"Do not be frightened by my beard"
Portrait of a Muslim man
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeMuslim man - Credit: Lee Jordan on Flickr

Beards are common amongst Muslim men, who follow the example of the prophet Muhammed in keeping a beard and a trimmed moustache. The beard is seen as an act of faith. As the novel is set in the post-9/11 era, the speaker assumes that the man he is approaching would be wary of him as a Muslim – much anger and suspicion was directed towards Muslims in general around this time.

Beards are common amongst other religions, such as Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism and early Christianity, and often seen as holy or displays of faith.