Home / Religion / Why Peach Fuzz Is Hot, and Bare Cheeks Are Not!

Why Peach Fuzz Is Hot, and Bare Cheeks Are Not!

ImageLiving in the last of times, we are constantly reminded of the signs of Qiyamah: great injustice, rise in poverty, disrespect towards elders, etc. Among them is also that men will resemble women, and women will look like men. The Holy Qur’an says, “And most certainly I (Satan) 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.” (Qur’an 4:119)

In his book Tahrim Halq al-Lihyah (The Islamic Perspective of the Beard, available online), Allama Murtadha Baghdadi equates the alteration of Allah’s creation with the shaving of the beard. As narrated in Bihar al-Anwar, Allah had granted Prophet Adam and all of his male offspring a beard as sign of beauty, and therefore any alteration of it is strongly condemned. In fact, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) has said, “The shaving of the beard is indeed considered an unjust action, and may the curse of Allah befall those who are unjust.”

So, in an effort to convince a few brothers to sport a beard, here are a few reasons for ditching the razors and getting a trimmer instead.

Reason Number Five: Impressing the Sisters

In another tradition in Bihar al-Anwar, it is narrated that upon laying his eyes on the beauty that was his wife Hawwa (Eve), Prophet Adam asked God for beauty of his own. To his delight, All-Knowing Allah granted Adam a beard. Needless to say, they were both happy with the addition.

Men like to look good for those they love, be it their wife, daughter, mother, sister or aunt. This is strictly just the Mahram women, of course.

But even the non-Mahram match-up your parents bring in will appreciate the splendor of your worship, your untiring obedience to Allah’s commands, and the beauty of a God-fearing man being a shining example to his other brothers.

Not to worry, brothers, your beard will not hide the Noor on your face. In fact, even the Imams would beautify themselves on their wedding days by trimming their beards.

Reason Number Four: Don’t Look Like a Girl

Living in the last of times, we are constantly reminded of the signs of Qiyamah: great injustice, rise in poverty, disrespect towards elders, etc. Among them is also that men will resemble women, and women will look like men. One of the most popular reasons given for the defense of the beard is that it distinguishes men from women.

Societal and cultural pressures can influence men’s decision to keep a beard. In the post-9/11 world where Muslims are sometimes identified as turban-wearing, gun-wielding, long-bearded fanatics, this is exactly the kind of stigma men run from. However, it does not excuse what is ordained obligatory. Except in the case of real harm, it is not feasible to abandon a mandatory act based on peer pressure.

Recent surveys have shown an increase in the number of men, Muslim and non-Muslim, getting in touch with their masculine side. With the rise in unemployment, many more men are opting for a low-maintenance beard as opposed to fussing over hair-free cheeks. Some companies have even reported a drop in sales of shaving-related products.

No better time to start than now!

Certainly for a good Muslim brother, changes in societal norms do not change his opinions of razors and trimmers.

Reason Number Three: Health and Hygiene

Did you know trimming your hair is good for your libido? Shaving is recommended in Islam, especially for married men and women. A saying of Imam Ali (peace be upon him) in Wasail ash-Shia states, “Whenever a person’s hair increases, his sexual desires have also decreased.” That does not count for beards though. Depending on your Marja, there are different rulings on how long a beard can be. Most agree that a beard is too long when it starts to look “foolish”, which is defined as longer than the distance of one fist from the chin.

Shaving can also cause damage to the skin, especially since your face is more sensitive and is exposed to environmental damage from changing temperatures, like sunlight in the summer or harsh cold winds in the winter. Add a little agitation from a sharp blade, and your skin doesn’t stand a chance.

Reason Number Two: Hadiths of the Imams

The second most important reason for keeping a little stubble is the countless narrations derived from the Imams warning men not to shave off their facial hair.

Allama Murtadha Baghdadi also writes the following narration in his book coming from the Prophet, “Trim your moustaches and let your beards grow, and do not emulate the Jews.”

In another narration, Imam Ali while striking the fishmongers had said, “you are similar to those who were from amongst the Israelites 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).” Surely Imam Ali would not hit someone without reason. Allama Baghdadi points to this as evidence that shaving the beard is disliked and punishable.

Yet another tradition states Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (peace be upon him) having said, “If the hair (on the man’s 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 or esteem.”

The Imams and scholars have repeatedly pointed to the beard as a sign of masculine beauty, an act that demands respect, and an act that is not to be taken lightly.

