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. 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.