Ah, the beard. Fashion icon, trendy accessory and eye magnet in today’s world, beards have truly had a varied, tumultuous and ever-changing history, to say the least. As directed by the Prophet ﷺ himself, wearing a beard is part and parcel to any Muslim man’s life. Around the world, the beard has historically been and still is a universal subject of much critique; as Muslims we’re taught from a young age to embrace our facial hair, keeping it clean and well groomed – but it didn’t start with us. Let’s go back in time and explore beards through the ages.
The Prophet Adam (AS)
It’s known that the Prophet Adam sported a beard which could rival any modern Muslim man’s; as you can maybe imagine, going way WAY back, shaping up the beard wasn’t such an important part of day to day life. Beards would have been left to grow ‘au naturel’ and were a handy survival tool – no frost bite on this chin, no sir. They also would have served as camouflage to a degree, in terms of tricking prey into complacency… Is that a bearded man over there, or a bison? Plus, of course, intimidation – nothing says ‘leave my tribe alone’ like a thick, shaggy beard. Enemies beware.
It’s no secret that the Ancient Greeks were some pretty wise individuals; beards back then were seen as a sign of intelligence and poise, and could be worn long only by those who had earned the honour. In fact, cutting an individual’s beard was an actual punishment under law!
Archaeological evidence shows that the ancient Egyptians practiced grooming heavily, both men and women; it’s possible that this era was the founder of some of the beauty products we still use today including pumice stones, beeswax and even what we today would call tweezers. In higher societies men were often clean shaven, as was fashionable at the time, however in death they would be adorned with the ‘Osird’ beard, a fake metal beard which had the look of having been braided. Fake it til you make it, I suppose.
We have a lot to thank the men of Ancient Mesopotamia for – not in the least, the invention of beard oil as we know it today and – low and behold – the man bun! (Though granted at the time, it was called a ‘warrior bun’ and had somewhat more purpose than that of today’s world…)
During ancient times, men in this region would braid or curl their beards along with their hair to demonstrate their status in society – the more elaborate your hairstyle, the wealthier you would be perceived. Moustaches also became popular during this time – the hairier the better it would seem!
It’s no longer cool to have the longest beard in the land – or so say the Ancient Romans. These guys kept beards shorter, neater and extremely well groomed; they were even advised to shave during battles so that enemies may not be able to grab or pull their beards. Eventually, shaving became the norm – outside of philosophers, who kept the long look going.
If ever there were a people who wore the beard well, it was these guys; depicted throughout history with huge, disorderly beards and waves of unruly hair, the Vikings were no stranger to using facial hair as an instant intimidation tactic. Despite their unkempt appearance, the Vikings were a well-groomed people – they just looked scary as anything. Gulp.
Since the 1100s, facial hair has been viewed similarly to that of today – wear it however you like, or not at all. After a brief stint during the Anglo-Saxon era, during which certain peoples were required by law to shave, it’s been a regular old free for all. To beard, or not to beard?
It’s now 2019 and, how ever you wear it, there’s no denying that beards are well and truly ‘in’. Whether for spiritual purposes, personal preference or even just practicality, in today’s modern world personal grooming is an important part of day to day life, Muslim or no. With so many famous beards throughout history, from Honest Abe to Socrates and the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ himself, it’s no wonder we value them as such.
Here at MBCO we pride ourselves on our halal grooming products, specially selected by us to ensure you provide your loved ones with a thoughtful, high-quality gift experience. Perfect for your bearded companions be it partner, father, brother or otherwise. So, make sure to keep on top of your own beard, and/or those around you!