(The following is a Fatwa together with its answer extracted from Sirate-Mustaqeem (vol.1) by Moulana Yusuf Ludhianwi)
Question: What is the Shar’ee ruling of the beard – is it wajib or sunnat? Is it permissible, makruh or haram to shave the beard? Many people are of the opinion that to keep the beard is sunnat – If somebody keeps a beard it is good and if the beard is not kept then too there is no sin! To what extent are these options valid?
Answer: The shaving or trimming of the beard (when it is less then a fist’s length) is a major sin and haram (forbidden). In this regard, I am stating a few Ahadeeth and thereafter will comment on them.
1. Hazrat Ayesha radiyallahu anha narrates that she heard Nabi sallallahu alaihi wa sallam saying: “Ten things are included in nature(Fitrat). From amongst them is the trimming of the moustache and the lengthening of the beard.”[Saheeh Muslim]
2. It is reported from Ibn Umar radiyallahu anhu that Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam said: “Trim the moustache and lengthen the beard.”
3. It is reported in another narration that Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam ordered the cutting of the moustache and lengthening of the beard.
4. Ibn Umar (RA) narrates that he heard Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam saying: “Oppose the fire worshippers – lengthen the beard and trim the moustache.”[Saheeh Muslim]
5. Hazrat Abu Hurairah (RA) narrates that he heard Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam saying: “Trim the moustache and lengthen the beard. [Mishkat, Bukhari, Muslim]
6. Hazrat Zaid bin Arqam (RA) narrates that he heard Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam saying: “Those who do not trim the moustache are not from amongst us.”[Ahmed, Tirmizi, Nasai]
7. Ibn Abbas (RA) narrates that he heard Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam saying: “Allah’s curse be on those men who emulate women and Allah’s curse be on those women who emulate men.”
Commentary: 1. From the first Hadeeth we learn that the cutting of the moustache and lengthening of the beard is a pre-requisite of human nature and the lengthening of the moustache and cutting of the beard is against the norms of nature. Those people who are involved in this act are deforming the nature of Allah. It is mentioned in the Holy Quran that shaitan, the accursed said to Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala: “I will lead the children of Adam (Alaihis Salam) astray and I will command them to do such acts that they will deform the creation of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala.” It is mentioned in Tafseer-e-Haqqani, Bayanul Quran and other tafseers that shaving of the beard is also included in deforming the creation of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala. Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala has naturally bestowed the masculine face with the beauty and dignity of a beard. Hence, those people who shave their beards are, due to the inducement of shaitan, mutilating not only their faces but their entire nature. Since the conduct of the Ambiyae-Kiram is the only criterion for the correct nature of men, the word “fitrah” refers to their way and sunnat. In this context it will mean that to trim the moustache and lengthen the beard is a unanimous sunnah of approximately 124 000 prophets, that blessed group which Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam was ordered to follow. “These are the ones whom Allah guided, so follow their guidance.” Therefore those who shave and cut their beards are opposing the ways of the Ambiya. Hence, this Hadeeth warns us that the shaving of the beard constitutes three sins:
a. Opposing human nature.
b. Through the enticement of shaitan, disfiguring of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala’s creation.
c. Opposing the manner of the Ambiya. Therefore because of these three reasons, to shave the beard is Haram.
2. In the second Hadeeth, the order of clipping the moustache and the lengthening of the beard is mentioned. Obedience to the command of Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam is wajib (compulsory) upon every Muslim and to oppose it is haram (forbidden). Therefore it is wajib to grow a beard and haram to shave it.
3. It has been mentioned in the third and fourth Hadeeth that the keeping of the beard and the clipping of the moustache is a distinguishing feature of a Muslim. On the contrary, to lengthen the moustache and shave the beard is the feature of a fire-worshipper and the mushrikeen. Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam has emphasized the inculcation of the features of the Muslims and emphasized the opposing of the fire-worshippers and the mushrikeen to his Ummah. Abandoning the features of the Muslims and taking up traits of other misguided nations is haram. Concerning this Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam said: “Whosoever resembles a nation is from amongst them.” Therefore, those who inculcate the features of others (concerning which Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam has commanded us to oppose) should fear the grave warning of Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam that they will be resurrected amongst these people (non Muslims – whom they emulate) on the Day of Qiyamah (judgment).
4. In the fifth Hadeeth it was mentioned that those who do not clip their moustaches are not from amongst us. It is apparent that this very law would apply to the shaving of the beard as well. This is a very grave warning for those who merely follow their carnal desires and the deception of shaitan in shaving their beards. That is why Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam announced the dismissal of such persons from amongst his ummah. Is it possible for anyone having some relationship with Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam to tolerate this warning!? Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam disliked the shaving of the beard so much so that He even disliked looking at the ambassadors of the King of Iran when they entered the gathering of Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam, in the condition that their beards were shaved off and their moustaches were long. Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam addressing them said: “Woe unto you! May you be destroyed! Who has ordered you to do this?” They replied: “Our master i.e. the King of Iran has ordered us.” Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam then said: “But my Lord has commanded me to lengthen the beard and clip the moustache.”[Albidayah Wannihayah, Vol. 4, Pg 269] Those who violate the command of the Lord of Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam and follow the lord of the fire-worshippers should repeatedly consider how they will show their faces in the court of Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam on the Day of Qiyamah? If Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam has to say to them: “Because of distorting your appearance you are excluded from our group.” Then for whose intercession will they hope for?
5. It has been deduced from the fifth Hadeeth that the lengthening of the moustache and trimming or shaving of the beard is haram and a major sin. The fact that Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam has warned that such a person is not of us, portrays that the perpetration of such a crime is in fact a very grave sin.
6. In the sixth Hadeeth Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam has cursed the men who resemble women and those women who resemble men. In the commentary of this Hadeeth, Mullah Ali Qari (Rahmatullah Alayhi), the author of ‘Mirqat’ writes that the words “Allah’s curse” could be: – a curse which would mean: “May Allah’s curse be upon such people”, or it could be an informative sentence which would then mean: “Allah curses such people.” Besides the above mentioned evils of shaving the beard, another evil is the resemblance of women. Since Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala made the beard a distinguishing feature between men and women. Hence, those who shave their beards eradicate the distinguishing feature and consequently resemble women thereby eliciting the curse of Allah and his Rasool sallallahu alaihi wasalam. Bearing in mind all these Ahadith, the Jurists have agreed upon the following facts: a) To lengthen the beard is wajib (compulsory) b) It is a sign of Islam c) To shave or trim the beard (if it has not reached the shari length) is haram and a major sin. May Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala grant every Muslim the ability to refrain from actions which Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasalam has severely warned us against. (ameen)