The Sayings Of Scholars
The majority of scholars have agreed that shaving the beard is forbidden in Islam, and that growing it is Wajib (mandatory). There are disagreements, however, on whether it can be shortened. With Allah's Will, we will firstly mention the scholars' sayings with regards to shaving the beard, then state the Islamic proofs for the prohibition of shaving it, as well as the proofs for and against shortening it.
The Opinions Of The Four Schools Of Thought
The Hanafis: They say that it is forbidden for a man to shave his beard, and they have instructed shaving any excessive hair over a handful; cutting anything from what is less than a handful is not allowed.
The Malikies: They ruled on the prohibition of shaving the beard, as well as shortening it if this would result in any disfigurement. If cutting parts of it when it gets too long would not result in any disfigurement, then it is allowed. However, some said that this would be Makrooh (undesirable).
The Shafi'is: They said that shaving the beard is Makrooh (undesirable), although Ibn Al-Rif'ah opposed this ruling, and said that Imam Ash-Shafi'i has stated in his book "Al-Umm" that this is Haram, not just Makrooh. Al-Athra'iy said that the correct opinion amongst the Shafi'is is that shaving it is Haram, unless it had defects.
The Hanbalis: They ruled that shaving the beard is forbidden. No disagreement about this has been reported in the Hanbali school of thought, as stated in "Al-Insaf".
[The above narrations were mentioned by Sheikh Ali Mahfooz, in his book Al-Ibdaa', page 410].
Imam Ibn Hazm said: "And they (scholars) have agreed that shaving the beard is a disfigurement, and is not allowed". [Al-Muhallah, 2/189] Sheikhul-Islam Ibn Taimiyah also stated that: "Shaving the beard is forbidden". [Al-Ikhtiyarat Al-Ilmiyyah, page 6]. Ibn Abdul-Barr stated in his book "At-Tamheed" that shaving the beard is Haram and that it is only done by the those who imitate women.
Many of the recent scholars have also ruled on the prohibition of shaving the beard and the necessity of growing it. Among these scholars are: Sheikh Al-Albany in his book "Adaab Az-Zafaf", and his students, Sheikh Ali Mahfooz in his book "Al-Ibdaa'", Sayid Sabiq in his book "Fiqhus-Sunnah", Mahmoud Al-Istanbuli in his book "Tuhfatul Arous", Al-Qaradawi in his book "The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam", Sheikh Ismail Al-Ansari as well as all the scholars of the Arabian Peninsula who clearly ruled and explained the prohibition of shaving the beard in their books and lectures. And if we were to state the opinions of the different scholars in this matter, the whole issue of this magazine will not be sufficient, although we believe that the above should be sufficient for those who are sincere in looking for the truth.
Proofs For Prohibition
* Shaving the beard involves altering the creation of Allah, which is forbidden as stated in the Qur'an: "Allah cursed him. And he (Shaytaan) said: 'I will take an appointed portion of your slaves. Verily, I will mislead them, and surely I will arouse in them false desires; and certainly I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and indeed I will order them to change the nature created by Allah.' And whoever takes Shaytaan as a Wali (protector or helper) instead of Allah, has surely suffered a manifest loss" [4: 118-119]. Sheikh Al-Albany said regarding this verse that it is "a clear statement that changing Allah's creation without His permission is obeying Shaytaan, and that there is no doubt that shaving the beard for beauty reasons comes under the rule of this verse" [Adabul-Zafaf, PP 119-120]. There are also numerous verses which command Muslims to follow the tradition of the Prophetصلى الله عليه وسلم as Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala) says: "And whatsoever the Messenger gives you, take it, and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it)" [59: 7].
* Shaving the beard involves disobeying the order of the Prophetصلى الله عليه وسلم who commanded us to grow our beards, as heصلى الله عليه وسلم said "contradict the non-believers, grow the beards and cut the moustaches" [Bukhari and Muslim]. Ibn Jarir have also narrated to the story of the two messengers of Kisra (the Persian king) to the Prophet, who entered to where the Prophetصلى الله عليه وسلم was, and they had shaved their beards and grown their moustaches, the Prophetصلى الله عليه وسلم hated to even look at them and told them: "Woe to you! Who ordered you to do that?" They replied: "Our lord (i.e. Kisra) ordered us". The Prophet then said: "But my Lord ordered me to grow my beard and clip my moustache". Here we see that the Prophetصلى الله عليه وسلم hated to even look at the unbelievers, so how would his reaction be had he seen those who claim to be his loyal followers imitating the unbelievers and shaving their beards? Also, it is important to note that the Prophetصلى الله عليه وسلم attributed the order of growing the beard and clipping the moustache to Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala), so it becomes an order from Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala) to the believers, which makes it mandatory on the believers to follow, and forbidden to disobey.
* Shaving the beard is a way of imitating the disbelievers, as mentioned at the beginning of the article, and the Prophet of Allah has commanded us in numerous hadiths to contradict the people of the book (Jews and Christians) and to contradict the pagans and Magus. So since shaving the beard is a tradition practiced by non-Muslims, it makes it mandatory for the Muslims to contradict them by growing it.
* The imitation of women, and there is no doubt that shaving the beard is an imitation of women, and Imam Ibn Hajar Al-Haythamy n his book "Az-Zawajir" stated that such imitation is amongst the Major Sins in Islam.
* Contradicting the traditions of the Prophets and righteous men. Imam Al-Shanqiti said in his commentary on the verse "He (Harun) said: O son of my mother! Seize (me) not by my beard, nor by my head" [20: 94], that it is a Qur'anic proof that growing the beard is the tradition of the Prophets of Allah.
* Finally, shaving the beard is a contradiction of the Fitrah (nature) which was intended for us by Allah, since growing the beard is one of the ten natural instincts as maintained by the Prophetصلى الله عليه وسلم. The fact that Arabs before Islam used to grow their beards can be explained by the fact that they inherited it from the Prophet Ibrahim (‘Alayhis Salaam).