Assalamualaikum. I would just like to ask something about shaving one's beard. First of all, I am aware of the fact that it is Haram to do so but my confusion lies in the recommended length of the beard. You have mentioned in fatwa no 81533 that Ibn Umar cut his beard until it was a handful in length and with this you concluded that it is permissible to keep the beard a handful in length. Now, my main question is that if the Prophet(Peace be Upon him) had never cut his beard or allowed anyone to trim their beards, why would it be permissible for us to trim our beards to a fist length in the first place? Does that one report of Ibn Umar prove sufficient enough to allow us to trim our beards? No human is perfect so what if he did this forgetfully or for some other valid reason? Please clarify and provide any evidence wherever necessary. May Allah SWT reward you for guiding us along the straight path.
All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
Undoubtedly, the narrations of the Prophet prove letting the beard grow freely without shortening it or trimming it, and these narrations are more worthy to abide by. However, some scholars are of the view that it is permissible to cut what exceeds a fist’s length of the beard because some of the companions, may Allah be pleased with them, did so and not only Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, and also some scholars of the successors of the companions, may Allah be pleased with them, did so. Indeed, Ibn Abi Shaybah reported cutting more than a fist’s length (of the beard) from ‘Ali, Abu Hurayrah, ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Umar, Taawoos, and Qaasim ibn Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, may Allah be pleased with them.
Furthermore, ‘Attaa’ ibn Abi Rabaah said: “They loved to let the beard grow freely as it is except in Hajj and ‘Umrah.”
This is indeed a considerable opinion because Abu Hurayrah and Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with them, are among the companions who narrated the narrations about letting the beard grow freely as it is and they are the ones who cut what exceeded a fist’s length of their beards, so it is most unlikely that they did so without a religious evidence, and if one of them had forgotten, it is most unlikely that the other had also forgotten. In addition to this, ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, who was a rightly guided caliph did the same.
In any case, this is a controversial issue and the heart of the believers should accept it. Therefore, if a person cuts what exceeds a fist’s length of his beard as a way of following the example of the above companions believing that they did not do so except that it was permissible because they know better about the meaning of the Prophetic narrations, then it is permissible for him to do so and he would not be sinful.
Allah Knows best.
Fatwa answered by: The Fatwa Center at Islamweb