So apparently the new sheikh al-Azhar has announced that he will be growing a beard – not because he believes it is Islamic but because it is what people expect.

The beard thing has always confused me.  Does anybody know whether it is from the Sunnah? Why are more and more Muslim men growing beards?

And why is it that Muslims won’t take sheikhs seriously unless they have a beard?!


61 thoughts on “Beards

  1. Sunnah as in, something the prophet did… I think it probably was. But I don’t think there’s anything Islamic to it… But I should mention I haven’t studied the subject!

  2. Assalamu Alaikum,

    There are sound hadiths in which the Prophet (saws) commanded men to grow their beards. From this, the major madhabs consider it either required or strongly recommended.

    For me, when I look for someone to take my religion from, I want someone who’s doing their best to follow t he deen both inwardly and outwardly. While it’s harder to know someone’s inner state (after listening to their advice, observing their character and listening to lots of their lectures, one can at least make a guess at it), it’s easier to see that they’re following it outwardly. I’d venture to guess that lots of people will focus on the outward signs of the religion, because they’re easier to see. One can have just the outward, or just the inward, but since the Prophet (saws) gave us the example of a person with both the outward and the inward, we should strive to implement both as well.

    • Hi Ummspeakster…welcome to the blog 🙂

      Can you show me where to find those hadith? I’m really interested in reading them.

      The problem I have is not that he has a beard, but that he chose to grow it not out of personal conviction but because hw knew people would expect it/not listen to him if he did not have one.

      • <— this cites some ahadith and some scholarly opinions re: the beard.

        I'd be interested to know the Sheikh's exact words. To say you'll do x, y and z in islam for the sake of others seems like a really unfortunate choice of words. I was just listening to a dars where niyah was addressed, and the sheikh was speaking about this hadith:

        Abu Hurayra (ra) said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say,

        'The first of people to be judged on the Day of Rising will be a man who was martyred. He will be brought and will be informed of the blessings he had and will acknowledge them. Allah will say, "What did you do with them?" He will say, "I fought for You until I was martyred." Allah will say, "You lie. Rather you fought so it would be said, 'A bold man!' And so it was said." Then the command will be given and he will be dragged on his face until he is thrown into the Fire.

        There will also be a man who studied knowledge and taught it and recited the Qur'an. He will be brought and informed of his blessings which he will acknowledge. Allah will say, "What did you do with them?" He will say, "I studied knowledge and taught it and I recited the Qur'an for You." He will say, "You lie. Rather you studied so that it would be said, 'A scholar!' and you recited so that it would be said, 'He is a reciter!' And so it was said." Then the command will be given and he will be dragged on his face until he is thrown into the Fire.

        There will also be a man to whom Allah gave a lot of wealth and all sorts of property. He will be brought and informed of his blessings which he will acknowledge. Allah will say, "What did you do with them?" He will say, "There was no path in which You like spending to be done but that I spent in it for You." He will say, "You lie. Rather you did it so that it would be said, 'He is generous.' and so it was said." Then the command will be given and he will be dragged on his face until he is thrown into the Fire.'" [Muslim]

        • assalamu alaykum ummsqueakster

          here are the shaykh’s words:

          قال شيخ الأزهر إنه سوف يطلق العنان للحيته “لأنه جرى العرف على ان شيخ الأزهر له لحية، وهو شيء مطلوب، كما هو مطلوب أيضاً ارتداء الزي الأزهري، وإن كنت أرى انه ليس واجباً أو فرضاً ولا حراماً إذا ارتديت الزي الإفرنجي، لكن ذلك سيصدم الشعور العام، والشرع يحترم ويقدر الشعور العام، ويستاء من الخروج على الذوق العام، فالمسألة ليست حلالاً أو حراماً بقدر ما هي عُرف، والعرف مقدر عند الشرع والشريعة.”

