Question about beard
Assalam O Alaikum
Question for IGP
What is the prescribed length of beard according to Quran and Sunnah? Is one allowed to trim the beard or should leave it?
Wa alaykum salam.
Imam Muslim narrates a hadith of
A’isha may Allah be pleased with her; «عَشْرٌ من الفِطْرة: قَصُّ الشَارب، وإعْفَاء اللِّحْية
in which the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “Ten things are from the natural human disposition [ fitra ] .”One of the ten things that he mentioned was growing a full beard.
Imam Bukhari narrated from Nafi` from Ibn `Umar may Allah be pleased with both of them that,
:قَالَ رَسُولُ اللّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: “خَالِفُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ، أَحْفُوا الشَّوَارِبَ وَأَوْفُوا اللِّحَى :
the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said,
“Be different from the polytheists: let your beards grow full and shorten your moustaches.”
Each of the four madhahib regard the keeping of the beard as virtuous and exemplary. None of them discourage its keeping or encourage its removal. All of them furthermore look with disapproval at shaving the beard. The only area in which a difference exists is the level of censure incurred by the removal of the beard or trimming it below the acceptable length (more details to follow).
The strongest view within the Shafi’i madhhab stops a little short from the other madhahib. Whereas the other madhahib (as well a weaker view within the Shafi’i madhhab) deem it haram and sinful, the preferred view of the Shafi’is stop short at karahah (undesirable). The word “karahah” or “makruh” would by definition mean that the act, while frowned upon and disapproved, does not quite amount to sinfulness.
It is important at the outset to know that keeping a full-length beard is a sunna that is established from both the practice and command of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and that keeping a beard is a distinctive mark of Muslim men, especially the scholars and the righteous among them.
The Shafi’i madhhab does not say, “Don’t keep a beard,” or “You don’t have to keep a beard.” It says that the beard is a great sunnah whose observance is highly meritorious and whose removal caused distress to RasuluLlah sallaLlahu `alayhi wasallam as known from the hadith about RasuluLlah صلى الله عليه وسلم refusing to look at those who shaved therefore it is considered a loathsome act whose doer falls just short of being sinful. Someone who opts for this view of the Shafi’i madhhab and decides to remove his beard must therefore know that he has every reason short of sin to feel guilty for removing his beard.
Having said that what ought to be done is to create love of the Sunnah of RasuluLlah sallaLlahu صلى الله عليه وسلم so that people willingly and with love adopt not just the sunnah of the beard but other sunnahs as well, both of external appearance and internal character.
There are some who may measure their piety by the length of their beards and other external practices whilst neglecting many other internal aspects of religion and the exemplary character of our Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and there are others who say that attaining piety and goodness is merely internal and Allah will judge me on what is in my heart whilst neglecting the external practices of the religion.
The correct way is to observe both the internal as well as external practices taught to us by our Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم.
With the highest of respect to the sunnah of the beard, one should not fall into the trap of becoming so focused upon its enforcement that they lose sight on the one hand of the good qualities possessed by those who fail in observing the sunnah of the beard, and on the other hand of some not-so-good qualities within those who do keep the beard.
Regarding the length of the beard the great Hanafi jurist, Imam Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him) states:
“When a narrator (Ibn Umar, in this case), does something in contradiction to what he has narrated (the words وَأَوْفُوا اللِّحَى “leave/grow beards”), it indicates that the original ruling (of not trimming the beard at all) has been superseded (mansukh) by a subsequent ruling –permitting the beard to be trimmed, in this case. However trimming it when it is already less than a handful is not permissible in the Hanafi school (Ibn Abidin: Radd al-muhtar ala al-durr al-mukhtar, 2/113) .
The Hanafi School is quite clear in that it is unlawful to trim the beard shorter than a fistful, as mentioned by both Imam al-Haskafi and Imam Ibn Abidin. There is also an opinion in the school that, to trim the excess hair of a fistful is necessary (wajib), although the preferred opinion is that it is recommended (mandub) to trim it to a fistful. (See: Durr al-Mukhtar).
As for the Maliki School, Imam Abu al-Waleed al-Baaji al-Maliki (RA) mentions 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 School mentions that to leave the beard is necessary, and permissible to trim it to a fistful. (See: Kashaf al-Qina’, 1/75).
The summary of all of the above is that, all the four schools of Islamic law regard the trimming of the beard less than a fistful as blameworthy (unlawful, according to the three schools and disliked according to the Shafi’i school). Thus, one should not trim his beard less than a fistful.
And Allah knows best.
Shaykh Mohammed Shakeeb.