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The Beard Story: Exclusive Interview With Yasir Qadhi

Omar Usman



*Stay tuned tomorrow for a special behind the scenes look and an outtake reel. 

*Mp3 files are at the end of the post.

A few months back, I posted an article entitled Job Interview Tips for Muslim Men. Shaykh Yasir left a comment on the article stating,

Ma sha Allah, great article as usual.

IbnAbeeOmar, may I suggest that your next article be on ‘tips for grooming and combing beards’. We’ll need specific details, such as: what conditioner works best for what type of hair, what is the best way to trim beards for those who believe its permissible, what should brothers do for ‘split beard hairs’, and, last but not least, how to hide those pesky ‘bald’ cheek-spots !!!


I was honored to see such recognition for my beard maintenance skills. I began to write about my tips for how to cut, trim, and condition. At IlmSummit, I got to speak to him about this pressing issue one on one. I gave him my recommendations for using a spray conditioner that you can leave in your beard such as




But I was left wondering why the man who went from




was asking me for such tips? I got a few tips in return from him, and thought that getting Shaykh Yasir to discuss this important issue would be far better than just writing about how to even out your beard. So the MuslimMattes shura set out on a mission. We gathered up a list of questions amongst ourselves and got him to agree to the interview.

I wasn’t sure what to expect out of such an interview – after all, when was the last time you actually heard a good talk about this subject on its own? Or read a book that didn’t begin and end with the halal and haram of keeping a beard?

I did have some specific questions that we needed to get addressed,

  • The fiqh of trimming
  • Beards = Hijab?
  • Yasir Qadhi’s favorite brand of shampoo/conditioner.

We got to hear some funny stories from Madinah, as well as Shaykh Yasir’s own most embarassing beard moment.

We also touched upon a number of serious issues which I hope people will pay attention to and take to heart. Although the overall nature of this interview was somewhat light-hearted, we did cover some serious issues that the beard often represents such as lack of prioritization in the deen, over-zealousness, and adab for interacting with community members.

While preparing the interview, I could not help but recall what is quite possibly the ‘classic’ beard moment (if we can call it such a thing) in the history of the dawah in North America – and it comes courtesy of no less a figure than one who in many senses epitomizes dawah, Shaykh Yusuf Estes,

[youtube DVtlSHW3DwA]

And lastly, I don’t want to ruin any of the interview, but if you’re ever in the market of getting Shaykh Yasir a gift, you can’t go wrong with this:



I hope that you enjoy and benefit from the interview insha’Allah.

Download the Interview

 download.png Download Part 1 | Part 2

Listen to the Interview

Part 1 [audio:]

Part 2 [audio:]

*Please subscribe to our podcast, if you already subscribed then you got to hear the interview a little earlier than everyone else :)


Omar Usman is a founding member of MuslimMatters and Qalam Institute. He teaches Islamic seminars across the US including Khateeb Workshop and Fiqh of Social Media. He has served in varying administrative capacities for multiple national and local Islamic organizations. You can follow his work at



  1. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 12:08 AM

    LOL! At first I thought this was a joke, but there is actually an interview!

    I met a few brothers from MM at IlmSummit and Ibn Abi Omer’s beard is really styling. Siraaj’s, wow.

  2. Avatar

    ibn alHyderabadee

    November 24, 2008 at 12:18 AM

    my beard is like half str8 and half curly weird huh

  3. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 1:12 AM

    ok seriously…meterosexual daee.

  4. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 1:21 AM

    “when you see a beard you know what it is”

  5. Avatar

    Yus from the Nati

    November 24, 2008 at 2:27 AM

    Sh. Omar Baloch (Azhari) has a nice lil youtube clip of length of beard with evidences here

    Why have the Muslims turned homo?

    Even some greek orthodox and hasidic jews got their stuff out…and we play the metrosexual game.
    Everybody needs to man up and get some hair on their face and chest, we’re getting ridiculous.

    PS The secret to nice beard hair is Cold Pressed Virgin Olive Oil.
    PPS Nobody take offense, I’m only joking…but kind of not joking?

  6. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 2:30 AM

    much needed article, although as Shaykh Yasir did say that beard was not a pressing issue in our Ummah, for some reason it comes up in debate a quite a bit.

