Is a long (fist length) beard Fard or Sunnah?


ⓘ Supported by Al Medina 313.

Quran

Hadith

Islamic Text

A long (fist length) beard is not Fard rather it is Sunnah.

عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: انْهَكُوا الشَّوَارِبَ، وَأَعْفُوا اللِّحَى

(Sayidina) Ibn Umar (May Allah Most High be pleased with them both) said, Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, ‘Trim the moustache and make the beard abundant.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari, 5893).

It is clear from many narrations that our blessed Prophet ﷺ had a large beard. Therefore, every Muslims should consider a large or long beard to be the superior option. However, it does not mean that a long beard is Fard (obligatory). Rather, it is Sunnah to have a long beard. Many scholars did feel the beard of the Holy Prophet ﷺ was a fist-length.

وَلَا يَفْعَلُ ذَلِكَ لِتَطْوِيلِ اللِّحْيَةِ إذَا كَانَتْ بِقَدْرِ الْمَسْنُونِ وَهِيَ الْقَبْضَةُ وَمَا زَادَ عَلَى ذَلِكَ يُقَصُّ. (تبيين الحقائق شرح كنز الدقائق)

And that should not be done in order to lengthen the beard if it is already at the Sunnah length. And that is a fist-length. Anything beyond it, should be cut. (Imam Fakhr al-Deen al-Zayla’i, Tabyeen al-Haqaaiq).

Imam al-Zayla’i clearly states that the Sunnah length of the beard is a fist-length. Many other scholars have stated the same. Imam Ibn Abideen narrated that a fist-length is Sunnah when commenting upon the Hadith above.

وَإِعْفَاءُ اللِّحْيَةِ أَيْ الْوَارِدُ فِي الصَّحِيحَيْنِ تَرْكُهَا حَتَّى تَكْثُرَ، وَالسُّنَّةُ قَدْرُ الْقَبْضَةِ. (رد المحتار على الدر المختار)

And lengthening the beard, as has been mentioned in the two Sahih collections (al-Bukhari and Muslim), refers to leaving it until it is abundant. The Sunnah regarding it is a fist-length (Qabdah). (Imam Ibn Abideen, Radd al-Muhtaar).

وَإِعْفَاءُ اللِّحْيَةِ تَرْكُهَا حَتَّى تَكَثَّ وَتَكْثُرَ، وَالسُّنَّةُ قَدْرُ الْقَبْضَةِ فَمَا زَادَ قَطَعَهُ. (البحر الرائق شرح كنز الدقائق)

And lengthening the beard refers to leaving it until it becomes thick and abundant. The Sunnah regarding it is a fist-length (Qabdah). That which is beyond it (a fist-length) should be cut. (Imam Zayn al-Deen Ibn al-Nujaym, al-Bahr al-Raiq).

The fact that it is Sunnah to have a long or fist-length beard has been repeated in many classical works of the Hanafi Madhab. Despite this fact, some contemporary Hanafi scholars state that it is Wajib (obligatory not Sunnah) to lengthen the beard to a fist-length. This does seem to be a clear contradiction of what has been unambiguously expressed in the authoritative books of the Madhab.

It is not acceptable for contemporary or recent scholars to contradict the Imams of the Madhab. Rather they must convey what the authoritative scholars have said (see the video below for a more detailed explanation).

Some of the scholars who believe it is Wajib to keep a long or fist-length beard, present the following Nass as proof.

يُحْمَلُ الْإِعْفَاءُ عَلَى إعْفَائِهَا مِنْ أَنْ يَأْخُذَ غَالِبَهَا أَوْ كُلَّهَا، كَمَا هُوَ فِعْلُ مَجُوسِ الْأَعَاجِمِ مِنْ حَلْقِ لِحَاهُمْ كَمَا يُشَاهَدُ فِي الْهُنُودِ وَبَعْضِ أَجْنَاسِ الْفِرِنْجِ، فَيَقَعُ بِذَلِكَ الْجَمْعُ بَيْنَ الرِّوَايَاتِ، وَيُؤَيِّدُ إرَادَةَ هَذَا مَا فِي مُسْلِمٍ عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ – رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ – عَنْ النَّبِيِّ – عَلَيْهِ الصَّلَاةُ وَالسَّلَامُ -: «جُزُّوا الشَّوَارِبَ وَأَعْفُوا اللِّحَى خَالِفُوا الْمَجُوسَ» فَهَذِهِ الْجُمْلَةُ وَاقِعَةٌ مَوْقِعَ التَّعْلِيلِ. وَأَمَّا الْأَخْذُ مِنْهَا وَهِيَ دُونَ ذَلِكَ كَمَا يَفْعَلُهُ بَعْضُ الْمَغَارِبَةِ وَمُخَنَّثَةُ الرِّجَالِ فَلَمْ يُبِحْهُ أَحَدٌ. (فتح القدير)

Lengthening (al-I’faa) is understood to mean, lengthening it (the beard) such that one does not remove most or all of it. As is practiced by the non-Arab Magians, as they shave their beards. And as witnessed with the Hindus and some of the French. Like this we bring together all the narrations. This meaning is supported by the narration in Sahih Muslim form (Sayidina) Abu Hurairah (May Allah Most High be pleased with him), from the Prophet (peace be upon him): Shorten the moustache, make the beard abundant, and be different to the Magians. This sentence explains the legal causes (Illah). As for shortening it when it is less than that, as is practiced by certain western Muslims (Moroccans) and effeminate men, nobody permitted that. (Imam Ibn Humaam, Fath al-Qadeer).

This Nass was also quoted by Imam Ibn Abideen in his Haashiyah (Radd al-Muhtaar). To use this to justify the claim that a long (fist length) beard is Wajib is unconvincing for two reasons. Firstly, the Nass (text) above does not state this. Rather it clarifies that removing the entirety of the beard or most of it is not permitted. It also condemns keeping a beard that is similar to effeminate men or certain western Muslims (Moroccans). Secondly, both scholars have explicitly mentioned that a long beard is Sunnah.

وَلَا يُفْعَلُ لِتَطْوِيلِ اللِّحْيَةِ إذَا كَانَتْ بِقَدْرِ الْمَسْنُونِ وَهُوَ الْقُبْضَةُ. (الهداية في شرح بداية المبتدي)
(قَوْلُهُ: وَهُوَ)
أَيْ الْقَدْرُ الْمَسْنُونُ فِي اللِّحْيَةِ (الْقُبْضَةُ) بِضَمِّ الْقَافِ. (فتح القدير)

Al-Hidaayah: And it should not be done in order to lengthen the beard if it is already at the Sunnah length. And that is a fist-length.
Fath al-Qadeer: His saying, it is, meaning the Sunnah length for the beard. A fist length, with a Dammah on the Qaaf. (Imam al-Marghinani and Imam Ibn Humaam). (Imam Ibn Humaam, Fath al-Qadeer).

The Nusoos (texts) in this answer are merely a few in relation to how many are found in the classical works of the Hanafi Madhab. Therefore, the Hanafi position on maintaining a long (fist length) beard is clear. It is Sunnah and not Fard. However, having a beard (even if short) is considered obligatory. Please see the answer below for details.

And Allah Most High Knows Best.

-Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (5.05.2022)

See also:
Is it Haram to shave your beard
Cutting beyond the beard if it is longer than a fist length
Leading Prayer with a short beard

See also video: