Mohammed Raihan is only 13 but his hirsute appearance belies his tender age. He suffers from Werewolf Syndrome, a rare genetic condition which causes his hands, legs, back and stomach to be covered in hair. He has however refused medical treatment because he believes it is a blessing from God despite the fact he gets a lot of name-calling from peers, they call him Hanuman after a Hindu monkey God.
“I am not bothered with such attention – some people laugh at me, others just come to me for a blessing. Sometime people would flock to my house from far-off villages to just have a glimpse of me. They think I am a god or have special powers, but this attention is okay because I know I look different.”
The devout Muslim lost his dad ten months ago and lives with his mum and four siblings on the Island of Borneo. His mum Pardan, 45 said:
“He had more hair on his body than my elder son but I was not worried as every child is different. However my concern grew when the hair grew longer and thicker. His father and I were worried about the excessive hair growth and took him to several doctors but none could treat him. Some did offer laser surgery but it was beyond our financial capacity so we stopped.”
Pardan has instead instilled confidence and faith in God in Muhammed.
“He is a gift of God and we believe his appearance is the will of Allah. I have taught him to never complain about his condition but instead accept it with grace. And for Muhammed, who shares a room with his unaffected siblings, he feels blessed to have a distinct appearance and wishes to serve as a mosque cleric in thanks. I am blessed by God and this makes me happy. I am his favourite child and want to serve him my whole life. I don’t want any medical treatment because I’m happy this way.”