Reason Number One: For the Sake of Allah

The Prophet and his Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them) are the best of all creations and the best of examples for all Muslims. As human beings, we try to imitate those we respect, admire, and love. Allah has given us fourteen of them to choose from, thirteen with neatly trimmed beards – which bring us to the number one reason for keeping a beard: for the pleasure of Allah.

What more do I need to say?


Zaib Abbas is pursuing a degree in media studies and journalism at the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto. She is a new member of the Islamic Insights team.

About Zaib Abbas

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  • JH

    Brother’s take note! This is a great article, fun and informative.

  • JA

    Alhamdulillah 🙂

  • Shams

    I suppose a number of brothers are condemned to look like a girl for the rest of their lives, because their genetics have kept them from being able to grow beards.

    Also, it should be kept in mind that there are a number of mujtahideen who rule that this is not obligatory and almost all say that it is simply an obligatory precaution to not shave the “beard” (not enough proof to outright deem it haram).

  • Mark

    Excellent article, mA!! Very well written and conveys the message effectively =)

    @ Shams: You cannot follow just any Mujtahid, but rather the most knowledgeable. If the most knowledgeable deems it haraam to shave your beard based on obligatory precaution, then you can follow the ruling of the next most knowledgeable. If all the Marjas that are among the most knowledgeable deem it haraam whether based on obligatory precaution or not (which is the case now), then yes, shaving your beard is haraam.

  • Shams

    Indeed, thank you for informing me.

    But it is not the case, necessarily, that one must follow the most knowledgeable. That is the case according to some mujtahideen. However, if I were to follow a mujtahid who does not consider this a requirement then I do not have to abide by the rule of another mujtahid who does consider this a requirement. Thus, you are telling others that YOUR mujtahid considers this a requirement, however not all do.

    However, leaving that argument aside, I see no evidence that all knowledgeable mujtahideen consider this an obligatory precaution today.

  • RJ

    Thanks to the writer for this creative piece… well done indeed!! I like how the reasons go from least important to the most important. 😀

    Here’s a very informative book that delves into the subject in great detail: http://www.al-islam.org/Islamic_perspective_beard/

  • AMR

    Even if some obscure mujtahids do say it’s not haram to shave, let’s not forget that it’s still the [i]sunnah [/i]of the Prophet and Imams to keep a beard…and that alone should be a sufficient reason for us. 🙂

  • Shams

    Definitely not obscure mujtahideen.

    Anyway, if you can find one “non-obscure” mujtahid who deems it haram [i]outright[/i] I would like to see it. If they state it by obligatory precaution that means that they do not have enough evidence to issue a clear decree on the issue and are taking a precautionary stance.

    Anyway, I agree that it seems that it is the sunnah of the prophet.

    However, we should be careful about defining Islamic manliness as a beard. While it may be the case that historically it has been known that Muslims (even the women 😉 )had the ability to grow beards, it seems that we have overlooked the areas where Islam has taken hold in which men do not have the ability to grow beards…China (Uighurs), Vietnam (Cham), other areas of east Asia, and probably many more areas. Beyond that, Islam is growing and we see a more diverse set of peoples who are entering the fold of our religion…and many do not have the genetics for facial hair (native peoples of North and South America- for instance there have been a lot of conversions in Chiapas, other spanish people, many caucasians, etc). So we should be careful not to play this game where we believe if someone has a beard they are a better Muslim than those who do not, etc…

    Just the two cents of one who sees Islam in its real, diverse expanse.

    Allamah Bagdadi’s arguments such as :

    ” The beard is a part of the male anatomy which beautifies, gives respectability and adorns the man”
    and
    “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”

    have interesting implications if we regard them as true: for instance, it follows that those without beards are ugly and not worthy of respect. They also are physically deficient…

    Something to chew on…

  • Random Hijabi

    Seriously guys, you look much more attractive with beards! 😉

    Many girls actually DO turn down boys who propose to them simply because the boys don’t have beards…trust me, I’m one of those girls! 😮

    Thanks for this article sister! Great job! 😀

  • AMR

    Not to get too technical with you, but a ruling that is based on precaution is no less weighty/important than a regular ruling. For example, are you aware that reciting the second Sura after Sura Fatiha during the first two rak’ats is obligatory based on “precaution”? But does that make it any less valid or important…? 😮

  • Shams

    While your analogy is true, that that recitation is a precaution ruling, I would say that it is then the case that there is not enough evidence to fully say that that is an obligation.

