I know there are usually some Muslims who hang around here, so I’d like to respectfully ask them a couple questions. (Anybody else who thinks they know the answer/s is free to respond of course as well… I’m just saying it’s primarily directed at Muslims).
In Islam, as part of the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be with him, I notice there is something which other religions, other cultures in general , would probably consider fairly or particularly “unusual”. It has to do with shaving. I had heard that it was sunnah, “prescribed” so to speak, for men (and women) to shave their entire private region(s) and their armpits not less frequently than every forty days. I read a “fatwa” about it online, from a Mufti, who stated that yes it is definitely something which truly devout Muslim men and women should do, the hair in these areas should not be allowed to get longer than approximately one’s fingernail. I wonder , firstly, how many Muslims do you know who you would say actually practice this? Is this fairly widespread, so to speak, or only amongst the extremely devout? I know it is sunnah for devout men to have at least some type of facial hair, but that’s not really very unusual at all as , even in secular society, many men like to wear some type of facial hair, and facial hair is also a religious belief amongst the Orthodox and particularly the “Ultra Orthodox” Jews for example. Which gives the whole “mandatory” facial hair, combined with “modestly dressed” women with (at least) their hair covered, as well as gender-segregated worship, etc, a kind of obvious “rootedness” in what we might call generally “Semitic” culture. But the privates and armpits shaving thing I have not heard of before, even in the Semitic religious world (with the possible exception of ancient Egyptians who were known to shave their entire bodies ritually from time to time).
Muhammad is said to have done it, this ritualised shaving of the aforementioned regions, but why??
Furthermore, this particular “ritual” also, in Islam , has or seems to have a rather odd , almost “outre”, “connection” with what we for lack of better words might call the “cult of death” , or “martyrdom”. The “fida’i”, the “self-sacrificers”. The “shaheed”. Some of this “connection”, as I put it, is believed to have possibly come from the tradition of one of the earliest Islamic martyrs, Khubaib al-Ansari. He was captured during the battle of Badr, and then sold in Mecca to the sons of a man whom he had killed in battle. Knowing that he was going to die (these other Meccans were of course at that time “polytheists” and at war with the Muslims), he made two requests. First, he asked for a razor with which to shave his entire private region(s) and his armpits, and secondly, he asked to be allowed to pray. Both requests were granted him. His last rites are recounted by al-Bukhari and today seem to serve as sort of “ceremonial trappings”, ritualizations of death (particularly when one believes oneself to be dying “in the hands of one’s enemies”). After 9/11/01 for example, a “manual” was found, believed to have been written by Muhammad Atta, and some of the key instructions for “the last night” (as this manual was ominously called) were, besides praying all night, for all of the soon-to-be “martyrs” to shave off all of their “unnecessary body hair”, and then “perfume themselves”. It seems to lend an even more eerie air to something like this , when one imagines all 19 of those men, on the night before the attack(s), ritually shaving their privates and armpit regions, and then putting on “perfume” , or cologne more likely. It certainly adds to the “surreality” of it all, in my opinion. Why do Muslims do this? Or DO most Muslims actually do this, in your opinion?? And why is it so intertwined somehow with the idea of dying, particularly while committing homicide / suicide ?? It’s rather bizarre, to say the least, is it not?