Hair Alone!

Posted on February 22, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Economy & Development, Society, Travel
Total Views: 90428


Adil Najam

According to a news item in The News, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is going to implement a ban on growing beards – except for French beards – on all male cabin crew:

In a recent notification, PIA administration has announced to have reviewed its policy regarding beards, and said now male cabin crew could not grow beards and they could only have French-cut beards.

Not surprisingly, religious scholars and ulema condemned PIA for this, calling the ban a violation of constitutional and fundamental human rights. Whether this is or is not the most important constitutional violation of our age, the ulema are, in fact, right.

Unless there is a sound technical reason for it (and there seems not to be), forcing someone to take off their beard is deserving of condemnation as much as forcing someone to grow a beard. Especially if either of the act is ideologically motivated; no matter what the ideology. Of course, forcing someone to grow a beard on threat of death or violence is particularly disturbing. But, frankly, a threat to one’s livelihood is also reprehensible.

Right now, I myself do not have a beard. And that is not an ideological statement one way or the other. But my own position remains unchanged from October 2006 when I had commented on facial hair for cricketers:

By way of disclosure I should add that I occasionally sprout facial hair of my own but am mostly clean-shaven. But as a deep and committed adherent of people’s right of expression (how can a blogger not be that!) I stand committed to defend people’s right to facial hair, whether they are grown for stylistic elegance or religious expression.

More pertinent was the June 2006 decision by Habib Bank to ban shalwar kameez and facial hair (by the way, can someone please confirm if that policy was ever implemented). In that case the issue had focused more on the wearing of shalwar kameez to work and the argument that this somehow made the person look less “trustworthy” and less “presentable.” Facial hair were also targeted for the same reason. On the issue of beards, trustworthiness and presentability, my argument was rather simple:

Dr. Abdus Salam? Abdul Sattar Edhi? Sir Syed Ahmed Khan?
Presentable? You bet.
Trustworthy? More than any banker I ever met.

As a rather frequent traveler on PIA – in fact, I read this news item on a PIA plane retruning from Karachi to Islamabad, and one of the cabin staff was supporting a huge beard – I too have noticed that the number of crew members with facial hair, especially large beards, has increased dramatically over the years. But that is a factor of what has been happening in society. PIA has plenty of big problems to deal with, and this seems to be the least of them.

Your Ad Here

At least in my experience, the quality of service one gets is not at all dependent on the amount of facial hair. Maybe the management should focus on that before it starts following the example of the Swat Taliban in judging people by the length of their facial hair (or not)!

90 Comments on “PIA Ban on Beards: Leave My Facial Hair Alone!”

  1. February 22nd, 2009 7:02 pm

    This is quite a shocking news item, and no less condemnable than the Taliban’s order of not to shave the beards.
    Being a cabin crew, you have to look presentable, but an unequivocal ban on full facial hair is just not acceptable in any civilized and democratic society, period.

  2. jock says:
    February 22nd, 2009 7:40 pm

    HAHAHAH….man this is getting as stupid as the Taliban….what gave them this silly idea?

  3. Watan Aziz says:
    February 22nd, 2009 7:59 pm

    Shah’s father had women whipped for not wearing skirts; Ayatollahs for not wearing wrappers.

    As I have said, I lose track on who is more ignorant.

    These fake self appointed and self proclaimed secularists and mullahs respect neither constitutional rights nor understand the teachings of Qur’an.

    You decide which is whom: Heads you win, tails you win!

  4. pakistanimunda says:
    February 22nd, 2009 9:48 pm

    This is a redicolous decision to begin with. This make me think twice about Taleban banning to shave because if there is a group of extermists imposing their likes and dislike on society, this decision sure is as extermist as the other view point. PIA will remain sub-standard airline as ever even with clean shaved crew. Please change your menu for heaven sake!!

  5. Ayaz says:
    February 22nd, 2009 11:15 pm

    You are over reacting to this news. Clearly, this is not a ban on beared because small, well trimmed beared like the french style are allowed. It is not unreasonable to ask ones employees to be presentable and look professional, especially when they are dealing with customers and public. Indian airline recently required their air hostesses to lose weight. Other international airlines require that their hosts and hostesses meet certain physical requirements for service.

  6. Asim Kh says:
    February 23rd, 2009 12:01 am

    Pakistan – Muslim Country and its International Airlines PIA
    if someone is muslim and cant have beard at work, its very
    difficult to say we are working in muslim country.

    Someone want to have beard or not its totally different issue
    but local companies must understand, any person working
    in pakistan have right to do things it own way.

    US air crew will not wear Shalwar Kameez and have beard
    or will say Asalam-o-Alikum, because they are not muslim
    nor its their culture. People who are pakistani will say these
    things because we all muslim and have our own culture.

    Pakistan is suffering due to these issue, we dont make our
    own standards and want to follow other people standards
    and later face problems.

    With past history of PIA. I see very less good decisions are
    done by the airlines. I travel in PIA and many other airlines
    and i find that.

    1) PIA have sometime good food
    2) PIA is not comfortable and consider may be sometime
    cheap flight
    3)PIA getting huge amount during HAJ flights but people
    are suffering during Haj and Umrah times, as high cost
    and very bad customer services
    4) PIA airline crew uniform is not much upto the current
    market standards.
    5) PIA staff is earning huge amount of money especially
    management but return is far less
    6)PIA ticket charges are averagly higher then the services.
    7)PIA aircrew staff behavior is good on flight

  7. ASAD says:
    February 23rd, 2009 12:28 am

    This is absurd.

