New Age Islam
Wed Apr 14 2021, 10:59 AM

Debating Islam ( 8 Aug 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Comment | Comment

On wearing a beard or, more appropriately, On some Muslims' beard complex

The Discourse


Adil Salahi - Arab News


Q. Please comment on those people who claim that wearing a beard is not important from the Islamic point of view. They even say that it is not something to talk about. However, Imam Muhammad ibn Al-Hasan reports a Hadith which states that “Ibn Omar used to hold his beard with one hand and trim any longer hair.” Therefore, the Hanafi school considers shortening one’s beard below that length to be forbidden, and says that this is the view of all scholars, which proves unanimity.


Sheikh Abdul


A. This question shows the unfortunate state of lack of knowledge that has long prevailed among Muslims concerning the details of their religion. Let us briefly consider the Hadith the reader quotes, assuming that it is authentic, and outline what it implies. The Hadith simply speaks of the practice of one of the Prophet’s companions who commands great respect for his thorough knowledge. The Hadith does not quote Ibn Omar as saying that what he used to do was ordered or recommended by the Prophet. It simply states what he used to do. This may simply be a matter of personal choice. Had Ibn Omar followed his action with a statement to the effect that he was doing it as a result of an order by the Prophet, it would have taken the Hadith into a higher degree to make the order given to Ibn Omar applicable to others. He makes no such comment. Therefore, his action does not constitute any requirement of any level which other people should observe.


Now to claim that not following his example is forbidden means that we are required to follow the practice of people other than the Prophet. This is not so. No one should be followed or obeyed, unless their action is based on an order by the Prophet. This means that we do not follow them, but follow the Prophet. This is what is required of all Muslims.


What is more is that the reader claims that this is the unanimous opinion of all scholars. This is totally untrue. No scholar of olden or modern days claims such unanimity on the point of wearing a beard or its length.


The question of wearing a beard is based on a different Hadith which quotes the Prophet as saying, “Adopt a way different from that of the Jews: Trim your mustaches and leave your beards.” This is an authentic Hadith, but scholars differ as to whether the order given is one of obligation or recommendation. When we take a broad view of what the Prophet’s companions did and what scholars say, weighing up the evidence in support of the different views, we will come to the conclusion that the order in this Hadith is one of recommendation. This means that wearing a beard is a Sunnah. Therefore, it is not obligatory. By not wearing a beard a Muslim man does not breach an obligatory order.


I realize that there are scholars who have a different view. They consider wearing a beard obligatory. I respect their views. When we have such a difference of views, people should take the view supported by the stronger evidence. If a person cannot do that, then he takes the view of the scholar he trusts, or he may do whatever suits his circumstances.


Source: Arab News