What is a Fasiq? Many people say that trimming the beard makes one a Fasiq, is this correct?

ⓘ Supported by Al Medina 313.



Islamic Text

A Fasiq (corrupt person) is someone who violates religious rulings without any regard or consideration. Having a short beard is certainly not Fisq and does not render a person Fasiq.

وَالَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ الْمُحْصَنَاتِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَأْتُوا بِأَرْبَعَةِ شُهَدَاءَ فَاجْلِدُوهُمْ ثَمَانِينَ جَلْدَةً وَلَا تَقْبَلُوا لَهُمْ شَهَادَةً أَبَدًا وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

Those who accuse chaste women (of fornication) and do not produce four witnesses (to support their allegation), flog them with eighty lashes and never accept their testimony, for they are the Fasiqoon (corrupt). (Surah al-Nur 4).

It is correct to say that many Muslims have misunderstood and misrepresented the issue of Fisq. Sometimes they apply this term to any person who commits a sin. This would make every Muslim a Fasiq, since everyone other than Prophets (peace be upon them) will commit sin at some point in their lives. Many such people are insistent that trimming one’s beard below a fist-length makes a person Fasiq.

We see in the verse of the Holy Quran above, that Fisq is linked to one of the major sins (Kabeerah). Namely, accusing chaste women of adultery, which is a vile sin. This is the norm in the Holy Quran and blessed Sunnah, the term Fisq is used in relation to the worst of sins. This has been reflected in the books of Fiqh:

وَالْفِسْقُ لُغَةً الْخُرُوجُ عَنْ الِاسْتِقَامَةِ كَذَا فِي الْمُغْرِبِ وَشَرْعًا ارْتِكَابُ كَبِيرَةٍ أَوْ الْإِصْرَارُ عَلَى صَغِيرَةٍ كَمَا فِي الْخِزَانَةِ

And corruption, linguistically, entails departing from uprightness, as has been mentioned in al-Mughrib. Legally, it entails committing a major sin (Kabeerah) or persisting upon a minor sin (Sagheerah), as has been mentioned in al-Khizanah. (Imam Ibn Nujaym, al-bahr al-Raiq).

(قَوْلُهُ وَفَاسِقٌ) مِنْ الْفِسْقِ: وَهُوَ الْخُرُوجُ عَنْ الِاسْتِقَامَةِ، وَلَعَلَّ الْمُرَادَ بِهِ مَنْ يَرْتَكِبُ الْكَبَائِرَ كَشَارِبِ الْخَمْرِ، وَالزَّانِي وَآكِلِ الرِّبَا وَنَحْوِ ذَلِكَ، كَذَا فِي الْبُرْجَنْدِيِّ إسْمَاعِيلُ.

(His saying a Fasiq), it is from the word Fisq (corruption). It denotes departing from uprightness. Perhaps it refers to the one who commits a major sin (Kabeerah), like the one who drinks wine, the adulterer, the consumer of Riba (interest), and the like of it, as mentioned in al-Burjandi Isma’il. (Imam Ibn Abideen, Radd al-Muhtaar).

As seen in the Nusoos above there is no absolute equivalence between committing a sin and being considered a Fasiq. This was explicitly pointed out by Imam Ibn Abideen:

ثُمَّ لَا يَخْفَى أَنَّهُ لَا يَلْزَمُ مِنْ عَدَمِ الْفِسْقِ عَدَمُ الْإِثْمِ فَإِنَّهُ يَأْثَمُ وَلَوْ بِمَرَّةٍ

Therefore there is no ambiguity regarding the fact that, not being a Fasiq means one has not committed a sin. Since a person is sinful even if he commits a sin once (but he is not a Fasiq). (Imam Ibn Abideen, Radd al-Muhtaar).

A major factor in a sin being considered to be Fisq or not is the issue of lack of concern. If a person consistently commits a sin and has no concern, meaning he is making no effort to avoid it and is not following a credible opinion regarding it, then it may be considered Fisq.

