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Sun, 05 Nov 2006 21:15:00

Why Shaving The Beard is Unlawful in Al-Islam

Allamah Murtada al-Baghdadi
Shaving the beard is unlawful in Al-Islam, the Religion of Prophet Muhammad SAWW and his Purified Progeny (The Ahlul Bayt) AS. Without a shari'i excuse to shave the beard is haraam and shows lack of probity in the person who does so for his witness as a sighter of the crescent or in divorce is not acceptable.

Beard: The literal definition refers to the hair which grows on the face naturally (i.e. the sides of the face and the chin).

The Three Aspects Regarding The Beard

1. The beard is a part of the male anatomy which beautifies, gives respectability and adorns the man. (That is only when it is kept in good trim).

2. The beard is a natural inherent part of the biological characteristics of the male gender of the human being, its purpose is to differentiate between the male and the female. This very conclusion is also derived by logical reasoning and intellect. We should also bear in mind that the intellect is one of the most important factors which separates the human being from the other animal species.

3. In answer to the supplication made by our grandfather Adam (as), Allah, the Blessed, the Exalted, made the growth of the beard an in-built natural feature of the male, a feature which will continue being such till the day of reckoning.

Allamah Majlisi (May Allah have mercy on his soul) quotes in a narration, in Vol 16 of his book Bihar al-Anwar (Seas of Illuminations) on the authority of Ibn Masud in which the Holy Prophet of Islam Muhammad (p.b.u.h) states:

"When Allah, the Blessed, the Merciful, accepted the repentance of Adam (p.b.u.h), Gabriel (as) came to Adam (p.b.u.h) and said, "May Allah grant you a (long) life and bestow beauty upon you" Adam (p.b.u.h) then said, "I understand what you mean by long life, however, I do not understand what you mean by beauty" [Thus, in thanking Allah, his Lord and Master] he went into prostration and when he raised his head from it, he made a supplication and said, "O, Allah, Increase in me the beauty [that you have promised me]", soon after he had made the supplication a beautiful beard appeared on his radiant face. When Gabriel (as) witnessed what had happened, he touched the beard of prophet Adam (p.b.u.h) and said, "This is in response to the supplication you made to your Lord, and it has been granted to you and your male offspring till the day of reckoning".

It is evident from this narration that the beauty which Allah, the Blessed, the Exalted, bestowed upon Adam (p.b.u.h) in the form of a beard would remain for him and his male offspring till the day of reckoning.

The shaving of the beard in general is considered to be from amongst those actions which the Lawgiver (Allah) has indeed considered unlawful. This is to such an extent, that it is regarded a sin by which an individual may be considered worthy of being punished. As far as some of the rulings which the Lawgiver has ordained for His servants, whether they find them difficult to resist or difficult to perform, they are still taken into account as far His pious servants are concerned, the main reason for that is the strong faith His loyal pious servants have with regard to His commands and prohibitions. They know that their Creator, Allah, the All Mighty, the Blessed, the Exalted, knows and does what is best for His humble servants.

The First Source: The Book of Allah (Al-Qur'an)

Allah's words:

And most certainly I (Shaytan) will lead them astray and excite in them vain desires, and bid them that they shall slit the ears of the cattle, and most surely I will bid them so that they shall alter Allah's creation, and whoever takes the Satan for a guardian rather than Allah he indeed shall suffer a manifest loss. Chapter 4 (The Women / al-Nisa) Verse 119

For this verse to be taken into consideration as a basis for proving the unlawfulness of the shaving of the beard, two fundamental aspects have to be taken into account:

1. Proving the fact that the shaving of the beard is in reality considered "altering the creation of Allah".

2. Proving the fact that every "alteration" that occurs within the creation is in fact considered unlawful. Except for when the issue of "alteration" is superseded by another ruling from amongst the rulings of the Islamic Shariah which are considered exemptions to the rule.

As far as the first aspect is concerned, there is no doubt about the fact that the shaving of the beard is looked upon as bringing about an unnatural alteration with regard to what Allah, the Exalted, has created naturally.

As we mentioned earlier, the appearance of the beard was a specific miraculous event that Allah, the Exalted, ordained. When this is the case, no one has the authority to alter that except Allah, the Exalted, Himself and this can only be achieved by Him issuing another decree which abrogates the former.

The reason for this would be that the beard is considered by Allah a thing of adornment and beauty for His Prophet Adam (as). Moreover, not only a thing of adornment and beauty for Adam (as) but also for his male offspring till the day of reckoning.

Based on this any unnatural alteration to the beard would be considered forbidden and unlawful within the Islamic Shariah, except for when an exemption to the rule supersedes the former ruling.

