Religious tolerance and education making headways, a person at a time

We’re pretty used to pointing out when things go wrong, it’s good to point out when they’re going right.

Jezebel reports that a user on Reddit posted a picture of a young Sikh woman with facial hair and a turban with the comment, “I’m not sure what to conclude from this,” alluding the fact that the woman has prominent facial hair. Jezebel, usually known for irreverence, snark, and general sarcasm writes:

“The user's apparent confusion stems from the fact that the woman—bound by her religion not to cut her hair or alter her body—has an abundance of dark, untrimmed facial hair. [The user’s mind was] SO INCREDIBLY BLOWN by the fact that women have hair on their bodies—and, yes, faces—and that some women are bold, self-assured, and pious enough not to cave to western beauty standards (and gender expectations), there was nothing for him to do but post her photo online and wait for the abuse to flood in.”

The Sikh woman responded beautifully:

"Yes, I'm a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body–it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being [which is genderless, actually] and, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will. Just as a child doesn't reject the gift of his/her parents, Sikhs do not reject the body that has been given to us. By crying 'mine, mine' and changing this body-tool, we are essentially living in ego and creating a seperateness between ourselves and the divinity within us. By transcending societal views of beauty, I believe that I can focus more on my actions. My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body because I recognize that this body is just going to become ash in the end, so why fuss about it? When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away. However, my impact and legacy will remain: and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can.

And then, remarkably, the user who had posted the photo apologized, expressed remorse, and increased his interfaith understanding:

“I've read more about the Sikh faith and it was actually really interesting. It makes a whole lot of sense to work on having a legacy and not worrying about what you look like. I made that post for stupid internet points and I was ignorant.”

This is so exactly how you want these things to go, the cynic in me can’t help but wonder if it’s a hoax, set up to model good interfaith interactions.

In other good interfaith learning news, Religion News Service reports that a man convicted of assaulting two men in Michigan because he thought they were Muslim—a hate crime—was ordered by the judge to do a report on the cultural contributions of Muslims. The men weren’t Muslim, but Hindu, and the man now has a new assignment: a history report on Hinduism. The man was back in jail for another crime, but the judge offered no jail time if he writes the report. “I want you to educate yourself on the accomplishments of their actual ethnic and religious backgrounds,” the judge said.

Talk about rehabilitative justice.


Read more about interfaith dialogue and learning:

Consider Christian-Muslim encounters

Muslim on Main Street



About the author

Meghan Murphy-Gill

Meghan Murphy-Gill is a writer living in Chicago. Read more from her at