Is it haram to shave the beard?
The great scholar of our age, Badiuzzaman says, «Some scholars said, 'It is not permissible to shave the beard'. What they mean is, 'It is haram to shave the beard after deciding to grow a beard'. Someone who never grows a beard is regarded to have abandoned a sunnah. » 4 Accordingly, those who shave their beards after deciding to grow a beard are regarded responsible according to Hanafi, Hanbali and Maliki scholars, but according to Shafii scholars —Ghazali, Ibn Hajar, Ramli, Rafii and Nawawi—, they are regarded to have committed a tanzihan makrooh. Those who follow the Shafii madhhab are not regarded to be responsible. 5
The fundamentals, rules and principles that our Prophet (pbuh) brought includes all phases of life, from worshipping to muamalat (laws), from ethics to the personal life of the individual and all elements of the community ...
The lifestyle of our Prophet is the best and clear example for believers. Our Lord states it as follows in the Quran: « Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the praise of Allah.» 1
There are some sunnahs of our Prophet that are in the form of his natural behavior like wearing clothes, eating, drinking, taking care of his body and cleaning. Most of them are included in manners. Believers illuminate their acts by following those sunnahs.
Hazrat Aisha, our mother, narrates some of those natural sunnahs from the Messenger of Allah as follows:
«: Ten acts are from fitra: clipping the mustache, letting the beard grow, using the tooth-stick, snuffing water in the nose, cutting the nails, washing the finger joints, plucking the hair under the armpits, shaving the pubes and cleaning one's private parts with water.» 2
Those natural sunnahs that need to be done at certain times are both means of cleaning and the customs of the Prophet. When man fulfills those duties, he both carries out his bodily duties and receives spiritual rewards for acting in accordance with sunnah.
Among the sunnahs that have been mentioned, growing a beard and clipping the mustache have a special quality in terms of outward appearance. When our beloved Prophet says «Grow the beard and shorten the mustache», he adds «Do not resemble polytheists» 3, mentioning the reason. Polytheists cut their beards and lengthened their mustache as much as they could.
Islamic scholars state the criterion for the beards as a handful and they say the extra part should be cut. When Hazrat Umar saw someone who lengthened his beard, he told him to cut the extra part more than the handful. The great companion Abu Hurayra would hold his beard with his hand and cut the extra part. It is narrated that Abdullah bin Umar did the same thing.
As it is stated in our fiqh books, the perfect form of the beard is letting it grow on both cheeks and on the chin. If it is let grow only on the chin, sunnah is not fulfilled.
The main intention of the believer in growing a beard and carrying out other sunnahs is to follow our Prophet and to imitate him. The aim of a believer is to follow the sunnah in every aspect as much as possible. However, only some very distinguished people can achieve it. Only mujtahids and walis (saints) can fulfill it. However, although a person cannot fulfill to achieve it all, he has to support, accept and try to do it with a sincere intention. However, we have no right to accuse and despise as if they have committed a great sin those who have that intention and determination as if but cannot carry out some sunnah due to some reasons.
It is necessary to deal with the issue of beard through that criterion. Growing a beard is both a qawli (oral) and fili (physical) sunnah. When a believer does it, he transforms his custom into worshipping and gets a lot of rewards. Although there are some mujtahids who say those who do not grow beards will be responsible, some scholars say it is tanzihan makrooh (somewhat disliked); some scholars of our age even say that it is mubah.
The great scholar of our age, Badiuzzaman says, «Some scholars said, 'It is not permissible to shave the beard'. What they mean is, 'It is haram to shave the beard after deciding to grow a beard'. Someone who never grows a beard is regarded to have abandoned a sunnah. » 4
Accordingly, those who shave their beards after deciding to grow a beard are regarded responsible according to Hanafi, Hanbali and Maliki scholars, but according to Shafii scholars —Ghazali, Ibn Hajar, Ramli, Rafii and Nawawi—, they are regarded to have committed a tanzihan makrooh. Those who follow the Shafii madhhab are not regarded to be responsible. 5
It is an Islamic act to support fulfilling a sunnah, to congratulate those who fulfill a sunnah and to show respect to them; it is not a normal act to despise and talk despisingly of those who do not grow beards or abandon growing beards due to an excuse and regard it as a great Islamic deficiency. It is not something that a conscious Muslim will do to harm the bonds of unity and fraternity among Muslims due to that issue.
If those who grow beards take care of their beards in accordance with sunnah, it will show their respect towards sunnah. The criterion for the mustache is not to cover the upper lip, to be as long as ones eyebrows and not to exceed the level of the lip. The scholars who acted in accordance with the hadith, Shorten your mustache shortened their mustache so much as to show the skin under.
1. Chapter al-Ahzab, verse 21
2. Muslim, Taharah : 56; Nasai, Zinah: 1.
3. Bukhari, Libas: 64.
4. Emirdağ Lahikası, p. 48:49.
5. Madhahibu'l-Arbaa,2 :44-45; Ianatu'l-Talibin, 2 : 340.