Question # 27: Is growing beard optional or mandatory in Islam?
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: Shaving one’s beard is haraam (prohibited) and growing it is an act of worship, according to the most correct opinion of scholars. This stand is based on many ahadith in which the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) ordered men to grow their beards.
Long Answer: Shaving the beard is haraam because of the sahih ahaadith that clearly state this, and because of the general application of texts that forbid resembling the kuffaar. Ibn ‘Umar said that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Be different from the mushrikeen: let your beards grow and trim your moustaches.” (Recorded by Bukhari and Muslim) In another narration, Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) related that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم): “Let the beards grow, trim the moustaches, change your grey hair and do not resemble the Jews and Christians” (Recorded by Ahmad and the chain is Hasan) There are other hadith which convey the same meaning, which is to leave the beard as it is and let it grow long, without shaving, plucking or cutting any part of it.
[Therefore,] leaving the beard to grow is obligatory. [Further,] shaving it is forbidden as it is changing the creation of Allah, which is an action of Satan. By shaving the beard, one is impersonating women, while “The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) cursed the men who impersonate women. (This hadith is saheeh. See Shaykh al-Albáni, Saheeh al-Jami’; Recorded by Bukhari and Tirmidhi) (‘The Concise Presentation of the Fiqh of the Sunnah and the Noble Book by Dr. Abdul-Azeem Badawi)
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “The Qur’an, Sunnah and ijmaa’ (scholarly consensus) all indicate that we must differ from the kuffaar in all aspects and not imitate them… Al-Tirmidhi reported that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “He is not one of us who imitates people other than us. Do not imitate the Jews and Christians.” According to another version: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them” (Reported by Imam Ahmad) ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) rejected the testimony of the person who plucked his beard. Imam Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr said in al-Tamheed: “It is forbidden to shave the beard, and no one does this except men who are effeminate” i.e., those who imitate women. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) had a thick beard (reported by Muslim from Jaabir). It is not permitted to remove any part of the beard because of the general meaning of the texts which forbid doing so. (Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid)
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: There is no doubt that growing it is an act of worship, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) commanded it, and everything which the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) ordered is an act of worship which brings a person closer to his Lord… And it has been authentically reported from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) that growing the beard is a part of the Fitrah upon which Allah created mankind. (Fatawa Arkanul-Islam)
Last but not the least, All the ‘ulama’ (scholars) of as-Salaf us-Salih (the Righteous early Muslims), including the Four Imams [(Abu Hanifa, Shafi’i, Maalik, Ahmad)], agree that shaving the beard is haraam (prohibited). They consider shaving it an impermissible mutilation, as has been reported from Umar Bin Abdul Aziz- [At-Tarikh by Ibn Asakir]. They considered the man who shaved his beard effeminate. Many of them would not accept his testimony or allow him to lead the prayers. (‘The Beard between the Salaf and Khalaf’ by Muhammad Al-Jibaly)
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.