The Beard according to the Great Imams of Jurisprudence
Imam Muhammed (R.A.) writes in his book “Kitabul Aathaar” where he relates from Imam Abu Hanifa (R.A.) who relates from Hadhrat Haytham (R.A.) who relates from Ibn Umar (R.A.) that he (Ibn Umar) used to hold his beard in his hand and cut off which was longer. Imam Muhammed (R.A.) says that this is what we follow and this was the decision of Imam Abu Hanifa. Therefore, according to Hanafies, to shorten the beard less than a FIST LENGTH is HARAAM and on this is IJMA (concensus of opinion).
Imam Shafi (R.A.) in his Kitabul Umm states, “To shave the beard is HARAAM.” (Shari Minhaj dar Shara Fasl Aqueeqa).
Shekh Ahmad Nafarawi Maliki in the commentary of Imam Abu Zayed’s booklet states, “to shave the beard is without doubt haraam according to all Imams.” It is also mention in “Tamheed” which is a commentary of “Muatta” (Sunnan Imam Malik (R.A.)) that to shave the beard is HARAAM and among males the only ones to resort to this practice (of shaving) are the HERMAPHRODITES (persons who possess both male and female features and characteristics).
The Hanbalies in the famous Al-Khanie’a Hanbali Fatawa Kitab state that “to grow the beard is essential and to shave it is HARAAM.” Also in the Hanbali Mathab books “Sharahul Muntahaa” and “Sharr Manzoomatul Aadaab”, it is stated “The most accepted view is that it is HARAAM (prohibited to shave the beard).”
Also note, according to scholars of Islam: “To shave off the beard is unlawful (haraam) and one who shaves his beard is legally speaking an unrighteous fellow (FASIQ); hence, it is NOT PERMISSIBLE to appoint such a man as an Imam. To say Taraweeh behind such an Imam is MAKRUH-E-TAHRIMI (near prohibition)” (Shami Vol.1, p.523)
The Durre-Mukhtar states: “No one has called it permissible to trim it (the beard) less than FIST-LENGTH as is being done by some westernized Muslims and hermaphrodites.” (Vol. 2, p. 155). Also, “It is forbidden (haraam) for a man to cut off another’s beard.” (Vol. 5, p. 359).
verdicts from later scholars who were muqallids of the 4 great imams:
Verdict of Keeping the Beard according to the Hanafi Madhab
Allaamah ibnul Humaam (RA) has mentioned that nobody has permitted the trimming of the beard lesser than a fist length. (Fathul Qadeer; Shaami; Fataawa Mahmoodiyyah vol.5 pgs.93, 105, 108)
Quotations of other Madhaahib
Hereunder are some quotations from the Ulama of other Madhaahib (schools of thought) which support the above. More clarity can be attained by referring to the present day scholars of each Madhab.
The Shaafi’ee Madhab
Allaamah Nawawi (RA) states, ‘The correct view (according to the Shaafi’ee Madhab) is to leave the beard to grow and it is Makrooh to trim the beard whatsoever.’ (al-Majmoo vol.1 pg.290; also see Sharh Saheeh Muslim vol.2 pg.143)
Allaamah al-Iraaqi (RA) states in his book entitled, ‘Tarhu Tathreeb’ (vol.2 pg.8): ‘… that the best is to leave the beard totally and not to cut anything from it at all, and this is the view of Imaam al-Shaafi’ee and his students.’
There are quotations from 2 great scholars of the Shaafi’ee Madhab that do not permit the trimming of the beard at all, not even upto one fist.
The Maaliki Madhab
Imaam Abul-Waleed al-Baaji al-Maaliki (RA) has stated that: It has been narrated from Imaam Maalik (RA) that he permitted the slight trimming of those hairs that are overgrown and are outside the general growth of the rest of the hair, and that Imaam Maalik (RA) was asked about a beard that had grown extremely long, he replied that it should be trimmed a bit.’
Imaam Abul-Waalid explains the following, ‘And it has been narrated from Abdullah ibn Umar and Abu Hurayra (Radhiallaahu Anhum) that they trimmed upto one fist.’ Hence, this is what was meant by Imaam Maalik. (refer al-Muntaqa vol.7 pg.266)
Imaam al-Qurtubi al-Maaliki (RA) has also mentioned something similar to this in his commentary of Sahih Muslim. (see al-Mufhim vol.1 pg.513)
The Hanbali Madhab
Imaam Saamiri (RA) – who is an expert Hanbali Faqeeh (jurists) – states: And he should not trim any bit from the beard except if he wishes to do so upto the extent of one fist. However, it will be best if he doesn’t do so.’ (al-Mustaw’ib vol.1 pg.260 – see Hukm al-Lihyah fil Madhaahibil arba’ah; Abdul-Aziz al-Nu’maani pg.50)
Another Hanbali scholar, Imaam Shamsuddeen al-Maqdisi (RA) states, ‘It is forbidden to shave the beard and it is not Makrooh to trim what is in excess of a fist’s length… because this is supported by the practice of Sayyiduna Abdullah ibn Umar (Radhiallaahu Anhu).’ (Kitaabul Furoo vol.1 pg.130; Ibid)
Similar verdicts are found in other sources of Hanbali Fiqh such as al-Mubdi of ibn Muflih, al-Insaaf of al-Maawardi; Kashful Qinaa, etc. (Hukm al-lihyah pg.50)
It is clear from all these quotations that it is permissible to trim the beard only up to a fist length. No one has explicitly mentioned that it is permissible to trim the beard lesser than a fist length. In fact, according to some of these quotations, it will be better not to trim the beard at all.