    Being presentable is fine, but there are plenty of presentable people with beards and plenty of unpresentable without. As Adil Najam points out Sir Syed and Salam were plenty presentable!

    The matter is one of principle. PIA has every right to want its crew to be presentable, but no right to dictate things like this. This is just a gimmick and a bad one at that.

    Well played, ATP. You have raised the right issue and are on the right side of the issue.

  8. yaseen ch says:
    February 23rd, 2009 1:00 am

    It is called liberal extremism ,i think there is much more extremists of this type in our country than those who are renowned all over the world,we must have to fight them as well because it is even greater danger to our society.

  9. Kamran says:
    February 23rd, 2009 1:24 am

    If forcing a Muslim man to grow beard is Talibanization, then obligating a man not to grow beard is also an act of Talibanization. I wonder what will happen if PIA starts using Hooters argument that its waitress

  10. February 23rd, 2009 1:41 am

    Shall this ban also apply to the facial hair of the weary air hostesses of PIA?

  11. Naseer says:
    February 23rd, 2009 4:42 am

    – Lets read ” The News ” first, of Sat 21st or click on it which will take you the ‘story’.
    The reporter says that a ” recent PIA notification ” — .
    Printing news of this nature and quoting a few politicians does’nt make news fact worthy, though its just maybe news worthy.
    The reporter should have quoted The Notification– date and serial number (he must have got a copy of it, I’m sure).
    I beseach Adil Najam to get to the root of it as the onus of responsibility( in these god forsaken times) rests on him.
    Cheers !!!
    — Naseer

  12. Zecchetti says:
    February 23rd, 2009 6:18 am

    What they’ve actually done here is banned the Sunnat of Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasalam. May Allah guide these fools.

    This is thanks to the rampant liberalism in the “Islamic” Republic of Pakistan.

  13. Abrar Gujar says:
    February 23rd, 2009 7:08 am

    As a matter of fact PIA administration is trying to deprive muslims of their basic right.No doubt it has been decided on the directions of Mr.10% and he is doing nothing but trying to make his west allies happy.

  14. February 23rd, 2009 7:44 am

    You mentioned Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, who had a huge beard. But it was an attractive beard. You can imagine it to be well maintained and trimmed at all times. Ulema are right in this case and as an Ahmadi muslim I feel that no matter how bigoted many religious scholars of the day are, they have the right to preach the Islamic observance as they please. Fundamentally, a beard is natural part of man’s face and shaving it off is akin to interfering with the natural look, but I can not imagine a person who has no urge to trim it to keep it “under control”. I have noticed that many of the Ulema urge their followers to grow beards a fist-tull long and trim only what comes outside the fist. Meaning that the beard should not be shaped to suit the face or even the lifestyle etc. These beards are unsightly and especially those who also clean shave their moustache look particulary extreme in their stance. There are debates on whether moustach should be trimmed or shaven, whether beard should be a hand’s length or a fist’s length, whether it could be even smaller than that etc. Ulema of almost all schools of thought have never considered thining of the wisdom behind growing beards. I have to rationalize everything so my reasons for growing a beard should be.

    a. It is the sunnah of RusoolAllah (saw) so it is the wise thing to do.
    b. It differentiates men from women (on a visble level atleast)
    c. It bestows a sense of maturity on the person.
    d. It is a means of beuatification for a man (if kept trimmed and tidy).
    e. It has a number of health benefits. Evolutionary function of hair is temprature regulation, protection against the sun, mosquitos etc. Islam you will note, prescribes shaving of the hair which can cause medical/hygiene problems.

    The orthodoxy keeps beard for the reasons below.

    a. It is the Sunnahof RusoolAllah (saw). (I agree completely).
    b. Each hair of the beard sends salam to the person who grows it etc.. (a good reason if you are counting the blessings of Allah.Very fashionable in Tablighi circles. but I am dead set against keeping count.. Fabi Ayyi aalaa)
    c. The beard should be kept in one fashion which has been described in Hadith and opinion of an Imam of Fiqh (there are four or five different versions). There is no reason one should deviate from this fashion.. etc
    d. Beard differentiates between a muslim and a non-muslim. This a popular argument but many Ulema have never seen an orthodox Jew or a portrait of Charles Darwin.

    In short, PIA should use some common sense and encourage their employees to educate themselves in the moderate interpratations of Islamic observance and rituals. For example, you do not need to bring a prayer mat and look for space to pray with full protocol on a 12 hours long flight when you are allowed to offer prayers while seated wearing your seatbelt.

  15. bonobashi says:
    February 23rd, 2009 8:24 am

    As a beard-wearer, I wish to add my tuppence to the rising groundswell of support for the right to wear a beard. Of course, if PIA insists, then people may have to exercise a choice between their right to wear a beard, and their option to work for PIA. I hope all will recognise that for the individual, it is a choice between a right and an option.

    For what it’s worth, in India, only Sikhs get the privilege of wearing a beard at all times, a privilege often exercised; they even sometimes carry kirpans which are rather on the large size for kirpans, and being held in the rifle slope position around midships, threaten to seriously incapacitate people in the vicinity, in manners not perhaps originally intended as a function of a kirpan. However, since they are most of them in excellent working order as kirpans, I most energetically declare my full support for their carriage, in any position that the carrier should select.

    After my initial feeling of enthusiasm at the prospect of another battle in the offing for human liberties, I was deflated to realise that what I sport is the half-hearted variety that has been called various things, some in good-hearted spirit, such as the French cut, and by Kamran, in a most unkind spirit, the goat-cut.

    Dear Kamran, you are hurting the feelings of all of us goat-cut (and don’t please take the phrase further than applying it to beards, for the sake of those of us who are of a nervous disposition); the proper way to refer to our work of art is a block beard.