As for the second aspect, It would be appropriate for one to interpret the part of the verse where "alter the creation of Allah" is mentioned to mean every type of alteration.

However, in cases where other rulings, from within the Shariah, exempt what is considered to be part of "every alteration" such as, circumcision, trimming of the nails, trimming of the hair of the head, trimming the beard and the moustache, the ruling of alteration will not be applicable here.

Hence, the above mentioned alterations would not be considered as being part of the interpretation of the verse mentioned earlier, but rather, they would be based on the ruling of the exemptions to the rule from within the Shariah.


The implications of the above mentioned verse apply to "unnatural physical alteration" and not to alteration due to the rulings of exemption. Thus, to consider the likes of tattoos or nail varnish as things that cause unnatural alteration is inappropriate, hence, for one to consider them as acts which are unlawful would also be incorrect.. The reason for this is that the verse implicitly refers to the alteration of the natural physical state and to non other.

In Tafsir al-Qummi, Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (as) gives an explanation which refers to the exemptions to the rule.

Allah's words:

"Who is finer in religion than someone who submits himself to Allah while he acts kindly and follows the sect of Abraham, the Upright one? Allah adopted Abraham as a bosom friend".Chapter 4 (The Women / al-Nisa) Verse 125

The Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (as) explained that Allah, the Blessed, granted ten things to Abraham (p.b.u.h) (al-Hanif) [things that purify], five were for the head and five were for the body.

Those for the head were:

1. Trimming the moustache

2. Wearing the beard

3. Trimming the hair of the head

4. Brushing the teeth

5. Flossing the teeth

And those for the body were:

1. Circumcision

2. Trimming the nails

3. Cleansing the body with water

4. Shaving the under arm and pubic hair

5. Ceremonial bath (after sexual intercourse etc.)

These ten things which Allah, the Exalted, granted Abraham (p.b.u.h) were similar to what He granted Prophet Adam (p.b.u..h) in the form of the beard.

The important point we should bear in mind here is, that those things which were granted to Abraham (p.b.u.h) and Adam (p.b.u.h) were not abrogated nor will they be abrogated till the day of reckoning.

This verse is evidence of the fact that whatever Allah, the Exalted, granted Abraham (as) remained so for Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) also. This is the reason why we as Muslims still (try to) adhere to the same practices.

On analysing this narration and many more like it, one may find that some of the actions mentioned in one single narration may be categorised as actions that are recommended, while other actions mentioned in the same narration may be categorised as actions which are obligatory. This is only possible when a jurist refers to many other similar narrations, and after his painstaking research, he categorises them accordingly.

The Second Source: The Tradition (Al-Sunnah)

Jababah al-Walibiyah states in al-Kafi: "I once saw the Commander of the faithful, Ali (as) strolling in the courtyard with a two pronged staff and he was striking the fishmongers with it, who were selling fish which were unlawful to eat. And at the same time he was saying to them: O' Fishmongers[1], you are similar to those who were from amongst the Banu Israil who were transformed (into apes), and similar to those who used to shave their beards and lengthen their moustaches from amongst the soldiers of Banu Marwan (who transgressed in the land).

There is no doubt in that the narration is pointing to the shaving of the beard as being unlawful, the reasoning for this is that the people being reprimanded by the Commander of the faithful, Ali (as) in such a strong manner only points to the fact that an unlawful act was being committed, and it was the solemn duty of the Imam of the time to forbid such evil and enjoin good.

By scrutinising this narration we understand that if the actions of the people who were being reprimanded were not unlawful, then there is no doubt that their actions would at least be considered actions which were disapproved of, however, for one to be transformed (into apes) by the wrath of Allah, the Mighty, for performing actions which are disapproved of does not make sense. Thus, it is inevitable that an action such as that which has been sited in the narration (i.e. the shaving of the beard) can only be regarded as an action which is unlawful and not an action which is merely disapproved of.

In the book al-Ja'fariyyat a narration of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) has been quoted in which the Prophet (p.b.u.h) states:

"The shaving of the beard is indeed considered an unjust action, may the curse of Allah befall those who are unjust".

Thus, if the shaving of the beard is considered an "injustice" and its subject deserving to be cursed by Allah, the Mighty, then this would indeed point to the fact that Allah, the Mighty, is displeased with the person who commits an injustice, so much so that he becomes deserving of His wrath. This would not in any way whatsoever contradict logic. The other fact is that we do not find any verdict, of any jurist which considers an unjust action to be lawful.

Hence, if the shaving of the beard is compared to an action which is unjust, then it is clear that the shaving of the beard, based on the narration of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h), is indeed unlawful.

al-Saduq sites a narration of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) in which he states: "Trim your moustaches and let your beards grow and do not emulate the Jews"

This narration is considered authentic by the Shi'ah and the Sunni schools of thought. Based on one of the principles of the science of jurisprudence (Usul al-Fiqh), the indication of a sentence with the imperative construction (al-Amr) usually implies that an action is obligatory and the prohibitive construction (al-Nahy) of a sentence usually implies that an action is unlawful.

