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Strange brews

Published Sep 12, 2013 01:49pm


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Hip moulvis

A reader sent me a link to a video titled ‘Disco Mullah.’ The video showed some members of a ritualistic Muslimi sub-sect, indulging in some kind of a highly animated trance dance.

It was a fascinating sight. Nevertheless, the dance is not what really whetted my curiosity. It was the title of the video, ‘Disco Mullah’ that the reader used to define the spiritual boogie that caught my attention.

This term is not a new one. It’s been around for quite a while now. Or at least a variation of it.

According to Shaukat Nasir, a former student of the University of Karachi (between 1975 and 1979), a similar term, ‘Disco Molvie’ was doing the rounds decades ago.

It was a tongue-in-cheek expression that was first coined by leftist/liberal student activists at the University of Karachi (KU) sometime in the late 1970s.

It was mockingly used to describe the more modernly attired and beardless members of the right-wing Islami Jamiat-i-Taleba (IJT).

“In those days,” says Shaukat, “even some Jamati members would dress in western clothes and listen to music, but were still committed to propagate Jamat-i-Islami’s philosophy. We began calling such IJT activists Disco Molvies!” Shaukat added, smiling.

In turn, the term is believed to have been a spin-off of yet another similar label, ‘Maulana Whiskey’ - a term coined by IJT members in the Punjab to describe the allegedly whiskey loving former Jamat-i-Islami (JI) leader, Maulana Kausar Niazi.

According to Bilal Kidwai, a former member of the IJT (in the late 1970s) at a Lahore college, it was members of IJT at the Punjab University who coined the term ‘Maulana Whiskey’ for Niazi when (in 1969) he decided to quit JI and join Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s socialist/secular Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

However, prolific author and former left-wing student activist, Tariq Ali, in an interview that he gave to India Today in 1989, claimed that the term was actually coined by Z A. Bhutto himself.

“Kausar Niazi was called Maulana Whiskey by Bhutto ,” Ali told India Today, while talking about how Niazi abandoned Bhutto in 1978.

Kausar Niazi (right) with Z A. Bhutto in 1974.

“He (Niazi) was either drunk or surrounded by dancing girls and then began masquerading as the guardian of Islam,” Ali had added.

But Shaukat Nasir is not sure who came up with the term, Maulana Whiskey: “I personally think it were the Jamaties who after being incensed by Maulana Kausar Niazi’s decision to quit JI and join PPP, taunted him with this title. But it is also true that Bhutto sahib started calling Niazi, Maulana Whiskey.”

Interestingly, the term, even if coined by the IJT members alone, eventually became part of the still on-going tradition in Pakistan where clerics are mocked through satire and jokes.

Niazi was a staunch member of the JI and passionately followed the party’s anti-Socialist line. However, when in 1967, Z A. Bhutto formed the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Niazi became attracted to what the party’s largely Marxist ideologues were attempting to do.

PPP ideologues like J A. Rahim, Shiekh Mohammad Rashid, Hanif Ramay, Meraj Mohammad Khan and Dr. Mubasher Hassan (all committed leftists), were working on an ideological fusion that tried to compliment the Qu’ranic ideas of compassion, justice and equality with the economic and social doctrines of Socialism and Marxism. They called it ‘Islamic Socialism.’

In 1969, Niazi quit JI and joined the PPP. The party’s ideologues opposed his entry, but Bhutto reasoned that the presence of a former JI man in the PPP would suit the party in its propaganda war against the religious parties.

When the PPP swept the 1970 elections in the two largest provinces of West Pakistan (Punjab and Sindh), Niazi won his National Assembly seat in Sialkot by getting over 90,000 votes!

Running on a PPP ticket, Niazi was up against some stiff opposition. But ironically, though he had followed JI’s anti-Ahmadi line when he was in that party, as a PPP candidate in 1970, he courted the Ahmadi community of Sialkot and promised it that the PPP was committed to continue recognising the Ahmadis as a legitimate Islamic sect.

The Ahmadis of the area voted for him in droves and he was able to defeat his rivals with a huge margin.

