Some months ago, I saw a post where a brother sought advice as he was required to shave his beard so as to get employed. I had wanted to share my own experience but it skipped my mind.

Post the NYSC program where the government gave you a small, but essential, financial allowance, you are faced with the dilemma of financial independence as a fresh graduate. Apart from expectations from home, you are at a point you need to not only spend on yourself but prefer for settling down. 

Hence the hunt for jobs is high and the discrimination because of religious appearance higher. A friend called this ” post service crisis” So I had this interview at Mr. Biggs, that had the largest fast food chain in Nigeria then. I had the feeling I won’t be employed but I still went anyway. 

Prior to the interview we had written a test at their Festac branch with huge number of applicants. As I stood on the queue waiting to march in for the test, wearing a shirt I had borrowed from one of my younger siblings because I had no western shirts again at that time, a lady, an official there, approached me, without mincing words: if you pass the test and want to come for the interview, remove this!

Guess, what she said I should remove? The few strands of flagella-like beards I had. I smiled, passed the test and went for the interview. When I went for the interview, knowing I won’t be employed anyway, I wore a kaftan I had bought in Kaduna with the hand woven cap I bought at Kasua Birchi (I don’t know if I got the name correct!), my trousers were like nisf-saaq (shank level). A bit provocative.

So at the interview, the beard came up. 

The head of the team: we produce food here, your beard harbours micro-organisms.

I was ready for that: Sir, microbes are everywhere, if you wave a nutrient agar in the air and incubate it, you’ll have microbial growth. What is important is the pathogenicity of the microbes.

Head of the team pauses for a while: Ok, what if we said that is the way we want it?

There’s no response to that. Emotional outbursts from a would-be employer cannot, no, can never be countered. So I didnt get the job.

Even with the fact that I was qualified because of a rather harmless beard, did I regret it? Never! Rather I have come to realise it was, in the grand scheme of things, the best for me. This was several years ago. I doubt even if the eatery has the clout it had then.

When I share this with people subsequently, I laugh at the encounter but the reality was I needed that job at that moment but I was not going to touch the way I look for anybody.

Granted, there are circumstances that may warrant an individual shaving but this should be left to scholars to give fatwa on such specific circumstances and such specific individuals. If you are asked to shave for a job, don’t do it. We only make efforts, what we’ll earn at the end of the day is in the hands of Allah. Ours is to strive to make it as halal as possible.


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