Monday, 17 December 2012

beard in islam

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A: It is wajib (compulsory) for a Muslim male to grow a beard. It is also wajib to let the beard grow a fist length. It is prohibited to cut or shave the beard. He who does so is a fasiq (sinner) and to shorten it less than a fist length is makruh tahrimi (near haram). This is the view of the majority of scholars. (see Wujub I'efaa al-Lihyah of Shaykh al- Hadith Ml. Muhammad Zakariyya and the footnotes of ex-grand Mufti of Saudia – Shaykh ibn Baaz)
Verdict of Keeping the Beard according to the Hanafi Madhab
Allama ibn al-Humam (RA) has mentioned that nobody has permitted the trimming of the beard lesser than a fist length. (Fath al- Qadeer; Rad al-Muhtar; Fatawa Mahmudiyya vol.5 pgs.93, 105, 108)
Quotations of other Madhahib
Hereunder are some quotations from the Ulama of other Madhahib (schools of thought) which support the above. More clarity can be attained by referring to the present day scholars of each Madhab.
The Shaafi'ee Madhab
Allama Nawawi (RA) states, 'The correct view (according to the Shafi'ee Madhab) is to leave the beard to grow and it is Makruh to trim the beard whatsoever.' (Al-Majmoo vol.1 pg.290; also see Sharh Saheeh Muslim vol.2 pg.143)
Allama al-Iraqi (RA) states in his book entitled, 'Tarhu Tathreeb' (vol.2 pg. 8 ) … that the best is to leave the beard totally and not to cut anything from it at all, and this is the view of Imam Shafi'ee and his students.'
There are quotations from 2 great scholars of the Shafi'ee Madhab that do not permit the trimming of the beard at all, not even up to one fist.
The Maliki Madhab
Imam Abu al-Waleed al-Baaji al-Maliki (RA) has stated that: It has been narrated from Imam Malik (RA) that he permitted the slight trimming of those hairs that are overgrown and are outside the general growth of the rest of the hair, and that Imam Malik (RA) was asked about a beard that had grown extremely long, he replied that it should be trimmed a bit.'
Imam Abu al-Walid explains the following, 'And it has been narrated from Abdullah ibn Umar and Abu Hurayra (Radhiallahu Anhum) that they trimmed up to one fist.' Hence, this is what was meant by Imam Malik. (Refer al-Muntaqa vol.7 pg.266)
Imam al-Qurtubi al-Maaliki (RA) has also mentioned something similar to this in his commentary of Sahih Muslim. (see al-Mufhim vol.1 pg.513)
The Hanbali Madhab
Imam Samiri (RA) – who is an expert Hanbali Faqhi (jurist) states: 'And he should not trim any bit from the beard except if he wishes to do so up to the extent of one fist. However, it will be best if he doesn't do so.' (Al-Mustaw'ib vol.1 pg.260 – see Hukm al-Lihyah fil Madhahib al-arba'a; Abdul-Aziz al-Nu'mani pg.50)
Another Hanbali scholar, Imam Shamsuddin al-Maqdisi (RA) states, 'It is forbidden to shave the beard and it is not Makruh to trim what is in excess of a fist's length…because this is supported by the practice of Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Umar (Radhiallahu Anhu).' (Kitab al-Furu' vol.1 pg.130; Ibid)
Similar verdicts are found in other sources of Hanbali Fiqh such as al-Mubdi of ibn Muflih, al-Insaf of al-Mawardi; Kashf al-Qina', etc. (Hukm al-lihyah pg.50)
It is clear from all these quotations that it is permissible to trim the beard only up to a fist length. No one has explicitly mentioned that it is permissible to trim the beard lesser than a fist length. In fact, according to some of these quotations, it will be better not to trim the beard at all.
Proof of Wujub
There are various Ahadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi Wasallam) in which the keeping and lengthening of the beard have been ordered. We will just mention a few that prove the above claim.