    Proud To Sport A Beard.

  16. Anwar says:
    February 23rd, 2009 9:15 am

    There is nothing wrong in keeping a well managed, neat and trimmed beard that does not give an impression of poor personal hygiene.

  17. Aamir Ali says:
    February 23rd, 2009 9:16 am

    PIA is not banning beards, just over-sized beards. I don’t see a problem with this.

    Having a long beard’s doesn’t make one a great Muslim.

  18. dilnawaz says:
    February 23rd, 2009 9:40 am

    Adil Bahi

    Pakistan has a Mullana Atta ur Rehman as TOURISM MINISTER a bearded hardline brother of great Mullah Diesel.
    Hard to imagine any foreign tourist or travel operator at visit Pakistan conferences taking Mullah jee’s “Peaceful Tourist industry” spin seriously.
    Who gave him Ministry of Tourism? What a perfect Advertisement for Liberal and modern Pakistan when first order he issue is to ban alcohol for foreigners in hotels.
    Bravo Mullah Diesel Junior.

  19. Hanif Q. says:
    February 23rd, 2009 9:57 am

    You have to choose a side. If you are against Taliban then you start with taking these beards off. That will teach them!

  20. Xainab Kapadia says:
    February 23rd, 2009 10:43 am

    Freedom is an interesting thing. If one is truly free, than can one be free to discriminate at will?

    Given the socio-political reality of rampant Islamophobia, specially at/around airports, it makes economic sense for PIA to take measures that places their image beyond this fear. The dilemma is that as they do so, they given credence to the idiotic notion that beards = muslim = terrorists. In the process they’re also trampling on the hirsute desires of their male employees. Which given that they are the International Airlines of the ‘Islamic’ Republic of Pakistan is naturally problematic.

    My personal opinion: As a company that should be making a profit so that they can continue to employ their employees (bearded or otherwise) PIA needs to market themselves keeping in mind the socio-political climate. If they decide to re-label themselves as ‘jihadi airlines’ and hire only people with waist-long beards, it would make no business sense. They would also most likely go belly up. Schools have uniforms, corporate companies have formal dress requirements for a simple reason clear to anyone who understands the importance of branding, image building, marketing vis-a-vis profitability and sustainability.

    And by looking at PIA’s non-hirsute policies emotively, through religious lens only and arguing passionately against it we’re falling into the same trap (albeit from the polar opposite end of the spectrum) as is the Islamophobic West.

  21. Khurram Farooqui says:
    February 23rd, 2009 11:26 am

    Not sure if this was a factor in the decision, but in the US, people who work with food have to wear some sort of covering over their hair. In fast food restaurants people who have bushy beards wear a rather unattractive net-like covering on their chins. The whole idea is to prevent hair from getting into food.

    Since flight attendants work with food, assuming that this whole beard covering thing is an international regulation, doesn’t PIA have some justification in requiring that beards be kept short? What about other considerations such as driving business revenue up? Most western travelers, for cultural reasons, find long beards unhygenic. What if this action is a result of complaints from travelers?

    If this case was not related specifically to the services industry I would be in complete agreement that this is uncalled for. But I am not sure where the line should be drawn here.

  22. Adnan Siddiqi says:
    February 23rd, 2009 12:23 pm

    @jock: maybe the idea was given by one of the resident liberal taliban of this forum? *grin*

    @bigthug: hahaah! dude you cracked me up!

  23. Daud says:
    February 23rd, 2009 12:34 pm

    Hanif Q’s comment is silly as well as dangerous

    The thinking is no different from the Taliban’s and wrong for same reasons.

    What is wrong is wrong, whether the Taliban do it or PIA. The Taliban many be violent and barbaric in their implementation but their logic is as wrong as PIAs.

    Adil najam is doing the right thing by speaking out against this.

  24. Anonymous says:
    February 23rd, 2009 12:36 pm

    I don’t see how biased people are when it comes to this. As the article says, if forcing someone to grow beards is a “violation of human rights”, then forcing someone to clear it off is a SIMILAR VIOLATION. Why do people fail to see this?

    @dilnawaz: I don’t know what school of thought you follow, but just in case you didn’t know, alcohol is banned in Islam and I’ll probably commit suicide the day alcohol is openly available in the markets, haven’t you heard of the negative affects of drinking? If you really do want to allow it, then don’t call this country the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” because it is clearly giving Islam a bad name.

  25. Usama Zia says:
    February 23rd, 2009 1:04 pm

    Shame on PIA :-(

  26. Nuh says:
    February 23rd, 2009 1:35 pm

    their airline service is deplorable and I hope that I don’t ever have to fly with them.

  27. February 23rd, 2009 1:57 pm

    alcohol is banned in Islam and I

  28. Asad Khan says:
    February 23rd, 2009 2:36 pm

    Most western travelers, for cultural reasons, find long beards unhygenic. What if this action is a result of complaints from travelers?

    How many western travellers’ airline of choice is PIA?

    Sorry this was a bad joke on my part. My bad!

    But seriously, this argument might make some sense if the restriction was placed on international flights only (I don’t think it has), and even then, it would be a move based on false logic.

  29. Asim says:
    February 23rd, 2009 2:56 pm

    ummm…mullas are now giving lectures on “human rights”…..buwhaa ha ha ha ha

  30. Zecchetti says:
    February 23rd, 2009 3:01 pm

    @ Asim

    How dare you make that ignorant despicable claim about the Prophet sallallahu alaihy wasalam. Allah describes him as a man of exalted character and an EXAMPLE to humanity. Allah tells his Prophet to say “If you love Allah, follow me”. So why would he follow others if he were in the 21st century??!

