What is the judgment for shaving or growing a beard? What are the judgments for beard and mustache based on evidence? What is the type of beard in compliance with the Sunnah?

The Details of the Question
What is the judgment for shaving or growing a beard? What are the judgments for beard and mustache based on evidence? What is the type of beard in compliance with the Sunnah?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Growing a beard is one of the most important sunnahs of the Messenger of Allah. No scholar said that it was fard; and abandoning growing a beard was not evaluated as abandoning a fard. There is a difference about the view on the beard between Shafiis and Hanafis. According to Shafiis, growing a beard is sunnah. Cutting off the beard is makruh tanzihi.

According to Hanafis and the other two madhhabs, the judgment is different. It is makruh tahrimi to cut off the beard after growing it.

Since our religion has not imposed an obligation regarding the issue, we cannot criticize some people by asking them why they do not grow beards. Our religion does not prohibit us from not growing the beard; a person who does not grow a beard becomes deprived of the reward of sunnah, but he is not regarded to have committed a sin.   

The principles and rules that our Prophet brought include all aspects of the life, from worshipping to judgments, from ethics to personal lifestyle and the whole elements of the society...

The life of our Prophet is the best and clearest example for believers. Our Lord states it as follows: «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.» (al-Ahzab, 21)

There are some sunnahs of the Prophet that are like his natural acts. For instance, his dressing, eating and drinking, and body care are examples to those acts. Most of them are regarded among etiquette. When believers act in accordance with them, they illuminate their acts.

Hazrat Aisha reports some of those natural sunnahs from the Messenger of Allah as follows:

«Ten things are natural (customs that originate from the creation): clipping the mustache, letting the beard grow, using miswak (tooth-stick), snuffing water in the nose, cutting the nails, washing between the fingers, plucking the hair under the armpits, shaving the pubes and cleaning one's private parts with water.» (Muslim, Taharah : 56; Nasai, Zinah: 1)

Those natural sunnahs that need to be done at certain times by everybody 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 the Sunnah.

Among the sunnahs that have been mentioned, growing a beard and clipping the mustache have a special feature in terms of outward appearance. When our beloved Prophet says «Grow the beard and clip the mustache», he adds «Do not resemble polytheists» (Bukhari, Libas: 64), mentioning the reason. Polytheists cut their beards and lengthened their mustache as much as they could.

Islamic scholars state the criterion for growing the beard 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 (may Allah be pleased with him) 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, the 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 manage 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 those who have the intention and determination to fulfill sunnahs but cannot carry out some sunnahs due to some reasons as if they have committed a great sin.

It is necessary to deal with the issue of beard through that criterion. Growing a beard is both a verbal and 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 makruh tanzihi; some scholars of our age even say that it is mubah (permissible).

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. »  (Emirda? Lahikas?, p. 48:49).

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 makruh tanzihi. Those who follow the Shafii madhhab about the issue are not regarded to be responsible. (Madhahibu'l-Arbaa,2 :44-45; Ianatu't-Talibin, 2 : 340)

It is an Islamic act to support fulfilling that sunnah, to congratulate those who fulfill that 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 one’s 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.

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