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Aki, What happen’ to yo beard?!

Nov 25, 2010 by     22 Comments    Posted under: Articles, Fiqh, Uncategorized

I was speaking to someone a few days ago and he brought up the fact that he decided to trim his beard past the fist. When he did so, a group of brothers began to scold him for doing such. “It’s HARAM to touch the beard”, “YOUR SOFT AKI”, or just “Aki, What happen’ to yo beard?”, were some of the things that must have been said, I imagine.

This is an ever so recurring phenomenon, and this is probably because of sheer ignorance about what the scholars actually say. A common statement that is circulated in the study circles goes as follows:

(من كثر اطلاعه قل اعتراضه)

“If one’s knowledge increases, his objections decrease.” For this reason, I decided to share some of the issues pertaining to the beard along with their proofs and the opinions of the scholars pertaining to each (issue).

-Can I shave my beard?-

Shaving the beard is absolutely prohibited in Islam based on the unequivocal nature of some of the following traditions:

1 – Ibn Umar reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Go against the ways of the disbelievers ! Let the beards grow thick (Tawfeer), and trim (Al-Ihfaa’) the moustache!” [Bukhari]

2 – Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Cut the moustaches (Juzzu), and leave the beards [so that they grow](Al-Irkha’)!” [Muslim]

3 – Abu Ma’mar asked Khubaab (RA), “Did the Prophet (PBUH) recite during Dhur and Asr prayer?” He replied, “Yes.” I then asked him, “How did you come to learn this?” He replied, “From the movement of his beard.”

Note: The words that the Prophet (PBUH) used to command us to grow our beards with are five. Imam An-Nawawi said in his explanation of Saheeh Muslim, “There are five narration [that contain the following five words]: U’foo, Awfoo, Arkhoo, Arjoo, and Waffiroo. All of these words come out to mean: Leave it as it is.”

After researching the matter extensively, I found that most of the scholars agreed that it is impermissible for one to shave his beard. The following are some of the statements of the scholars pertaining the issue.

– Ibn ‘Aabideen Al-Hanafi said in Radd Al-Muhtaar, “It is impermissible for one to shave his beard.” and similar statements can be found in several of the Hanafi texts, such as Fathul-Qadeer, and others.

– Ibn Abdil-Barr Al-Maliki mentioned in At-Tamheed, “It is impermissible to shave the beard…”

– Ad-Dussoqi Al-Maliki said in his Hashiyah, “It is impermissible for a man to shave his beard or moustache.”

– Al-‘Adawi Al-Maliki mentioned in his Hashiyah, “It is impermissible to remove the hair below the lips, just as it is impermissible to shave ones beard.”

It is clear from the previously mentioned proofs and statements of the scholars that shaving the beard is not permissible, and Allah knows best!

-Can I trim it?-

This issue can be divided into two subdivisions. I will, InshaAllah, share an ample amount of information pertaining to both.

1. Trimming until fist length

Trimming all the way up to the fist length is acceptable based on the position of almost all the scholars. We also find this often practiced in the actions of the Salaf. Marwan ibn Salim said, “I saw Ibn Umar holding his beard with his fist. He then cut everything beyond the fist.” [Abu Dawood]

The scholars differed, however, about whether it is better to trim to fist length or leave it as it is. The Hanafi school holds that it is preferable to trim everything beyond fist length. Ibn Nujaim said in Al-Bahr Ar-Raiq, “Al-I’faa (which is one of the five words I mentioned earlier) means to leave the beard until it grows thick and large. However, Al-Qass is preferable, which means to hold one’s beard with his fist and cut whatever is beyond it (i.e., the fist)…”

Several other scholars hold that it is better not to trim anything from the beard. This is the opinion of the Hanbali school, and several others as well. Muhammad ibn Abdillah As-Samiri Al-Hanbali said in his book Al-Mustaw’ib, “One should not trim his beard; except that which is beyond the fist if he wishes. It is, however, better for him not to trim at all.”

Note: It should be noted that it is not recommended to keep the beard overly large in size. This can lead to one to becoming subject to mockery. Imam At-Tabari said, as mentioned by Ibn Hajar in Fathul-Bari, “A man lets his beard grow until it becomes extremely long and wide, [all of this] only to present himself to someone that can mock him.”

2. Trimming less than fist length

Trimming less than fist length can either be for straightening scattered hair, or for no particular reason at all. Here is what Al-Qurtubi said in Al-Mufhim in relation to trimming scattered hair, “It is not permissible to shave, nor pluck the beard. Neither is it acceptable to trim a large portion of it. As for trimming scattered hair, hair which disfigures the look and leads one to look out of place, be it in length or width, then it is good to do such according to Imam Malik and others…”

Ibn Abdil-Barr mentioned in At-Tamheed that Ibrahim [An-Nakha’e] said, “They (i.e., the Salaf,) used to trim portions from the edges of their beards.”