    His sunnat is the best way. He was a shephard, not a sheep. We are the sheep and he is the shepherd that we must follow.

  31. Asim says:
    February 23rd, 2009 3:18 pm

    @ Zecchetti

    You used beautiful words…yep…just words…thats all they are. People before our Prophet had beards too, its not like he introduced beard. Someone in this blog said that facial hair are natural and that is why we should not cut ‘em…what about nails…they are also natural, why cut nails? Muslims like you, Zecchetti, have been fooled since 14th century for believing and following the beliefs that have been passed down to them without using common sense….result is obvious…we are the most backward and failed religion of the modern world. I know I am going to be cursed by many of you bloggers…which is OK, however I said what is true.

  32. adeel says:
    February 23rd, 2009 5:52 pm

    I think the commenters are taking the discussion in a different direction (as usual!). The point was that forcefully making people shave off their beards is as bad as forcefully making them grow one.

    If an employee wants to sport a beard for religious reasons, I’m sure he can do so in harmony with a trimmed, well-kept one.

    I’m sure Allah doesn’t judge us by the length of our beards, rather by what is in our hearts.

  33. YASIN says:
    February 23rd, 2009 6:08 pm

    I don’t think that having a beard makes you a better Muslim. Nor does not having a beard make you a better cabin crew person.

    A beard is irrelevant to Islam as well as to PIA.

  34. Adil says:
    February 23rd, 2009 6:10 pm

    “Whether this is or is not the most important constitutional violation of our age, the ulema are, in fact, right. ”

    It is, indeed, the most important constitutional violation of our age, as it directly threatened the very existence of our state. Whether you think Pakistan is a Muslim state or an Islamic state, and I don’t take that as any difference, She should ensure a social environment where her populace can freely live their life according to their deen, i.e. Islam.

    Fear of such laws pushed the Muslims to demand for a seperate homeland, in the british raj era. Now, We’ve a seperate state where we are experiencing laws against Sunnah. This damages the partiortism, as one may start thinking what is the purpose of this very state.

    Dr. sb. I’m a great fan of yours, as you take a clear cut line in the favor of environment. But, why not on this …

    My dear brother Asim, Yes, People do support beard at the time of Holy Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.), and even before his birth. But, in his time, there were also some people who used to shave their beards, and Holy Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) did not approve their act. That’s why all the learned authorities in the religion, holding different points of views, agreed that beard is the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h).

    Also, I cannot find any reference which indicates that any messenger sent by Allah who did not support beard. So, growing beard is not alien to the followers of other religions.

    I hope I’ve presented my point of view without hurting anyone’s feelings, and if I did, my apologies for that.

  35. Ahmer says:
    February 23rd, 2009 6:30 pm

    Well at the least its a sunnah of the Prophet PBUH. Its not fard (mandatory) and that should be crystal. Why would PIA divulge in such absurdities? Well for the same reason musharaf slaughtered 500 kids in lal masjid. It creates a ‘softer image’ of pakistan in west.

  36. Asim says:
    February 23rd, 2009 7:05 pm

    Adil., alright..going back to the original issue:

    We have to keep in mind that Islam is not the only religion in the world

  37. Aamir Ali says:
    February 23rd, 2009 7:09 pm


    This ban on Father Time-style beards by PIA threatens the very existence of Pakistan ??!

    Why are you mullahs so concerned about beards and so un-concerned with terrorists who kill Muslims every day ?

  38. Mike says:
    February 23rd, 2009 7:13 pm

    I don

  39. kamran says:
    February 23rd, 2009 7:25 pm

    @ Asim

    thank you for that answer. I feel all warm inside knowing that someone else shares my exact point of view…

  40. PakAm Muslim says:
    February 23rd, 2009 7:26 pm

    Aaghay Aaghay Dakiah Hota Hey Kia.

    Watch reaction to order of shaving Arab Tradition (beard).

    What was started in 1974 by beardless Prime Minister Z A Bhutto to gain “religious” vote will end when Pakistani American like Adil Anjum will need to have beard if he plans to visit his family in Pakistan. Just the way it was in 90s in Afghanistan. Beardless person entering Afghanistan automatically became “state guest” until his beard was at least one fist long.
    One Solution: Keep synthetic androgen (testosterone) in survival kit to help grow beard…faster…means less time in state guest house…

  41. PakAm Muslim says:
    February 23rd, 2009 7:55 pm

    @ Adil
    It is, indeed, the most important constitutional violation of our age,…

    Adil, i was expecting better from you.

    The most important constitutional violation of our age (and in deed of Islam–Holy Quran is foremost constitution) is to tell one reciter of Kalima-Tayyaba (i.e. Muslim) that you are NOT a Muslim. And Majority decides religion of others….
    especially when this Constitutional violation is NOT based on Holy Quran.
    Holy Quran says (in my words): Don’t declare some one Kaffir who uses Muslim salutations (i.e. salam).
    When i hear some Christian (e.g. British MP George Gallaway) saying Aslam Alikum, i wonder if we can still call him Kaffir????

  42. sohaib says:
    February 23rd, 2009 8:56 pm

    Its just the beginning , if we give way to these kind of laws and thinking , the next scenario will be darker.

  43. Adil says:
    February 23rd, 2009 9:21 pm

    Asim, I don’t want to indulge in any unending war of arguments, and we shouldn’t be. My only effort is to bridge the divide among the Muslims.