          The shaykh al-Azhar said he would let his beard grow: “because the known custom is for the Shaykh al-Azhar to have a beard, and it is something that is required (or wanted), and it is also required to wear the Azhari uniform. Even though I don’t think that it is obligatory, nor that it is haram to wear a western uniform, but it would shock the general feeling of the people, and the shari’a respects and gives weight to the general feeling of the people, and does not like it for one to go against the general taste of the people. So it’s not a matter of haram or halal as much as it’s a matter of “urf” (custom), and custom is given weight in the sharia.”

          this shows that he’s not doing it out of hypocrisy or to fool the people or for his own benefit, as what the hadith you quoted addresses. it’s a different matter.

          while i disagree with him when he says the beard is not necessary, i dont find anything wrong in his saying that he will grow it for the sake of the people. it doesnt mean it’s riyaa’.

          And Allah knows best.

  3. Hmm I wonder what else he will do as a result of people’s expectations? I’ve been trying to understand the beard Sunnah in practical terms but I can’t quite get my head around it. All I know is, it makes men look less attractive and I suppose authoritative.

    One of the reasons I felt like I could relate to Moez Masoud is because he doesn’t have a beard (well I don’t know about now but I’ve never seen him with one). Without it he looks younger and I felt that ‘Hey this looks like a guy from Uni, maybe he’d understand a thing or two about being young and Muslim.”

    • “I wonder what else he will do as a result of people’s expectations?”


      Also I think it is the same with Amr Khaled – so many people like him because they can relate to him, as opposed to a traditional-looking sheikh.

  4. I don’t care whether or not someone has a beard to be honest… I would question this man’s intentions though. He shouldn’t do it just to accommodate other people, that’s not Islam and it’s not sending the right message. If he grows a beard to accommodate, will he change his views to accommodate?

  5. shahira- it should be a muslim’s belief that the sunna of the Prophet of Allah, salla Allahu alayhi wa Alihi wa sallam, is the most perfect and beautiful example. And therefore beards, if grown in the way of the messenger of Allah and his blessed companions, would make one look more beautiful, not less.

    the problem is, many ppl today don’t follow the sunna.. they just let the beard grow out in all directions and they dont make it clean and tidy.

    it is the confirmed sunna that the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa Alihi wa sallam, took frmo his beard, both in length and width, and made it look beautiful. and when men follow that example, they too become more beautiful.

    but to say that the sunna of the Prophet takes away from beauty and perfection, that wouldn’t be right. it is perfection and beauty itself. and whenever i find myself not liking something from the sunna, i realize that it’s my own fault, for my fitra has been changed by my sins and distance from the Prophet. and then i realize that as i grow spiritually, and learn, i come to love teh ways of the sunna. so we ahve to re-align ourselves to love the sunna, not to judge against it.

    wAllahu a’lam.

    • That was a beautiful explanation. I too usually only see messy ones but I cant possibly see Muhammad (as) having a messy beard. Maybe they need to rethink how they do it?

  6. As Salaamu Alaikum

    Al-Azhar – no niqaab – no beard. Shame. IT seems Egypt may be going back to how they were before? Reminds me of Turkey.

  7. So now he will be known as the sheikh who grew his beard to please the people…hmmm?

    Outward displays of piety are what keeps Islam from being whats it supposedly is meant to be. Fair and just. Muslims use outward appearance as a unfair and unjust judgement of each other…

    As for why are sheikhs taken more seriously if they have a beard…people are shallow and look at the least important and easiest aspect in which to judge legitamacy. Easier to follow a bearded sheikh and feel righteous then to bother with researching for oneself and coming to your own unbearded opinion.

    • “Muslims use outward appearance as a unfair and unjust judgement of each other…”

      That’s exactly the problem with Muslims today…anything on the outside is used as a way to judge the person on the inside.

  8. Men look at the outward appearance while God looks at the heart. I guess a beard make you think, “Whoa! Now there’s a righteous guy!”

    I hate the wild-looking ones, too. :-S

    • Ha, ha! And it takes a wild beard to do this? I thought the differences in men and women were pretty obvious. The men are the ones walking down the road in normal clothes. The women are often the ones hidden in shapeless garments so you can’t see they have boobs and hips and hair!

