The first person’s hair he cut was long, and they asked for a mohican. “So I gave him a mohican and this guy came back an hour later and said: ‘Andy, Andy, I owe you a beer.’ And I was thinking, All I did was cut your hair. He said, ‘You don’t understand, you don’t understand. I pulled.’
“And I couldn’t stop laughing – for half an hour to an hour before I saw him he was so downbeat, and then he comes running back so happy with a smile on his face. It really was amazing.”
Sarsby, who is Jewish, said working on the project was spiritually uplifting, as it took place after Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and during the 10-day period before Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement.
“That’s the holiest 10 days and the more good deeds you can do the more likely you’re going to be inscribed into … what we say is the Book of Life,” he said.
“So it was also quite poignant for me, with the time of year, and for me personally it was an eye-opener.”
Shah Abbas Mir, events coordinator for Who Is Hussain in London, said many of the people who got a free haircut hadn’t had a trim in months, adding: “The smiles of people were priceless.”
He said the free haircuts were significant during the Islamic month of Muharram and around the day of Ashura, when Shiite Muslims commemorate the death of Hussain ibn Ali, the grandson of the prophet Muhammad, at the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE.
“It is based on the principle of Ashura,” he said, “which is about restoring honour and dignity for the forgotten ones, looking after people and fighting for all of humanity and just causes.
“It’s not just about cutting hair for free, but about someone … making people feel good and empowered.”
For Jamali and Sarsby, it’s just the start: They are hoping to print out T-shirts next time.