    For Businesses, service matters and not the look of the persons behind those services. Have you ever fly with any Indian Airline, they have airhostesses supporting “bindis”, but no one ever complain. Instead, the airline is proudly presenting it as their culture. Same is the case with the Singaporian airlines, whom I just recently fly with. They have the airhostesses wearing weird gowns. Why we should have inferiority complex about our religion.

    As far as scientific contributions are concerned, these are the products of a system which is based on the strong social & moral norms. We cannot produce those type of products unless we’ve the similar system of processes. Now, you will ask me, why shouldn’t we follow that system. I agree with you, we should follow the system that ensures maximum amount of fruits for us. Scientific contributions by West in today’s world are peanuts compared to the scientific contributions made by Muslim’s world in the past centuries. Now, you’ve the choice which system you want to adopt and follow.

    Then you talked about the image. My dear friend, I’m reading a book “Orientalism” by Late Edward Said now-a-days. In this book, the author proved that Power creates knowledge, and knowledge then helps building the image of different sections of the humanity. As far as power is in the hands of those who dislike Islam and it’s followers, we can’t expect our image to improve provided we left Islam. Instead, we should worry about the image of ours’ infront of Allah. I believe that would be the key to the positive transformation of our society.

  44. Eidee Man says:
    February 23rd, 2009 9:46 pm

    Of course, the issue with beards is ridiculous. However, we have to understand that we’re basing this on the fact that we believe that looks, etc should not influence one’s ability to get and maintain a job. Do we really think that looks are not a factor in hiring stewardesses? This is basically the other side of the same coin.

    Also, I find the irrelevant jabs at PIA’s service to be quite absurd. No, I’m not saying that it’s the best airline; in fact, they could use a lot of help in getting their reservation system working properly, etc. However, inflight service is usually pretty good and the cabin staff really do go out of their way to accommodate people. I must say that the minor issues that come up from time to time are almost always due to the sense of entitlement and general disrespectful attitude shown by our expat betters.

  45. Dilawar Raees says:
    February 24th, 2009 12:01 am

    As many others have pointed out, this does not at all compare to the barbaric inhumanity of the Taliban mullahs who have been killing barbers for shaving or cutting off their noses.

    But it is still wrong. Those who have been condemning the Taliban for stopping people from shaving should also condemn PIA for stopping people from non-shaving. Simple as that.

    Bravo to Adil Najam for his even handedness and fairness in condemning both.

    Same on the mullah supporters here for suddenly becoming angry at this but never raising a word against the taliban for forcing the beard.

  46. MQ says:
    February 24th, 2009 12:17 am

    Since several comments here suggest that growing a beard is an Islamic requirement, could someone please tell us what is the prescribed length and breadth of an Islamic beard, if there is any?

  47. Dilawar Raees says:
    February 24th, 2009 12:25 am

    Growing a beard is NOT a requirement in Islam. Nowhere is it a requirement.

    Allah may reward but will certainly not punish those who do not have beards. But certainly Allah will burn in the deepest hell the mullahs who have been destroying schools, killing innocent barbers and tailors, and hanging innocents on trees in Allah’s name. Clearly it is they who have sinned most against Allah and against Pakistan.

  48. Dilawar Raees says:
    February 24th, 2009 12:26 am

    On my previous comments, let me repeat that what PIA has done is wrong, just on human basis. Nothing to do with Islam, its just discrimination.

    I wish there were only a few mullahs who would defend the rights of other humans as so many of us so-called ‘liberal seculars’ are defending their right to keep unruly beards!

  49. Greywolf says:
    February 24th, 2009 5:36 am

    Rightly or wrongly – bearded religious men be they orthodox Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or Sikh don’t inspire much confidence in the common folk if they are at the helm of the plane… for obvious reasons. Anyone who would alter their appearance for the sake of faith is likely to be a victim of magical thinking… magical thinking can and would mean that the person’s faculties of rational thought are severely impaired or can be severely impaired. I wouldn’t want to fly in an airline with beardoes anymore than I would want to see them part of a country’s nuclear programme.

    In so far as the issue of wearing Shalwar Qameezes to work in Habib Bank is concerned, frankly unless worn with a Sherwani, Shalwar Qameez looks like a sleeping suit… just like one does not allow denim or Jeans to work… one cannot allow Shalwar Qameezes. Sherwanis on the other hand were quite common till recently and look plenty formal.

    Frankly if Adil Najam’s concern is simply the freedom to act or dress or wear facial hair as one pleases, this freedom should apply across the board… how about the right of our Pakistani sisters to wear the miniskirt to work? What about allowing Bikinis on the beach?

    And if this is about culture… then the bans Adil Najam is fuming against is about corporate culture. So let’s drop it shall we?

  50. D_a_n says:
    February 24th, 2009 6:14 am

    I have a beard myself..a proper one mind you albeit it quite neat….

    PIA’s ban on the beard is wrong…ie, if the beard is not causing for whatever reason an operational hazard….and is not violating the laws of the land…which they arent…then this ban is wrong and sends out a message which isn’t helpful especially in the context of the Pakistani mentality right now…

    even if PIA has an argument to make…however flimsy it was…the Pakistani public mind in it’s current confused state does not have the capacity to understand it….think about it and THEN say thanks but no thanks…..! hence this was a bad idea by PIA to begin with…

    On the other hand….I loathe myself for defending the rights of the damn mullah here…
    I feel sick for having to defend the rights of those who would gladly butcher me for wearing my shalwar below my ankle

    but the difference between most of us here on this forum and the bearded animal Mullah is Thus:

    measured reason….rational thought…respect for the other’s beliefs….versus…blood lust that would put a great white shark to shame!!

  51. Zecchetti says:
    February 24th, 2009 7:40 am

    @ Asim, and all those who deny the obligation of the beard.

