Permissibility of Shortening the Beard in Shariah

By Moulana Muhammad ibn Moulana Haroon Abbassommar
Posted: 16 Jamad-ul-Awwal 1423, 27 July 2002

Q.) Please forgive me once again for disturbing your busy schedule but I am in need of clarifications and would be grateful if you'd kindly help me.

I would like to know whether there is any dalil in the Hanafi madhhab stating the permissibility of shortening the beard less than the length of a fist. I am already aware that the prescribed length of the beard according to the Hanafi madhhab is fistful and that this is the Sunnah length and to trim the beard less than this is impermissible(haram) or undesirable (makruh). The reason why I am asking this question is because a very close friend of mine feels inclined to believe that it's ok for a person following the Hanafi madhhab to keep a short beard (i.e. less than a fist) due to the fact that a small handful of great scholars such as Shaykh Muhammad Al-Ya'qoubi (Syrian scholar residing in USA) and Shaykh Muhammad Fouad Al-Barazzi (Syrian scholar residing in Denmark and a master in the Hanafi fiqh) have got short beards and both of them are followers of the Hanafi madhhab. I have tried to explain to the brother that they (i.e. both scholars) may have a reason for their short beards, e.g. inability to grow fist-length or some other logical reason but he fails to listen to me.

The brother has tried to do some research himself but has yet been unsuccessful, so I have decided to help him by seeking an opinion from you. [Israr Hussain.]

A.) Imaam Bukhari, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports on the authority of Naafi' who narrates from Abdullah ibn Umar, Radi-Allahu anhu, that Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, 'Oppose the Mushrikeen (polytheists); lengthen the beard and trim the moustache.'

Naafi' further states, 'And ibn Umar, Radi-Allahu anhu, during Hajj or Umrah used to hold on to his beard with his fist and cut off whatever was in excess of that.' (Bukhari vol.2 pg.875; Kitaab-ul-Libaas)

Through this Hadith, the verdict of the growing of the beard being wajib(obligatory) is deduced. That is because any explicit command of Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam will be regarded as wajib, if there is no apparent, clear reason/proof which states that that particular command is for Istihbaab (preference). This is an established fact in Usool-ul-Fiqh (principles of jurisprudence).

Moreover, the Wujoob is further emphasized by the fact that Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam did practice this in his entire life. Know well that Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam did not trim his beard in his life (there is no Sahih Hadith which proves otherwise). However, because the narrator himself (Ibn Umar, Radi-Allahu anhu, did trim his beard up to a fist's length, this implies that the Wujoob of keeping a beard is up to a fist length only.

Furthermore, such has also been reported from Sayyiduna Abu Hurayra, Radi-Allahu anhu, and other Taabi'een. (Tamheed of ibn Abdul-Barr and Fathul Baari). Therefore, the meaning of our statement that you question is, 'If any person has trimmed his beard up to less than one fist, then his beard will not be a Shar'ee beard.'

Lastly, for your knowledge, the sayings and actions of the Sahaba (Radhiallaahu Anhum) are a Hujjah (proof) according to the majority of the scholars. However, the conditions for acceptance may differ. This is also an established principle in Usool-ul-Fiqh. Hence, the non-compliance to a Shar'ee beard by the scholars you have mentioned does not hold any weight in front of the Shar'ee proof we have mentioned.

And Allah Ta'ala Knows Best