Niazi was made Minister of Religious Affairs by Bhutto when he took power in 1972. But in spite of the fact that Niazi’s growing liking for alcohol attracted taunts from JI, it was Niazi who convinced a reluctant Bhutto to agree to the religious parties’ demand of deeming the Ahmadis a minority and a non-Muslim community.

Then, when religious parties were agitating against the Bhutto regime in 1977, Niazi advised Bhutto to ban the sale of alcoholic beverages, nightclubs and bars so that the religious parties could be brought to the negotiating table.

After General Ziaul Haq toppled the regime in July 1977, some surviving founding members of the PPP accused Niazi of ‘taking Bhutto for a ride.’

Niazi quit the party in 1978 and formed his own party. But as a politician, his career was as good as over and he returned to being an Islamic orator. He passed away in 1993.

Between the emergence of the term ‘Maulana Whiskey’ (in the early 1970s) and ‘Disco Moulvi’ (possibly in 1977), another term in this context became popular. It was ‘Maulana Hippie.’

Hippies – a freewheeling cultural phenomenon that emerged in the West in the 1960s – spread out in the rest of the world when young Western men and women began travelling to non-western countries to look for the kind of ‘spiritualism’ that they believed their post-industrial societies had eschewed.

Hippie trends and fashions – long hair, colourful, ‘non-bourgeois’ clothing, ‘mind expansion’ (mainly through hallucinogenic drugs), free-form music, communal living, anti-war activism, etc. – made their way into Pakistan as well.

Raheel Nawaz, 57, who today is a successful businessman, claims he was a ‘Pakistani hippie’ as a young man in Karachi: “There used to be so many hippies visiting Pakistan and India from Europe and the US in the 1970s. Many young men like me also began dressing like them, keeping long hair, thick sideburns, and wearing big, metallic ‘peace’ signs around our necks.”

Raheel Nawaz with a friend at the Karachi University in 1973. A self-claimed ‘Pakistani hippie,’ Raheel today is a successful, 57-year-old businessman.

“During the 1970s,” Raheel added, “even middle-class young men like me began visiting shrines of Muslim saints. We began mixing Marxism with Sufism and intrigued by the way we looked and talked, regular working-class shrine visitors began calling young people like me Hippie Moulvies,” Raheel laughed.

The term caught on and eventually entered the mainstream media.

According to a recent article on Pakistan’s eccentric best-selling Urdu mystery novelist, late Ibn-i-Safi, ‘Maulana Hippie’ was actually the pseudonym of film producer, Muhammad Hussain Talpur.

Talpur first used this term (in 1972) when he made an Urdu film, ‘Dhamaka’ that was scripted by Safi. Raheel agrees: ‘Yes, it was Talpur who used this term on the screen, but it was inspired by what I just told you. He too must have picked it up from the shrines.’

Maulana Hippie connoted a hip Pakistani male who was liberated from the social constrains of ‘middle-class morality’ but at the same time he or she was in tune with their ‘inner spiritual side.’

A 1974 article in the Pakistani English monthly, The Herald, on film director, Hussain Talpur, who also became famous as ‘Maulana Hippie.’

However, soon the terms Maulana Hippie and Maulana Whiskey gave way to Disco Moulvi.

The phrase ‘Disco Moulvi’ was inspired by the arrival and popularity of disco music (in the late 1970s).

The American disco music genre had begun making inroads into the Pakistani music market, especially with the arrival of albums (LPs and cassettes) of famous disco outfits like Boney-M, Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer and Eruption. Their music also became a favorite of students residing in hostels.

“Some IJT members also became fans of disco, especially Donna Summer and Boney-M,” Shaukat Nasir explained. “I knew a few Jamatis at KU (in 1979) who used to fight with progressive student groups, but wore baggy disco shirts, tight pants and those pointy disco shoes! That’s when we began calling them Disco Moulvies.”

By the early 1980s the term began being associated with those westernised industrialists and white-collar professionals who were supporting the reactionary Ziaul Haq dictatorship (1977-88).

