In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- Growing a beard is a great Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Muslim scholar have different views regarding its ruling. Some of them state that growing a beard is mandatory and shaving it is not permissible. Others view that growing a beard is an optional Sunnah and hence there is no harm in shaving it.
2- What we should note here is that growing a beard in Islam does not have the same religious significance as that of the other prescribed rituals. Thus, it is important for us to recognize that we should not ostracize men who do not have beards nor are we to question their basic faith.
In responding to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states;
Is Growing Bear Obligatory of Optional?
Growing a beard is a great Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). It is also one of the great legacies inherited from all of the previous prophets and messengers of Allah.
The Prophet (PBUH) ordered us: “Grow your beards and trim or clip the moustaches.” (Muslim)
In light of such precedents, most of the past scholars and Imams go as far as declaring that growing a beard is obligatory on males.
What we stated above makes it clear that no Muslim should take the issue of the beard lightly. At the same time, we must also state categorically that one should not conclude from what has been said earlier that growing a beard in Islam has the same religious significance as that of the other prescribed rituals. This is definitely not the case.
Thus, it is important for us to recognize that we are not allowed to ostracize men who do not have beards nor are we to question their basic faith.
Since beard is undoubtedly a great Sunnah, every Muslim male should try to practice this Sunnah according to the best of his ability. Allah does not take us to task for what is beyond our power or ability. We shoud fear Allah as best as we can.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.