    I’ll definitely be posting this on forums, blogs, etc. when the issue comes up.

  7. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 2:41 AM

    salam u alikum , one of the best posts i have seen in here.

  8. Avatar

    ibn alHyderabadee

    November 24, 2008 at 3:03 AM

    i always wanted to try soakign my beard in battered eggs and milk…

  9. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 3:53 AM


    Nice article. I’ll save this article for when my beard comes about.

  10. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 4:03 AM

    What’s the deal with the photo out in the woods – he looks like a shaolin monk off to train from some huge martial arts tournament (or maybe this is where he learned his ping pong technique ;))


  11. Avatar

    Abu Hatim

    November 24, 2008 at 6:32 AM

    Yasir Qadhi mentioned that around three of the Sahabah and several of the scholars from their successors trimmed that which was below their fists, does this then imply that there are no other reports from the first two generations in which others from amongst the Sahabah and their successors trimmed that which was beneath their fists and/or that none of the Sahabah and their successors trimmed that which was beneath their fists?

    If this is the case then I am curious to know at what point in history the opinion that it is permissible to trim that which is beneath the fist first came about?

  12. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 10:42 AM

    While I like the fact that Muslims are now starting to groom and take care of their beards (and trust me they need to – some of them look like they have put their hand in electric sockets), I disagree with the idea of a beard being compulsory.

    First, in the youtube video, the shiekh who quoted “keep your beard and shave your mustache” himself had a mustache. If beard was fard according to him as per that hadith then he should have shaved off that mustache!

    Second, there is this ridiculous notion that not having a beard is like a woman. A woman once wrote about this on my blog (a guest post). If anyone wants to debate this, you can go there.

    Again, I feel we don’t get it. We have bigger issues here than who is having a beard or not.

    • Avatar


      May 8, 2016 at 8:13 PM

      The ruling is to TRIM the beard and not to shave it necessarily. And also, the notion of not having a beard being like a women is more of an explanation of the origin of the beard ruling and how it was never an issue before. This was more of the cultural difference back then and was never made to be one of the main points for why having a beard is obligatory. The reason why it is obligatory is simply because there are numerous accounts of the issue being stated explicitly in the hadith.

      An issue like not having the beard can still be haram without being nearly as bad as other issues. You have a point when saying that there are other issues that are far more important than this one. So you are correct. However, this does not automatically disqualify the issue of not having a beard from being haram as well. It is simply just not as major of the sin. That is why there is a differentiation between major and minor sins. There are varying levels of haram and halal.

  13. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 10:55 AM

    Excellent interview!

  14. ibnabeeomar


    November 24, 2008 at 11:45 AM

    mezba, did you listen to the interview? :) i think youd be (pleasantly) surprised.

    keep an eye out for tomorrow’s post with exclusive behind the scenes pictures of the interview and the interview gag reel

  15. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 12:08 PM

    I saw the youtube clip above. It was a good interview, and I like Shiekh Estes. I hope he comes to RIS this year.

  16. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 12:09 PM


    nice and neat interview…

  17. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 12:19 PM

    @ Mezba,

    First, in the youtube video, the shiekh who quoted “keep your beard and shave your mustache” himself had a mustache. If beard was fard according to him as per that hadith then he should have shaved off that mustache!

    Yakhi, he said, “trim the mustache”, he did not say, ‘shave your mustache’, please listen carefully brother before making a hasty conclusion :)

    We have bigger issues here than who is having a beard or not.

    This is what exactly sheikh said in his intro. I guess Br. IbnAbeeOmar made it to be ‘pressing’ issue :),
    On a joking note, I guess Br. IbnAbeeOmar needs to be blamed for making it as a pressing issue :P

    Jazakallahu Khair Br. IbnAbeeOmar, i think its a much needed article Barakumullahu Feek.

  18. ibnabeeomar


    November 24, 2008 at 12:19 PM

    mezba, i meant the interview with yq that is at the end of the post in mp3 format :)

  19. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 12:55 PM

    Again, I feel we don’t get it. We have bigger issues here than who is having a beard or not.

