Question # 180: I see many Muslim brothers (especially Hanafi brothers) who shaved their moustaches. What is the Islamic ruling in this regard?
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Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
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Shorter Answer: The scholars differed concerning the Sunnah regarding the trimming or shaving of moustache:
- According to Hanafis and Hanbalis, it is Sunnah to shave it off altogether.
- According to Malikis and Shafi’is, the Sunnah is to only trim the moustache and it is makrooh to shave it off completely.
Imam Malik was very strict about this and regarded it as mutilation for which a person deserved to be disciplined. He said that shaving it was a bid’ah (innovation) which had appeared among the people; whereas, Imam Ahmad said that if one shaves it, there is nothing wrong with it and if one cuts it, there is nothing wrong with it. Al-Nawawi said that the guideline on trimming the moustache is that it should be trimmed so that the edge of the lip can be seen, but it should not be shaved off completely. It was narrated that al-Mugheerah ibn Shu’bah (رضي الله عنه) said: My moustache grew too long and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) trimmed it for me on a siwaak.”
Long Answer: The scholars are unanimously agreed that it is permissible to trim or cut the moustache, because of the many ahaadeeth that have been narrated concerning that, such as the words of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم): “Let the beard grow, and trim the moustache.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari). And he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever does not remove anything from the moustache is not one of us.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and classed as sahih by al-Albani in Sahih al-Tirmidhi) Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said in al-Majmoo’ “As for cutting the moustache, there is unanimous agreement that it is Sunnah.”
The scholars differed concerning the mustahabb Sunnah regarding the moustache, and there are two views:
- The first view is that it is Sunnah to shave it off altogether. This is the view of the Hanafis and Hanbalis. They quoted as evidence the apparent meaning of the words of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) that were narrated concerning this, such as “Trim the moustache” (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim) and other similar reports in al-Bukhari and Muslim.
Al-Tahawi said in Sharh Ma’ani al-Athar: “Shaving is better than trimming. This is the view of Abu Hanifah, Abu Yoosuf and Muhammad (may Allah have mercy on them).”
Ibn ‘Aabideen narrated in Radd al-Muhtar that later scholars preferred to trim it and said: “The (Hanafi) view according to some later scholars among our Shaykhs is that it should be trimmed. It says in al-Bada’i’: This is the correct view.”
- The second view is that the Sunnah is to trim the moustache, and that shaving it is makrooh. This is the view of the Malikis and Shafi’is. They quoted the following as evidence:
- It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) that he heard the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) say: “The fitrah is five things: circumcision, shaving the pubes, trimming the moustache, trimming the nails and plucking the armpit hairs.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
- It was narrated that al-Mugheerah ibn Shu’bah (رضي الله عنه) said: My moustache grew too long and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) trimmed it for me on a siwaak.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood; classed as sahih by al-Albani in Sahih Abi Dawood)
Al-Bayhaqi narrated in al-Sunan al-Kubra with his isnad that ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn ‘Abd-Allaah al-Uwaysi said: Maalik ibn Anas mentioned that some people shave their moustaches, and he said: “The one who does that should be beaten. The hadith of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) about the moustache does not speak of shaving, rather it should be trimmed just enough to let the edge of the lips and the mouth show.”
Al-Shawkani said in Nayl al-Awtaar: “Imam Malik was very strict about shaving the moustache and regarded it as mutilation for which a person deserved to be disciplined. He said that shaving it was a bid’ah (innovation) which had appeared among the people.”
Malik (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “It was narrated from ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) that when he was upset by something, he would twist his moustache. If it was shaved off, there would be nothing to twist.” (See al-Tamheed)
Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said in al-Majmoo’: “The guideline on trimming the moustache is that it should be trimmed so that the edge of the lip can be seen, but it should not be shaved off completely. This is our view.”
In Nihaayat al-Muhtaaj by al-Ramli, who is one of the Shafi’i imams, it says: “It is makrooh to shave the moustache.”
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa: “The best is to trim the moustache as is the Sunnah. As for shaving it, that is not Sunnah… Hence Malik said concerning shaving the moustache: It is an innovation that has appeared among the people, but we should not turn away from what is mentioned in the Sunnah, because following it is guidance, righteousness, happiness and success.”
Al-Tabari and al-Qaadi ‘Iyaad favored the view that both are permissible: shaving and trimming; al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar also inclined towards this view in Fath al-Baari.
Ibn al-Qayyim stated in Zaad al-Ma’ad that Imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “If he shaves it there is nothing wrong with it, and if he cuts it there is nothing wrong with it. The evidence that Imam Ahmad quoted for that is that the ahaadeeth enjoined shaving and cutting.”
The difference of opinion is based on the interpretation of the words used in the various wordings of the ahadith commanding the cutting of the mustache. There are four words used by the Prophet: qass, haff, nahk, and jazz (نهك حف قص and جز). So, some of the scholars interpreted these words to indicate isti’sal (استئصال), which means to completely remove. Conversely, others interpreted these terms to indicate trimming. There is a narration in ‘Sunan an-Nasa’i’ that specifically uses the word taqsir (تقصير), which can only mean to shorten. This could have been used as evidence to strengthen the opinion of just trimming, except for the fact that this specific narration is weak. So, this all shows that there is room for difference of opinion with regards to how to shorten the mustache, with some of the scholars saying it is to be shaved off, and some saying it is to be trimmed. (The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs)
In summary, it is better to cut the moustache so that the edge of the lip appears, and not to remove it altogether, because this is what the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to do. It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) said: The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to cut his moustache. (Narrated by Ahmad; Shaykh Ahmad Shakir said: Its isnad is sahih)
(The above reply is based on various answers by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid, unless stated otherwise)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.