Men without beards may be confused for woman and could cause people to think "indecent thoughts" a Muslim preacher in Turkey has said.

Preacher Murat Bayaral made the comment on Fatih Medreseleri (Madrasahs) TV last week, according to Hurriyet Daily News.

"If you see a man with long hair from afar you may think he is a woman if he does not have a beard. Because nowadays women and men dress similarly," Bayaral said. 

"God forbid! You could be possessed by indecent thoughts."

Bayaral argued that the beard is one of only two body parts that separate men from women. He insisted that "men should grow beards" and do not need permission from their wives. 

According to Magdalena Kirchner, a fellow at the Istanbul Policy Center in Turkey, such outbursts from Turkish preachers are common.

"Turkish debates on piety and modesty reoccur frequently," Kirchner said, according to Newsweek.

"[Turkish President] Erdogan declared in 2012 his intent to raise ‘devout generations,’ and former Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinç stated in 2014 that women should not laugh out loud in public," she said.

While beards are seen by many Muslims as a sign of a man being more devout, they are not required in Islam. Prophet Muhammad is widely believed to have had a beard, leading many Muslim men to try and emulate this aspect of his appearance.

Some religious extremists – such as those from the so-called Islamic State (or Daesh) – have forced men under their control to maintain beards of a certain length. In some cases, men were beaten for shaving their faces.