    Mezba, please listen to the MP3, you may have mistaken the video for the main event of this post – there are two MP3 audio files where Shaykh Yasir discusses this issue in depth, and he frames (meaning starts and ends) the lecture with the point that there are MUCH bigger things to worry about, and this discussion is primarily for people who are at the stage where they are ready to grow it, or their independent, and so forth.


  20. ibnabeeomar


    November 24, 2008 at 1:04 PM

    i edited the post to make the audios at the end stand out more hopefully

  21. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 1:05 PM

    Excellent article/podcast from MM. I liked the YouTub vid too.
    That was educational and entertaining.

    the 2 pics look like a Before and After shot for a commercial :P

  22. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 1:07 PM

    Second, there is this ridiculous notion that not having a beard is like a woman. A woman once wrote about this on my blog (a guest post). If anyone wants to debate this, you can go there.

    And I responded to this post (not quite with the debating you invited, though).


  23. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 1:07 PM

    OK.. will take a listen now. It was a bit confusing, I didn’t see the mp3 at first (it didn’t show up on my firefox).

  24. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 1:33 PM

    What’s the deal with the photo out in the woods – he looks like a shaolin monk off to train from some huge martial arts tournament (or maybe this is where he learned his ping pong technique ;))


    hahahahaha. I cant stop laughing. that is such an amazing description. I didnt get the ping pong stuff though. Is Shaykh Yasir good at ping pong?

  25. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 1:35 PM

    When my beard was much longer, I used to use a straitening iron every morning cuz it curled at the bottom
    It was very very….troublesome :-(

  26. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 2:03 PM

    hahahahaha. I cant stop laughing. that is such an amazing description. I didnt get the ping pong stuff though. Is Shaykh Yasir good at ping pong?

    Ilm Summit joke, go to youtube and check out the vids of the two shaykh yasirs playing ping pong, you’ll understand.


  27. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 3:32 PM

    bro that picture of Abu Ammar had me rolling … it reminded me of those tarzan tamed pictures with the wilderness behind him…lol good stuff

  28. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 3:55 PM

    Why did i get into this post at all. I already had enough pressure to shave my beard off and now iam having doubts myself after listening to this interview,, Yaaa Allah make me firm on this.

  29. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 4:04 PM

    I agree that the beard itself is not an important issue, but what it leads to can be. Sometimes it reveals that a person has issues with these concepts:

    -Obedience of the Prophet (sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam): “If it’s not in the Qur’an, I don’t gotta do it!”
    -Having Trust in Allah: “Having even a short beard will prevent me from getting married, getting a job, and flying in planes”
    -Muslim Identity in America: “I shave my beard because I don’t want people at work to know I’m muslim. I’ve got it worse than Obama”

    This is why the overzealous types (I used to be one of them) get so emotional; they sincerely want brothers to obey the Prophet, have proper Trust in Allah, not be afraid of showing that they’re muslim, etc.

    Although there are some people that would be better off not displaying their Islam (because of their terrible morals/akhlaq etc.), it does sadden me a bit when I see good muslim brothers (that do all the obligatory deeds and have good akhlaq) shave the beard. These days, having a long beard is associated with extremism, backwardness, mysoginism, etc. This stereotype stirs up one’s emotions because a long beard is part of the sunnah of the Prophet (sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and he wasn’t extreme or evil in any way.
    Thus, personally, I would like to see good brothers wear long beards while doing good deeds, in the hopes that this stereotype would be minimized in the eyes of the public. In short, having a long beard is doing da’wah in a way, and this simple way of daw’ah is being ignored.

    So you can see the underlying reasons why people make the beard a big deal. I think this is why scholars started to write books about this, because when a person says, “Aw man, a beard is obligatory…”, they then ask “Well, how short can I cut it?”

    Note: I do agree with just about everything Sh. Yasir said, I just wanted to reveal the “other side”. :)

  30. AnonyMouse


    November 24, 2008 at 4:33 PM

    Haha, this was great masha’Allah… hahaha, my dad gets the “Are you Jesus/ Moses/ Santa Claus/ God?” question all the time!

