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What is the ruling of shaving beard when asked by the employer to comply with the dress code of a uniformed unit?


Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

The issue regarding shaving beards has been discussed by Islamic scholars for a long time. This is one of the issues that the scholars have differing opinion on.

Here, we include the statements from the book al-Mausu’ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah. According to the agreement reached by the scholars, growing beards is highly encouraged by Syara’. This is in accordance with several hadith of the Prophet PBUH.

  • Hadith from Ibn Umar RA

The Prophet PBUH said:

خَالِفُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ وَفِّرُوا اللِّحَى وَأَحْفُوا الشَّوَارِبَ

“Do the opposite of what the pagans do. Keep the beards and cut the moustaches short.”

Sahih al-Bukhari (10/349)

  • Hadith from Abu Hurairah RA

The Prophet PBUH states:

جُزُّوا الشَّوَارِبَ، وَأَرْخُوا اللِّحَى، خَالِفُوا الْمَجُوسَ

“Trim closely the moustache, and grow beard, and thus act against the fire-worshippers.”

Sahih Muslim (1/222)

  • Hadith from ‘Aisyah RA

The Prophet PBUH states the ten acts of fitrah (natural) of humans and one of it is:

إِعْفَاءَ اللِّحْيَةِ

“…letting the beard grow,”

Sahih Muslim (1/223)

Most scholars’ opinion state that the fi’il amar  ( أعفوا) means keeping or growing of the beard. See Al-Mausu’ah al-Kuwaitiyyah al-Fiqhiyyah. vol. 35. p. 223.

Majority of the jurists from mazhab Hanafi, Maliki and Hanbali and one opinion from jurists of mazhab Syafie prohibit the cutting of beards. This reason is, it contradicts the Prophet PBUH’s command of keeping the beard. See Al-Mausu’ah al-Kuwaitiyyah al-Fiqhiyyah. vol. 35. p. 226.

We would also like to cite a statement from Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu:

"As for keeping and letting the beard grow, which is letting it grow without changing it, the Malikiah and Hanabilah jurists ruled shaving as haram and do not ruled it as makruh if someone just trims one handful of his beard or more, and it is also not ruled as a makruh to cut the part under one's halqum, as it follows the act of Ibn Umar. Whereas the Hanafiah jurists ruled it as makruh tahrim if someone shaves his beard. As for Syafieyyah jurists, they ruled it as makruh tanzih. Al-Nawawi in Syarh Muslim has mentioned about ten things that are makruh for a beard, among which is to shave it, unless the beard grows on a woman, then it is sunnah to shave it.” See Wahbah Mustafa al-Zuhaili. Al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu. vol. 1. p. 462.

In his book al-Halal wa al-Haram, Dr Yusuf al-Qaradhawi discusses this issue as follows:

Regarding the issue of shaving beard that we are discussing, Imam al-Bukhari narrated a hadith from Ibn Umar RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:

خَالِفُوا الْمُشْرِكِينَ، وَفِّرُوا اللِّحَى، وَأَحْفُوا الشَّوَارِبَ

“Do the opposite of what the pagans do. Keep the beards and cut the moustaches short.

In some narrations, the word waffiru means maintains. However, the above hadith explains the ‘illah (reason) for the prohibition is to differentiate the Muslims from the disbelievers especially the fire worshippers, for it is their custom to shave their beards. Thus, the Prophet PBUH asked us to act differently to teach the Muslims to have their own identity.

The meaning of keeping the beard is not in terms of letting it grow without care, but it must be maintained in terms of cleanliness and hygiene as well as its length and width, as has been stated in a hadith by al-Tirmizi.

Qadhi Iyadh said: “It is makruh for someone to shave his beard, cut it, shorten it and evening it. However, if it is to maintain it, so that it will not grow too long or too thick, that is the best way and permissible.

Abu Syamah al-Syafie said: “Nowadays, there are men that like to shave their beards, this act is the same as the people of Majus (fire worshipper), for they often shave their beards.

Syeikh Yusuf al-Qaradhawi said: “Most Muslimin nowadays shave their bears, imitating the acts of the enemies of Islam, who are among the people that colonize their countries, whether they are among the Christians or the Jews. As usual, colonized people would imitate the people that colonize them, for they think that they are the people of authority. All the while, the Muslims had forgotten what the Prophet PBUH has commanded them to not imitate the disbelievers and the prohibition on imitating the disbelievers’ way of life, for whoever imitates a certain people, then he is one of them.