  9. Salam 🙂

    Firstly, the beard is definitely Fardh from all prominent Sheikhs of Islam. I wont provide any evidence because it’s been provided in the comments above. However, the differentiation is on how LONG the beard can be. It’s the explanation of the word “itlaq” in the prophet’s hadeeth that bears different opinions. Some sheikhs say it means to completely let it (i.e. leave the beard as long as it goes – don’t touch it) and this is what most of the sahaba did (prophet’s companions) OR do as Abdullah bin Amr (another prominent companion who was called Turjuman Al-Quran – i.e. the one who really understands the meanings of the Quran more than anyone else) did. What he did was hold his beard with one hand, and whatever is under his hand can be cut. Sorry again for the lack of references, but my brother explained the whole thing to me and it really makes sense all in all.

    Moving on to the OTHER point: doing something to please the people.

    This is called “Urf” is Islam. Basically, it is what is widespread in the society at a certain point of point. Urf is mentioned in many hadeeths in Islam and it’s basically taking into account everyone’s perception. It is not fardh of course, but mustahabb (likened) to consider other people when doing something. It is something in Islam so please guys don’t attack it before understanding it 🙂 The West has this idea of “If you believe it’s right then do it, regardless of those around you”. Well Islam is more considerate, where even if you believe it’s alright to do something, you should (you are likened) to take others’ views and opinions into consideration. You should be more selfless, more collectivist (in contrast with individualistic). That is of course if it wouldn’t cause you any HARM if you take society’s thoughts into account.

    A final example to illustrate my point. In Ramadhan, if you have your period for instance and aren’t fasting, you still wouldn’t eat in front of others. Islamically, it is completely OK if you do so. You don’t get any sin if you annoy your fellow fasting muslims by eating in front of them – but yet it’s better not to do it. When it comes to Urf, it is not as clear as this. It’s to do with others’ feelings and thoughts. Even if you’re doing something right, completely OK, you still care about others and avoid annoying them.

    Sorry for the long response, but I hope it was clear!

  10. “Islamically, it is completely OK if you do so. You don’t get any sin if you annoy your fellow fasting muslims by eating in front of them …”

    but you can get arrested in an “Islamic” country for eating in front of others.

      • “the beard is definitely Fardh from all prominent Sheikhs of Islam.”

        Wow…interesting! I did not know that.

        “taking into account everyone’s perception”

        That’s a great value, but I don’t see it applied equally. I see many Muslims accommodating orthodox and traditional Muslims, but I don’t see many Muslims accommodating more liberal ones.

        • You’re absolutely right, but here again it’s an example how sometimes Islam can be applied incorrectly. I suppose it’s the natural human fear of change that makes them unwilling to accommodate to the more liberal Muslims.

          • So how do you explain two of the largest Muslim countries in the world NOT growing their beards? Millions of Muslims in Indonesia and Malaysia are wrong? ? The whole beard thing is definitely a middle eastern thing, not A Muslim thing. The middle east is not the only place we find practicing Muslims nor the only place we should look to as examples of Islam and Islamic followers.

            The beard and the clothing of the middle east is only found in the middle east, and among Muslims who believe the middle east is the only example of practicing Muslims..

            I also don’t know personally any Muslim men in America who grow their beards long or have a beard at all. Many of them are also Imams at the local Mosque, including the man who married my husband and I.

            Along with that, I don’t know of any Indonesian or Malaysian men that grow their beards long. My husband is a practicing Muslim, far more pious than I, might I add, who went to boarding school and religious schools in Malaysia and he has never once heard from any of his teachers or classmates or community that a man must grow a beard..

            Millions of Muslim men do not grow their beards.

            Concerning this posting, I think he seems like a great diplomat, and it is true when a culture expects something of it’s leaders it is wise to comply. We are only talking about a beard here, not some pressing issue. I think the only way to tell if he is a puppet is to sit back and pay attention. So far I only see diplomacy. It would be the same case if a woman took a leadership role and did not wear a hijab.. Probably people would complain about her decency and she would be wise to cover her hair if she wants to be taken seriously.. It might suck, but that is how some cultures are. I guess one thing we can say with certainty about Al-Azhar is that he is not a rebel nor is he trying to push the cultural boundaries.

            • Sarah are you seriously telling me you’ll get your Islamic beliefs from majority of Muslim’s practices rather than the Quran and Sunnah??

              I’ve got millions of examples where sometimes Muslims today don’t really act upon what Islam tells them to do.

              Let’s take the most basic example. Terrorism. I think it’s enough to say the word and you know all the history behind it, the THOUSANDS of men killing innocent people and saying it’s something Islam taught them. So does that mean it’s OK? Because “many Muslims do it”.