1) Imam al-Bukhari (Rahimahullah) reports on the authority of Imam Naafi' (r.a.) who narrates from Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Umar (Radhiallaahu Anhu) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam) said, 'Oppose the Mushrikeen (polytheists); lengthen the beards and trim the moustaches.'
Imam Naafi' (RA) further states, 'And ibn Umar (Radhiallaahu Anhu) during Hajj or Umrah used to hold on to his beard with his fist and cut off whatever was in excess of that.' (Bukhari vol.2 pg.875; Kitab-ul-Libas no.5892)
Note: This Hadith has also been narrated by Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Radhiallaahu anhu) and he is also reported to have trimmed his beard up to one fist.
The verdict of the growing of the beard being wajib (obligatory) is deduced from this Hadith. That is because any explicit command of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam) will be regarded as wajib, if there is no apparent, clear reason/proof which states that that particular command is for istihbaab (preference). This is an established fact in Usul al-Fiqh (principles of jurisprudence). Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam) has commanded the Umma to lengthen the beards. Allah Ta'ala has mentioned in the noble Qur'an, 'Those who disobey his (Rasulullah Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam) should beware of a trial or painful punishment that will afflict them.' (Surah Noor, verse: 63)
Allamah Nawawi (RA) has explained that this Hadith has been reported with various wordings: The word, 'Waffiroo' is mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari (Hadith5892)
In another narration of al-Bukhari the words 'Ufoo' is mentioned (Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith5893)
The word 'Arkhoo' is mentioned in Sahih Muslim (Hadith602)
The word 'Awfoo' is mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari (Hadith5892) and Sahih Muslim (Hadith601).
All these words imply the same meaning and that is to lengthen and to increase the growth of the beard. (Fath al- Bari vol.10 pg.429, 431; Sharh al-Nawawi 'ala Sahih Muslim vol.2 pg.143)
Hafiz ibn Jarir al-Tabari (ra) has stated that some Ulama have totally disliked that one trims his beard at all, while others have permitted trimming up to a fist length. (Fat al- Bari vol.10 pg.430)
2) When the two messengers of Kisra (Khusru – the Persian King) came to Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam), they had long moustaches and shaved beards. Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam) turned his face away in disgust and asked them, 'Who commanded you to do this (despicable deed)?' They replied, 'Our Lord, (the King).' At this, Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam) mentioned, 'But my Lord has commanded me to lengthen my beard and shorten my moustache.' (Tabaqat ibn S'ad vol.1 pg.147; Tarikh al-Tabari vol.2 pg.267-266; Bidaya wa al-Nihaya)
3) In this narration, Rasulullah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) has stated that to lengthen the beard is in fact the command of Allah Ta'ala Himself.
Furthermore, the wujub is further emphasized by the fact that Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam) did practice on this in his entire life. Know well that Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam) did not trim his beard in his life. In fact, the beard of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam) was dense and almost covered his blessed chest. (Shama'il al-Tirmidhi Hadith8; Dala'il al-Nubuwwa of Imam al-Bayhaqi vol.1 pg.235)
Actions of the Sahaba (Radhiallaahu anhum)
The narrator Ibn Umar (Radhiallahu Anhu) himself trimmed his beard up to a fist's length, this implies that the wujub of keeping a beard is up to a fist length only (this will be explained shortly).
Furthermore, this (trimming up to a fist length) has also been reported from Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Radhiallaahu Anhu) and other Tabi'een. (Tamheed of ibn Abd al-Barr, al-Muntaqa, and Fath al-Bari vol.10 pg.430). Bear in mind that Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Radhiallahu anhu) has also narrated a Hadith wherein we are commanded to lengthen the beards. (Sahih Muslim Hadith602)
Moreover, for the benefit of your knowledge, the sayings and actions of the Sahaba (Radhiallahu Anhum) is a hujja (proof). This is also an established principle in Usul al-Fiqh.
