Dying to go straight -- with henna dye!

Yemeni's top cleric Sheik Abdul-Majid al-Zindani -- a man also said to be Osama bin Laden's spiritual advisor -- is not happy with the United States, which he thinks is planning a "foreign occupation" of Yemen:

SAN'A, Yemen - Yemen's most influential Islamic cleric, considered an al-Qaida-linked terrorist by the United States, warned Monday that the U.S.-backed fight against the terror group could lead to "foreign occupation" of the country.

Sheik Abdul-Majid al-Zindani's comments illustrate the pressure Yemen's government is under to limit the U.S. role here even as Washington ramps up counterterrorism aid and training to help combat al-Qaida's offshoot in the country.

Al-Zindani is emblematic of how -- unlike in Iraq and Afghanistan, whose governments are bitter enemies of al-Qaida -- Yemen's beleaguered regime has built alliances with Islamic extremists to hold onto power. Some have al-Qaida connections, complicating the fight.

Branded a spiritual mentor of Osama bin Laden by the U.S., al-Zindani is highly influential among Yemenis. The United States has labeled him a "global terrorist," alleging in a 2004 U.S. Treasury report that he helped fund and recruit for al-Qaida and that students from his Iman University were involved in past attacks.

Yemen's government has openly allied with al-Zindani in the past and still courts his support. The deputy prime minister last week defended the cleric, saying he is not a member of al-Qaida.

I had a bit of trouble reading the text because I became so distracted by the goofy-looking picture of al-Zindani.


What in the world is up with that? I wondered whether some prankster at Yahoo had playing PhotoShop games with his beard, because he's clearly too old to be naturally red-bearded at that age. But as I read on, I learned that the beard was dyed, and dying of beards is in the style of Islamic hardliners.

Al-Zindani laughed Monday as he dismissed the U.S. terror accusations against him at a news conference at his home in San'a.

"It's become well known among the people that a lot of lies" come out of Washington, said the cleric, his white beard dyed reddish-orange with henna in the style of Islamic hard-liners and wearing a traditional Yemeni knife stuck in the belt of his robes.

He denied knowing anything about al-Qaida's activities in Yemen or having any influence on an American-Yemeni radical preacher, Anwar al-Awlaki, who is being hunted by Yemeni forces for alleged al-Qaida links. Yemeni officials say al-Awlaki may have met here with the man accused of the failed attempt to bomb a flight to Detroit on Christmas Day.


This may explain why Osama bin Laden dyed his beard back in 2007.

Incidentallly, there does appear to be some religious justification for the dying. According to at least one interpretation of Islamic law, the idea is for Muslims to distinguish themselves from Jews and Christians (who apparently aren't supposed to use dye):

Al-Bukhari, on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, quoted the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying, 'The Jews and Christians do not dye their hair, so be different from them.'

This, however, is not a command but only a recommendation, as is evident from the actions of the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) such as Abu Bakr and `Umar, who used to dye their hair. Others, such as `Ali, Ubay ibn Ka`b, and Anas, did not.

I won't quote the whole thing, but I did find the red henna dye specifically mentioned -- for those who want to be on the straight path:
Some scholars do not consider the use of black dye as permissible except during time of war, with possibility of making the enemy thrown off balance by seeing all Muslim soldiers in their blossoming youth.

Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated, 'The best thing with which to dye gray hair is Henna and Katm.' (Mentioned in Fath Al-Bari) Henna makes the hair red, while Katm, a plant from Yemen, colors it black, tinged with red. Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) says, 'Abu Bakr dyed his hair with Henna and Katm, and `Umar dyed it with Henna only.'"

If you are still in need of more information, don't hesitate to contact us. Do keep in touch. May Allah guide us all to the straight path!

Well, you learn something every day.

I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

posted by Eric on 01.11.10 at 06:24 PM


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