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Is growing beards mandatory in Islam?

The sections of this article are:

- Is growing beards mandatory in Islam?
- Allah Almighty ordered Muslims to obey Prophet Muhammad.
- Prophet Muhammad had a beard.
- Prophet Muhammad ordered Muslims to grow beards.  But why?
- Why did Prophet Muhammad want us to be different from the Jews,
   Christians and Pagans?

- Conclusion.

No there in the Noble Quran do we see Allah Almighty ordering Muslims to grow beards.  We do see, however, some commands from Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him ordering us to grow beards.

 

Allah Almighty ordered Muslims to obey Prophet Muhammad:

In Islam, we follow the laws of the Noble Quran, and the Sayings of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him.  If a situation or case is not addressed in neither the Noble Quran, or the Sayings of our beloved Prophet, then we follow the local verdicts of our Religious Authorities, where they would decide based upon the cultural and social situation and causes.

Allah Almighty said in the Noble Quran:

"O ye who believe! Obey God, and obey the Apostle, and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to God and His Apostle, if ye do believe in God and the Last Day: That is best, and most suitable for final determination.  (The Noble Quran, 4:59)"

"When there comes to them some matter touching (Public) safety or fear, they divulge it. If they had only referred it to the Apostle, or to those charged with authority among them, the proper investigators would have Tested it from them (direct). Were it not for the Grace and Mercy of God unto you, all but a few of you would have fallen into the clutches of Satan.  (The Noble Quran, 4:83)"

Since growing beards is not addressed in the Noble Quran, then it is important to see what Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said regarding it and follow his commands.

 

Prophet Muhammad had a beard:

Narrated Abu Ma'mar:  "I asked Khabbab bin Al-Art whether the Prophet used to recite the Qur'an in the Zuhr and the 'Asr prayers. He replied in the affirmative. I said, 'How did you come to know that?' He replied, 'From the movement of his beard.'  (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Characteristics of Prayer, Volume 1, Book 12, Number 728)"

Narrated Anas bin Malik:  "Once in the lifetime of the Prophet (p.b.u.h) the people were afflicted with drought (famine). While the Prophet was delivering the Khutba on a Friday, a Bedouin stood up and said, "O, Allah's Apostle! Our possessions are being destroyed and the children are hungry; Please invoke Allah (for rain)". So the Prophet raised his hands. At that time there was not a trace of cloud in the sky. By Him in Whose Hands my soul is as soon as he lowered his hands, clouds gathered like mountains, and before he got down from the pulpit, I saw the rain falling on the beard of the Prophet. It rained that day, the next day, the third day, the fourth day till the next Friday. The same Bedouin or another man stood up and said, "O Allah's Apostle! The houses have collapsed, our possessions and livestock have been drowned; Please invoke Allah (to protect us)". So the Prophet raised both his hands and said, "O Allah! Round about us and not on us". So, in whatever direction he pointed with his hands, the clouds dispersed and cleared away, and Medina's (sky) became clear as a hole in between the clouds. The valley of Qanat remained flooded, for one month, none came from outside but talked about the abundant rain.  (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Friday Prayer, Volume 2, Book 13, Number 55)"

Narrated Anas:  "Allah's Apostle was neither very tall nor short, neither absolutely white nor deep brown. His hair was neither curly nor lank. Allah sent him (as an Apostle) when he was forty years old. Afterwards he resided in Mecca for ten years and in Medina for ten more years. When Allah took him unto Him, there was scarcely twenty white hairs in his head and beard.  (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Virtues and Merits of the Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 748)"  

 

Prophet Muhammad ordered Muslims to grow beards.   But why?

Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him ordered Muslims to grow beards, because he didn't want them to look like the Pagans.  It was important back then for Muslims to look different than the Pagans for both security and cultural reasons.  By making it easier for Muslims to distinguish each others easily, it would certainly enforce safety and security among them.  Also, by making Muslims be different than everyone else, it would certainly help them to give up their old Pagan traditions that they were raised with, especially when they're different than everyone else. 

Let us look at what Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said:

Narrated Nafi':  "Ibn Umar said, The Prophet said, 'Do the opposite of what the pagans do. Keep the beards and cut the moustaches short.' Whenever Ibn 'Umar performed the Hajj or 'Umra, he used to hold his beard with his hand and cut whatever moustaches. Ibn Umar used to cut his moustache so short that the whiteness of his skin (above the upper lip) was visible, and he used to cut (the hair) between his moustaches and his beard.  (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Dress, Volume 7, Book 72, Number 780)"

Narrated Abu Huraira:  "Allah's Apostle said, 'The Jews and the Christians do not dye (their grey hair), so you shall do the opposite of what they do (i.e. dye your grey hair and beards).'  (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Virtues and Merits of the Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 668)"  

Narrated Muhammad bin Sirin:  "I asked Anas, 'Did the Prophet dye his hair?' Anas replied, 'The Prophet did not have except a few grey hairs.'   (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Dress, Volume 7, Book 72, Number 782)" 

Narrated Ibn 'Umar:  "Allah's Apostle said, 'Cut the moustaches short and leave the beard (as it is).'  (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Dress, Volume 7, Book 72, Number 781)"

As we clearly saw above, Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him ordered Muslims to grow beards to solve an issue that existed during his time.  Not all of our Prophets Sayings were said to be applied for all times and all places, especially the ones that have to deal with our personal level.  The laws for punishments in his Sayings are different.  Those definitely have to be applied unless the Islamic State sees otherwise.  But I personally think that Sayings that deal on the personal level are NOT QUITE mandatory. 

