Is it permissible to shave beards in upward direction?

The Details of the Question
Can a Muslim shave his beard upwards?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

If there aren't any health problems for you, there is nothing wrong in shaving beards in upward direction.

Please read the article given below;

The principles, pillars and regulations brought by The Prophet, peace and blessings upon him, embrace all dimensions of life. From worshiping to actions, from good morals to individual and social life...

The life of The Prophet is the most beautiful example and a clear sample for believers. This is expressed by our Lord in the Qur'an as follows: “Assuredly you have in God's Messenger an excellent example to follow for whoever looks forward to God and the Last Day, and remembers and mentions God much.” 1

There are some sunnats (practices) of The Prophet that are in the form of his natural actions. Among these his clothing himself, eating and drinking, cleaning himself can be counted. Most of those fall into the group of rules of conduct. By following these sunnats, believers embellish their actions.

Some of those natural sunnats are narrated by our mother Aisha (The Prophet's wife) from Allah's Messenger (PBUH) as follows:

Ten things are from the natural human disposition (fitra): shortening the mustache, growing a full beard, using miswaq (to clean one's teeth), taking water into the nose, cutting nails, washing between fingers, cleaning armpits, shaving pubic hairs, istinja (cleaning one's private parts after defecating and urinating) and istibra (after urinating, walking 30-40 steps or waiting for some time so that remains of urine are removed and ablution can be taken).” 2

Those fitri (necessitated by creation) sunnats that everybody must at certain times carry out are both means of cleaning and The Prophet's practice. By carrying out those duties, a person both performs his/her bodily duties and obtains spiritual reward having followed the sunnat.

Among the sunnats mentioned, growing a full beard and shortening mustache carry special importance as regards outer appearance. While saying “Grow a full beard and shorten your mustache” our beloved Prophet explains the wisdom behind it with the words: “Act in opposition to idolaters.” 3 This is because at that time idolaters would shave their beard and grow their mustache as much as possible.

As a measure of growing a full beard, scholars of Islam state that more than one pinch should be cut (it should not be longer than the amount one can hold between fingers). Caliph Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, saw a person who grew a long beard and told him to cut what was more than one pinch. Abu Hurayra, a great Companion, may Allah be pleased with him, would also hold his beard and would cut what was more than one pinch. It is narrated that Abdullah Bin Umar also acted in the same way.

As is explained in the books of fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), the suitable form of beard is growing it on both sides of the face and on the chin, which is called “ariz”. If beard is grown only on the chin, the sunnat is not practiced.

The real intention of the believer in growing beard and in performing other sunnats is to follow the example of The Prophet and to imitate him. The aim of a Muslim is to comply with the sunnat in all respects as much as possible. However, to attain that (to abide by the sunnat in all aspects) is peculiar to some elect people named “akhass-i hawass”. Only those who achieve the rank of mujtahid and wali can enter that group. However, even if everybody does not practice the entire sunnat, they must be in favor of it, must accept it, and they must endeavor with a sincere intention to practice it. However, though we should have this intention and perseverance, we don't have the right to accuse, despise or to look down on those who do not or cannot practice some sunnats as is required by some other purposes, as if they committed grave sins.

We should view the topic of beard in the same way. Growing a full beard is a sunnat of The Prophet which he both practiced and advised in his hadiths (fiili; qawli). By practicing this sunnat, the believer turns his habitual action into a kind of worship, and obtains a great reward. Though there are mujtahids who say that those who don't grow beard are held responsible, some scholars say that it is makruh tanzihan (non-prohibitively disliked) to cut one's beard, and even some of the modern scholars of Islam say that it is permitted to do so.

Bediuzzaman, a great scholar of our time, says: “Some scholars have said 'It is not permitted to shave the beard off.' With that they mean to say: 'It is forbidden to shave the beard off after letting it grow.'But of course, the one who does not let beard grow at all, abandons a sunnat.” 4

In this case, those who shave their beard after letting it grow are held responsible according to the scholars of Hanefi, Hanbali, and Maliki sects, whereas according to the scholars of Shafii-Gazzali, Ibn Hajar, Ramli, Rafii, and Nawawi- by doing so, such people perform a makruh tanzihan (something disliked but close to cleanliness/permission). In that matter those who follow the sect of Shafii, are not held responsible. 5

Just like it is an Islamic act to be in favor of practicing this sunnat, to congratulate those who practice it and to respect them; similarly, it is not an appropriate action to despise and scorn those who do not grow a full beard or abandon that sunnat because of an excuse and to take this as a grave mistake. Especially, it is not something that reasonable Muslims would do to harm the bonds of solidarity and brotherhood among Muslims because of that matter.

It is an expression of respect toward the sunnat for those growing a full beard to take care of it according to the sunnat. As for the mustache, the religious measure is; hairs should not cover the upper lip; mustache should be as long as each person's eyebrow's hairs and should not exceed the level of the lips. The scholars who followed the hadith “Shorten mustaches” shortened their mustaches so much that their skin under mustache could be seen.


1. The Qur'an, Al-Ahzab, 33:21 2. Muslim, Tahara : 56; Nasai, Zinat: 1.
3. Bukhari, Libas: 64.
4. Risale-i Nur, Emirdağ Lahikası, p. 48:49.
5. Mazahibu'l-Erbaa,2 :44-45; Ianatu'l-Talibin, 2 : 340.

Mehmed Paksu, Helal Haram, Nesil yayınları, Istanbul, 1998, p. 157-160

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