              Yes the beard is more prominent in the Middle East. But that doesn’t immediately mean it’s a cultural thing. Whenever it comes to Islam, you should never ever relate something to culture – the ONLY thing you should look at is the Quran and Sunnah. Of course there are variations in explanations of the Quran and Sunnah, and these variations are sometimes attributed to the background/culture of the Mufti (Islamic scholar), but either way the explanations themselves are always explained. After reading those explanations and knowing why each Imam says what, then are you allowed to say that yes I believe it’s obligatory or not. You don’t make this decision by “Looking at the majority”!. I think if you’re really interested to knowing the truth, here’s a good link:

              However, I don’t like to usually see “why” something is Halal or Haram or Obligatory in Islam. This is my personal opinion and not Islam’s. The reason is, I believe if I’m a Muslim and accepted the major elements of being a Muslim, then I have to accept everything else of Islam. i.e. if I’m told that alcohol is Haram, then I don’t need to know why (bad for health, makes you do crazy stuff, etc) I just need to ensure that it is actually haram (look at Quran and Sunnah) and that’s enough for me. Just a personal thought.

              Finally, another hadeeth from the prophet SAW to show that in fact at a certain time, the majority of Muslims one day will be further away from real Islam, and whoever’s left will be “leftout”. He says:
              “بدأ الإسلام غريباً وسيعود غريبا كما بدأ”

              i.e. Islam started strange one day, and it will go back to being strange just like it started (unofficial translation)

              So “Millions of Muslims do not grow their beards” is not an acceptable argument for a Muslim.

  11. Like I said, it is a beard, not some pressing issue. I do think it is important that millions do not grow their beards. It is religion, not a cult. It is supposed to grow and change and evolve, not to sit stagnant. Nothing according to Allah is compulsory, all of it is meant to be choice.. So beard, along with hijab, does not make or break you as a Muslim in my eyes.

    You may think otherwise, that is your choice, but there are many things in the Quran that we would be foolish to take literally, and don’t get me started on hadith.

    But yes, that is my OPINION.. And we all have them, right?

  12. I dont grow a beard but all shia ulamaa say its fardh or you are missing out on some parts of your religion.
    Sarah your view on the Quran is very disturbing…do you claim that you know more of the Quran and hte hadiths then a learned alim? What parts of the Quran do you consider shouldnt be taken literally?
    Which parts are foolish to take literally?
    Many in malaysia dont wear hijab, does that mean that they are more right then the middle eastern muslims who wear hijab? how many in Malaysia pray? Majority has nothing to do with beeing right. As it was said earlier, you have to loook at the Quran, the hadiths and the ulamaa you follow for better guidence.
    When you stand infront of Allah you have to answer for your words and your deeds, saying that some muslims in a far away country did this or that wont help you..

    Shia view on beards:
    All say you have to practice precaution. Some say recommended some say obligatory precaution

    I think its pretty much clear that sunni and shia ulamaa are in agreement that beard is sunnah and that you should avoid shaving it.

  13. Ayatollah Sistani, shia alim says
    Ayatollah al-Sistani does not allow the shaving of the beard until it reaches a visible length and recommends that it is grown to a fist-long length.[27] However, he allows it under extreme circumstances:
    Question: Is it permissible to shave beard, if one is faced with an unavoidable or a difficult situation?
    Answer: A Muslim is allowed to shave his beard, if he is compelled to do so or if he is forced to shave it for medical reasons, etc. It also allowed if he fears harm to his life by not shaving or if growing the beard would put him in difficulty (for example, if it becomes a cause of ridicule and humiliation that is not normally tolerable by a Muslim).[27]

    While Ayatollah Fadhallah (more modernist view) says its ok to shave and doesnt seem to consider it obligatory.

  14. Sarah you didnt anser my question, which parts of the Quran are disturbing you?
    First you question hadiths, then the veil and now the quran lol..i have asked yoyu before and i ask you again, why do you even call yourself a muslim? 😉

  15. Bahlool,

    Because I am a crazy woman.. Duh… 😉

    I question everything.. If that makes me less Muslim or not Muslim at all in your eyes, I really don’t care.