Mujahid Qureshi, a former activist with the Sindhi nationalist outfit, Sindh Shagird Tehreek (in the early 1980s) says: “During the 1983 MRD (Movement for the Restoration of Democracy) agitation against Zia in Sindh, we used to visit Karachi (from Sukker) to collect funds from men who had sympathies with the PPP and other anti-Zia outfits. But sometimes we came across these very modern-looking and English-speaking factory-owners and businessmen, who scorned at us for trying to not only break Pakistan but hurt Islam as well. That made us laugh and we started calling them Disco Moulvis!”

It now seems the term Disco Moulvi has survived, though it is now mostly used to mock ‘modern looking’ Islamic televangelists and/or colourful rightist television/political personalities (such as Aamir Liaquat, Zaid Hamid and sometimes, even Imran Khan).

In recent times, famous televangelist, Aamir Liaquat, has often been referred to as ‘Disco Moulvi.’

What’s in a beard?

Sometimes even when the title of ‘Maulana’ has been used for some people in a more respectable manner, they have scoffed.

In his biography (written by Tehmina Durrani), ‘Mirror to the Blind,’ renowned Pakistani philanthropist, Abdul Sattar Edhi complains how he detests being called a ‘Maulana’.

“Mine was never a religious beard,” he tells his biographer. “It was always a revolutionary beard.”

Famous philanthropist, Abdul Sattar Edhi, having lunch with the children from one of the many orphanages he has set up. He does not like being called a maulana.

In the book he also says that hardly any man in Pakistan used to have a beard in the 1950s.

A senior journalist, Ghulam Farooq, agrees: “In the 1950s and 1960s, no self-respecting Pakistani from any class would have liked to be seen with a long beard, apart from the mullahs. All this stuff about the beard having any religious significance played absolutely no role in the lives of Pakistanis. In fact, the beard was seen as a symbol of religious hypocrisy.”

Showing me photos of political rallies of the late 1960s, a former student leader, Naushad Hussain, challenged me to point out 10 men with beards among the hundreds that stood listening to former politician, Asghar Khan, in the photos. I couldn’t.

“Look closely,” he smiled. “There are only three.”

“What about the ‘revolutionary beards’?” I asked.

He laughed: “Revolutionary beards became famous in the West after Castro and Che Guevara’s revolution in Cuba,” Naushad explained. “But long hair and revolutionary beards (in Pakistan) really became popular from 1970 onwards.”

Abul Kabir, another former student leader (at KU in 1973-74), suggests that very few male students had beards even in the 1970s: “Ironically, only the most radical Marxists on campus went around with beards, looking like Che.” He explained.

He then added: “Even the staunchest members of the right-wing Islamic Jamiat Taleba (IJT) were clean-shaven. Being young and having a beard (and long hair) in those days meant that one was a radical leftist.”

Marxist revolutionaries, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, made the ‘revolutionary beard’ famous among young leftists across the world.

Between the mid and late 1970s, beards, especially heavy stubbles, also became popular as an expression of creativity and intellectual disposition.

Mahboobullah, a former graduate of the famous National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore, remembers that (in the 1970s), coffee houses were full of long-haired and bearded young men sipping tea and beer and chain smoking: “A young man with a neglected stubble or a beard, talking reflectively with a cigarette in his hand became a trendy pose in those days,” Mahboobullah chuckled. “Women loved it!”

By 1976 almost all leading Pakistani TV actors had ‘artistic’ beards: Talat Hussain, Rahat Kazmi, Shafi Muhammad.

Karamat Hussain, a former student of Karachi’s Dow Medical College (in the late 1970s) and someone who auditioned a number of times at PTV’s Karachi Centre to become an actor agrees: “It became a global fashion. Cricketers like Dennis Lillie, Wasim Raja, Ian Chappell, rock musicians, Hollywood actors and film directors, painters, college boys and even university professors all over the world began growing beards and stubbles. It was a fashion expressing creativity, passion, intellect and manhood.”

Pakistan’s flamboyant left-handed batsman, Wasim Raja, began supporting a ‘revolutionary beard’ in 1976. It symbolised his aggressive batting style and equally cavalier life-style.

Famous character actor, Talat Hussain, in 1976’s PTV serial, ‘Parchaiyaan.’ His was an ‘artistic beard.’ He played an introverted painter in the play.

