Taliban measure beards with lantern glass

NNI, December 03, 1998

ISLAMABAD: Having declared the beard-keeping by male Afghan citizens as a religious compulsion, the Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia has now introduced a unique instrument to ensure minimum length of the beard prescribed by the Islamic laws.

Taliban's religious police carry around with it a Lantern glass to ensure minimum size of citizens' beard under Shariat enforced in their controlled areas, a refugees who recently arrived from Kabul said. Anybody's beard which is too short to crop out of the standard Lantern glass is punished just as anyone who either shave of or trims his beard, the refugee added.

Because of the beard controversy a team of international boxers from Afghanistan were not allowed to contest the international boxing matches by the International Boxing Federation which said the beard hampered judgement of boxing judges for giving points. The Afghan officials had protested to the International Boxing Federation and asked for change in the rules.

Members of Taliban's Ministry for "Amar bil maroof wa nahee aanelmunkar" (Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) force the people to put their beard inside the cavity of the glass and punish those, who have beard of the length smaller than prescribed by Sharia. Normally Shariah prescribes a beard, which could be grasped perfectly by person's own hand. This comes comes to be approximately 8 centimeters.

"They (Taliban) jail for 45 days those people who shave their beards in addition to awarding seven lashes to those who trim their beard," the Afghan refugee said. The bearded refugee who did not want to be named recently arrived in Islamabad and is living in sector G-9.

Taliban religious police are regularly patrolling their controlled areas to check what they call violators of Islamic principles. Beard of the people at border crossing points are being checked strictly.

The hard-line student militia has also introduced new rules for women. They have made it compulsory for the women to come out of houses with male member of the family. They punish shopkeepers and tax drivers who sell or take lone woman. However, two women are allowed to come out of homes without male relative.

Last month Taliban announced that all students in Kabul University would grow beard and wear turban. Vice chancellor of the university was quoted by a local regional language daily as saying that he would quit if failed to impose the new rules about beard and turban.

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