وَفِي شَرْحِ الْمَنَارِ لِابْنِ نُجَيْمٍ عَنْ التَّقْرِيرِ لِلْأَكْمَلِ أَنَّ حَدَّ الْإِصْرَارِ أَنْ تَتَكَرَّرَ مِنْهُ تَكَرُّرًا يُشْعِرُ بِقِلَّةِ الْمُبَالَاةِ بِدِينِهِ إشْعَارَ ارْتِكَابِ الْكَبِيرَةِ بِذَلِكَ اهـ وَمُقْتَضَاهُ أَنَّهُ غَيْرُ مُقَدَّرٍ بِعَدَدٍ بَلْ مُفَوَّضٌ إلَى الرَّأْيِ وَالْعُرْفِ وَالظَّاهِرُ أَنَّهُ بِمَرَّتَيْنِ لَا يَكُونُ إصْرَارًا

In the commentary of al-Manar by (Imam) Ibn Nujaym, he narrated from al-Taqreer of al-Akmal: The definition of persisting (upon a minor sin) is he repeats it so regularly that it gives the impression that he has little regard for his religious practice, like committing a major sin gives that impression. This dictates that a particular number is not applied to it (persistence). Rather it is a matter of opinion and custom. Therefore, it is apparent that repeating it (a minor sin) twice does not necessitate persistence. (Imam Ibn Abideen, Radd al-Muhtaar).

When a person is following a valid opinion from another Fiqh Madhab (school of jurisprudence), then he cannot be considered a Fasiq. This should be an obvious point. Otherwise, we would have to consider everyone who does not follow our Madhab, a Fasiq. This is clearly an extreme position and the way of the Khawaarij, not the way of Ahl al-Sunnah.

(أَوْ يُقَامِرُ بِالشَّطْرَنْجِ، أَوْ تَفُوتُهُ الصَّلَاةُ بِسَبَبِهِ) أَيْ بِسَبَبِ الشِّطْرَنْجِ لِظُهُورِ الْفِسْقِ بِتَرْكِهِ الصَّلَاةَ وَكَذَا بِالْمُقَامَرَةِ أَمَّا بِدُونِهِمَا لَا يَمْنَعُ الْعَدَالَةَ؛ لِأَنَّ لِلِاجْتِهَادِ فِيهِ مَسَاغًا لِقَوْلِ مَالِكٍ وَالشَّافِعِيِّ بِإِبَاحَتِهِ وَهُوَ مَرْوِيٌّ عَنْ أَبِي يُوسُفَ وَاخْتَارَهَا ابْنُ الشِّحْنَةِ إذَا كَانَ لِإِحْضَارِ الذِّهْنِ وَاخْتَارَ أَبُو زَيْدٍ حِلَّهُ.

Or someone who gambles on chess, or it causes him to the miss the prayer (Salah). Meaning it is caused by playing chess. Since abandoning Salah or gambling establishes it (Fisq). As for (playing chess) without these two (gambling or missing Salah), they do not exclude one from being regarded as upright. This is because there is room for Ijtihaad (difference of opinion) regarding it (the permissibility of chess), since (Imam) Malik and (Imam) al-Shafi regarded it (chess) to be  permissible. This (the permissibility of chess) has also been narrated from Abu Yusuf. Ibn Shihnah preferred this opinion (of permissibility) if it is used to sharpen the mind. Abu Zayd preferred the opinion of permissibility. (Majma al-Anhur).

As we see in the Nass (text) above, it is not acceptable to consider someone who holds and practices a different opinion to be a Fasiq. As long as that opinion is from authoritative Imams of Ahl al-Sunnah. In the example above, a Hanafi cannot consider someone who plays chess to be a Fasiq, even though it is prohibited in the Hanafi Madhab.

If this is the case with regards to something that is prohibited in the Madhab. Then how can a follower of the Hanafi Madhab consider someone who does not practice a Sunnah to be Fasiq? Unfortunately, this is an example of people allowing culture to influence their understanding of the Deen. In some parts of the Muslim world they consider a short beard to be Fisq, and people have followed this without checking the authoritative sources of the Hanafi Madhab to see if it is accurate or not.

Not only has this misunderstanding of Fisq led to misleading the masses, but it has also resulted in a strange obsession with the length of people’s beards. There is no doubt that having a large or long beard is Sunnah and therefore it must be regarded with the greatest of respect. However, it should be treated like other Sunan of the Holy Prophet ﷺ.  Just as we do not consider people Fasiq for not establishing other Sunan, we must not consider them Fasiq for not establishing this noble Sunnah.

This issue has led to such confusion and inconsistency that you will find people who will not pray behind an Imam with a short beard, but will unhesitatingly pray behind an Imam who is unable to pronounce the Arabic letters correctly, thus changing the meaning of the verses of the Holy Quran as he recites. If such people were to open the books of Fiqh, they will find that this jeopardises the validity of one’s Salah, whereas having a short beard does not impact the validity of one’s Salah.

And Allah Most High Knows Best.

– Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (03.06.2022)

– Special thanks to Sidi Yusuf Asghar for assisting with Nusoos translation

See also:

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

Is it invalid to lead prayer with a short beard in the Hanafi Madhab?

See also (video):