The switch

So when exactly did beards stop being a liberal/leftist political/aesthetic statement and start becoming a symbol of religiosity’?

“I believe the trend started in the 1980s,” says Sharib, a former member of IJT (who later joined the MQM).

“I remember a lot of us were very impressed by the looks of the Afghan Mujahideen. So we started keeping beards like them,” he explained.

“Beards (in the 1980s) started emerging on the most unlikely of men,” laughs Talha Naqvi, head of an NGO in Karachi. “It became a symbol of piety. Everyone from mujahids to smugglers to traders grew a so-called religious beard,” he said.

A young IJT member being embraced by a group of early Afghan Mujahideen in the early 1980s.

So, the beard had evolved from being a political statement of the revolutionary left (in the early 1970s) to becoming an intellectual/artistic statement (in the late 1970s) to becoming a sign of Islamic militancy (in the 1980s)?

“In a way yes,” says, Naqvi. “But like I said that was not all. During a time when Pakistan was being ruled by a reactionary military dictator, beards also became to be understood as being a sign of piety. Young Sunni Muslims saw Afghan Mujahideen and how they were being romanticised by the state media, whereas the Shia Muslims of the country began supporting beards made famous by Iranian Islamists after the 1979 Islamic Revolution there.”

But according to Talha, the real beard explosion actually happened in the 1990s: “This was the time when we first started hearing about people going around and asking young men to grow beards because it was an Islamic tradition. I used to say, if this was a tradition, then so was riding a camel, so why not follow such traditions as well. Why travel in a car?” He smiled.

Famous Pakistani psychiatrist, Dr. Haroon Ahmed, once told me that the’ social engineering’ of society that took place during the Ziaul Haq dictatorship (in the 1980s) left a lot of Pakistani men wearing their religion on their sleeves.

“This was a time when piety beards started to become popular with the middle-classes,” he had added.

As the majority of urban middle and lower-middle-class, Pakistanis began settling to the changing cultural and political paradigm during the Zia regime, questions of social morality that they were now facing in an era of outward exhibition of religious piety coupled itself with a behind-the-scene dash for the sudden opening in widespread materialistic opportunities of the time.

After the folding of the decade of ‘socialism’, populism and ideological tussles (in the 1970s), in the 1980s urban Pakistan saw itself embracing an anarchic form of capitalism enjoined (and justified) by a convoluted strain of puritanical Islam and a somewhat contradictory sense of moralism.

The contradictions in this context were consciously repressed, with much of the urban society preferring large degrees of pragmatism to deal with the changing scenario, convincing itself that its material survival now depended on its active engagement with the emerging system, no matter how contradictory or morally repulsive it might have been to the urban society’s former, more progressive middle-class sensibilities.

“Till even about the mid-1980s, nobody from the urban classes ever wanted to be called a mullah because of his looks,” remembers Ghulam Farooq. ‘In literature, on TV and in films mullahs were a mocked breed, denounced for being backward, narrow-minded and agents of myopia.”

However, beginning in 1980, the Zia regime ‘advised’ PTV to discourage the practice of showing the mullah the way he’d been perceived by a bulk of Pakistanis.

From then on, the mullah in PTV teleplays not only became a recurring character, but he suddenly became a wise old man with a white beard, praying beads in hand and blessed with a soft and empathic disposition.


Parodying the clergy was a common and popular theme in Pakistani literature, films and TV plays till the late 1970s - such as in this 1971 PTV play, ‘Taleem-e-Balghaan’. However, in the 1980s the Zia regime put a stop to it.

To take the mantra of Jihad and ‘Islamisation’ to the middle-classes, PTV, apart from using the symbol of the wise and polite mullah in its plays, began introducing Islamic televangelists who could also punctuate their sermons with English words.

The impression being given was that a preacher who can use and understand English is ‘educated’ and ‘civilised,’ even though the content of these preachers remained to be highly conservative, and, of course, in line with Zia’s Islamisation discourse.

The number of middle-class audiences at lectures given by English-knowing (if not entirely speaking), preachers steadily grew.