    So yes, it is less weighty than a ruling that says it is absolutely obligatory rather than precautionarily so.

  • fatema

    wow,, mashaAllah – amazing article..
    and lol..ur so right!
    keep on writing!

  • Reza Jivani

    Nice to hear a new member in the islamic insights team- ZAIB ABBAS….
    Congrats…

  • OJ

    I wonder how the lion would look without his mane?

  • kish

    like a lioness 😛

  • Shahid

    Just a fiqh question for anyone who can answer, I’m in taqlid of Sistani. The author recommends buying a trimmer and throwing away a razor, but technically, wouldn’t trimming the length of the beard with a trimmer also be considered changing Allah’s creation, and therefore haraam?

    Also, what is the permissibility of using a razor to shape one’s beard, e.g. so that it comes down smoothly from one’s sideburns. So basically, in this situation a brother is using the razor to shave off the hair immediately above his neck, and also on his cheeks, but still has a connecting beard from side-to-side. Please inform, JAK!

    Also, outstanding piece overall. It’s about time that we hold brothers accountable for their obligations, since we’re quick to point out when sisters are not observing hijab appropriately.

  • AMR

    Trimming the beard is not tampering with Allah’s creation, because not only did He give you a beard, he also expects you to maintain it in a befitting manner as prescribed in the narrations (i.e. keeping it in shape, making sure it’s clean, removing dead strands, etc.).

    In regards to your other question, please see ruling #521 from Ayatollah Sistani’s [i]A Code of Practice for Muslims in the West[/i]:

    521. Question: Is it permissible to shave the two sides of the face and leave the hair on the chin?

    Answer: Shaving the beard is haram based on obligatory precaution, and this includes the hair that grows on the sides of the face. However, there is no problem in shaving the hair that grows on the cheeks.

    For further Fiqhi inquiries, please contact Ayatollah Sistani’s office directly at http://www.sistani.org.

  • Servant

    It is fine to use a razor to shape the beard, as long as you still have a beard (chin area and two sides).

  • Hani

    I will have to agree with shams. We do have to think logically and one of my biggest pet peeves is people who like to call things haram when neither Allah nor the Prophet Mohammad pbs said it is. The Rasool tells us to use logic and rationale where the Quran and his hadiths do not specify. Logically shaving a beard or not having the ability to grow one is not haraam.

  • Eh…

    Imam Ali (AS) also said, pay attention to what is being said by the speaker and not the speaker himself. Meaning the truth is more important than appearances.

    One of the great tragedies of the followers of Ahlul Bayt, is we get so caught up in dogma that we let reason fall to tradition. Ali Shariati is arguably the most influential Islamic thinker of the 20th century. It was his work that was essential to the Islamic revolution, but he was always looked down upon by the [i]’Ulema[/i] because he sported a suit and a clean shave. It’s only NOW, in hindsight, where he is not considered a threat anymore, that he is acclaimed as a genius.

    The same with the Hijab. Just because a sister wears a physical hijab beautifully does NOT mean that her spiritual/social hijab is being looked after properly. Again, pay close attention to what they say/do rather than what they portray themselves to be.

    “When thou lookest at them, their exteriors, please thee, and when they speak, thou listenest to their words. They are as worthless as hollow pieces of timber propped up, (unable to stand on their own).” Verse 4, Surah Al-munafiqun.

    • sm

      The problem with Dr. Shariati was not his beard (or lack thereof). It was his unfamiliarity with many basic matters of Islamic belief/jurisprudence/history and his misguided views on many issues.

  • hashim sadr

    8) a modern title

  • hi

    “shaving is recommended in Islam”

    no its not

  • kish

    ever seen a marjae taqlid without a beard? or…. can we even CONCEIVE the thought in our minds that our Masumeen do not have beards.. role models, in spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, all levels, arent they? that’s proof enough for me..

    some people say music and alcohol and even someting like methods of prayer are not in the quran, but we get them from the hadiths and our Imams… just cuz they are not EXPLICITLY in the quran (according to our own knowledge) does not prove otherwise..

    not to mention, when we say so and so is not proven through quran but then pick up ahadith about it, then are not then in a way setting aside our belief of thaqalayn? quran and ahlul bayt will always be one n the same.. Ali is with Quran, Quran is with Ali… so many ahadith to choose from…

    and THAT is proof enough for me.