How far will Muslims go in their attempts to follow as literally as possible the teachings of Islam, especially the many countless and colorful fatwas that appear from their ulema, that is, “the ones who know”—the “scholars” of Islam?
Many are aware that Islamic law bans men and women who are not married or related from being in each other’s company. Recently, however, a Saudi cleric, Sheikh Abdullah Da ‘ud, took it a step further on live Arabic TV by repeatedly declaring that “it is forbidden to be around handsome youth, those beardless boys who have a touch of temptation in them [fitna].”
Nor is Sheikh Da‘ud the only one to suggest that beardless youth are sources of temptation for Muslim men. Islam Web has an English-language fatwa supporting Sheikh Da‘ud’s assertions. And here is American Muslim preacher Khalid Yasin saying that “among the companions of the Prophet, they used not to even look at a man who shaves his beard for fear they may have desire for him.”
Perhaps this explains why Abu Islam, another notorious Egyptian preacher, insisted that one of his secular opponents, Bassem Youssef, whom he referred to as a beardless “pretty boy,” should wear the niqab, the face veil worn by some Muslim women.
As Wael Ibrashi of Dream TV, who aired this clip, put it, “At a time when the world is busy trying to find cures for cancer and for all the diseases that afflict society, and trying to advance and develop technology, unfortunately some of Islam’s preachers take us backwards in time through their backwards fatwas”—fatwas which seem to get worse with each passing year, such as the recommendation that Muslims drink camel urine for its salutary benefits, based on prophet Muhammad’s advice.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.