Dr. Israr was one of the first popular televangelists in Pakistan. He was introduced on the state-owned PTV in 1981 in an attempt to change the ‘negative image of the mullahs’ in Pakistan and to suggest that urban, educated and middle-class men could also wear the ‘Islamic look.’

But just as acts of public displays of piety rose, so did the nature and intensity of the dichotomy between public piety and what went on in the secular social space.

The rising number of Pakistani men having beards for religious reasons became even more ubiquitous after the tragic 9/11 episode. A practice that is set to grow (pun not intended) even further and last longer (pun intended).

Author Image

Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and He is also the author of two books on the social history of Pakistan, End of the Past and The Pakistan Anti-Hero.

He tweets @NadeemfParacha

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (52) Closed

haris Sep 12, 2013 02:17pm

I didn't read the whole article but it is incorrect to say that (Late) Dr. Israr Ahmed was introduced on PTV in an attempt to change the negative image of the mullahs. From his young age he was an activists and he is the one who started the Movement of Restoration of Khilafat in Pakistan. e gained popularity from every sect because of his insight knowledge of Social sciences, Geo-political studies and diverse democratic system. He was invited to meet the then US Ambassador who wants to meet him. In that meeting the ambassador asked him about his views on Khilafa System and how it is different from the US Presidential form of Govt. His reply was landmark and those who are still confused to distinguish Presidential System with Khilafa System should listen his reply. I have to check his speech again on the internet in which he mentioned what was discussed in the meeting. I will share it right away as soon as I find it.

Sonal Sep 12, 2013 02:39pm

Lovely read! Very enlightening for a person like me, who thinks that bearded Pakistanis were always the norm.

ala Sep 12, 2013 02:45pm

Great get wonderful ideas to write

AbbasToronto Sep 12, 2013 03:20pm

Beard in Islam or Islam in beard?

haris Sep 12, 2013 03:39pm

@haris: here is the link: listen from 25:00 if you don't have enough time to spare.

Immad Sep 12, 2013 04:41pm

@haris: I believe Dr Israr created a rift in the society. After listening to him for more than 5 years I realize the systematic sectarianism he engraved in the minds of his audience. He had immense knowledge but I think it all wasted because of his sectarian based and pro Wahabi ideology.

G.A. Sep 12, 2013 04:43pm

Muslim world will not progress as long as they keep putting these mullahs on a pedestal they don't deserve and turning them into cult figures. Learn from the European example.

haris Sep 12, 2013 05:59pm

@Immad: I don't think he flared the sectarians fire. It is the difference how you perceive his opinions. In fact, he was never a Wahabi nor he favoured Wahabism in Pakistan.

Anoop Sep 12, 2013 06:11pm

When was Direct Action day? Before Zia.. When were Ahmadis were given the tag of non-Muslims by the state? Before Zia. When was Objective Resolution framed? Before Zia.

But, NFP doesn't mention all these and only ONLY blames Zia for all the Islamization.

Possibly because the process of Islamization started when Pakistan was born was accelerated by Zia, but that process was on the move nonetheless.

When one reads NFP after such a long while, one gets the impression that Pakistan was doing OK till Zia came in and suddenly things went South.

Starting with Jinnah, Liaquat, Bhutto, everyone has used Religion to get his way.

Jinnah's Aug 11 speech aside, there are a lot of others which are completely ignored. One look at the Direct Action manifesto, called by Jinnah and his League, its clear what is what.

Stop blaming Zia. Don't hold him responsible for more than his share.. Others before him have done it too.

Drab Sep 12, 2013 06:22pm

where is my comment

Capt C M Khan Sep 12, 2013 06:22pm

"In the book he also says that hardly any man in Pakistan used to have a beard in the 1950s." That is true My Late Father used to warn me "Stay away from Bearded Men...Yeah Dhaee nahee Khatrey Key Ghantee heay ( it is the Danger Bell) you will never win in anything against them. How true was he, today every smuggler/Land Grabber/ killer is displaying it proudly displaying it. Today Pakistan it's so called DEMOCRACY is held hostage by these guys without even being in power. This can only happens in BANANA REPUBLICS I guess, but the sad part is, they have the support of clean shaven and educated persons Like IK and Hamid Gul.

