Beard a statement of faith in Jerusalem

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Beard a statement of faith in Jerusalem
In a combination of photos men pose for portraits in occupied Jerusalem's Old City.

Occupied Jerusalem - For men of all faiths in the holy city, a beard can be an important statement of religious devotion.


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Published: Fri 16 Feb 2018, 9:55 PM

Last updated: Fri 16 Feb 2018, 11:59 PM

Facial hair is trendy worldwide these days, but in occupied Jerusalem beards have never gone out of style, projecting religious mysticism, nationalism and ideals of masculinity.
For men of all faiths in the holy city, a beard can be an important statement of religious devotion, connecting past generations to God through the tangled strands of history. Facial hair also reflects social mores in many communities. In some cases, it can even reflect one's political views.
Nowhere is this more visible than in occupied Jerusalem's Old City, where bearded ultra-Orthodox Jews, Christian clerics and devout Muslims all come into contact in a densely packed mix of some of the world's most sensitive holy sites.
For Eitan Press, 40, growing a beard is a spiritual journey that embodies ancient concepts of Jewish mysticism while challenging modern perceptions of masculinity.
"When a man grows a beard, it is incumbent upon him to act with greater kindness, compassion and sensitivity toward the world because he is now wearing on his face a divine quality," said Press, who has a majestic, full red beard.
Zuheir Dubai, an Islamic scholar and imam in the West Bank city of Nablus, said that while Muslim men grow beards for religious reasons, moustaches are rooted in popular culture.
In Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, some men swear by their mustache, putting their hand on it to convince people to accept their word, Zuheir said.
Muslim beard traditions stem from the time of Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who in the 7th century urged his followers to wear beards and "shorten the mustache as a sign of modesty".
Some Muslims tint their beards with henna, which may have been used by the prophet, Zuheir said.
Among Orthodox Christian priests, long bushy beards are as common a sight as their long, flowing robes on the narrow, winding cobblestone streets of occupied Jerusalem's ancient Old City.
They see a beard as a sign of devotion to God and homage to Jesus - traditionally portrayed with a beard.

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