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Can an Imam Without Beard Lead the Prayer?

03 November, 2023
Q As-salamu `alaykum. Is it necessary to have a beard in order to lead the people in prayer?


Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

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:

There is no Shari`ah-based text which indicates that having beard of any length is a prerequisite for leading people in prayer. So, there is nothing wrong with praying behind an imam without beard.

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In response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

Imam Without Beard

There is nothing in the sources of jurisprudence that states that having beard of a certain length is a prerequisite for the validity of imamah (leading people in prayer).

Criteria for Leading People in Prayer

The criteria for imamah, as stated in a Prophetic hadith, are as follows:

  • The one who is most knowledgeable about the Quran should lead the prayer.
  • If the people are all equally proficient in it, then the one who is most knowledgeable about the Sunnah should lead.
  • If they are equally proficient in it, too, then the one who made hijrah first (which no longer exists today, and therefore the one who has contributed the most to the cause of Islam).

Having said this, however, we must say that the Prophet (peace be upon him) has forbidden anyone who is disliked by people to lead them in the prayer.

In conclusion, let us not make the issue of imamah a contentious one. Rather we should select someone to lead us who has the essential requirements of knowledge and piety.

May Allah guide us to see the truth as truth and follow it, and to see error as error and shun it!

Allah Almighty knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.