Days after Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers imposed travel restrictions on women, a new decree is recommending that barbershops refrain from shaving or trimming beards, saying such actions are forbidden in Islam.
VOA has received a copy of the instructions that the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice issued this week.
A Taliban official shared the original order in the Pashto language; however, its authenticity has not been publicly confirmed by senior leadership.
When contacted by VOA, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid did not dispute the order’s authenticity but said he was still “trying to get information” about the decree.
The order cited several verses from the Quran and hadiths, or sayings, about following whatever the Prophet Muhammad has asked Muslims to do.
“Growing a beard is a natural deed and the Sunnah [the way of life and legal precedent] of all Prophets and Islamic Sharia has repeatedly emphasized it,” according to the instructions.
The order was signed by the minister for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Sheikh Muhammad Khalid Haqqani.
“Shaving or trimming a beard is forbidden under a unanimous decision by the religious scholars. Companions of the Prophet Muhammad, their followers, their successors, Mujahideen [holy warriors] and other scholars do not agree on shaving or trimming the beard. So, it is understood that shaving or trimming a beard is against human nature and the action is against Islamic Sharia,” according to the order.
“In view of the above all workers of the barbershops are informed to keep in mind Islamic Sharia and Islamic injunctions while cutting hairs and serving their customers.”
The order appears to stop short of the outright ban on trimming beards that the Taliban issued during their last government from 1996 to 2001. Taliban officials have said the group is working to encourage Afghans to adopt their strict interpretation of Islam.
“All provincial departments under the ministry are directed that having beards is one of the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad and all Muslims should follow Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad. All barbershop workers in the provinces are also instructed to keep in mind the instructions while trimming the beards of customers.”
“Officials should also try to implement the order politely and while speaking to the people so the countrymen bring their lives in conformity with their religion, Islamic obligations and Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad,” according to the order.
“These instructions have been sent to you for implementation.”
Barbers in Kabul said many people were not willing to shave their beards even before the Taliban issued the decree.
A barber at a Kabul shop told VOA earlier in December that he has been doing only 20 percent of his previous business since the Taliban took over the city.
The Taliban seized control of the Afghan capital in mid-August. Since then, they have been introducing Islamic laws and banning mixed education of males and females.