First of all, we would like to stress the fact that Islam calls upon all Muslims to be handsome and beautiful. It goes without saying that 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.” (Sahih Muslim)
Growing beard is a great Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). On growing a beard, it’s important for the Muslim to maintain his physical appearance. Beard should not be let grow in a way that makes a person look disgusting to people. In other words, the Muslim should make sure that his beard adds to his good looking and smartness.
Shedding more light on this issue, we’d like to cite the following Fatwa issued by the eminent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi:
“Ibn `Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, quoted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying: “Be distinguished from disbelievers, grow your beards, and shave your mustaches.” (al-Sunan al-Kubra). In the Hadith, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) related the reason for growing a beard to the necessity of distinguishing Muslims from non-Muslims. The non-Muslims referred to here are the Persians –fire worshipers – who used to shave their beards. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) wanted to teach Muslims how to be distinguished in their appearance, and their behavior.
Besides, shaving beard is an act of revolting against the nature of man, and imitating women. Thus, beard is a sign of maturity and manhood. However, growing a beard does not mean letting it stretch to an unreasonable width or length; rather, it adds to one’s handsomeness when it’s trimmed a bit or shaped from edges. This was the practice of the Salaf (righteous ancestors).
Most of our contemporary Muslims shave their beards, but this represents an act of imitating the enemies of their religion as well as ignoring the guidance of their Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who said: “Whoever imitates a people, he is one of them.” (Abu Dawud)
Many scholars made it prohibited Haram to shave beard, and they based it on the Prophet’s reasoning. To them, it is mandatory to grow the beard. It was not narrated ever about the righteous companions, and the Salaf (Successors) ignored this matter.
However, some contemporary scholars made it lawful to shave the beard under the pressure of current conditions. They further stated that growing a beard by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was a normal action but not a ritual one.
In reality, the Prophet’s insistence on growing a beard is not a matter of tradition but his deliberate insistence on the signs of distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims. Ibn Taimiyah stated that being different from non-believers was what the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) meant as imitating them would lead to companionship, loyalty, and internal love which, on its turn, would lead to externa
l love, and this has been proven right nowadays.
Imam Ibn Taimiyah proceeded to say that, in many places in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, the importance of being distinctive from non-believers is reiterated given the fact that imitating them would also lead to behavioral imitation, a matter that is prohibited Islamically.
Based on the above mentioned, we see that there are three views on shaving the beard. First, shaving beard is prohibited. This is the view of Ibn Taimyiah. Second: it is Makruh (reprehensible), that is `Iyad’s view. The Third view is that there is no problem in shaving the beard. This view is held by many contemporary scholars.
It seems to me that the closest of these three views is the one that deems shaving beard as Makruh. As the stated reason for growing the beard is to be different from the non-believers, it is similar to the matter of dyeing gray hair in order to be distinct from the Jews and Christians; it is known that some of the Companions of the Prophet did not dye their gray hair, signifying that it was commendable rather than obligatory. Similarly, growing the beard may be regarded as commendable but not obligatory, and, accordingly, shaving it would be classified as Makruh rather than Haram. It is true that none of the Companions was known to have shaved his beard. Perhaps there was no need to shave, and perhaps growing the beard was a custom among them.”