Is the beard fard or just a Sunnah?
As it is known, beard is something that needs to be present in men due to fitra and is the sunnah of the previous prophets. In many hadiths, it is ordered that the beard be left in its natural form and be lengthened. There is no permission to shorten it. Islamic scholars and believers have adopted that natural state and applied it for centuries.
As it is understood from those hadiths, the Messenger of Allah grew a beard as other prophets did and advised us to grow beards. There is no recording that Hazrat Prophet and his companions shaved their beards. However, Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) clipped his beard at the bottom and on the sides. (Tirmidhi, Adab, 17). Imam Malik says, "A Muslim should grow his beard in the form that the majority of Muslims grow; he should cut the extra part; it is mandoob (recommended). If that extra part is not cut, it causes an ugly appearance. There is no limit in shortening the beard. The best way is to shorten it so that it will look beautiful. "He said, based upon an application reported from Imam Baji Abdullah Ibn Umar and Abu Hurayra that the extra part out of a handful could be cut.”
It is stated in Durrul-Muhtar that it is sunnah to have a handful of beard. Similarly, according to the opinion of the majority, it is sunnah to cut the extra part out of a handful.
Scholars have different opinions about growing, shortening and shaving the beard. According to some scholars, it is fard to grow a beard and it is haram to shave it; according to some, it is sunnah to grow a beard and it is makrooh (abominable) to shave it; others say it is mustahab (preferred) to grow. As for their evidence, the first opinion that says it is fard to grow a beard and it is haram to shave it belong to the majority of the scholars. Their evidence is mainly as follows:
a) Hazrat Prophet ((pbuh) ordered us to grow beards in a hadith. Orders are obligatory unless it is stated that they are mandoob or mubah (optional) . The order “Grow beards” necessitates it to be fard.
b) Likewise, Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) ordered us not to resemble polytheists or fire-worshippers. Saving the beard means resembling them. And it is haram.
c) Shaving the beard means changing what Allah created, which is mentioned in the 119th verse of Chapter an-Nisa. That act, which is carried out by obeying the devil, is forbidden.
d) Beard is a quality that discriminates men from women. Men who shave their beards resemble women. Our religion forbids men from resembling women.
However, some scholars who say that it is haram to shave the beard mean shaving the beard after deciding to grow a beard. Otherwise, it is not haram to shave the beard without deciding to grow a beard.
Those who have the opinion that to grow a beard is sunnah and to shave it is makrooh are people like Imam Nawawi, a Shafii scholar, Razi, Ghazzali, Sheikh Zakariyya al-Ansari, Ibn Hajar, Ramli, Hatib, Shirbini. Those who have that opinion say the following.
a) The order in the hadith does not make growing a beard fard because our Prophet (pbuh) also ordered to dye the hair so as not to resemble Jews and Christians but some companions did not dye their hair. That incidence shows that the orders like that do not show obligation.
b) It is haram to resemble polytheists in the issues relating to religion and belief. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) put on sabots like the priests did. If it were definitely haram to resemble them in issues like that, Hazrat Prophet would have never done it.
c) If the issue is dealt with only in terms of resembling polytheists even if in the customs and traditions, contrarily, it will be concluded that growing a beard is haram because many priests and non-Muslims grow beard today.
d) The ten items that are listed as the sunnahs of prophets are regarded as sunnah or mustahab by most of the scholars. Since beard is one of them, it should be evaluated like that. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) advised his umma the best customs. .
Those who say it is mustahab and customary sunnah to grow a beard and optional to shave it say the following: Growing a beard, eating, drinking, sitting, wearing clothes are the natural customs of the Prophet that he does because he is a human being. Therefore, growing a beard is not a sunnah related to worshipping but a sunnah that is done customarily. It is also called sunnah zawaid (customary sunnah). Some scholars of our time like Mahmud Shaltut and Muhammad Abu Zahra are of that opinion. Accordingly, it is virtuous to grow a beard but shaving the beard is permissible. If a person does not grow a beard or if he shaves his beard, no judgment against him is given. It will be appropriate to act in accordance with the environment one lives in.
As for the mustache, which is almost a part of the beard, there are some narrations from Hazrat Prophet about clipping the mustache so as to show the edge of the upper lip or cutting it all. According to the opinion that is the judgment is based on, it is sunnah to clip the mustache or to cut it all: The believer is free to do either way.
However, it is not regarded permissible to clip the sides of the mustache and leave a small amount in the middle. It is stated in the sharh (explanation) of Shir’a that Hazrat Umar lengthened both ends of his mustache and that there is no drawback to it.
(For the judgments, opinions and ijtihads about the beard and mustache, see Ibn Abidin, II, 113, V, 261; al-Mahhal, I,183-189; Shawkani, Naylul-Awtar, I, 137-138; al-Madhahibul-Arbaa, II, 44-46; Sharhu'n-Nawawi (Marginal notes of Irshadushshari), II, 261-265; Ianatu't-Talibin, II, 340; Fathu'r-Rabbani, XVII, 313-314; Mahmut Shaltut, al-Fatawa, 227-229; İslâmda Helal ve Haram, Yusuf al-Qardawi, (Trns. Mustafa Varlı), 107-109; Muhammad Abu Zahra, İslâm Hukuku Metedolojisi (Trns. Abdülkadir Şener), 51-52; Zakariyya Kandahlavi, Wujubu i'fail-Iihya).
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