The previously mentioned quotes indicate that it is acceptable for one to trim scattered hair, be it above or below fist length. If one wishes to shorten his beard less than fist length for no particular reason, this would be considered acceptable based on the opinion of several scholars. Ibn Abdil-Barr states in At-Tamheed, “The scholars differed about trimming ones beard. Some of them disliked this act, whereas others held that this is permissible.” It was also narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) used to trim his beard in length and width, as related by At-Tirmidhi, but this tradition (to my knowledge) is not authentic. Ali (RA) is also said to be amongst the Salaf who practiced trimming. If the tradition (about Ali (RA) trimming) found in Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah is authentic, then this would be a clear action of a companion who trimmed parts of his beard (to say the least) less than fist length (I plan on researching this in a future article).

-Do I trim or shave my moustache?-

Just as the Prophet (PBUH) commanded us to let the beards grow with several different words, the Prophet (PBUH) also used a variety of terms to direct the commandment pertaining to the moustache. Al-Qass, Al-Jazz, Al-Inhaak, Al-Halq, and Al-Ihfaa, are some of the words found in the Prophetic traditions.

In most of the narrations, however, we find the word Al-Qass is used. The scholars differed about what exactly does this word indicate. Imam Al-Qurtubi said explaining the word Al-Qass, “Al-Qass is to trim the portion of the moustache that grows onto the lips.” This is also the position of Imam An-Nawawi amongst others. However, some scholars, such as Al-Khattabi, hold that it is better to trim the entire moustache off. This seems to be the practice of Ibn Umar as mentioned in Saheeh Al-Bukhari. The following words (from the words mentioned above) can support this practice: Al-Ihfaa, Al-Inhaak, and maybe even Al-Jazz. A third view, is the opinion of Imam At-Tahawi along with the Hanafi scholars at large. Imam At-Tahawi said, “the opinion of Abu Hanifa, Abu Yusuf, Muhammad [ibn Al-Hasan] is to shave.” The word Al-Halq, which the Prophet (PBUH) mentioned (and is amongst the words mentioned above), as found in An-Nasaee also strengthens the view of the Hanafi school.

Too many opinions, what do I do?! The answer is beautifully stated by Imam At-Tabari as he says, “The Sunnah showed us both these ways (to shave or to trim) and there is no contradiction therein. For the word Al-Qass means to trim, whereas Al-Ihfaa means to remove entirely, and both of these words are authenticated terms [in the Prophetic traditions]. Based on this, it is permissible for one to do as he pleases.”

And Allah Almighty Knows Best,

Abdul Wahab Saleem
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Thursday, November 25th, 2010

22 Comments + Add Comment

  • Great article. But I think before posting it, you should check the authenticity of the narrations so that we can walk away with a firmly grounded opinion. As it is, if the narration of Ali is weak, there is really no support showing it is permissible to trim anything less than a handful. The opinion of Ibn Abdil-Barr is a scholarly opinion. But scholars can make mistakes. His statement cannot be used as an evidence.

  • There really is no unequivocal proof for the fact that one has to grow past the fist, and the burden of the proof is upon the one who makes the claim. So, to say it is HARAM requires much more than just text that can be understood in several different ways… I hope that clarifies.. 😀

  • just to add to that, Weak narrations also hold a bit of weight… especially in a situation like ours where there is no clear evidence stating otherwise.

    Ibn Kathir said something along the following,

    لكنه يستضاء به في مواضع

    “It (weak narrations) are used to give light to a subject sometimes.”

    this is kind of what i was trying do, but because of the shortage of time/space I didn’t take the time to mention all that, and I also skipped mention of several statements because the article of getting long… Ibn AbdilBarr is one of the main Muhadditheen of the Ummah… and his understand of the collection of ahadith holds its strong value in the subject.

    just a side note, there are Proofs & statements that I skipped out consciously to avoid controversy… If you would like to look at them.. you should find them Ar-Ramly’s explanation of Minhaaj or Sharh’ Al-Muhadhab by An-Nawawi in the first volume…

  • assalamu alaikum,

    you mentioned that not trimming is the hanbali school. I am sure you know that it is an opinion in the school i.e. touching it at all is makruh and not the madhhab opinion.

  • It seems that the Hanabilah disagree about what the relied upon position is, and Allah knows best.

  • I do thank you greatly for your insightful comment. It gave me something to look at :). If you have such comments in the future, do share them please.

  • I believe the proof is the Prophet’s statement, peace be upon him to leave the beard. Wouldn’t you need evidence to show that you don’t need to leave it?

  • Assalamu Alaikom,

    Honestly, I personally seek the Prophets’ PBUH love and try to look as much as i can close to his figure. And what more do we want than copying the Perfect example on Earth? No need to argue… May Allah increase our love to him and we seek his love back.