  31. Avatar

    abu abdAllah, the Houstonian

    November 24, 2008 at 5:06 PM

    bismillah. the secret of the woodland shaykh? is Yasir one of Robin Hood’s merry men? from the story “Friar Tuck meets Shaykh Yasir?” nope, unless Zakir Naik has a secret Ping Pong base in Mumbai, that’s a screenshot from a segment or commercial on Peace TV, vintage Yasir’s Seerah series.

    ibnabeeOmar — maybe move the youtube video to the top or remove it altogether. i wonder how many people only watched the video wondering which conditioner corresponds to which shaykh….

    dontaskme — i would only ask you to listen to the mp3. one thing to understand is that growing the beard is not a hardship upon you.

    mezba — many people seek out wisdoms and reasons for growing their beard, and for many other actions in Islam. well-meaning people and scholars try to provide them explanations so the first group will be convinced and then obey Allah and His Messenger, sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam. “fasting increases your appreciation for the plight of the poor.” so if a person who relied on that wisdom lived in some utopian society where there were no poor people, would that person be justified in giving up fasts?

    no. a wise person does not make obedience to Allah conditional upon his or her intellect. a wise person obeys the commands of Allah and His Messenger because there is no deity worthy of worship other than Allah, and obedience is part and parcel of worship.

    a person who predicates obedience on comprehending the wisdom or rationality of a command, that is a person whose faith is weak. such a person has fundamentally undercut his faith because he limits it to his comprehension, whereas Allah and His Wisdom are beyond comprehension. if such a person lives in society in harmony with the commands of Allah, his faith may never be tested. but if this person lives in a society where mores and sensibilities are dictated by television and mass media… then his faith would be tested often.

    the wise person appreciates what truth he may find in the wisdoms and reasons offered to explain the commandments of Allah. but his obedience does not depend on the strength or weakness of any man-made argument.

  32. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 5:24 PM

    Salaams, Subhnallah I was just thinking about writing my own blog post about an incident I had occur recently. I shall call it: The Daari Discount… For the non-desi bro’s Daari = beard. Insha Allah will get on to it as soon as I get a chance.

  33. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 5:40 PM

    Just found a recording of Sheikh Muhammad Al-Shareef on the beard issue: Beard Q & A

  34. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 5:46 PM

    MashaAllah, my father use to mix eggs and avocado and he would put it on his beard. His beard looked more healthy and it grew longer. His beard looked much better and he didn’t look like wolverine anymore :)

  35. Avatar

    ibn alHyderabadee

    November 24, 2008 at 6:14 PM

    my beard is changing color by itself…i;m seeing red hairs……is that normal?

  36. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 6:53 PM

    ibn alHyderabadee said:

    my beard is changing color by itself…i;m seeing red hairs……is that normal?

    They will turn white.. I had few brown hair and I was puzzled, and they turned white eventually

  37. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    November 24, 2008 at 7:13 PM

    What’s the deal with the photo out in the woods – he looks like a shaolin monk off to train from some huge martial arts tournament (or maybe this is where he learned his ping pong technique ;))


    LOL!! Nice one Siraaj. Actually that was taken in a REAL setting (no fake background) in some location outside of Mumbai that’s used by Bollywood to shoot some of their movies (yes, the very ones where actors and actresses do their scenes).

    I was recording episodes for my Seerah show – alhamdulillah land does not become polluted due to what happens on it in the past!

  38. ibnabeeomar


    November 24, 2008 at 7:17 PM

    LOL!! Nice one Siraaj. Actually that was taken in a REAL setting (no fake background) in some location outside of Mumbai that’s used by Bollywood to shoot some of their movies (yes, the very ones where actors and actresses do their scenes).

    I was recording episodes for my Seerah show – alhamdulillah land does not become polluted due to what happens on it in the past!

    So in this seerah show, you don’t randomly change clothes from one scene to the next do you? or break out into group nasheeds? ;)

  39. Avatar

    Dunia's Stranger

    November 24, 2008 at 7:45 PM

    While Yasir Qadhi does a great job discussing what you cannot do with your beard – cannot shave it completely, I feel that his definitions for the middle ground between completely shaved and the a fist full are left wanting because of no precise definition of what length a person can trim till.

    In the following segment on what extent one can trim (being at 11:15 mark on the 1st mp3), Shaykh Qadhi comes to the conclusion that the only thing can be sinful is complete shaving of the beard and not the trimming beyond the fist full.

    Thus the central question he poses is: what is the bare minimum?

