As-salamu `alaykum. Sheikh, is growing one’s beard a sign of piety? A sheikh in my community mentioned that shaving of the beard is forbidden by Prophet’s words. I see that beard is a sign of identity for Muslim males. Is that right way to look at it. I am aware that inward iman (faith) and taqwa (piety) are more important and this is about the outward appearance as per Islam. Please clarify.
Wa `alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Brother, thank you for your good question and apparent interest to know more about Islam and its teachings.
Growing beard is a great Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). However, Muslims differed regarding its ruling: some of them state that it is mandatory and shaving it is forbidden while others view that it is an optional Sunnah and hence there is no harm in shaving it. What to be stressed here is that beard in Islam does not have the same religious significance as that of the other prescribed rituals. Thus it is important for us to recognize that we are not allowed to ostracize men who do not have beards nor are we to question their basic faith
Responding to your question, Dr. Wael Shihab, PhD in Islamic Studies, Al-Azhar University, and the Head of the Shari`ah Dept. of Onislam.net website, stated,
Thank you for your question.
Islam calls upon Muslims to be handsome and beautiful. A Muslim should always be pure in clothes and body. This purity and cleanliness extends to one’s morals and manners. In their words and deeds, Muslims are to be pure and clean avoiding any form of vulgarity or foul speech. Commanding the purity and the cleanliness of the appearance, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), says: “Verily, Allah is Beautiful and loves beauty.” (Muslim, Sahih, hadith No. 91)
Growing men’s beards is a significant Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). A man who lets his beard grow, should keep it clean and neat to maintain the beauty of his over-all appearance.
As for the issue of shaving one’s beard, there are three scholarly views on this: First, shaving beard is prohibited. Second: it is makruh (reprehensible). The Third view is that there is no problem in shaving the beard.
I myself incline to the view which says that is generally disliked for a Muslim man to shave his beard without a justification. The fatwa, therefore, may differ from one case to another depending on surrounding circumstances and conditions.
In all cases, a Muslim should abide by Islam’s values and morals in all his or her dealings and practices.
May Allah accept your and our good deeds.