  • Yea, and the evidence is that Ibn Umar didn’t leave it. If the Prophet (PBUH) really meant leave (as in dont touch at all), we wouldn’t have had Ibn Umar and others (who were from the generations whose understand of the Arabic is used as evidence, along with the fact that amongst them were Sahaba) trim. Since we do, this is proof enough to say that what is meant by leaving it, is to leave it until it no longer looks like the action of the Kuffar (فعل الأعاجم as they put it in the books of fiqh), and not leave it until it just keeps growing. Because, the tradition says “Go against the ways of Kuffar…”

    Imam At-Taybi says in his explanation of Al-Mishkah, “This doesn’t (trimming one’s beard) contradict Al-I’faa (the term used in the hadith with which the Prophet (PBUH) commanded us to grown the beards), because what is prohibited is to cut it off like the ways of the Kuffar”

    So the fact is, again, that the Hadith is not uniequivocal about the issue. The issue is not black or white. It’s more like a matter of Ijtihad.

    If someone understands (ofcourse in the Arabic text, because the english “Leave your beards” gets no regard) from the command leave it and period, then this is his understanding and is respectable, but debateable. If another understands, “I just have to have a beard that doesn’t look like just like a mere chin-strap, rather an actualy BEARD”, then such a person shouldn’t be severely scolded. Especially when we have a nation of scholars calling to this.

    Ibn Hazm said something along the lines of, “If you were to say that a scholar who made a claim doesn’t have ANY proof this can lead to the destruction of deen. Because speaking without a proof is speaking without knowledge, and speaking without knowledge is Fisq. Claiming that scholars are fasaqah leads us to rejecting their witness, and what greater witness than knowledge.”

    So, the conclusion is both groups have proofs, and there is no need to scold. 🙂 I hope that clarified.

  • MashaAllah, May Allah increase you in the love of the Prophet Akhi.

  • I don’t think there’s ever a reason to scold other than outright disobedience. But some stances hold stronger than others.

    Shaykh Ibn Baaz said: Whoever quotes the action of Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) to show that he used to cut whatever of his beard was longer than the “handful” during Hajj cannot use this as evidence, because this is ijtihaad on the part of Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him), and proof is to be found in reports (from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)), not from ijtihaad. The scholars (may Allaah have mercy on them) clearly stated that the reports from the Sahaabah and those who came after them that are proven to be sound are what constitute evidence and proof, and they take precedence over any opinion if it goes against the Sunnah.

    Fataawa wa Maqaalaat al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz, 8/370.


  • This is the view of the sheikh, and should be respected. It’s neither the quran or the sunnah. As I said, the issue is an issue of ijtihad, and both sides should get their due honor. Maybe I will detail this issue in the future article that I referred to.

  • Dear Brother,
    May Allah reward you for trying to explain a matter that needs attention, especially in the West. I would like to offer some thoughts. I encourage you to arrange your presentation of any fiqh issue wherein you start with each school of juristic law, their evidences, and then any debates.

    Second, the brother that quoted Ibn Baz’s fatwa should be aware of the fact that quoting from fatwa books is not one of the ways a student establishes his argument. Rather, he investigates what has been stated in considered books of each school of law. A compilation of fatwas such as Ibn Baz’s is based upon his understanding. If a person chooses to use that for his personal basis, then so be it. However, it is incorrect to implicitly or explicitly use it as proof against another.

    Thirdly, the acts of the companions were considered as evidences by scholars such as Imam Ahmad of (which Ibn Baz ascribed himself to) as well as Imam Malik and others. Just because Ibn Baz does not consider this to be evidence does not mean that other scholars before or during his time did not use this as evidence.

    Fourthly, we as Muslims need to recognize and acknowledge that the companions differed on issues. Nonetheless, they respected each others position so long as there was a basis. It would do us good to see this and learn tolerance with one another.

    Finally, dear brother, perhaps you can link this issue with what exists in the West. Specifically, how or what do you suggest a brother do if he works?

  • MashaAllah Tabarakallah, comments of a Talib Ilm these sure are. I hope you can continue to enrich the blog with such beautiful comments. For the future posts I will make sure to take your proposition into consideration! Jazakallahu Khairan

  • أهل الحديث هم أهل النبي و إن
    لم يصحبوا نفسه أنفاسه صحبوا

    – الحطة في ذكر الصحاح الستة
    لصديق حسن خان رحمه الله تعالى

  • Do you know where we can read more about this issue, in Arabic?

    Jazaakallaahu khayran.

  • Well, I mentioned a number of books that I used for the research. That would certainly be a good place to start.

    You can probably search it up on google, you may come across some other research papers.

    I hope I was of some help.

    Wa Iyyak.

  • Well, I mentioned a number of books that I used for the research. That would certainly be a good place to start.

    You can probably search it up on google, you may come across some other research papers.

    I hope I was of some help.

    Wa Iyyak.

  • jazaakallaaahu khayran

  • “It was also narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) used to trim his beard in length and width, as related by At-Tirmidhi, but this tradition (to my knowledge) is not authentic.”

    This Hadith is actually fabricated or extremely weak . . .

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

  • JazakALLAH Khair, very nice article.

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