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بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن،وَالصَّلاۃ وَالسَّلامُ عَلَی النَّبِیِّ الْکَرِيم وَعَلیٰ آله وَاَصْحَابه اَجْمَعِيْن۔

Status of Beard According to Shariah

What is the stature of beard in Shari’ah, is it obligatory or Sunnah? And is shaving impermissible or makrooh or forbidden (Haraam)? Majority of the scholars of Hadith, jurists, our respected Ulama and all the four Imams (RHA) (i.e. Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Shaafa’ee, Imam Maalik and Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal) agree that beard is obligatory. Even in the present times almost all the schools of thought in Islam, in the light of the Holy Quran and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), are convinced about its status as obligatory.

On this topic, I studied statements of Hadeeth scholars, jurists and our respected Ulama recorded in numerous books written in Arabic and Urdu. All of them have acknowledged that in the light of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) growing a beard turns out to be obligatory because Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has commanded the Muslim Ummah to grow beard and a commandment signifies obligation unless some other statement or act of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) or act of companions of Prophet Muhammad (RA) reveals that the commandment of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was not about obligation but more of an insistent expression. However, with reference to the topic we are discussing at the moment, the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companions (RA) categorically informs us that Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) injunction to his (PBUH) Ummah in relation to growing beard is about its obligatory status. Therefore, during the best of periods, from amongst the companions of the Prophet (RA), Tabi’een (those who saw the companions of Prophet (RA) in a state of faith and died as believers) or Taba’ Tabi’een (those who saw a Tabi’ee in a state of faith and died as believers) not even a single scholar of Hadeeth, jurist or Aalim passed a decree that declared growing beard as non-obligatory. Rather, everyone has pronounced it obligatory. For details in relation to this particular topic please refer to Sheikhul Hadith Maulana Muhammad Zakariya Kandahalvi’s (RHA) Arabic book titled Wujoob I’faa‘ illihyah which has been published by Saudia Arabia’s Idaaratul Buhuthul ‘Ilmiyyah Wal-ifta‘ Wad-da’wah Wal-irshaad with a foreword written by Sheikh Abdul Azeez bin Baaz (RHA).

Even if we were to agree that growing beard is only Sunnah then it cannot be one of those common or ordinary Sunnahs. Instead, alongside being an extremely important Sunnate Mu’akkadah, growing beard is also to be understood as an essential part of Islam’s adage, and it has been a Sunnah of all the prophets (AS). Moreover, it is something that is natural in the case of human beings and there is simply no scope for changing human nature as Allah has mentioned in Surah Al-Rum, verse no. 30. An iconic scholar of Hadeeth from the subcontinent Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlavi (RHA) has written in his book Hujjatullaahil Baalighah (1/152) that trimming or shaving beard is altering the creation and shape given by Allah. This does not get over here. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has declared that trimming or shaving of beard is the way of infidels and Zoroastrians and the Prophet (PBUH) did not even like to look at the faces of those who trimmed or shaved their beard.

Let us first go through the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in relation to beard:

Description of Prophet Muhammad’s Beard:

Leader of all the prophets (AS) and apostles, seal of prophets (AS) and Khairul Bariyyah (the best of all human beings) Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) always had beard as we find frequent references to Prophet’s (PBUH) beard in Hadeeth books.

The fact of the matter is that the companions of Prophet Muhammad (RA) have referred to his (PBUH) beard in different ways. The gist of their description is that Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) beard was dense and had a lot of hair. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also used to run his wet fingers through his beard while performing ablution, and at times he (PBUH) would also apply henna on it. The Hadeeth books have references of the beard of the righteous caliphs and other companions of the Prophet (RA) but I am skipping them so that the article does not get too lengthy. Not even a single companion of the Prophet (RA) shaved his beard or had sported one that could not be held in his fist.

Size of beard

On the basis of categorically clear instructions majority of scholars of Hadeeth, jurists and our respected Ulama are in favour of beard being obligatory but for a very long time Ulama and jurists have expressed disagreement vis-a-vis what will be the size of the beard and whether Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself set a certain size of beard to be kept in mind. It can be said with considerable authority that in the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) there is not much clarity with reference to the size of the beard. Yet, as per a Hadeeth recorded in Tirmidhi, which is indeed weak in terms of authenticity, Prophet Muhammd (PBUH) used to trim extra hair in length and breadth. Moreover, several companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), for instance it is substantiated by an authentic Hadeeth that Abdullah bin Umar (RA) used to hold his beard in his fist and trim the extra hair, as mentioned by Imam Bukhari (RHA) (Bukhari).

As a matter of fact, in relation to the size of the beard, few opinions are to be found of Tabi’een, Taba’ Tabi’een and our respected Ulama who belonged to subsequent periods. However, in relation to keeping a beard that is less than the hold of a fist, no companion of Prophet Muhammad (RA) or Tabi’ee or Taba’ Tabi’ee or any other reliable scholar of Hadeeth or jurist has given an argument.

