Shaving The Beard - is it Permissible?
What is the ruling with regards to men shaving their beards in Islam?
The beard (Arabic: Lihyah) is defined as the hair which grows on the cheeks and the jaws. It includes the hair of the temples, the growth underneath the lower lip, the hair of the chin, and the hair that grows on the lower side of the jaws.
Growing the beard is a Wajib (mandatory) for all males who are capable of doing so.
This has ample evidence in the Sunnah (as will be shown below) and is the unanimous opinion of the Ulama' of Islam. One should not be misled by the neglect to this Sunnah by a few contemporary sheikhs, and by their providing shaky Fatwas to support their action. By doing that they make people follow them into the wrong way, when the Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:
"He who starts a good Sunnah (way) will be rewarded for it, in addition to receiving rewards equal to the rewards of those who follow him into it. Whereas he who starts a bad Sunnah will be burdened with it, in addition to receiving burdens equal to the burdens of those who follow him into it." [Muslim]
And he said:
"Allah does not pull the knowledge abruptly from the hearts of people, but he takes away the knowledge by taking [the lives of] the Ulama' (true scholars). When no Ulama' are left, people will take ignorant persons for leaders. Those will give them Fatwa (religious verdicts) without knowledge. By doing this, they will stray and lead others astray as well." [Al-Bukhari]
Shaving the beard results in a series of Islamic violations, as is obvious from Allah's Book and His Messenger's Sunnah. The following is a list (not necessarily comprehensive) of such violations:
A) Disobedience to Allah
The ruler of Yemen, appointed by the Persian emperor Kisra, sent two envoys to the Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) to summon him. When they came into his presence, he noticed that they had shaved their beards and grew their moustaches. He hated to look at them (because of their odd appearance) and he said: "Woe be to you, who told you to do so?" They replied: "Our lord! (Referring to Kisra.)" The Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) then said: "But my Lord, may He be exalted and glorified, has commanded me to leave alone my beard and to trim my moustache." [Judged to be Hasan (good) by Al-Albani.]
B) Disobedience to The Messenger
In many Hadiths, the Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) commanded men to leave alone their beards. These different Hadiths have a similar meaning:
"Trim the moustache and save the beard." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Obeying the Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) in that is equivalent to obeying Allah who said (what means):
"He who obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allah." [Noble Quran 4:80]
C) Deviation From The Appearance & Guidance of The Messenger
"The Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) used to have a large beard." [Muslim]
One should strive to imitate him (Peace and blessings be upon him) in his practices, as Allah said (what means):
"In the Messenger of Allah is a good example for you to follow." [Noble Quran 33:21]
And the Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Verily, the best guidance is Muhammad's guidance." [Muslim]
D) A Deviation From The Way of Believers
All the Prophets (Peace be upon them), the Sahabah (Prophet's companions), the great Ulama', and the righteous early Muslims of this Ummah (Nation) grew their beards.
There is no report of a single one of them ever shaving his beard. Thus, this is their way, and Allah says (in the meaning):
"Whoever disobeys the Messenger after guidance has been clarified to him, and follows other than the path of the believers, We shall give to him what he deserves and broil him in hell, which is the worst abode." [Noble Quran 4:115]
E) Imitation of The Disbelievers
This has been emphasized in several Hadiths of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him). For example:
"Cut the moustaches and grow your beards. Be different from the Magians (followers of a religion that dominated in Persia)." [Muslim]
"Cut your moustaches and leave your beards alone. Be different from the people of the scripture." [Muslim]
"Be different from the Mushrikin (those who worship other than Allah); trim your moustaches and save your beards." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
We have been commanded to be different and distinct from the disbelievers, as in Surat Al-Fatihah. Also, Allah said (what means):
"Follow not the whims of those who have no knowledge (of Islam)." [Noble Quran 45:18]
And His Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Whoever imitates a people is but one of them." [Recorded by Abu Dawud, and judged to be authentic by Al-Albani]
F) Changing Allah's Creation Without Permission
The Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) declared that the women who change what Allah has created (such as removing the hair from their faces or filing their teeth or tattooing their bodies) seeking by that to improve their appearance, are accursed by Allah. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
The Hadith mentioned women in particular because they normally seek to beautify themselves more than men. But the warning surely applies to both sexes, because the condition for the curse is declared, and thus the curse applies to anyone who satisfies such condition.
Shaving the beard falls under this warning, as it is much worse than the Nam (removal of facial hair) practiced by some women. It involves obeying Satan who said:
"And I shall tempt them until they change what Allah has created." [Noble Quran 4:119]
G) Imitation of Women
The beard is a major distinction between men and women. Shaving it removes this distinction, and is thus a means of imitating women. The Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) said:
"Allah curses those men who imitate the women, and He curses those women who imitate the men." [Al-Bukhari]
H) Shaving The Beard Contradicts The Pure Fitrah (Nature)
Allah's Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) mentioned ten qualities as indicative of a good, clean nature [Muslim]. Two of these qualities are to trim the moustaches and to grow the beard.
The Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) also tells that every child is born with a clean, pure Fitrah, which later may get deformed by the influence of the environment and the up-bringing. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
In the footsteps of the disbelievers, many Muslims' Fitrah is now, unfortunately, so much deformed that they seem to find a clean-shaven man more handsome and masculine than one with a beard - exactly the opposite of what the Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) declared in the above Hadith.
This Fitrah never changes with time: Allah said (what means):
"The pure nature according to which Allah has created people. There is no change in Allah's creation." [Noble Quran 30:30]
For shaving their beards, some men give the strange excuse that their wives prefer them without one! As if their purpose in this life is to follow the deformed inclinations of their wives instead of the clear-cut commands of Allah and His Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him)!
Others claim that growing their beards results in irritability and scratching. This cannot result from abiding by the pure Fitrah, but would result (if true) from neglect of the proper cleaning and washing with Wudu as instructed in the Sunnah.
What the Ulama' and Imams Say?
All the Ulama of As-Salaf, including the Four Imams, agreed that shaving the beard is Haram (prohibited). They considered shaving it an impermissible mutilation, as has been reported about Umar bin Abdul-Aziz. They used to consider the person who shaved his beard effeminate. Many of them would not accept his witness or allow him to lead the prayers.
May Allah guide us to abide by His Deen, and to adhere to His Messenger's Sunnah, and to be among those whom he blessed in both lives.
Sheikh Muhammad Al-Jibali