Ismail Effendi Sep 12, 2013 06:31pm

Some parts of NFP's analysis are very relevant. However, there is a persistent trend to defend and portray people like " ....Meraj Mohammad Khan and Dr. Mubasher Hassan (all committed leftists)," at the cost of ZAB. Whenever Nadeem writes about those times. Things were more complicated. ZAB and BB made many mistakes, the departure of Meraj Mohammad Khan and Mubasher Hassan from the PPP were not part of it. My NSF friends from university days tell me that Nadeem's views are heavily influenced by these two.

Mairaj Khan would never have been known at the national stage had ZAB not given him the PPP platform. After leaving the PPP, Mairaj was part of General Zia's PNA movement. In the 1990s, this "committed" leftist hooked up with PTI which was heavily backed by JI, Pasban and General Hamid Gul. Last year, he was taking personal digs at Bilawal - a young man who is not even a third of his age. Mubasher made a career out of bashing his former party, like some other "uncles" like Khar. These "uncles" who betrayed ZAB against general Zia who were very rightly shown the door by Benazir and not allowed back in. He then allied himself with Jamaat Islami to lodge a joint petition against the NRO that targetted mostly PPP. Sad to see these "committed leftists" in alliance with judges and islamists.

As for the beards issue, it is the clean shaven Taliban mentality types who scare me more. The one who populate our media and our benches.

Sonal Sep 12, 2013 06:34pm


That's the first good thing you've ever said. Sab khairiat?

noobguy Sep 12, 2013 06:40pm

'neem hakeem khatra.e.jan'. I am a big fan of NFP but Sir thats not how things ought to be interpretted. Picking up and presenting a few examples to corroborate an idea is not sufficiently rationalizing. Your explanation is not justifiable, nevertheless fragmentary. We vindicate our credence, and its a bad disease. We should form our opinion 'after' careful study of the facts. I think we should change our opinion as we imbibe more knowledge, and must not lock the door to allow fresh revelations. This way there is a possibility we can harmonize with others, if not then we will always be right and others wrong!

Danish Sep 12, 2013 06:44pm

@Anoop: You are certainly not reading him regularly. One the of best indictments and critiques of ZAB's hypocrisy you can find here:

And it's written by NFP. Stop being such a knee-jerk. Thanks.

Danish Sep 12, 2013 06:48pm

@noobguy: Seriously, friend, what on earth are you going on about? This is simply a lighthearted article on certain exccentric episodes associated with moulanas and facial hair in Pakistan. Relax and enjoy it.

Dearborn Iffy Sep 12, 2013 07:16pm

@AbbasToronto: Nice one Uncle.

Recently, you were not too discreet enough in giving away your email address in one of your replies.

Can we now have your home address so that we can drop in for some hot pakoras and sweet tea to reminisce over your good old days in Pakistan.

After all you are beginning to sound like a jolly old chap.

Cheers 'n all.

Tahir A Sep 12, 2013 07:24pm

@Sonal: Talk of the devil. Oh my God, he is a human being .......after all !

Karachi Wala Sep 12, 2013 07:36pm

I would recommond the readers to read Tehzeebi Nargasia by Mobarak Haider. Here is the link:

One does not have to agree 100 % with Mobarak Haider or NFP but an open minded study of comparative litrature is dearly needed if we are to save ourselves and more importantly our coming generations.

Sonal Sep 12, 2013 08:21pm

@Tahir A:

Of course he is

W G Sep 12, 2013 08:49pm

Harare 2nd Test 3rd Day:

Zimbabwe lead Pakistan by 185 runs with 6 wickets in hand. Oh No.

We could do with bearded Saeed Anwar, Mohd Yusuf, Saqlain and Mushtaq Ahmed to turn around our fortunes. There's a lot of much missed beard power in them.

G.A. Sep 12, 2013 09:08pm

@Capt C M Khan: Even seemingly educated Muslim youngsters living in Western countries appear to be inspired by these mullahs. Ironically, they are living amongst Europeans who shunned their clergy centuries ago and embarked on the road to progress.