Statements made by jurists in relation to the size of the beard:

Through the most authentic and reliable sources clear cut teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in relation to beard have reached the Muslim Ummah through Abdullah bin Umar (RA) only who is among those companions of Prophet Muhammad (RA) from whom even renowned companions of Prophet Muhammad (RA) sought opinion on different matters. Moreover, Abdullah bin Umar (RA) was an ardent follower of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and he was always among those who zealously followed each and every Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). His acts are presented as standards in themselves. Imam Bukhari (RHA) presented Abdullah bin Umar’s (RA) act in relation to beard as a standard that when he would get done with pilgrimage or Umrah, he would untie his Ihram (the cloth wrapped for pilgrimage) and hold his beard in his fist and trim the extra hair (Bukhari).

Hafiz Ibne Hajar (RHA) in his commentary on Bukhari, narrating from Tabari (RHA), informs that one group says that when the beard grows longer than a fistful then the extra length of hair ought to be trimmed, then, on his own authority, Tabari (RHA) has narrated from Abdullah bin Umar (RA) and Abu Hurairah (RA) that they did the same.

Jaabir bin Abdullah narrates, “We used to keep the front portion of our beard grown but in Hajj and Umrah (meaning once they completed Hajj or Umrah) we used to trim that part.” (Abu Daud).

In relation to beard, after Abdullah bin Umar (RA), maximum number of reports is from Abu Hurairah (RA). It has been mentioned that with reference to his beard he too used to trim whatever remained extra after holding it in his fist (Nasabur Raayah).

Imam Ghazali (RHA) writes in his book (Al-Ahyaa’, 1/143) that Ulama disagree in relation to trimming the beard more than a fistful (such that after trimming the beard cannot be held in the person’s fist) but in case someone trims his beard after it can be properly held in the fist then there is no problem because there is evidence for the same from Abdullah bin Umar (RA) and Tabi’een. Allamah Ibne Sereen (RHA) has affirmed that keeping a beard that could be held in a fist is better.

Sheikh Abdul Haq Muhaddith Dehlavi (RHA) writes in his book (Ashi’atul Lama’at, vol. 1, page no. 228), “Shaving beard is forbidden and growing it till it becomes a fistful is obligatory.”

Allamah Ibne Taimiyah (RHA) writes in his book (Sharhul Umdah, 1/236) that, “I’afaul Lihyah means leaving the beard on its own but in case someone trims his beard after it has become more than a fistful or trims the unkempt hair from the sides then it is not disliked (Makrooh) because Abdullah bin Umar (RA) has done this.

An article by the author of Safwat At-Tafaaseer’s and teacher at the Prophet’s (PBUH) mosque, Sheikh Muhammad bin Ali Al-Saabooni (RHA) which was published in the famous newspaper of Saudi Arabia Al-Madinah on 24 Muharram 1415 AH, wherein along with arguments he had written that beard’s hair should not be left unkempt. Instead, unkempt hair should be trimmed in order to give the beard a proper look. Nor should be the beard left (to grow) in such a way that children start fearing and elderly start avoiding.

Note: Several Ulama of the present times have given fatwa justifying keeping beard that is less than a fistful. However, these Ulama too encourage growing beard till it could be held in a fist.

Clarification of a doubt:

Few people ask that where is it written in the Holy Qur’an to grow beard? I would like to enquire those people that where is it written in the Holy Qur’an that we have to practice only on those things that are mentioned in it, and where is it written in the Holy Qur’an to not obey the injunctions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Instead, in the Holy Qur’an, there are numerous occasions where Allah has commanded believers to obey Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and, more importantly, Allah has declared obedience to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as following Him (Surah Al-Nisaa, verse no. 80). Moreover, at different places in the Holy Qur’an, Allah has declared that alongside obeying Him it is necessary to obey Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). In case the Holy Qur’an is sufficient for us then why has Allah commanded us repeatedly in the Holy Qur’an to obey Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)? For details in relation to this particular topic please read my article Hujjiyyate Hadeeth .

In the article Hujjiyyate Hadeeth, I had written with the help of several arguments that it is impossible to understand the Holy Qur’an without the aid of Sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). As specified clearly by Allah in Surah Al-Nahl verses 64 and 144 that the first commentator of the Holy Qur’an is Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has been assigned the responsibility by Allah that he (PBUH) may explain to the Muslim Ummah the commandments present in the Holy Qur’an in absolutely simple and clear terms.

Still, in order to satisfy these people it needs to be highlighted that beard has been mentioned in the Holy Quran (Surah Taha, verse no. 94). When Prophet Moosa (AS) held the beard of Prophet Haroon (AS), the latter said, “O son of my mother, do not hold me by my beard.”

Colouring the beard by applying Henna or Khizaab:

In case, hair of beard or head have turned grey because of old age then our respected Ulama, in the light of sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), unanimously agree that hair cannot be dyed with pure black colour because it implies altering the order of nature. However, in case a person’s hair turns grey during youth because of some disease then, in relation to dying hair with pure black colour during youth, the Ulama have disagreement but it is better to avoid. However, other than pure black colour, dying hair with henna or a shade closer to black is, whether it is done by young or old, not only permissible but recommended.

Summary:

My dear, keeping beard is the obedience of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), following and expressing love for him (PBUH). The commandment of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) signals that growing beard is obligatory. However, in the times we live in, few people don’t care at all about what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) commanded and not only do they get their beards shaved but they start passing various comments on it. Do remember that not growing beard is a sin but to pass false comments on beard or making fun of it pertains to infidelity.

May Allah make us all true lovers of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and may He make us one of those who grow beard, Amen!

Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi (www.najeebqasmi.com)