Vain and ridiculous — or ready for jihad?
The mainstream media and the learned analysts, clueless as ever, continue to flail about in trying to explain why Osama bin Laden shows up in his latest video with his hair dyed lounge-lizard black.
From “Bin Laden video may signal new attacks,” by Mark Trevelyan for Reuters:
“He appeared without the military camouflage jacket he used to wear, without his favorite Kalashnikov which he captured from a Soviet general during the Afghan war,” said Abdel Bari Atwan, London-based editor-in-chief of the Arabic newspaper al-Quds.
By dyeing his hair and beard and wearing Arabic robes, bin Laden was trying to portray himself as a new, mature figure — the spiritual leader of al Qaeda, Atwan said.
Others said the makeover was bizarre.
“It makes him, a man who claims he wants to be a martyr, look vain and ridiculous,” said M.J. Gohel of the Asia-Pacific Foundation, a London think-tank.
Gohel is right: it does make him look ridiculous, but that is not the end of the matter. And certainly it has nothing to do with OBL’s “trying to himself as a new, mature figure — the spiritual leader of al Qaeda.”
Have Atwan and Gohel actually read what Islamic legal texts say about hair dyed black? Or have they dismissed a priori such religious concerns as irrelevant?
As I noted here yesterday, the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence forbids men and women to dye their hair black “except when the intention is jihad…as a show of strength to unbelievers” (‘Umdat al-Salik e.4.4). OBL is not a member of the Shafi’i school; the Wahhabis adhere to the Hanbali school, and the Deobandis (the dominant sect among the Taliban) are Hanafis. But this is not just a Shafi’i view: Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, in his internationally influential The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam, says essentially the same thing: “Some of the early Muslims, including some sahabah [companions of Muhammad] such as Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Amr, al-Hassan, al-Hussein, Jarir, and others permitted the use of black dye. Some scholars, on the other hand, do not consider the use of black dye as permissible except during time of war, when the enemy might be impressed by the fact that all the soldiers of the Muslim army look young.”
Does Osama’s dye job mean that he is going to participate personally in jihad warfare? Not necessarily. But it could be another signal that an attack is imminent.
Meanwhile, the TV talking heads will continue to tut-tut about Osama’s vanity, and remain utterly clueless about what is most likely really going on here. Keep talking, fellows.
Wolf Pangloss has the full text of Osama’s message.