    I also have already told you in previous discussions why I still call myself Muslim, so sorry for your short memory.

    As for Quran, I’ve said before and I’ll say again, the issue of being Gay and the translation of Quran by people that affords Muslims the right to hate Gay people or at the very least, be intolerant of Gays; because they say God hates gays.. I disagree with it.

    The end.

  16. Hahah..sorry but there is this famous saying that comes to mind..naqisatun aql we deen..women without logic and without religion..Good that you admit to it 😉
    Anywayyy…we are not talking about a translation, we are talking about the Quran stating clearly in arabic, that Gays are criminals in the eyes of Allah, not in the eyes of men..the second you question the Quran (something you are doing with pride) you are out of islam. This is the amazing thing with converts, either you guys choose to be brain washed wahabis or you choose to try to change islam from in lol..
    So please stop talking about islam and about your husband beeing such a great muslim, when you are ignorant of the religion. Call yourself whatever you wish, but i think its pretty obvious what you are and what you are not and Allah knows best 🙂

  17. Bahlool,

    It’s a good thing I’m used to many Muslim men acting like you do, or I might catch myself feeling hurt.. Nice try though hun.. Really, your very good at proving yourself superior, I’ll let you tell the story, and I’ll also let you keep speaking like you are the all knowing and the keeper of Islam. I will even tolerate you talking all your shit and name calling, and judging… Because that is what you do best…

    Nice try though at acting religious.. Really, nice try. You are a compassionate soul, such a model of what Muslims should try to strive towards.. You have such a kind heart and are a true teacher of the community…

  18. Rofl, seriously, are you serious? I am anything but a good muslim, but that is not the issue. I do a lot of haram and wrongs on a daily basis, but that is not an issue either, because i know what islam says and i know what i am doing, i know islam is right and i am wrong. The issue with you is the culture you are brought up speak of homosexuels and about compassion, i have no compassion for a murderer, and not for a criminal or a terrorist, why would i have compassion for an animal like a homosexual that Allah himself damns. Again, you try to speak high and mighty, but i blame it not on you, but on your husband who tricked you in believing that he taught you real islam lol..majority of the muslims, and majority of the ulamaa and majority of the shias and sunnis are on agreement that your dear homosexuals are to be killed for their crimes. Allah himself has stated so in his holy Quran, if you would know arabic or tafsir you would realise that 😉
    You are just another example of how wrong it is to spread islam to some people, they dont want to learn the religion but want to destroy it from inside, as happend to christianity…go spread your ideas that go against the Quran and go run and talk about you beeing the true believer hehe..i have a heart that is prescribed by Allah, he never stated that you should feel sorry for the wicked, if you had read the Quran you would have realised that..i feel sorry for you and your husband and your family that you live in such ignorance of the laws of Allah.

    • “majority of the muslims, and majority of the ulamaa and majority of the shias and sunnis are on agreement that your dear homosexuals are to be killed for their crimes. Allah himself has stated so in his holy Quran, if you would know arabic or tafsir you would realise that”

      Where does it say that gays should be killed in the Qur’an? Please provide some verses to back up your statement.

  19. The punishment of the people of Lot is proof enough. The wordings of the Prophet about these people is enough proof. The Learned people, not the people who converted and think they know islam better then those who know arabic, hadith and Quran, are enough proof. Sharia and the laws of hudud are part of the 5 known madhabs, and they all are pretty clear on the punishment for such an act.
    I know you guys dislike hadiths, but there are hadiths that are proven to be true, (study ilm al rijal to understand that please)

    Homosexuality, moreover, is an abomination and a grave sin. In Hadith, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, clarifies the gravity of this abomination by saying: “Allah curses the one who does the actions (homosexual practices) of the people of Lut” repeating it three times; and he said in another Hadith: “If a man comes upon a man then they are both adulterers.” Here, he considered homosexuality tantamount to adultery in relation to the Shari’ah punishments because it is an abomination on the one hand and the definition of adultery applies to it on the other hand.

    Question arises, why would Allah punish homosexuals if it wasnt a sin? Why should i show mercy to such an filthy act, if Allah didnt show mercy to them? Why were the people of Lot, the People of Sodom and Gomorrow get punished by Allah? Its not hard to use a bit of logic.