    To answer this, he turns to the arabic definition of beard (lihyah). This he defines as hair that grows on the cheeks and the chin.

    Yet, Shyakh Qadhi shifts gears from what is the linguistic definition to a some type of ‘reasonable person standard’ of a person who looks another another and says that “this is beard” because they have met the bare minimum (we are to assume that the bare minimum means the linguistic definition he gives earlier on: hair on the cheeks & chin), it constitutes a beard. Now here is the part that gets interesting…

    Shaykh Qadhi clearly says (at 13:10 mark mp3 lecture 1) that “I do not think the Sharia has a minimum in terms of centimeters,” to which the questioner asks “what about the draw line” (which I assume is missed shaving for 2 days beard) to which Shaykh Qadhi, responds with, “the draw line, if some body looks at, I really do not think it is called a beard, even in the english language, I mean, I think this is the facial hair – no shaving for 2 days. I think a reasonable amount of hair, and here’s the point now – who defines what is reasonable? I don’t have a precise definition. I mean, when you see a beard you know what it is. Nobody takes a measuring tape and measures how long the hairs are and how wide it is – I think that this is a bit too precise. But what your talking about that pencil thin, which is less than 1 millimeter, and not shaved for 2 days: that doen’t quite constitute a beard because it is not the full cheeks, the full cheekbones, and the full chin that a person has hair on.

    I see a bit of a contradiction in the logic Shaykh Qadhi employs to answer that brother’s questions. For instance, Shaykh Qadhi clearly says that “I do not think the Sharia has a minimum in terms of centimeters” and previously defines a beard as in the arabic language as having hair on the cheek. Then how can he logically argue against 2 day beard? What’s the basis for arguing against a beard that looks like the missed 2 days of shaving when your first definition of beard only constitutes having hair on the cheeks and chin and you refuse to consider a minimum length? According the first set of definitions for the beard, the 2 day missed shave is a valid beard.

    Yet in the questioning section where the interviewer brother asks him about the draw line, Shaykh Qadhi places an additional definitions that contradict his first set of definitions. Why does at that point Shyakh Qadhi use the word “full”

    But what your talking about that pencil thin, which is less than 1 millimeter, and not shaved for 2 days: that doen’t quite constitute a beard because it is not the full cheeks, the full cheekbones, and the full chin that a person has hair on

    Where does Shaykh Qadhi now find the basis to insert “full” into his previous definition of beard having no limit. I find this problematic because it is his arbitrary perception of the beard being “full.” This leads back to the problematic arguments of qualifying what is the beard by depending upon the “reasonable” person who says: this is a beard. Given that the ‘reasonable’ person will vary from person to person, does it even make much sense to use them to assist in defining that this is the minimum limit of the beard? You get 10 different people and you get 10 different definitions. An Afghan beard is totally different from a Malaysian.

    Furthermore, why does Shaykh Qadhi even try to address what is a beard is defined within the english language – How is that relevant to the previous definition of beard which was established in the arabic language, when the arabic language only provides that hair be present on the cheeks & chin, and is silent about volume/mass of the beard?

    the draw line, if some body looks at, I really do not think it is called a beard, even in the english language,

    While I enjoyed the lecture on the beard, I feel that Shaykh Qadhi’s definition cannot exclude the 2 day missed shaving beard – and most definitely not the 3 day or 4 day missed shaving beard, based upon him adhering to the no minimum definition coupled with the linguistic definition that only specifies that hair be present on the cheeks and the chin (not that it be full).

  40. ibnabeeomar


    November 24, 2008 at 7:56 PM

    duniastranger: the question was oriented around a jawline beard (aka pencil beard), not draw line.

    here’s an example:

    this is different from a 5 oclock shadow or just not shaving for 2 days.

  41. Avatar


    November 24, 2008 at 8:13 PM

    Assalamu alaykum,

    why did shaykh yusuf say it is shirk to make du’aa for the bread to grow? I didn’t understand.

  42. Avatar

    Dunia's Stranger

    November 24, 2008 at 8:25 PM

    Thanks ibnabeeomar for the clarification,

    I suspected the David Craig type would not muster the test for a “beard” since it eliminates hair on the cheeks to begin with.