Cynical Sep 12, 2013 10:10pm

@AbbasToronto: "Beard in Islam, or Islam in Beard."

Does it really matter, if the knife fell on the apple, or the apple fell on the knife?

Goran Sep 12, 2013 10:21pm

@Anoop: yes i agree that others before Zia are responsible as well, NFP clearly says says that Kausar Niazi of PPP as Minister of Religious Affairs convinced ZA Bhutto (who was PM 1973-77) to have Ahmedis declared non-muslim and also banned public sale of alcoholic beverages.

Mr Kim (Seoul) Sep 12, 2013 11:28pm

Dear Sir,

In Korea, we are not blessed with strong facial hair growth. Hence you will come across all men mostly clean shaven face like Imran Khan - and most honest also (sarcasm intended).

Is it a good blessing or not? I am not sure but God has made us (together with Japan) one of the most successful Asian nations. In my opinion large scale beard growing not too much good and make you regressive.

@Mr AbbasToronto, I did not get your joke. Maybe you meant "beer" and not "beard". Please re-phrase for meaningful result.

Parvez Sep 13, 2013 12:25am

Great read......great pictures. The process of Islamisation started very early and during the Ayub era is was seriously considered by those who knew best, to use Islamisation as an instrument of governance policy, in order to divide the political and religious parties by using the tried and trusted ' divide and rule ' philosophy....................the fact that it would backfire was never given serious thought. The irony was that none of the thinkers and startigists had any beards.

Ramana Sep 13, 2013 01:03am

On your picture you have a slight growth on the chin, what variety is that Paracha?

krishnan Sep 13, 2013 02:43am

@Dearborn Iffy: Hope his em as not been hacked!

Shahid Pervez Sep 13, 2013 04:01am

@Ismail Effendi: I agree more than 100% with your comments in general and with your last paragraph in particular.

DrTK Sep 13, 2013 05:50am

Ah your article reminds me of the good ol' days of the '60s when HOPE reigned supreme in Pakistan! How strange and distant it all looks now? Where did it all go wrong? Just goes to show how society can be manipulated by Governments and controlled media, but the results can be totally unpredictable. Zia's experiments with peoples' minds back-fired taking him and Pakistan as we knew it, with it. The forces unleashed are too strong for a weak society struggling to push the genie back into Aladdin's lamp!! And the word 'piety'? It was used in ancient Greece. Socrates lost his life because he challenged some 'pious' people. Three thousand years ago, Heraclitus, another Greek thinker predating even Socrates, remarked that EVERYTHING CHANGES. The world is changing right under our noses, but our senses deceive us into thinking that we are permanent. He said, " The world is like a river; you cannot swim in the same river twice!" A sad story........

malik Sep 13, 2013 10:16am

Is it a coincidence that along with the beards came terrorism?

TAM Sep 13, 2013 10:49am

I have also heard Maulana Diesel is also an all inclusive "beer" and "beard" variety and anti-Ahmadi just like Kauser Niazi was.

Musofer Sep 13, 2013 11:12am

@ Karachi Wala

Thanks for providing the link of Mubarak Hyder's book " Tehzibi Nargisiat " which I was searching for a long...

khan Sep 13, 2013 11:54am

And the religious scholars are saying that shows us one non-bearded man before 1857...confused... p.s. religion is always used by everyone in pakistan,,be it Mr. Jinnah, Bhutto, Zia...But zia is paying more than he did,,,mainly because he accelerated the process...others were to clever to portray themselves islamic to religious people and secular to secular word....

Shakeel Sep 13, 2013 01:16pm


What a wonderful and accurate summary.

I wish people would wake up and shake off the jingoism and false hopes that they are dreaming will come true.

Parvez Sep 13, 2013 02:07pm

@Ramana: The lazy Muslim variety...................the good sort.

Diltarasha Sep 13, 2013 03:35pm

The bearded ones are deprived of the heavenly pleasure and joy of having a shave under the neem tree by a friendly (and usually intellectual) barber!!

AHA Sep 13, 2013 04:05pm

@AbbasToronto: A short a sweet comment. Loved it (in part because I was not overwhelmed by the length of the post).