Growing beards 1400 years ago was a common thing among all men from all nations.   Today, growing beards is not as common, and in many instances it could cause trouble to the Muslims who live in the West. 

If growing beards was mandatory in the Noble Quran, then we would have nothing to argue about.  But since it was mentioned in the Sayings of our beloved Prophet peace be upon him, then it is important to know whether this law should apply to all times and all places.  Some of our Prophet's Sayings and laws were made only to solve situations that occurred 1400 years ago.  These few Sayings don't necessarily have to be applied today. 

Only the Noble Quran's laws are all 100% applicable for all times and all places.   Prophet Muhammad's Sayings, yet most of them should be applied for all times and all places, but few of them shouldn't.

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with not growing beards, because today the world is different than what it used to be 1400 years ago.  The issues of today are different than the issues back then, hence, the growing of beards might have been necessary for political, religious and cultural reasons back then, but it may not be the case today.

Let us examine the following Saying from our beloved Prophet:

Narrated Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri:  "The Prophet said, 'There will emerge from the East some people who will recite the Qur'an but it will not exceed their throats and who will go out of (renounce) the religion (Islam) as an arrow passes through the game, and they will never come back to it unless the arrow, comes back to the middle of the bow (by itself) (i.e., impossible). The people asked, 'What will their signs be?' He said, 'Their sign will be the habit of shaving (of their beards). (Fateh Al-Bari, Page 322, Vol. 17th).'  (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, ONENESS, UNIQUENESS OF ALLAH (TAWHEED), Volume 9, Book 93, Number 651)" 

Notice in this Saying where Prophet Muhammad prophecies about the future and talks about beards at the same time, he didn't really prohibit the shaving of the beards for the Muslim generations to come after him.  Instead, he warned us that there will come some people from Muslim countries who will be called "Muslims", but they will be far away from Islam.  These people will not have beards on them.  That will be their sign.  But that doesn't at all mean that every Muslim who doesn't have a beard will be a disbeliever or someone who renounced Islam.  At least this is not what this Saying is suggesting!  Using this Saying to try to prove that shaving beards is prohibited in Islam is ambiguous. 

I personally don't have a beard, and I consider myself a true Muslim.  I would never compromise my religion for anything!  I think my web site and its quality and contents speak clearly about how Islamic I am. 

 

Why did Prophet Muhammad want us to be different from the Jews, Christians and Pagans?

As to the Pagans, it is obviously because they are idol worshipers, and all of their traditions were pagan traditions.  Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him saw the wisdom to be different from them to help the Muslims gradually strengthen their faith in Islam and to be able to remove the links that they had with the pagan traditions.

As to the Jews and Christians, when Islam was still fresh and partial, and Muslims were just beginning to understand Islam; Allah Almighty's True Divine Religion, a group of hypocrites from the Jews and Christians tried to deceive the Muslims by pretending to accept Islam and then deserting it later, thus creating the impression that Islam was not a religion worth adopting.

Let us look at Noble Verse 3:72 "A section of the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) say:  Believe in the morning what is revealed to the believers (Muslims), but reject it at the end of the day; perchance they may (themselves) turn back (from Islam)."  

Since then, the Muslims became very wary from the Jews and Christians, because they proved themselves to be hypocrites.

Please visit Apostates in Islam - Freedom of Religion and Choice for Muslims and non-Muslims.

 

Conclusion:

Growing beards might be encouraged, but is not mandatory in Islam.  Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him had reasons for his time only, 1400 years ago, to command the Muslims to grow beards.  This doesn't mean that these reasons have to exist today. 

Islam is a rational religion.  Growing beards can actually cause trouble to some of the Muslims who live in the West today.  If growing beards was mandatory in the Noble Quran, then we would have nothing to argue about.  But since it was mentioned in the Sayings of our beloved Prophet peace be upon him, then it is important to know whether this law should apply to all times and all places or not.  Some of our Prophet's Sayings and laws were made only to solve situations that occurred 1400 years ago.  These few Sayings don't necessarily have to be applied today. 

Only the Noble Quran's laws are all 100% applicable for all times and all places.   Prophet Muhammad's Sayings, yet most of them should be applied for all times and all places, but few of them shouldn't.

 

 

 

 

 

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