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Why is it prescribed in some religions to let go and wear a beard, while in others it is forbidden
Why is it prescribed in some religions to let go and wear a beard, while in others it is forbidden

Why do Jews, Muslims and Orthodox Christians wear a beard, but Catholics and Buddhists do not? Facial and scalp hair is very important in almost all religions. For the presence or absence of a beard, violators may or may still face expulsion from the community or other severe punishment. And from the point of view of some denominations, a man's absence of a beard can be equated with the absence of any other part of his face.

Beard from the point of view of the religions of the East and Judaism

Image of Queen Hatshepsut with a beard

In ancient Egypt, men were supposed to shave. Pharaohs, it is true, wore a beard, but it was artificial - of wool or hair, intertwined with golden threads. This jewelry was a symbol of the supreme power, it was tied to the chin, and not only by men. Even the queen-pharaoh Hatshepsut, to emphasize her high status, wore such a beard. Brahma, one of the three supreme gods in Hinduism, is often depicted with a long white beard symbolizing wisdom and eternity of being.

Image of Brahma in a 12th century Indian temple

But Buddhism, along with the renunciation of sensual pleasures, prescribes the followers and the renunciation of the hair on the head. In imitation of the Buddha, adherents of this religion also shave their beards. This eliminates the need to care for your hair, which means that more time and attention can be devoted to internal self-improvement. In addition, in this way, Buddhists are one step closer to giving up their own identity.

Buddhist monk

The Old Testament is adamant about the beard: it does not allow getting rid of it, associates shaving with mourning or humiliation. For a long time, shaving a beard was tantamount to a loss of honor, cutting off someone's beard was considered a cruel insult.

Representative of the Hasidic community

He who shaves off his beard moves away from the creator, from closeness to his image and likeness. Among the Hasidim - adherents of one of the currents in Judaism - shaving the beard entails a break with the community.

However, in the modern world, a Jew is allowed to resolve the issue of shaving on his own, and if a person does not consider his spiritual, religious level to be high enough, he can get rid of facial hair, only, of course, not on Shabbat. But the tradition of not shaving for a month as a sign of mourning for a loved one is observed by everyone.

One way or another, caring for a beard and maintaining it in a neat condition is encouraged, but the question of whether it is possible to trim a beard is considered by theorists of Judaism in different ways.

Beard in Catholicism and Orthodoxy

The views of Catholics and Orthodox Christians about wearing a beard differed even before the official division of the Christian church in 1054. This was largely due to tradition - the Romans considered the beard a trait of the barbarians. For a long time the question of "shaving or not shaving" was not regulated by the church, but the tradition still ordered the "Latins" to walk without a beard. Since the XII century, Catholic priests were not allowed to let go of their beards, this was determined by the Toulouse Cathedral of 1119, but four centuries later, the popes already allowed themselves to refuse to shave.

Mustaches and a goatee came into fashion and were considered a quite godly business; many rulers of the Vatican adhered to this image. As for the Catholic monks, they were instructed not only to get rid of the beard, but also to shave the hair on the crown.

Pope Clement VII

The smooth chins of the Latins were perceived by Orthodox Christians with condemnation. Irradiation was recognized as compulsory for believers, since this is the creator's plan - for men to have a beard, but not for women.

Shaving, shaving a beard, was prohibited by church books and the decrees of cathedrals, in particular, the Stoglava Cathedral of 1551. Those who encroached on the beard were threatened with serious punishments: they did not serve a panikhida and magpie, they did not light candles in the church.

Orthodox clergy

Therefore, what Peter I did at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries seems to be a truly grandiose affair - he managed to turn the centuries-old attitudes and traditions upside down regarding what befits a decent Christian. A duty was established, which was levied on those who preferred wearing a beard to the new rules - the tax is quite substantial: for example, courtiers, officials, merchants and townspeople paid sixty rubles a year, servants, coachmen - thirty.

Peter's decree provided for a duty on the beard

Of course, at first they murmured, rebelled, kept the shaved beard at home in a chest in order to be buried with it - the way to the kingdom of heaven without a beard is closed. But the custom of shaving took root pretty quickly, however, priests, deacons and bishops were exempted from this duty, everyone else was supposed to pay a fine for violating the tsar's decree. But the schismatics did not recognize these changes. According to the rules of the Old Believers, a shaved person is forbidden to enter the church, and if he dies without repenting of this sin, he will be buried without a ceremony.

Old Believers preferred to pay a fee, but not shave off their beards

Even now, while ordinary seminarians are supposed to shave - in order to distinguish themselves from those who have already received orders, students who adhere to the Old Believers are allowed to let go of their beards.

Beard in Islam


According to Islam, if a beard grows, then this is the plan of Allah, and it must be worn. A beard distinguishes a devout Muslim from pagans, and also from women. Shaving a beard is considered a great sin, or at least it is condemned - a lot depends on the trend in Islam. He also determines different options for views and rules on the issue of handling a beard. It is allowed to shorten the beard - if the length exceeds the size of a clenched fist. Dyeing the beard is allowed and even encouraged.

The beard is usually painted with henna

Yet Muslims, like representatives of other faiths, sometimes have to meet the demands of society. In a number of countries, civil servants are prohibited from wearing a beard, and followers of Islam have to take this into account when choosing a profession. According to the explanations of Russian imams, wearing a beard is optional. It is noteworthy that some monarchs of Islamic states prefer shaving to wearing a beard, for example, King Mohammed VI of Morocco.

King of Morocco Mohammed VI

At all times, fashion has influenced a woman's appearance much more than a man's, and with regard to hair too. Therefore, religious traditions quickly gave way to hairstyles, which were presented to the world by famous ladies of the past.

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