This is a reply to the numerous amount of times I have been asked about the beard.
In the name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Merciful.
Due to the obsession in our times with outward appearance, leading to the labelling of some scholars and pious people as sinners, and being asked repeatedly by brothers and students about its ruling in the Hanafi school, I decided to clarify the position of the school in relation to the beard and facial hair and how we should view and treat people who follow the position of another school.
Al-Imam Muslim (Allah show mercy to him) narrates in his Sahih in the book of purification under the chapter of “Traits of Nature” from Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah said (Allah send peace and blessings upon him): “Remove the moustaches and excuse the beards” (259) and in another narration with the words, “Differ from the pagans” at the beginning. Imam al-Bukhari and others narrated similar to it with variations in the wording.
Al-Imam al-Bukhari (Allah show mercy to him) narrates in his Sahih that Nafi’ said: “Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) if he performed Hajj or Umrah used to grasp his beard and cut off whatever was excess.” (5892)
Al-Imam al-Bukhari (Allah show mercy to him) also narrates in his Sahih in the chapter of clothing as a footnote that Ibn Umar (Allah be pleased with him) used to remove his moustache until the whiteness of the skin could be seen.
Al-Imam al-Bukhari (Allah show mercy to him) also narrates in his Sahih in the chapter of recitation in al-‘Asr that Abu Ma’mar said: “I asked Khabbab ibn al-Aratt if the Prophet (Allah send peace and blessings upon him) used to recite the Quran in the Zhuhr and the ‘Asr prayers. He replied, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘By which thing did you come to know of his recitation?’ He replied, ‘From the movement of his beard’.”
Al-Imam Muslim (Allah show mercy to him) also narrates in his Sahih in the Chapter of the prayer from the father of ‘Amir bin S’ad (Allah be pleased with him) that he said: “I used to see the Messenger of Allah (Allah send peace and blessings upon him) give salutations to his right and left until I could see the whiteness of his cheek.” (582)
Al-Imam al-Tirmidhi (Allah show mercy to him) narrates in his al-Jami’ in a weak narration that the Messenger of Allah used to cut from the width and length of his beard. (2762)
Al-Imam Abdullah al-Mawsili (Allah show mercy to him) says in his book al-Ikhtiyar li Ta’lil al-Mukhtar in the chapter of al-Karahiyah: “Excusing of the beards: Muhammad said, narrating from Abu Hanifah: “Leaving them until they become thick and plentiful.” The trimming of them is sunnah which is that a man grasps hold of his beard and cuts off what is more than his fist because the beard is adornment and it being plentiful is from the completion of adornment, but it being extremely long is opposed to the sunnah.”
Al-Imam Badr al-Din al-’Ayni (Allah show mercy to him) states in his commentary of the Hidayah (al-Binayah) in the chapter on fasting: “It is mentioned in “al-Muhit:” Excusing the beard was differed upon, some of them said, ‘He leaves it until it becomes thick and plentiful, and trimming it is sunnah so he cuts whatever is more than a fist’s length. There is no harm in plucking grey hairs and cutting the edges if it becomes long, and there is no harm in cutting his eyebrows and facial hair (sha’r al-wajh) as long as he doesn’t resemble transvestites.”
Al-Imam al-Tahawi (Allah show mercy to him) says in Sharh ma’ani al-Athar regarding the moustache: “Shaving is better than trimming, this is the view of Abu Hanifah, Abu Yusuf, and Muhammad (Allah show mercy to them). (4/230)
Al-Imam al-Kasani (Allah show mercy to him) says in al-Bada’i al-Sana’i in the chapter of Hajj: “Shaving the beard is a type of disfiguration because Allah (exalted is He) has adorned men with beards and women with plaits.”
Al-Imam Ibn ‘Abidin (Allah show mercy to him) mentions in his Radd al-Muhtar in the chapter things which invalidate and don’t invalidate the fast: “There is no harm in plucking grey hairs and cutting the edges if it becomes long, and there is no harm in cutting his eyebrows and facial hair as long as he doesn’t assimilate the action of transvestites. He doesn’t shave the hair on his throat, and it is narrated from Abu Yusuf that there is no harm in it.”
Al-Imam ‘Ala al-Din ‘Abidin (Allah show mercy to him) says in al-Hadiyyah al-‘Ala’iyyah (page 292): “There is no harm in plucking grey hair if it is not in a manner of adornment. Plucking the hair of the bottom lip is an innovation. There is an abandoning of etiquette in plucking the hair of the chest and the back. There is no harm in cutting the edges of the beard and the sunnah regarding it is a fist’s length, so he cuts whatever is surplus.”