    Yet, Shaykh Qadhi also excluded the 2 day not shaving as not being within the beard category (he didn’t mention the 5 o’ clock shadow).

    Thus, why would these types of beards be excluded?

    Most people consider Baron Davis as having a beard – yet as someone whose facial hair grows fast ( I used to get the 5 o’clock at 1 o’ clock) – I can pull of Baron Davis’ beard in about 2 days or less.

  43. Avatar

    Dunia's Stranger

    November 24, 2008 at 8:27 PM

    For those who don’t know Baron Davis or the type of beard he has:

  44. Avatar

    ibn alHyderabadee

    November 25, 2008 at 2:14 AM

    So in this seerah show, you don’t randomly change clothes from one scene to the next do you? or break out into group nasheeds?

    I bet YQ would appeal to a whole notha’ audience if he did that…..
    they would play it in bollywood theaters across the country…..

  45. Avatar


    November 25, 2008 at 2:38 AM

    I think i’m gonna start a club for long bearders. Maybe me and Siraaj can be the founders. Then we’ll make mp3’s about how awesome it is to have a long beard and what short bearders are mssing out on :)

    Benefits of long beard:

    1. People can’t forget who you are even if they don’t know your name
    2. Other Muslims recognize you and say salaam just by seeing the beard (doesn’t happen as much with individuals with shorter beards)
    3. Insulation in the winter
    4. Feels soft if you take care of it
    5. People will always ask you “how long did it take you to grow it?” and “why do you grow your beard like that?” allowing an easy da’wah opportunity without having to approach people
    6. You can hold pencils in it and make kids and people laugh
    7. Allows you to dispel the myth that bearded people are evil moolahs
    8. Hippi’s love you
    9. Holds water and provides cooling factor with wind on hot summer days
    10. Certain Muslims feel comfortable speaking with you
    11. Feels good combing it

  46. Avatar


    November 25, 2008 at 2:48 AM

    Sure, just pull one of these off and your in ;)

  47. Avatar

    Ron Ibn Abi Paul Al-Anti-Illuminati

    November 25, 2008 at 4:39 AM

  48. Avatar

    November 25, 2008 at 4:59 AM

    Beard Champion of the World right here:

    I’ve seen an Egyptian brother with a bigger beard than that (I think)

  49. Avatar


    November 25, 2008 at 8:38 AM

    Akhi, those are some profound 11 points, many of which I’ve pulled off lol. The pencil in the beard thing… did that like 2 weeks ago in Physics class, made my friend Brandon laugh. Also, the beard is a good protectant from liquid spills. Alhamdullilah, it saved my shirt on one occasion… Combing is another matter, I cannot stop twisting it…

  50. Avatar


    November 25, 2008 at 12:02 PM

    Walaykumus Salam,

    I respectfully disagree with Sh Yasir in that trimming below fist length is okay or makrooh at best. I haven’t heard any classical or contemporary scholar say this. But after his views on participating in elections, this doesn’t come as a surprise.

    Sh Yasir, I really hope the popularity you have gained in the west does not make you waver from sticking to the Quran and Sunnah. You will face fitan and challenges around you, but if you stick to the truth, even in the most seemingly trivial issues, inshaAllah Allah (swt) will bless you in this dunya and Akhirah. I really and honestly hope you are sincere and only seeking to please Allah (swt).

    – Sirat

  51. Avatar


    November 25, 2008 at 12:55 PM

    Sirat, here is the opinion of the Shafi’i school:

    the two great verifying scholars of the Shafi`i school, Imam Abul Qasim al-Rafi`i and Imam Abu Zakariyya al-Nawawi—in accordance with the position of Imam Ghazali—have ruled that to keep a full beard is merely recommended, not obligatory, and that it is neither unlawful to shave it nor to shorten it, even when this is done without an excuse. It is, however, disliked to shorten or shave the beard because it contravenes the prophetic command to grow a full beard.

  52. Avatar


    November 25, 2008 at 1:17 PM

    Walaykumus Salam,

    I respectfully disagree with Sh Yasir in that trimming below fist length is okay or makrooh at best. I haven’t heard any classical or contemporary scholar say this. But after his views on participating in elections, this doesn’t come as a surprise.

