Acting first sergeant Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Hopper, now deployed in Afghanistan with the 3665th Ordnance Company (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) is the first Nevada Army Guard Soldier to receive a religious accommodation for a beard. (Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Erick Studenicka)

Hear me Odin! Of beards and men I sing.

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Scott Nelson/Getty Images

Dear U.S. military planners,

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Photo courtesy of Kamal Kalsi.

In 1675, Tegh Bahadur, the ninth spiritual master of the Sikhs and a brilliant military leader, was actively pushing back against the Mughal empire’s intolerant policies of forced religious conversion. After Hindus from the Kashmir region implored him for help, Tegh Bahadur sent the Moghul emperor, Aurangzeb, a challenge: “If you can convert me to Islam, then all of the Hindus in Kashmir will also convert to Islam. But if you can not convert me, then you must let them practice their religion in peace.”

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