Question # 34: I understand from your previous post that shaving one’s beard is haraam (prohibited) according to the most correct opinion of scholars as Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) ordered men to grow their beards. However, can you please shed light on the required length of the beard?
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: The length to which the beard must be grown is controversial. Among the strongest opinions would be:
- it should be completely spared without any trimming;
- To trim it if it grows beyond one`s fist, based on the action of some companions, including Abdullah ibn Umar;
- To grow it to the point where it is described as abundant. An abundant beard according to the terminology of the jurists is one that doesn`t show the color of the skin underneath it (this last opinion is based on the fatwa of Dr. Hatem al-Haj, Member of the Fatwa Committee of Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America)
Long Answer: There is no recommended or specified length of the beard because nothing to that effect has been narrated from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). However, the commands of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) clearly indicate that the beard should be completely spared. Furthermore, he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and his companions had full and large beards. Muslim reported that Jaabir ibn Samurah (رضي الله عنه) said: “The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to have a very hairy beard.” An-Nasa’i reported from al-Baraa’ that he (صلى الله عليه و سلم) had a thick beard; according to another report, he had a bushy beard; according to another report, he had a wide beard.
There are no authentic reports indicating that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) trimmed his beard. However, there are authentic reports from a number of the sahabah – particularly, Ibn-Umar, Abu Hurayrah, and Ibn-Abbas (رضي الله عنه), indicating that they used to cut what extended beyond a fist-length. There are similar reports as well from a number of the salaf such as Ibrahim an-Nakhi, Malik, and Ahmad. (Several such authentic reports are compiled by al-Albani in ad-Da’ifah)
Narrated Nafi: Ibn Umar said, The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, ‘Do the opposite of what the pagans do. Keep the beards and cut the mustaches short.’ Whenever Ibn Umar performed the Hajj or Umrah, he used to hold his beard with his hand and cut whatever remained outside his hold (al-Bukhari). Thus, the general command of sparing the beard should be restricted to the understanding and practice of the sahabah, and its length below the chin should not exceed a man’s fist. (‘The Beard between the Salaf and Khalaf’ by Muhammad Al-Jibaly)
But most of the scholars regard this also as makrooh; An-Nawawi said: the best is to leave it as it is and not touch it or shorten it at all. (Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi)
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah preserve him) said: The definition of the beard as stated by the scholars of (Arabic) language is: the hair of the face, jawbone, and cheeks, in the sense that all the hair on the cheeks, jawbone, and chin is part of the beard and removing any of it is counted as a sin because the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Let your beards grow,” “Leave your beards alone,” “Let your beards increase,” “Let your beards be full.” This indicates that it is not permissible to remove anything from the beard. But the sin may vary in degree – shaving the beard is worse than shortening it because it is a more obvious contradiction of the Sunnah.
It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (5/136): With regard to the hadith narrated by al-Tirmidhi from ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb, from his father, from his grandfather, that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to remove something from the width and length of his beard – al-Tirmidhi said that this is a ghareeb hadith. This isnad of this hadith includes ‘Umar ibn Haroon who is matrook (rejected), as al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar said in al-Taqreeb. Hence it is known that this hadith is not sahih and cannot be used as evidence to oppose the sahih ahadith which indicate that it is obligatory to leave the beard alone and let it grow.
Shaykh Ibn Baaz said: Whoever quotes the action of Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) to show that he used to cut whatever of his beard was longer than the “handful” during Hajj cannot use this as evidence, because this is ijtihaad on the part of Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه), and the proof is to be found in reports (from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم)), not from ijtihaad. The scholars clearly stated that the reports from the Sahaabah and those who came after them that are proven to be sound are what constitutes evidence and proof, and they take precedence over any opinion if it goes against the Sunnah. (Fataawa wa Maqaalaat al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz) (Islamqa.info)
However, Dr. Hatem al-Haj, Member of the Fatwa Committee of Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America said that “The length to which the beard must be grown is controversial. The three strongest opinions would be:
- To grow it without any trimming based on a certain understanding of the words used to ordain the growing of the beard such as A`foo, which could mean let alone.
- To trim it if it grows beyond one`s fist, based on the action of some companions, including Abdullah ibn Umar – the narrator of the previous hadith – and others.
- To grow it to the point where it is described as abundant, based on the wording of one of the reports commanding the growing of the beard (wafferoo), which means make abundant. And this opinion is based also on the actions of the sahabah when they trimmed even though the proponents of this opinion say that the sahabah indicated that it is permissible to trim, but their trimming only what was beyond the fist is not something we should abide by. An abundant beard according to the terminology of the jurists is one that doesn’t show the color of the skin underneath it. Usually shorter beard is itchier than one that is longer.”
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.