AHA Sep 13, 2013 04:04pm

@G.A.: "Muslim world will not progress". Period. There is no "as long as", because we will never give up our Mullahs.

Chaman Sep 13, 2013 04:10pm

I am reminded of an interesting joke I heard a few years back. The stewardess on a then PAN AM flight on approach to a Pakistan city made the following investment. " welcome to Pakistan. We will be landing in a few minutes. Please adjust your watches to the local time. Please adjust your watches. Set them five centuries behind" Pakistan started with the right approach to shaping its future but over the years, each successive ruler took the country a century behind. It is important to know how we got here, but what matters now is to find a progressive path forward. It is in the ands of the current regime and the youth f te country. Good luck Pakistan

AHA Sep 13, 2013 04:13pm

@Anoop: I assume that you are an Indian. I agree that the Objectives Resolution and the Ahmadis issue were before Zia. But there is simply no comparison between our 'adherence' to Islam before Zia and after he became our Amir-ul-Momineen.

One cannot appreciate the difference unless one actually lived through it (of course, with some grey matter at the right place to understand what was going on).

AHA Sep 13, 2013 04:24pm

"Abdul Sattar Edhi complains how he detests being called a

AHA Sep 13, 2013 04:30pm

@malik: "Is it a coincidence that along with the beards came terrorism?".

I think what definitely comes with the beards is an absolute lack of tolerance (Abdul Sattar Edhi excepted). Terrorism is a remote, secondary by-product.

Sonal Sep 13, 2013 05:19pm

The 'beard in Islam or Islam in beard' comment actually makes me wonder which one it really is

Ahmed Sep 13, 2013 06:41pm

@G.A.: So you say we should shun the clergy?

Ahmed Sep 13, 2013 06:54pm

Some of the comments below show me how that racist, narrow-minded bigots still exist in our society. Whether you brand them as 'leftists' or 'rightists', the classification above is still applicable... Somehow I am reminded of the controversial book 'IQ and the Wealth of Nations' by Dr. Richard Lynn. Just loads of fist thumping with little knowledge of the subject at hand...

NFP's article highlights important facets of our society that we need to address, this comes not by shunning the maulvis, but the inflexible, narrow-minded 'extreme' bigots that plague us on both sides of the aisle. Kudos to NFP for inciting this dscussion

Ahmed Sep 13, 2013 07:00pm

@AHA: Though i understand why you say that (from my experiences), i must underscore that i also know many people who sport beards and are tolerant as well.

TKhan Sep 14, 2013 12:49am

After many years, a young Jewish Talmud student who had left the old country for America returns to visit the family. "But-where is your beard?" asks his mother upon seeing him. "Mama," he replies, "in America, nobody wears a beard." "But at least you keep the Sabbath?" "Mama, business is business. In America, everybody works on the Sabbath." "But kosher food you still eat?" "Mama, in America, it is very difficult to keep kosher." The old lady ponders this information and then leans over and whispers in his ear, "Isaac, tell me-you're still circumcised?"

Nasir Jamal Khan Sep 14, 2013 02:52am

@Haris I listened and watched many of Dr. Israr's lecture in early 80's. In hindisght, he was an undeclared mouthpiece for JI and Zia gov't.

@G.A. "Learn from the European example.". Seriously????

@Anoop "Direct Action Day" is a tired and hollow claim among the Jinnah's critics who would to love paint him as a fanatic religionists. But that's not relevant to this article, so let's not digress!

@Ismail Effendi

"As for the beards issue, it is the clean shaven Taliban mentality types who scare me more. The one who populate our media and our benches."

The beardless Bhutto, Meraj Mohammad Khan, and Dr. Mubasher Hassan caused more damage to the Pak economy then anyone else in the entire history of the country.

Nasiroski Sep 14, 2013 05:35am

@Diltarasha: Your comment brought back so many memories.

Aussie Sep 14, 2013 05:41pm

Very well researched and written - I call beard "exhibitionist religiosity"

madan Sep 15, 2013 09:06am

Isn't it ironic that Muslim men want to have beard but would like their wives to get waxed up and fully shorn of hair from top to bottom.