Allowing beards and hijabs for army personnel is always praised as a step forward for inclusion.
Muslim and Sikh advocacy groups have welcomed new guidelines announced last week by the US Air Force allowing Muslims and Sikhs to wear hijabs or grow beards, CNN reported.
“We support these new guidelines as a step toward religious accommodation and inclusion for military personnel of all faiths,” Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council of American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement.
“Thousands of American Muslims and members of other minority faiths serve in our nation’s military and should be able to practice their faith while serving.”
The Air Force released an official update to the ‘Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel’ code (AFI 36-2903) on February 7, permitting airmen to request a waiver to wear religious apparel while in uniform.
The new guidelines mean that both Muslims and Sikhs can seek religious accommodation to wear turbans, hijabs, beards, and unshorn hair.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
With regard to Muslims, wearing a beard is a Sunnah (Prophetic codes of conduct)
A handful of Muslims have previously been allowed to serve in the Air Force while wearing their articles of faith
In 2018, Staff Sgt. Abdul Rahman Gaitan became the first Muslim airman to receive a beard waiver for religious reasons.
In December, the Air Force commissioned its first female Muslim chaplain, Saleha Jabeen. Jabeen was also the first female Muslim chaplain candidate in the US military generally.