    Imam Ahmad, al-Bukhaari, Muslim and others narrated from Ibn

  52. Dr. Syed S. Hasnain says:
    February 24th, 2009 10:35 am

    Is it possible that the reason is based on hygeine/health grounds? Surgeons and nursing staff in operating theaters are supposed to wear caps and beard masks. Longer hair tends to fall off easily, and can get into open wounds; in this case, may be food and drinks? Just a thought.

  53. Asim says:
    February 24th, 2009 11:03 am


    You can talk about 500 other imams, who lived 100′s of years ago and blindly follow Quran, i.e. without using common sense and be a “sheep” as you said earlier, and come back and talk to me in 50 years from now ( if we survive) I gurarantee we would remain in the same mess that we have been in the past 600 years. To better understand Islam, you must think about the time, events, and situation when message came from God and then ask yourself what prompted God to send this message and the apply the same concept to current events and use your brain, not “shepards” to come up with a solution that would be acceptable to the society you live in . Some of the orders that came from God were to benefit the people of the time, not the people 100s of years later, which is the reason God allowed us to have ammendments in our religion that are based on current events, and not from 100′s of years ago.

    My understanding of having beard in the old times could be due to many things that were happening in those times, such as:

    i. Lack of quality shaving techniques such as shaving cream, razor blades, after shave lotions etc cuased people to catch infections specially when blades were shared.
    ii. Time it took to shave every day, now adays you can even shave while driving.
    iii. Facial hair protected skin from cracking up as they did not have good facial creams that we now have.
    iv. Sign of better status as only people of higher class could afford to have a well kept beard, due to expensive trimming tools, cleansers etc.

  54. Farooqui says:
    February 24th, 2009 11:10 am

    Zechetti and Asim.
    Khuda kay liye. There you guys go again. Bhai darhi rakhi hai to rakh lo. Nahin rakhni hai to mauj banao. Laikin hamin maaf karo.
    What a useless debate. If you really think that your entry to heaven will be because of hair on your face, then go ahead, good luck to you. And if you think that facial hair are the greatest curse then go ahead and pluck your eyebrows. But for God’s sake let the rest of us be.

    The point is of freedom, let other people do as they want and then we will let you do whatever you want.

  55. G.M.S. says:
    February 24th, 2009 12:19 pm

    I commend this website and author for standing up for what is right. This has nothing to do with religion, since lots of people keep beards, even large ones, for other reasons. The point is that neither God nor man should discriminate on the basis of how much hair you have on your face. Otherwise, bears would be the most pious of all.

  56. Asim says:
    February 24th, 2009 12:38 pm


    On February 23rd, 2009 9:21 pmm you wrote, “Have you ever fly with any Indian Airline, they have airhostesses supporting

  57. YARJAMI says:
    February 24th, 2009 1:33 pm

    we are human being we are muslim we are pakistani.If that is the fact then we have to think and decide according to our tradations, our religious values and priciples and then our local culture. The Holy prophet said that you like for your brothers what you like for yourself.
    problem in our socity is that we like our wives and sisters to be in proper BURQA and others wives and sister in bikini and skirts. Now the dicision I leave it my readers.
    We should not behave like monkeies what ever they see they try to adopt that we must use our mind and then act accordingly

  58. Akif Nizam says:
    February 24th, 2009 2:02 pm

    The regulation makes total sense to me for two reasons: the first is obviously hygienic. Most of the airline crew is indirectly in the food service business. While most of us have grown up around people with beards preparing our foods, a lot of foreigners would freak out if they found a beard hair floating in their lentil soup.

    Secondly, unmanaged beards are unfortunately synonymous with extremism/terrorism. Terrorism is unfortunately irrevocably linked to airplanes. One plus one equals…….I can’t think of it right now and obviously a lot of you can’t either.

  59. Asim says:
    February 24th, 2009 2:02 pm


    (Yep, now I am going totaly off the topic)

    Burqa!…hmmmm…its like you have a beautiful garden and you want to wrap it up under cover so noone could see and appreciate it except yourself.

    I live in America and I see beautiful women everyday, there are in abundance here, I dont stare or drool at them…ok for couple seconds maybe every now and then, but, nobody gets hurt. I remember being in Pakistan in my teens we used to chase and harrass girls for miles/hours when we saw one, whether she was in sheets or not, I guess we expected a lot from our imaginations.

    My point is, this sharam and hayya thing among men and women will always keep us serveral steps behind other nations….which might earn us a spot in jannat…but none in the world. So, for people who are only living to find a spot in jannat, they should stop complaining when the people make negative comments on the way muslims live.

  60. Zecchetti says:
    February 24th, 2009 2:24 pm

    @ Asim

    You are basically saying that the Qur’an is only applicable 1400 years ago, and so we can ignore it now. You say that beards were a “fashion” then. Well guess what. So was worshipping idols. It was the biggest of all fashions. Yet the Qur’an came and demolished that because it is wrong then and is wrong now.

    As for your explanation of why they had beards then (you said “poor shaving techniques”) – you have made me laugh. Shaving was common in those days amongst the Persians – but the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam forbade the Muslims from looking like them by telling us to grow our beards. And he sallallahu alayhi wasalam had the thickest, most beautiful beard.

    Bottom line is, Islam did not come to “fit in” with all the prevalent jahaliat around it. Islam came to uproot that jahaliat and guide people to the Straight Path. One last reminder for you from Surah Ale Imran:

    “Truly, the religion with All

  61. Adnan says:
    February 24th, 2009 2:28 pm

    Zecchetti sahib, in Urdu the type of messages you have been posting is called “boongi maarna.”