Al-Qadi ‘Iyyad of the Malikis (Allah show mercy to him) mentions in his commentary on Sahih Muslim Ikmal al-Mu’lim commentating on the above regarding the beard: “Shaving, cutting, or burning it is disliked, as for trimming from its width and length, it is good.”
Al-Imam al-Dusuqi of the Malikis (Allah show mercy to him) mentions in his annotation of al-Sharh al-Kabir: “It is prohibited for a man to shave his beard or his moustache and the one who does it is disciplined.”
Al-Imam al-Sayyid al-Bakri al-Dimyati of the Shafi’is (Allah show mercy to him) says in I’anatu al-Talibin his annotation of Fath al-Mu’in (2/386) regarding shaving the beard: “The dominant opinion with al-Ghazali, Shaykh al-Islam, Ibn Hajar in al-Tuhfah, al-Ramli, al-Khatib, and others is dislike.”
Al-Imam Ba ‘ishan (Allah show mercy to him) of the Shafi’is mentions in Bushra al-Karim the commentary of al-Muqaddimah al-Hadramiyyah in the chapter of obligations of wudu: “Hair of the beard of a man, and it is the hair that grows on the chin at the place where the two jawbones meet.”
Al-Imam al-Bahuti of the Hanbalis (Allah show mercy to him) says in al-Rawd al-Murbi’ commentary of Zad al-Mustaqni’ in the chapter of purification: “It is not disliked to cut off what is surplus of a fist’s length and what is less then shaving. He removes his moustache which is better than trimming it.”
Al-‘Allamah Ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi (Allah show mercy to him) of the Hanbalis says in Sharh al-Kabir ‘ala matn al-Muqni’: “It is recommended to excuse the beard because of what we mentioned from the hadith, but is cutting what is more than a fist’s length disliked? There are two views regarding it, one is that it is disliked…and the second is that it is not disliked. (1/134)
Al-Imam al-Shawkani (Allah show mercy to him) states in Nayl al-Awtar in the chapter entitled ‘Sunan al-Fitrah’ regarding the beard: “The predecessors differed about it, from them are those who didn’t specify a limit rather they said: ‘He doesn’t leave it to the point of notoriety and he cuts it.’ Malik used to dislike it being extremely long. From them are those who limited what is in excess of a fist’s length, thus it is removed, and from them are those that disliked cutting it except for hajj and umrah.”
Al-Imam Abdullah al-Mawsili (Allah show mercy to him) says in al-Ikhtiyar in the chapter of testimonies, “Testimony is not accepted from the one who gambles by playing chess because it is haram, as for the playing of it in and of itself then it doesn’t nullify integrity due to it being an area of ijtihad.”
Furthermore al-‘Allamah Ibn al-Humam (Allah show mercy to him) says in Fath al-Qadir: “The fact that a person follows what is easier upon himself from the statement of a mujtahid capable of ijtihad, I’m not aware that the sacred law has disparaged him from it, and he (Allah send peace and blessings upon him) used to like that which made ease for his nation.” (6/360)
Al-Imam al-Nawawi (Allah show mercy to him) said in al-Rawdah: “Only that which its disapproval has been agreed upon can be disapproved, as for that which is differed upon then there is no disapproval of it because every mujtahid is correct or only one is correct which we are not aware of.” (10/219)
Al-Qadi ‘Iyyad (Allah show mercy to him) mentions in Ikmal al-Mu’lim: “The one who commands good and forbids evil shouldn’t impose the ijtihad of his school upon people, rather he only changes that which its disapproval and innovation has been agreed upon.” (1/289)
From the above texts we can sum up the following:
– Leaving the beard to grow longer than a fist length is makruh and contradictory to the sunnah in the Hanafi school, the beard should look neat and handsome.
– There is no sin in cutting facial hair, plucking grey hairs, or trimming the edges of the beard in the Hanafi school with relevant conditions. The definition of the face is from the forehead to the chin vertically and between both ears horizontally.
– It’s permissible to make taqlid of another school as long as it is not a mix of more than one school in the same issue. Thus if somebody wishes to follow another school regarding the beard there is no harm in doing so.
– It’s not permissible to disapprove of something that the mujtahid scholars have differed upon or label someone as a sinner (fasiq) if they contradict your own school.
As a final note we should remember to have a good opinion of all Muslims and not judge them based on outward appearances, many people are unable to grow a long beard or any beard at all due to physiological, medical, and political reasons.
May Allah pardon my mistakes and He knows best.