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Mohammed Yagoub

The doctrine of dreadlocks within Rastafari Thought and Religion

When some people hear word Rasta, Rastafarian or Rastafarianism what comes immediately into their minds is not an intellectual movement, musicalism or group of thinking beings but group of people whose heads are covered with heavy dreadlocks and they are deeply engaged in jointism, ganjaism or weedist smokism but there is nothing wrong with taking Ganja or smoking weed in Rastafari religious doctrine rather being a Rastafari and smoking weed or marijuana is considered by the spiritual Rastas as an spiritual ritual being used as a medium to increase their spiritual awareness that can enable them to have connection with the higher sources which might be a bit strange or weird to other groups of human species or spiritual groups but at the same level you find some non-Muslims see it’s very unconvincing to do some reading of verses from Quran then face the direction of Saudi Arabia and moving your head down to earth and move it upwards then tell them that you have prayed and God hears or considers such rituals or a Christian who moves into Church reads some verses from Bible and starts dancing after certain music being played which they call gospel or a Jew who faces certain wall and makes certain soft movement of the upper parts of his/her body and claims to have prayed to the higher being so the same strangeness or weirdness the non-Rasta sees in the Rastafari Weedist Smokism can be found by others who do not believe in that being’s spiritual school of thought anyway let’s go into Rastafarianism or Rastafari movement so the Rastafari thought or Rastafarianism is a revolutionary, revivalist and spiritual movement which originated in the slums of Kingston and the mountains of Jamaica and spread throughout Caribbean and other parts of the world the theological foundation of the Rastafari Spiritualism is based on belief that Haile Selassie I is the returned Messiah who has come to lead the Africans in diaspora or people of African origin out of oppression to the promised land which is Africa. Rastafari Spiritualists or Godists start their holy journeys like (Blessed is the name of the Lord God Jah Ras Tafari, and blessed is he who comes in the name of Jah, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I and let the name of His glory be blessed. So be it, so be it, so be it blessed.).

The Rastafari movement or Rasta spiritualists take the Biblical texts as sacred text but the interpretation of the texts is deeply rooted in an Afrocentrism so as to reverse what the Rastas see as westernized changes being made on the original Biblical texts by the white powers to Godize white supremacy the movement took its spiritual leader as Haile Selassie I, former Emperor of Ethiopia, who was lauded for being a black leader in the heart of Africa. To the Rastas, Haile Selassie became Jah, or God incarnate, who would one day lead the people of African origin who are out of the motherland Africa to the promised land or will resettle them to the African soil which is a promised land of the people of African origin. Although Haile Selassie joined the ancestral realm in 1975 his demise is spiritually unaccepted by Rastafari spiritualists who believe he will one day come back and lead them to the promised land.

Rastafari movement considers Marcus Garvey the Jamaican socialist and Pan Africanist philosopher whose philosophies they believed could help open the way to a new world order is one of the religion’s prophets even though Garvey did not follow or believe in Rastafarianism because of his teachings of black self-empowerment and black love he is being credited as the inspiration behind the founding of the Rastafari thought and religion Rastas believe because it was his ideologies that eventually grew into Rastafarian school of thought. The Rastafari Trinity is based on Emmanuel as a prince, Marcus Garvey as a prophet and Haile Selassie I as a King (and Jah)

The most sacred and outstanding characteristic of the Rastafarian identity is the Dreadlocks which defines one’s status as a Rasta and the longer the locks of the Rasta the greater the professor-hood within Rastafari faith he calls his locks or hair his crown and compares it to the real crown of the one he calls the King of the Kings, The Lord of the Lords Jah, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I and sometimes compares it to the mane of the lion which signifies heroic manhood

Rastas see their dreadlocks as a divine purity being commanded by the higher being to keep themselves in the state of natural beauty rather than artificial state of imposed colonial standard of beauty or hairstyles which encourages Africans to cut their hair to meet other than naturalness.

Historically the dreadlocks have been existing within African societies for thousands of years based on the archaeological revelations the dreadlocks have played greater spiritual and communal roles the dreads being found on several mummies prove that the dreadlocks have been practiced by the prehistoric and medieval Africans mostly by the priests and the people of higher spiritual realms within the societies to symbolize some kind of higher spiritual form

The current Rastafarians or dreadlockists within the Rastafari movement drive their dreadlockist inspiration from the Kenyan Mau Mau revolutionary fighters who wore some kind of matted locks and took up arms against the British colonial system in the 1950s but also they (Rastas) use the Biblical story of Samson and his vow never to cut his hair as justification and they consider that act as a moral, cultural and spiritual inspiration. \”All the days of the vow of separation, no razor shall pass over his head. Until the day be fulfilled of his consecration to the Lord, he shall be holy, and shall let the hair of his head grow.\” Numbers 6:5.

So the efforts of the Nazarite religious ascetic have inspired Rastas to identify themselves as the chosen ones they adopted dreadlocks as a tradition of the movement that suited the character of Rastafarianism and many went on to identify as vegan Rastas and mostly adapted vegetarianism as philosophy of naturalism which is based on eating other than meat related food and leaving your hair to grow undisturbedly or naturally, without cutting, combing or styling, is another manifestation of the belief in living life as naturally as possible as a Rasta

Rastas tend to wear freeform locks, allowing them to grow in random lengths, and even combine together to form large matted clumps. They also refuse to wash their dreads, except with pure water which shows their commitment to the believe in purity. It seems the dreadlocks is more associated to rebellious and revolutionary spirit than anything else when Sudan Liberation Movement/Army launched the armed struggle in Sudan to bring about inclusive Sudan based on liberal, democratic, secular and federal values which can accommodate all beings within the territory of the country called Sudan which have been hijacked by the elitist system in 2002 the majority of the early young generation of fighters wore some kind of dreadlocks voluntarily to show their total commitment to the liberation and their revolutionary spirit. The doctrine of Rastafari Dreadlockism or beliefs are also deeply rooted in the belief that Africa is a paradise and the West where the Africans were taken as slaves is a place of moral, rational and social captivity so in order for the African diaspora to get liberated the idea of freeing the hair from European ideals of beauty is a way of celebrating that African pride or African identity.

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