    Why are you accusing people of saying things that they never did and needlessly searching for a fight. That is what is called “gheebat.”

    No one except you has been denying the Quran. The Quran says that you should think and make the right decisions for society and your times. You are saying that we should not. So you are the Quran denier here.

    As for beards, the Quran is not a hair stylists guide. A darhi may be a sunnat, as are so many other things. If you keep one, good for you. Horray! Now that you have one, please also try to follow the real purpose of the Quran, which includes not picking fights and telling lies about what others are saying.

    And, please, do not abuse the Quran again the way you have been by trying to use it as a tool to make false arguments or to malign others.


  62. zia m says:
    February 24th, 2009 2:41 pm

    @ D_a_n
    Very well put.

  63. Hamza says:
    February 24th, 2009 5:01 pm

    I’d just like to add my voice to the other’s who have mentioned hygiene as one possible reason for the ban. While there is no ideological reason for the ban, and having a beard in and of itself is not a bad thing, I can understand the practicality in asking flight attendants to shave.

    Any person employed in a food service profession needs to keep their beard hair trimmed or cut, if not, the chance of hair falling into food, etc, can cause serious health problems for passengers.

    Perhaps we shouldn’t jump to conclusions that this beard ban was imposed for ideological reasons.

  64. February 24th, 2009 5:08 pm

    I think this is completely ludicrous. PIA is just playing into the hands of stereotype and racism. “Oh my god – how can there be a guy with a huge beard on this plane?!? Someone tell the captian! He IS the CAPTAIN?!”

    This is idiocy. How will anyone ever break the barriers of stereotyping if everyone is forced to look the same. I would think PIA is in a unique place to be able to SHOW to the world that Muslim does NOT equal terrorist, and they should be happy to have bearded pilots.

  65. Adnan Ahmad says:
    February 24th, 2009 5:20 pm

    As much as I dislike the ‘Maulanas’ who brought about this reaction from PIA I think it is a violation of civil liberties.

    That said, the beard should have rules as to how it should appear. Eedie Man makes a point in his comment. PIA is in a competitive business [atleast one would think they are other than carrying Hajj traffic and people who don't have a choice] and as such should make appropriate decisions.

  66. meh says:
    February 24th, 2009 11:38 pm

    No one is forcing these fake wannabe mullahs to be flight attendants.

  67. Asad says:
    February 25th, 2009 12:13 am

    It is high time that PIA is privatized… sold even if we have to give it away for free. It is a disgrace to this nation.

  68. DuFFeR says:
    February 25th, 2009 12:13 am

    I remember PIA had something like this before.
    PIA should have a slogan “Hum bolain nafrat ki zubaan”
    bal k
    “Hum bolain amrika ki zubaan”

  69. Hammad says:
    February 25th, 2009 3:54 am

    Not sure about the Habib Bank, but there could be a rational explanation to this. Perhaps PIA wants to avoid all the immigration hassle that the crew could face at international airports, post 9/11.

  70. SH Rehman says:
    February 25th, 2009 9:07 am

    Although by any standard, mullahs and the like are scum and should be executed as a matter of course… this injunction on beards and more particularly on shalwar kameez is utterly ridiculous.

    There seems to be some confusion between Pakistani culture and Islamic fundamentalism which for the purposes of the conflict ridden environment of Pakistan is a dichotomy which should be ideally set in stone.

    Furthermore (compulsorily imposed) suits and ties etc are a total admittal of the subservience of the Pakistani administration to American imperialism.

  71. maskeenel says:
    February 25th, 2009 9:27 am

    Thank God someone came to their senses that PIA is not a platform for Islam but a commercial venue for Pakistan to make money where mullah’s should have no presence. In fact these beard cland lad walking around in the cabin reflect that the cabin has been hijacked by these undesirables. I have yet to see where in the post modern world one likes to be or forced to be among the religious zealots. Please keep all modern facilities free from these mullah’s or sunnaties.

    Also, I should not fail to mention mullah’s in sports. What a joke to the whole affair.

    I praise those who want to act logically and not act in fear of Islamists.

  72. Shirjeel says:
    February 25th, 2009 2:07 pm

    I do not have problem with people sporting any kind of beard, but I do get irritated when some link the depth of one’s faith with the length of his beard.

    I do not desire to venture into suggesting what should be the length of a beard from a social or religious angle, but I would say that bearded people need to understand the importance of neatness, cleanliness in terms of public appearence as opposed to disheveled and unkempt look.

    These days I live in Vancouver, Canada. Recently during a visit to the local Parliament building, I came across an old photograph (about a century old) of the provincial cabinet posing with its premier. There were about 16 people standing and interestingly 90% of them had beards and long enough to be called Maulanas from our standards. That reminds me of the W.H. Grace, the great British cricketer whose long beard was his trademark.

  73. Zecchetti says:
    February 25th, 2009 2:23 pm


    Do you think Muhammad Yusuf should leave cricket because of his beard?

  74. Asim says:
    February 25th, 2009 3:19 pm


    I don

  75. Asim says:
    February 25th, 2009 3:24 pm

    Zecchetti :

    And please don

  76. Danish says:
    February 25th, 2009 3:49 pm

    This act is a ridiculous one from PIA. I don’t like mullahs or beards but stopping them is the same as what Taliban are doing. Also, cannot understadn those using bad language and violent ideas for mullahs, I guess they are secular Taliban!