This is especially the case when the action in question refers to the emulation of the enemies of Islam, i.e. the Jews and the infidels. Thus, the result which a jurist may derive based on this would be that the shaving of the beard or letting it grow to the extent that the Jews let it grow to, would certainly be considered unlawful and the trimming of the moustache would be considered an action which was recommended[2].

In the book al-Muntaqa the following has been reported: "Chosroe (Kasra the king of Persia) once sent two of his ambassadors to the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h). When they approached him, he looked at their moustaches and saw that they were very lengthy and they had no beards, thus, he turned to them and said:

"Woe, be to you regarding what you have performed" (i.e. having shaved their beards). They said: "Our master commanded us to do this", the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) then said: "My Master, the Blessed, the Exalted, commanded me to wear my beard and trim my moustache".

It is clearly understood from this narration that Allah, the Blessed, the Exalted, commanded His Prophet (p.b.u.h) to wear a beard.

Allah, the Mighty, the Wise, mentions the authority of the utterances of His Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) in the Qur'an as:

"Whatever the Messenger gives you, accept it and from whatever he forbids you (from doing) keep back". Chapter 53 (The Banishment / al-Hashr) Verse 3-4

It is reported in Bihar al-Anwar in the chapter concerning the beard (Kitab al-Mahasin) in which Imam Musa b. Ja'far, al-Kazim (as) was asked: "Is it recommended to wear the beard?" he said: "Yes", then he was asked: "Is it permissible for one to shave one's beard?", Imam (as) replied: "It is permissible to shave the sides of the face where the beard grows, however, to shave the front (chin) is not permissible"[3].


[1]The fish mongers had shaven their beards and were only wearing long moustaches

[2]This is the author's opinion. In our opinion, the issue is not really emulating an enemy so much but rather being distinguished as Muslims from others, regardless of whether they are enemies or not. – DILP Content Approval Committee.

[3]There are numerous other narrations concerning the unlawfulness of the shaving of the beard. Whoever wishes to refer to them should refer to: "Wasail al-Shi'ah" in which matters regarding the unlawfulness of the shaving of the beard will become clearer

The Third Source: Consensus (Al-Ijma')

Both the Shi'ah and the Sunni schools of thought agree that the verdict derived through consensus with regards to the shaving of the beard being unlawful is well founded.

The reason for this as far as both schools of thought are concerned is that "consensus" is considered a source by which a jurist may give a ruling concerning an Islamic issue.

Consensus is relied upon as one of the sources when a verdict regarding an issue cannot be derived through any other available source. However, one main difference between the consensus of the Shi'ah and the Sunni schools of thought is that, as far as the Shi'ah are concerned, it is necessary for them to have at least one tradition of an Infallible Imam (as) as an integral part of the consensus for it to be considered a valid source for the derivation of an Islamic ruling. Nevertheless this is not the case as far as the Sunni school of thought is concerned.

Shaykh al-Baha'iy, al-Damad and Kashif al-Ghita' are grand Shi'ite jurists, who have given rulings to the unlawfulness of the shaving of the beard, based on consensus, in their books al-I'tiqadat and Resalah al-Shar' al-Muqadas.

The Fourth Source: The Intellect (Al-‘Aql)

There are several logically derived views that point to the fact that shaving the beard is unlawful, However, we are only going to present a few of them herein.

When Allah, the Blessed, the Exalted, first created the human being, He granted him and his male offspring the beard as a result of his supplication to Him. The reason for this was that through the appearance of a beard on the face, there would be a clear distinction between the male and the female offspring of Adam (as) till the day of reckoning.

This is verified by our sixth Imam, Imam al-Sadiq (as) in one of his narration's in which he states:

"From amongst the laws of the Lord of the Universe was that He granted the male gender from amongst the humans a beard so that there may be a difference (in appearance) between them".

And in another of his narration's Imam al-Sadiq (as) states: "If the hair (on the mans face) were not to grow within a specific given period, would the male not remain in a state like that of the young immature boy and a female?, And as a result of this, the male would not command any respect nor esteem".

Ibn Sina in his book al-Qanun states: "Indeed the benefits of the beard being specifically associated to the male and not the female points to the fact that, respect, male beauty and esteem are required by the male more than the female"[4].

The above statement confirms the discussion mentioned earlier concerning Adam (as) and the supplication he made to Allah, the Exalted, His Lord and Master.

