PROVO, Utah (AP) — Muslims studying at Brigham Young University are pleased that they will be allowed to have beards after the school clarified exceptions to the ban on facial hair for men.
Hamad Javed and others Muslims are celebrating the recent decision by the Mormon-owned college that makes clear that there are three exceptions to the beard ban, the Daily Herald of Provo reported.
Students with a medical condition, students taking part in a theatrical production, or students who want a beard for religious reasons, like Muslims or Sikhs, can seek permission to grow a beard, the Provo school explained.
In the past, BYU made exceptions for beards on a case-by-case basis with no specific outline of exemptions. The beard ban for all other students remains, despite a push by a group of students to change the rule.
Javed decided as a teenager in Pakistan he wanted to grow a beard just like his father.
"I made a vow that I would have a beard for the rest of my life," Javed said.
But he had to shave it off when he arrived to BYU to study and was told by a school official that the religious exemption policy had been abused. Javed hopes students respect the intent of the rule.
"I hope people don't misuse the new policy," he said. "Even if you misuse it, just don't tell anybody."
BYU is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Salt Lake City-based faith doesn't ban beards for its members, but most of the religion's leaders are clean shaven.
Some people still want the beard ban lifted for all students, including a group that staged a protest last fall to bring attention to the issue.
BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins told the Daily Herald that the recent beard clarification shouldn't be interpreted as an indication of other future changes.
"The dress and grooming guidelines that men are to be clean shaven has not changed, and I do not foresee it changing," Jenkins said.
Information from: The Daily Herald, http://www.heraldextra.com