  77. Anon says:
    February 25th, 2009 11:18 pm

    I am really enjoying the comment by Danish i.e. “Secular Taliban”.
    Yes if beard has nothing to do with performance then it should not and must not be banned.
    It is same as if we ban on people not to have hair on head or some other irrelevant thing………..
    But dearssssssssss
    onething we all are forgetting is that it is all what we deserve, Muslims are teased every where in their countries and out side as well because..
    Hay jurm e zaeefi ki saza marg e mufajaat
    Allah hamain quwwat e imaani or jazba e musalmani ata farmae,
    stay blessed

  78. adeel says:
    February 25th, 2009 11:48 pm

    What is the last word in the line you quoted, mufajaat? What does this mean?

  79. saeed says:
    February 27th, 2009 3:09 am

    Allama Iqbal says:
    Taqdeer k Qazi ka yeh fatwa hay azal say
    Hay Jurm-e Zaeefi ki saza marg-e-mufajaat


    This is the verdict of Nature from the the beginning that the punishment for weakness is eternal death.

    I guess this reveals our present situation. our weakness is our Jurm, and marg e mufajaat i.e death for ever will be our punishment if we are not going to wake up.

  80. Asim says:
    February 27th, 2009 11:19 am

    Saeed Sahab,

    Please describe “wake up”? Do we need to wake up and support Mullah style or do we need to modernize ourselves and educate ourselves through modern sciences to be able to compete with the rest of the world…yeah I know muslims invented algebra and lots of chemicals 600 years ago and most of those scholars most likely had beards, I am talking about now and for future.

    The reason I believe that Mullah style and modernization are at the opposite extremes is for examples, mullah’s are trained in madarsahs, that do not teach you how to make planes, design computers and their software, teach high tech medicine etc, at least not yet.

    Also, does anyone have a rough figure of how much mullahs and graduates of madarsas contribute to our country’s GDP compared to non-mullahs and graduates of non-religious schools?

  81. saeed says:
    February 27th, 2009 1:40 pm

    Asim bhai yes i guess today there is long unfilled gap b/w mullahs and educated people. what we need is to fill the gap and not to be the part of any extreme case. by “wake up” I mean to say that we should realize what we were and then to try to become that leading nation again. I guess this can be achieved only if we become successful in promoting a perfect blend of religion, science and education.
    Do read “Road to success” by Faiez Hassan Seyal a famous consultant worldwide. He is I guess the type of person I am talking about, a beautiful blend of religion and worldly success.
    Stay blessed

  82. adeel says:
    February 28th, 2009 2:09 am

    Right on… What DO the madarsas and their graduates contribute to our GDP?

    You are very true about creating a forward looking, modern blend of religion, science and modern education.

    If our bearded forefathers could invent algebra 600 years ago and were able to co-exist peacefully with non-muslims (e.g., in Moorish Spain), no reason why we have to resort to decapitating (figuratively and physically) anyone who isn’t wearing the religion on their sleeve in order to assert our faith.

    I read a wise saying that Islam is the middle way between excess and neglect.

  83. Sair says:
    February 28th, 2009 9:34 am

    I would like to know from when exactly did “contribution to GDP” has become a/the factor to judge people? I wonder why people on the one hand talk about equality and on the other weight or worth people based on their contributions.

    The highest contributors to the GDP would be those large multinational/local business groups, right? but I think you have never had a chance to read on them, how unethical they are, what good they bring to any society?

  84. Asim says:
    March 2nd, 2009 9:53 am


    I am sorry but I am not going to explain how important GDP is to a country, its respect, its people and and its future generation, but very quickly, think about and compare the progress of Japan, Germany, U.S.A., India, China to countries like Haiti, Maldives, Zimbabwe, Nepal or just about any muslim country, except Malaysia, Dubai, Qatar and couple others, . To better understand the importance of GDP, please search for something like GDP 101 in Google.

  85. Sair says:
    March 2nd, 2009 11:19 am


    I know how important GDP is in measuring country’s ‘economic growth’. My question was that since when did ones contribution to GDP becomes a/the factor in weighing person’s worth in a society. Like if you do volunteer work, that does not involve any economic transaction, then technically you are not contributing anything to the GDP……. Would you call that person useless because he is not contributing anything to the GDP?

  86. Asim says:
    March 2nd, 2009 1:16 pm


    Please correct me if I am wrong. My understanding of what you are saying is that some malang from some sufi’s shirine or some mullah who moves back and forth reciting Quran half the day and most likely not understanding a word or come up with its own meaning that is not acceptable to majority of the society he/she lives is equal and just as important as some engineer who builds buildings, bridges etc or a surgeon who went through years of hardship to be where he is now and help many others while earning decent living?

    Going back to the original topic, I firmly believe that everyone should do their job honestly and follow current fashions/trends to look their best specially when they are in a position to represent their organization/country.

  87. Wahab says:
    March 2nd, 2009 4:41 pm

    Bad move by PIA. PIA’s real problems are very different and much more deep. It should focus on that.

  88. asfi says:
    March 5th, 2009 7:35 am

    Corrected comments: Dear all, this is the problem of

  89. Beardless in Islam says:
    March 5th, 2009 11:22 am

    This is a stupid move by PIA.

    I don’t think God is going to gauge people on how much hair they have on their face (otherwise heaven would be full of bears) and certainl business does not care either.

    Given people good service and you will have a good company, beard or no beard.
    Be a decent human being and God will be happy with you, beard or no beard.

    And if you can’t give good service or be a good person then all the hair on your face will do you no good. It will only give you ticks and an itch!

  90. UllulAmar says:
    July 11th, 2009 9:00 am

    Beardless in Islam says:
    March 5th, 2009 11:22 am

    This is a stupid move by PIA.

    I don

Have Your Say (Bol, magar piyar say)