A few days ago I asked you about the subject of growing beard. You stated that the matter was not directly addressed in either the Qur’an or the Sunnah. Today, I came across the same topic in the English translation of the Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s book “The Lawful and the prohibited in Islam”(printed in Malaysia 1995). There , on pg. 94. it states: “The growing of the beard is also related to our topic. Al-Bukhari, on the authority of Ibn ‘Omar , reported the Prophet (peace be on him) as saying:
Be different from the polytheists (mushrikeen): let the beard grow and trim the moustache.
The book, however does not state the exact reference number of the above mentioned saying. Your comment on this would be highly appreciated.
In our previous response to a question regarding the growing of a beard, Mr. Amar Ellahi Lone had stated that the growing of a beard is related to the nature of man (as distinct from a woman). He wrote:
Allah has created man with hair on his face, which is the single most prominent difference between the face of a man and a woman. This difference should show from a man’s face. Because Islam is a religion, which encourages its followers to preserve the nature on which Allah has created them, therefore, in the light of this simple principle, all those things which are part of human nature must be followed or preserved even though they are not mentioned in the Shari`ah. Thus, it is because of this reason that a man should keep beard.
In view of the above explanation, it may be derived that in our opinion, growing a beard, because it is a part of man’s nature, belongs to a more basic category of directives than the Shari`ah.
Keeping the above explanation in perspective, if we closely study the cited narrative ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh), we see that it is actually not a directive to grow beards, but a directive regarding the style of these beards. The opening sentence of this narrative: “Be different from the polytheists”, is a clear indication of the fact that the directive that follows relates not to the growing of the beard but to the style of the beard grown. Suppose the Prophet (pbuh) had said: “Be different from the polytheists. Wear clothes that are not pompous in their colors”. It would have been obvious that the directive related not to the wearing of clothes, but to the color of the clothes worn. In the same way, the cited narrative does not, actually, entail a directive for ‘growing beards’. On the contrary, it is a directive regarding the style of the beards grown.
An understanding of the background of this directive is also pertinent. The directive relates to the time when the Prophet (pbuh) and his companions were directed by the Qur’an to take action against the polytheists. It was basically under these circumstances that the Muslims were directed to adopt a distinctive attire and appearance so that they were not mistaken for the polytheists, against whom an action was being planned. Seen in this perspective, it should be clear that the directive entailed in the narrative is of a temporary nature rather than a part of the permanent Islamic Shari`ah.
14th May 2000