Thursday, November 23, 2017 - 5 Rabi' al-Awwal 1439
Home » Fatwas » Customs » Clothes & Adornments

Ideal length of beard

I am a young man in my early twenties. Is it an obligation to let the beard grow in Islam? If yes, what is the appropriate length of the beard?

Answer

There is scholarly difference over keeping a beard

From the matters that are confirmed throughout the Shari‘ah is that the keeping of the beard and refraining from shaving it are from the acts of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). He used to trim his beard and cut some of the sides of the beard and the top portions in order to match the contour of his face in order to go well with his overall appearance. He also used to wash his beard with water and comb it.

It is also known that the Companions of the Prophet followed him in his actions and decisions. There are Prophetic texts narrated that support keeping and maintaining the beard just as there are texts that support the use of the toothstick (Siwak) and cutting ones nails and mustache.

Some of the jurists have taken these texts to mean that these actions are obligatory, and according to this opinion the shaving of the beard would be prohibited. Other jurists have taken these texts to mean that these actions are recommended, and according to this opinion the keeping of the beard is a sunnah; one is rewarded for keeping it and not punished for leaving it.

As for the first opinion, that shaving the beard is prohibited, the text proofs used are the ones encouraging Muslims to grow their beards to distinguish themselves from disbelievers. It is also narrated on the authority of Imam Muslim, on the authority of `Aisha, that the Prophet (pbuh) said; "Ten things are from the primordial state (fitra): Clipping the mustache, keeping the beard, using the toothstick, snuffing water and expelling it from the nose to clean it, trimming one's nails, cleaning one's knuckles, plucking out one's underarm hair, shaving one's pubic hair, and to decrease the amount of water one uses." Some of the narrators said, "and I forgot the tenth, which is rinsing one's mouth with water."

As for the second opinion, that shaving the beard is not prohibited which belongs to the jurists of the Shaf`i school, this is based on their understanding of the command related to customs, food, drink, clothing, sitting, etc which is understood to be a recommendation, not an obligation.
These jurists used the examples of the command to dye ones clothes and to pray in ones sandals to prove that these are not commands meaning obligatory actions, but rather recommended actions as has been mentioned by Ibn Hajr al-`Asqlani in his commentary on Sahih Bukhari.

Beard has not ideal length

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to trim his beard and cut some of the sides and the top portions in order to match the contour of his face and so that it would go well with his overall appearance as mentioned above. Some scholars permit cutting the hair of the beard that exceeds the amount that may be grasped in the fist, because Ibn ‘Umar did this. The most important thing about keeping a beard is to maintain good appearance and not to let it grow in a way that gives bad impression about Muslims.

The Ruling

Based on this discussion it is clear that there is a legitimate scholarly debate concerning the ruling of keeping the beard. When there is a variance of legal opinions concerning an issue it is preferable to avoid it, however if one is unable to do so then they should follow the scholars who allow it. Therefore, it is allowed to keep a beard, but it is not an obligation, and let it grow in the size of a fist following Abdullah ibn 'Umar's act.

Related links
» Men getting tattoos
» Women wearing Perfume in Public
» Taking off hijab due to hair loss
» Dyeing hair black
» Compelling women to wear hijab