So, a couple of days ago, Osama comes out with a new video message for a world anxious to hear the latest in 7th century lunacy. (Actually, the Americans intercepted the message and leaked it. –ed. Don’t bother me with details.) Aside from the weird sense one got that much of the text was cribbed from American politics –in fact, it’s suspected that it was written by American traitor Adam Gadahn— the key question on everyone’s lips is why did Osama suddenly dye his beard black?
(courtesy: Jihad Watch)
Now, my first thought was that he was spiffing himself up in hopes of picking up some burqa-babes at the upcoming disco night at his local madrassa. But this is a man who doesn’t take the tiniest step without making sure he has religious justification, and Islam has generally frowned on such vanity (and certainly not trimming the facial hair, as he appears to have done here). Amidst all the speculation, the best explanation in my view came from Islam scholar and prolific author Robert Spencer, host of the blogs Dhimmi Watch and Jihad Watch. He observes:
…the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence forbids men and women to dye their hair black “except when the intention is jihad…as a show of strength to unbelievers” (‘Umdat al-Salik e.4.4). OBL is not a member of the Shafi’i school; the Wahhabis adhere to the Hanbali school, and the Deobandis (the dominant sect among the Taliban) are Hanafis. But this is not just a Shafi’i view: Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, in his internationally influential The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam, says essentially the same thing: “Some of the early Muslims, including some sahabah [companions of Muhammad] such as Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Amr, al-Hassan, al-Hussein, Jarir, and others permitted the use of black dye. Some scholars, on the other hand, do not consider the use of black dye as permissible except during time of war, when the enemy might be impressed by the fact that all the soldiers of the Muslim army look young.”
So, is this some sort of visual cue to his followers that the time to strike has come? Remember, this video appears to have been timed for the anniversary of 9-11, but was intercepted and released early by us. And there were those recent arrests in Germany and Denmark: German authorities said they moved when they did because the terror cell appeared about to put its plans into action. Was Osama’s rejuvenated beard supposed to be a signal that a devout Muslim would understand, that the time of battle was near?
We may never know, but al-Qaeda has hidden orders in its messages before, and it’s a heck of a coincidence, otherwise.