What is the rule (khukm) concerning a beard in the Hanafi madhhab?
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Question: What is the rule (khukm) concerning a beard in the Hanafi madhhab? I’ve heard that in our Madhab wearing a beard is Vajib (obligatory). And I know that it is forbidden to shave a beard by usual razor, I should only cut it? (Murad)

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Answer:

Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakaatuh

The issue on the permissibility and impermissibility of trimming the beard is one of much contention and debate, especially in the Arab world. Numerous treatises and rebuttals have been prepared discussing the issue at depth.

After lengthy research, discussion and study, and looking into the classical texts of the former and latter scholars, I have concluded the following in light of the Hanafi Madh-hab:

a) To keep a long beard is an emphasized Sunnah and there are many Ahadith that emphasize this. Sayyiduna Ibn Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:

خالفوا المشركين: وفروا اللحى، وأحفوا الشوارب

Oppose the polytheists, Lengthen the beard and remove the moustache

(Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith #: 5892)

Sayyidatuna Aa’ishah (Radiyallahu Anha) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: 

" عشر من الفطرة: قص الشارب، وإعفاء اللحية، والسواك، واستنشاق الماء، وقص الأظفار، وغسل البراجم، ونتف الإبط، وحلق العانة، وانتقاص الماء "

“There are ten inborn qualities that are from basic human cleanliness: Trimming the moustache, lengthening the beard, brushing the teeth with the Miswaak, rinsing the nostrils with water, clipping the nails, washing the body joints thoroughly, plucking the hair on the armpits, shaving the pubic hair and cleansing oneself with water after visiting the toilet” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith #: 261)

The abovementioned Ahadith clearly emphasize the lengthening of the beard and shortening the moustache. It is also reported from Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that he had a big beard:

وكان كثير شعر اللحية

And He (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) had a lot of beard hair

(Sahih Muslim, Hadith #: 2344) 

It is quite evident that by one maintaining a long beard, he will be emulating the Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). However, it should be noted that it is also the Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) to appear presentable and neat. Therefore, although a person should keep beard is long, he should ensure that it is always kept neat and tidy.  It is reported from Imam Malik (Rahimahullah) that when he saw a person with a long and untidy beard, he instructed him to neaten it.

All scholars are unanimous that it is prohibited to shave off the beard completely unless a genuine necessity has been established. For example, medical reasons or the genuine fear of persecution.

With regards to how long the beard should be kept, some scholars have said that a person should allow his beard to grow as long as it naturally grows. The Hanafi Ulama have mentioned that the recommended length for the beard is to the size of a person’s fist. This is also substantiated by the practice of Ibn Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu).

Haytham (Rahimahullah) reports that Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Umar (Radiyallahu Anhu) used to trim his beard till it was the length of his fist. (Kitabul Aathaar, by Imam Abu Yusuf, Pg: 234)

عن الهيثم عن ابن عمر رضي الله عنه أنه كان يقبض على لحيته فيأخذ منها ما جاوز القبضة

Imam Muhammed (Rahimahullah) commented on this narration with the following words:

وبه نأخذ وهو قول أبي حنيفة رحمه الله

And we have adopted this view and it is the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah

(Kitabul Aathaar by Imam Muhammed)

Hence, according to the original Hanafi sources, the prescribed length of the beard is the length of a fist. The Hanafi Ulama have chosen this due to it being the practice of Ibn Umar who was known to adhere very strictly to every Sunnah of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). Furthermore, Ibn Umar is the narrator of the Hadith which instructs lengthening the beard and his action of keeping it to a fist’s length acts as an explanation to the prescribed length of keeping the beard.

 However, in the case of there being a fear of persecution, a person will not be sinful for trimming his beard under a fist’s length. Therefore, in your situation, you will not be sinful for trimming your beard shorter than a fist’s length but as far as possible, you should avoid shaving off your beard completely.

NB. Those whose beards naturally do not grow long or their beards do not grow at all are not blameworthy for not having long beards. Insha Allah, they will be rewarded for practicing on the Sunnah due to their intention even though their beards do not fully grow.

And Allah Knows Best.

Wassalaam.

Mufti Suhail Tarmahomed

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