    If that is not enough. Why would every madhab in islam, punish such an act with death? Do you as a convert, and your husband who knows so much, know more then the learned people? rofl…

    • So did God punish those people or did other people kill them? (referring to the story of Lot).

      I also think it’s interesting that the Qur’an is very clear on the punishment for adultery (100 lashes), but that’s not the punishment in Shariah law.

    • “Question arises, why would Allah punish homosexuals if it wasnt a sin? Why should i show mercy to such an filthy act, if Allah didnt show mercy to them”

      Because you aren’t God?

      The thing is GOD can judge and punish people. I think WE should have mercy. How do you know God isn’t going to change people’s hearts? You said yourself you were not a good Muslim so why are you judging others? You should remember what Jesus said about getting the log out of your own eye before you get the specks out of others’ eyes.

      I’m sure you judge homosexuality to be a BIG crime whereas your sins are tiny so you feel righteous enough to judge. Err on the side of mercy and leave the judging to God. Maybe someone will be attracted by your mercy and kindness and want to know more about your amazing faith than be repulsed by it because you show disgust and hatred.

      Simply put — love people and leave the judging to God! 🙂

  20. Even if this wikiislam is an islamophobic attempt to discredit islam, it shows with proof what mulims think and thought of this evil act.
    I follow the religion of Muhammed and his successor Ali, compared to your ignorance their knowledge of this religion shows me the path i as muslim should and have to follow. So according to you, Ibn Abbas, Abu Bakr Imam Ali and the Prophet were all wrong. According to you Allahs punishment didnt happen because of the homosexual acts..and you try to trash talk me? sigh…

  21. Aynur Did the Prophet punish people or didnt he? Did the Caliphs punish people or didnt they? If the Prophet and the rightly guided caliphs punished people with death, lashes and by throwing them down from buildings, how can it be wrong to follow their rulings? Punishment for homosexual acts is shown by the words of the Prophet, by the acts of Abu Bakr and Imam Ali. I think its pretty obvious who we should follow.

    Susane i am a muslim, not a new age christian. The jesus you talk about didnt exist according to my faith. I dont judge anyone, i leave that to the judges in a muslim state, we are talking about islamic laws and the laws of the Prophet Muhammed. There are very few who would get “repulsed” by my words, and those people are of no concern to me or my faith.
    The Quran, the Prophetic traditions and the scholars of religion are pretty clear on the punishment for homosexual acts.
    According to your logic we shouldnt punish thieves or murdreres either, because they might change their minds some day?
    I dont judge and will not even take part in any killing of such criminals, but the rules of islam are pretty clear, it amazes me that muslims sit here and try to discredit the Quran and the Prophet and his sahabas wordings.
    Show me a single hadith from the Sahaba that is agnowledged and that allows homosexuality, show me a single ayah from the Quran that says homosexuality is ok, cause we want to show mercy..on the opposite, it says they are criminals who commited vile acts and they would be punished.

    • I think it’s pretty clear that the Qur’an does not prescribe death to homosexuals … in that we are not supposed to be going around and stoning people to death for it. It’s up to God to deal with them, not us. The same goes for those who commit adultery. There is a punishment decreed for it, but it is not death.

    • “Susane i am a muslim, not a new age christian.”

      That made me laugh as I’ve never been called a “new age christian” before! 😀

      “The jesus you talk about didnt exist according to my faith”

      Ah, that explains a lot. Too bad.

  22. It relates cause you say that we should not punish homosexuals, and that we should not judge people. Allah tells us that the wicked are his enemies, and homosexuals are wicked thatsw why Allah didnt show them any mercy in Sodom and Gomorra. I find it really repulsing how muslims defend homosexuals even though we have the Quran that states they were punished by Allah and we have hadiths that state they were punished by the most famous sahaba and that the Prophet time after time talked against them.
    We should not judge homosexuals but its ok to judge murderes and rapists?
    The link i gave shows what punishment the differend schools of thought give for such behaviour.

  23. Personally i have scanty knowledge on this issue. just sharing my opinion. My understanding is this — it is more appropriate to correct ourselves inside first then show outside manifestation. true for hijab as well. because people judge not only an individual but the whole community.

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