A West Yorkshire dad who wanted his seriously disabled adult son to observe an Islamic custom in the care home where he lives has lost his court fight.
The father, who cannot be named, was adamant that his son’s pubic and underarm hair be trimmed, in line with Islamic recommendation.
However, experts said it would put the 39-year-old at risk of injury and was pointless, as he is unable to understand his religion.
The case reached the Court of Protection, where senior judge Mr Justice Cobb has now made a ruling that it is not in the man’s best interests.
He has suffered his whole life with a range of disabilities and has the mental capacity of a toddler, the judge told the court.
He said that “there is simply no religious duty or obligation” on someone so disabled to trim or shave pubic and axillary, or underarm, hair.
“He has a lifelong developmental condition and has never had the capacity to understand the tenets of Islam,” he said in his judgment.
“The fact is that, by reason of his disability, he is absolved of the expectation of performing this recommended procedure, and there is no other clear benefit to him.
“The trimming of the pubic hair and axillary hair would serve no other purpose.
“I am anxious that he should be spared additional stresses in his life and wish to protect him and the staff from the risk of harm - an approach which itself has the endorsement of Islamic teaching.”
The court heard the son had been brought up in his Sunni family home, where his father had shaved his hair.
However, his behaviour had led to him being moved into a residential care home.
It is a non-religious institution and his carers are not Muslims, although his main social worker is, the court heard.
However, his dad is anxious that his son should adhere as fully as possible to the tenets of the Islamic faith, said Mr Justice Cobb.
But the judge said the trimming or shaving of pubic and underarm hair is not “wajib”, obligatory in Islam, but is in fact “mustahab”, or recommended practice.
If not done by a fit and healthy Muslim, it would only be regarded as a “minor sin” and, due to the son’s disability, was not even considered “recommended” for him.
“It is not in his best interests that his pubic and/or axillary hair be trimmed in accordance with Islamic custom for capacitous followers of Islam,” she added.
The judge also made a declaration that the son be relieved of the obligation to fast during Ramadan.
His family had accepted that was the right decision and had never required him to fast in the past.