From Ibn Umar RA, the Prophet PBUH said:

مَنْ تَشَبَّهَ بِقَوْمٍ فَهُوَ مِنْهُمْ

“He who imitates any people (in their actions) is considered to be one of them.”

Sunan Abu Daud, Sunan Ahmad and Sunan Ibn Asakir

Most jurists state the evidence of the prohibition of shaving beard with the hadith from the Prophet PBUH that commands the keeping of beards.

The original ruling is obligatory, especially if the ‘illah is for the commandment of differentiating himself from the disbelievers, then it is obligatory. There are no proof from salaf scholars that states the permissibility of leaving this obligation.

Contemporary scholars nowadays permit the shaving of beards, influenced by time and the spread of western thoughts in society. However, they still state that keeping beard is the sunnah of the Prophet PBUH but is not linked to any type of worship. And truthfully, keeping beard is not just the sunnah of the Prophet PBUH, but it is stated in sarih (clear) and mu’allal (rulings based on the ‘ilah) commandment of differentiating himself from the disbelievers.

Ibn Taimiyyah states that being different from the disbelievers is demanded in Islam. And imitating them would nurture the feeling of wanting to be like them.

Ibn Taimiyyah further adds: “All evidences from al-Quran, al-Sunnah and ijmak of the scholars emphasized that every Muslim should differentiate himself from the disbelievers and it is prohibited to imitate them. And everything that could bring harm would surely be prohibited from us. Imitating the disbelievers in their appearance, would lead us to also imitate them even in their actions. The effect may not be apparent immediately but what is less apparent is harder to be removed. However, whatever that could lead to harm (apparent or not) is prohibited.

Thus, it can be concluded that there are three opinions from Islamic scholars regarding the issue of shaving beard:

  • The opinion that totally prohibits it, as stated by Ibn Taimiyyah and others
  • The opinion that ruled it makruh (undesirable) as stated in Fath al-Bari Syarah Sahih al-Bukhariwritten by Qadhi Iyadh, while no other scholars has supported this opinion.
  • Contemporary scholars that states its permissibility. Maybe the opinion that is moderate and nearer to the truth is the opinion that ruled it makruh (undesirable). The reason is, the commandment of keeping the beard is not stated in a clear obligatory commandment, except that it is clearly stated that we are prohibited from imitating the disbelievers and it is obligatory for us to differentiate ourselves from the disbelievers.

A similar commandment regarding this issue is the instruction of coloring the hair with henna for Muslims with grey hair, to differentiate themselves from the Christians and the Jews that do not color their hair. While there are a lot of people among the companions that did not color their hair. Thus, it is clear that it is mustahab, which means it is encouraged. Moreover, there are no proofs stating that the salaf scholars shave their beards. Maybe it is a custom in their time and place. See Yusuf al-Qaradhawi: Al-Halal wa al-Haram. p. 112-114. Maktabah Wahbah. Cairo. 2012.


After analysing the various opinions of the scholars, we agree with the opinion from mazhab Syafie which states that shaving beard is ruled as makruh tanzih. The reason is, keeping and maintaining beard is a sunnah of our beloved Prophet PBUH.

Our opinion on the issue of shaving beard on the order of employer, is that all employees should respect and comply to the dress code of uniformed unit they are in. This is to ensure a neat and clean image of a uniformed personnel.

However, here we would like to suggest to the authoritative bodies involved to hear the request of their Muslim staff to keep their beards. Some government uniformed bodies let their officers keep their beards based on this demand.

We also propose to those involved or staff members of the Muslim community to comply with the conditions and criteria set for keeping and maintaining beard. Here we suggest a basic guideline in keeping beard:

  • The beard should be combed and managed to keep it clean and neat.
  • Do not color the beard with any color.
  • Beard should not exceed two inches, to maintain the cleanliness and neatness of the beard.
  • Beards should not be styled according to any trend
  • The beard should be thinned and trimmed

The basic guideline we outlined is not a set decision that should be accepted by any companies or bodies. The reason is, it needs to go through a mature and comprehensive discussion and it needs to be decided by the parties involved in outlining whatever is beneficial to all.

Hopefully this explanation and suggestion will give understanding and consideration to all parties in search of the best possible solution. Then with this little effort we pray that we will be blessed by Allah SWT with understanding and rewards in the hereafter.