This is a story of an Asian Muslim who went on a four month journey to find out the answer to the question "could growing a beard completely change the way people treated a British Asian?"
He grew a beard in preparation for this 'journey' and compared how life began changing for him...
So what sparked this question in the young man's mind? He says:
It was a week after 7 July and I'd just got on an east London bus. I was on my way to buy razors as I hadn't shaved for days.
A couple of stops later a middle-aged Rasta guy got on, sat down next to me and asked: "So how's it feel brethren?" "Erm, how's what feel?" I replied. "How's it feel now it's your turn to be bottom of the pile?" he said.
We had a good chat, we talked about riots and muggers and bombs and beards. We had a right laugh. "Take it easy brother," he said as he stepped off the moving bus.
When I got to Liverpool Street and I went into the station to catch the Tube, I was stopped and searched under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act. It had never happened to me before and I had always felt perfectly at ease in the UK, my home."
During his journey he experienced many changes and he states:
One young man in Birmingham - a religious Muslim - said he'd been for a job interview and as soon as he walked into the room and the manager saw the colour of his skin and his beard he was told to "forget it" and sent away.
But it was people in authority, whose role it was to be alert, who were the most suspicious. It seemed now I had a beard - and for the first time in my life - members of the Metropolitan Police thought I looked dodgy.
I wasn't sure whether the two were connected. So when I was stopped by police outside Downing Street, and searched yet again, I asked one of them the question: "Do I look dodgy?" The answer was a very definite yes.
"Would I look less dodgy without my rucksack?" I asked. "Dodgy," he replied. "What about if I wore a suit?" "You'd look like a dodgy bloke in a suit," he said. "How about if I shaved my beard?" "Dodgy. Just face it - you look dodgy," came the disconcerting reply.
Finally, he clarifies something vital to all his readers, "I don't want to point the finger of blame at the public for how I was treated during those first few weeks as their fear was real, just like me they were living in a different reality for a time after the bombings."
It's not the first time this issue has been mentioned in the media, yet it is one that has been of rising concern for people of all backgrounds and societies.
The above is just a journey of one man's experience of society's reaction towards something they have 'fear' of.
At first, I would think many people would feel 'targeted', 'discriminated' and even a slightly annoyed by the different reactions and attitudes of people.
This is because we feel that we are the victims of something we haven't done, and this view is not incorrect.
However, we need to realise that their attitudes towards us are due to fear and because they feel that they have been the victims of terrorists and could also be in the future. Therefore, human instincts make them more alert and thus the greater level of suspicion.
The BBC NEWS site has a comment from Mr Cedric from Brighton, which I believe has said something quite extraodinary:
"I think the problem is that stereotypes are our natural defence against things we don't know, or that might be dangerous. We have evolved socially far faster than our body and brain have. Despite trying not to, I will see people in the street and according to certain stereotypes I will make a judgement about them. It's a natural reaction, but with a conscious effort I think you can do something about it
Cedric Wooding, Brighton, England
We all have to realise that we need to be conscious about our treatment towards one another, we have to show respect to each and everyone and through this good-treatment we should hope and pray that misunderstandings are removed and elimated. At the end of the day we all are victims of the terrorists, and stand together as one nation.
"We need to stick together as a nation, as a people now. As Mr. Thind says, we live in a country of tolerance and we can't let some warped people change that."
Charlie Hutchinson, Winchester
QUR'AN & HADEETH
Allah has stated in the Qur'an, in numerous places, the excellence of a good moral character and social etiquttes. He states in one verse how He dislikes arrogance and pride:
"" And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah likes not each arrogant boaster.
And be moderate or show no insolence in your walking, and lower your voice. Verily, the harshest of all voices is the voice of the donkey."
[Surah Al-Luqman(31), Verses 18-19]
"And walk not on earth with conceit and arrogance. Verily, you can neither rend nor penetrate the earth, nor can you attain a stature like the mountains in height."
[Surah Al-Isra'a(17), Verse 37]
Similarly, our beloved Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam encouraged each and everyone to be like fellow brothers, to respect one another, to not conjure any hatred or evil thought of one another:
Abu Huraira transmitted that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said:
"Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the worse of tales,
and do not look for the other's faults,
and do not do spying on one another,
and do not practise Najsh*,
and do not be jealous of one another
and do not hate one another,
and do not desert (stop talking to) one another.
And O Allah's worshippers! Be brothers!"
* == Najsh means to offer a high price for something in order to allure
another customer who is interested in the thing (something like bribery).
LINKS AND RELATED ARTICLESIslam and Neighbours
There are more links at the end of this article.