Intellect dictates that every potential harm should beaverted instantly. The result being that the aversion of harm would be considered an act which would come under the category of the obligatory rulings in the rulings of Islamic law. This ruling would fundamentally be based on the intellect. This, then would be considered a source by which an answer to our question could be derived.

We see that when the leader of the Prophets, doctors and wise men, Muhammad (p.b.u.h) forbade the Muslims (or rather the hypocrites who claimed that they were Muslims) from performing certain acts which Allah considered unlawful within the fold of Islam, many sarcastic questions were raised as to why a particular action was unlawful, and even after satisfactory explanations were given the individuals still disobeyed the commands of Allah, the Exalted.

However, if one were to read the Qur'an, one would see that Allah, the Exalted, clarifies the state regarding the utterances of prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h):

"And whatever the Messenger gives you, accept it, and from whatever he forbids you, keep back, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, indeed Allah is severe in retributing (evil)"Chapter 59 (The Banishment/al-Hashr) :Verse 7

And in another verse Allah, the Exalted, states:

"He does not speak from his own desire but it is revealed upon him" Chapter 53 (The Star/al-Najm) Verse 3

Most learned scholars of the West agree to the fact that the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (p.b.u.h) was the great man of his era and in character, a perfect example of a compassionate individual for all times to come.

It is proven that all heavenly rulings are not issued forth without having inherent infinite wisdom within them, thus, one should understand that it is only after Allah, the Blessed, the Exalted, knows about the inherent infinite wisdom, intellect and goodness which may be inherent within a ruling, that He finally conveys it to His humble servants through His Prophets and Messengers (May Allah bless them all).


[4]Or rather (in Islam's opinion), both men and women are deserving of respect and esteem but a man's physical beauty and his commanding respect from others is added to by wearing a beard. - DILP Content Approval Committee.

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Article Rating:
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Your Comments:
From: Saleem Hussain
Subject: Islamic Facts
Comment: Sun, 23 Nov 2008 11:34:08 - Asalamualkum brothers, this is very good and valuable information which is stated above may allah thank the person who updated the news.And may Allahs blessings be upon the messenger.

From: Jaffur Mohammad Nizam
Subject: Pertaining to beard,Azaan,Iqaama and Imaamat
Comment: Wed, 04 Jun 2008 07:26:19 - It is a great job that you people are doing and may Allah increase his recompense for all those who serve the Ummah.

Although I am aware that it is best for the person who has a beard to give the azaan and to lead the congregation prayer I want to confirm whether it is permissible for a person who does not adhere to this Sunna to either give azaan or to lead the prayer.

Secondly I want to educate myself .In the present era where the number of mussallis is decreasing remarkably and to grow beards in a non muslim country is to present oneself as untidy ,should we PREVENT AND DISCOURAGE THOSE FEW PERSONS WITHOUT BEARD TO RESTRAIN FROM giving Azaan.

I want clarification on the above issues because the Imam of a certain Masjid deters people without a beard to give Azaan and when he is asked to give madrassa classes to the elderly he asked the latter to grow beard first.

I would like to inform that in the region which I am refering to the MUSLIMS are not interested with the Fard Prayers and attend the Congregational prayers very rarely.Their Islamic education is very low and a survey would reveal no person reciting the Quran properly.

From: zahid husein
Subject: Trimming Beared
Comment: Sat, 10 Nov 2007 05:26:31 - If we trim beraed at the number 1, but we are not shaving with the razor. is it haraam to trim the beared

From: Arash
Subject: Beard
Comment: Mon, 13 Aug 2007 01:03:54 - What is the normal time to shave the beards? Also, what is the best way to shave the beards? In the end, is any way to make the beards less? Thank you.

From: E-Jay
Subject: In reply to article
Comment: Mon, 18 Jun 2007 08:37:28 - If shaving the beard is the alteration of Allah's creation, is not shaving the arm-pits and pubic hair as well?
Is not circumcision altering the creation of Allah?
In this respect, your argument is weak and the curse of Allah upon those who change His creation is, i think, those who undergo processes such as plastic surgery or sex change.. not removing hair fromhis face.....

Why are Muslims putting such importance on small things like growing the beard, eating with the hands and sleeping on their right side etc? Why not put emphasis on the HIGHER SUNNAH?

It's easy for Muslims to grow beards and eat with their hands. But it is much harder to have a kind and good character, good hygeine and give lots of charity. This is what separates the lazy Muslims from the true devotees of Allah!!

Many Muslims i see with beards but when i pass them they don't even look at me. What happened to giving selam to passer byers? what happened to Muslim brotherhood? Is Islam solely based on mere superficial appearences???

May Allah's Blessings be upon the Messenger, his family, companions and the devout Muslim Ummah that follows. Amen!!

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