A Misconception
Many individuals, who fail to understand the above, argue that it is Wajib to keep a beard, but there is no mention of any specific length in the Hadith. Hence, if one has a bit of hair on his face, irrespective of the length, it would be permissible, because this is also called a beard!
They also argue that to keep a beard up to a fist's length is the act of a Sahabi (Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Umar (Radhiallaahu anhu) and Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Radhiallaahu anhu)) and it is not the command of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam). Hence, the one who chooses not to do so will not be contravening any command of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam), so why is such emphasis being put on the length of one fist?
This, unfortunately, is a result of a lack of understanding of the actual wording of the Hadith. Firstly, in the Hadith we have quoted, Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam) has commanded us to lengthen the beard and not just to 'keep' a beard. The difference between the two is quite clear. If one just 'keeps' a shortened beard, he will not be fulfilling the command of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam). Therefore, the one who intentionally keeps a trimmed beard will not be fulfilling the command of lengthening the beard. The lengthening is wajib, not just having any sort of a beard.
Secondly, the hadith, as is clear, is general and does not specify any length of the beard. The words, 'u'ful lluhaa, waffiroo lluhaa' in the hadith commands us to lengthen the beards, which will (literally) mean, 'it is wajib to let the beard grow' up to whatever length it reaches. If we did not have the narration of Naafi' that Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Umar (Radhiallaahu Anhu) did trim his beard, then this would have been the case.
However, the narrator himself (Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Umar and Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Radhiallaahu anhuma)) as well as other Tabi'een (Radhiallahu Anhum) did trim their beards up to one fist's length. The Ulama have deduced that this means that the wujub (obligation) of lengthening is only up to a fist's length. Neither can we say that it is not permissible to trim it at all, resulting in the accusation of the Sahaba (Radhiallaahu Anhum) of contradicting the explicit command of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam) and especially the narrator, (Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Umar and Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Radhiallaahu Anhuma)). Nor can one claim the permissibility of trimming it up to less than a fist's length, for there is no proof for this in Shari'a.
Hence, if a person has to trim his beard up to a fist's length it would be permissible and if he does so up to shorter than a fist's length, he will be going against an act which is wajib and this is not permissible, and if he chooses not to trim it at all, this will also be permissible.
The practice of the Sahabi (Radhiallaahu anhu) here is used for 'permissibility' of cutting up to a fist's length, because being the narrator, this is what he understood to be the intended meaning of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam). In other words, the Sahabi (Radhiallahu anhu) had understood that the command of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam) of lengthening the beard only applies up to a fist's length and not more. That is why they (the Sahaba concerning Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Umar and Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra (Radhiallaahu anhuma)) used to trim what was in excess of one fist. It is not wajib to follow them in doing so. What is wajib in this situation is to let it grow, and the action of the Sahabi is used only to explain that wajib and restrict going against that.
Severity of the Sin
One should ponder over the narration that we have quoted concerning the two messengers of the Persian King. How Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam) turned his blessed face away from them in disgust. Remember, these were Kafirs (disbelievers). Imagine if Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi Wasallam) turns his face away from a Muslim on the day of Qiyamat because he did not have a proper beard! Imagine the plight of that person, Allah forbid.
Furthermore, as for the act of shaving, by doing so, one is actually imitating the appearance of women. Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam) has cursed those males who aspire to resemble the females and vice versa. (Sahih al-Bukhari)
After all, what is it that stops us from at least adopting the outer features of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam). Why is it so difficult to make our faces resemble in some way the Mubarak and blessed face of our beloved Nabi (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam). The translation of an Arabic couplet is as follows:
'And resemble them if you cannot be identical. Verily the resemblance of the noble ones is also a form of success.'
Lastly, we hope that this article eradicates all misconceptions regarding the length of the beard. In fact, this would be sufficient for a sincere reader. May Almighty Allah grant each and every Ummati (follower) of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam) the ability to keep a beard that fulfils the requirements of the Shari'a, Ameen.
And Allah Ta'ala Knows Best

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