    Sh Yasir, I really hope the popularity you have gained in the west does not make you waver from sticking to the Quran and Sunnah. You will face fitan and challenges around you, but if you stick to the truth, even in the most seemingly trivial issues, inshaAllah Allah (swt) will bless you in this dunya and Akhirah. I really and honestly hope you are sincere and only seeking to please Allah (swt).

    – Sirat

    Salaam alaykum Sirat,

    It’s not popularity – it’s age and experience. Although I personally disagree with the opinion presented, I did enjoy the discussion and gave it consideration and then decided to maintain my opinion. And while I disagree with it, I agree with something else that was said – there are far more important issues to deal with, and that fiqh differences of opinion are fiqh differences of opinion, 2 rewards for the one who is right, 1 reward for the one who is wrong. Many of our scholars and advanced students of knowledge maintain beards that are trimmed well below the four fist limiit, and I personally see nothing wrong with that if that is the conclusion they have come to, seeking the pleasure of Allah subhaana wa ta’aala.

    Let’s always be sure to assume the best until we can prove the worst, and not the opposite. You probably know better than anyone online that was my own tactic on certain forums for a number of years and realized the mistake in that through, as I said, age and experience.


  53. Avatar


    November 25, 2008 at 3:13 PM

    If you have a lot of knots in your beard, you might want to use a blow dryer. It makes your beard much easier to comb, especially when it’s wet.

  54. Avatar

    MM Associates

    November 25, 2008 at 3:44 PM

    bismillah. [written by abu abdAllah]

    ya sirat, i pray that Allah subhanahu wata ala will guide you and guide others like you. like you, i was once very willing to look at statements of shuyukh and pass judgment on them. to say that such and such a statement must mean this and that. and it became a hindrance for me in learning.

    i had the good fortune to approach one shaykh and ask him directly about another, and the best thing for me was that the shaykh i approached had zero-tolerance for what i had done. he told me about an incident he had witnessed in Madinah, where a student asked a teacher why they were studying a certain book when its author had said such and such and was known to have done this and the other. the teacher reprimanded the student because the student’s question presumed (1) that the teachers were ignorant of what the student had mentioned, and (2) that the teachers did not know what was beneficial in the text and what was not.

    the student had not challenged content of the book, he was challenging positions of the writer on other issues. that tactic of conflating the issue at hand is what you have engaged in when you wrote:

    But after his views on participating in elections, this doesn’t come as a surprise.

    it’s not an intellectually honest tactic. it is divisive. and it is most used by those who cast aspersions from the comfort of a dorm room or cloister that they might be too ashamed to do by the light of day. so i urge you to do some serious soul-searching, and i pray you will benefit from it.

  55. Avatar


    November 25, 2008 at 4:38 PM

    Asalamu Alikum
    I don’t think it should be considered a smaller issue. It is not the actual hair, but is a more a sign of obedience and submission to the commands of Allah. Regarding the sacrifice, Allah says (intepretation of the meaning);
    “It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah, but it is piety from you that reaches Him.” (al-Hajj 22:37).
    Moreover, it is a true sign of love of Allah and His Prophet when it is done for the sake of Allah. The Prophet sallaAllahu alayhe wa sallam commanded the beard, and Allah commanded us to obey His Prophet.

  56. Avatar

    Abu Hatim

    November 25, 2008 at 7:42 PM

    In the link posted to Q’s & A’s on the beard with Muhammad ash-Sharif he mentions that the opinion he is propagating is that of his teacher, Shaykh Muhammad al-Mukhtar bin Muhammad al-Amin ash-Shanqiti, the son of Shaykh Muhammad al-Amin [and I assume he means ash-Shanqiti] who he states was the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia before Shaykh ‘Abdul-Aziz bin Baz. I had thought that Shaykh Ibrahim Ali ash-Shaykh was the Grand Mufti before Shaykh ‘Abdul-Aziz bin Baz, is this not correct? I would be surprised if Shaykh Muhammad al-Amin ash-Shanqiti was the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia since not only was he not “Ali ash-Shaykh” [and I know that neither was Shaykh ‘Abdul-Aziz bin Baaz], but he was not even from Saudi Arabia.

    It seems that Muhammad ash-Sharif shares the view of his teacher which is obviously therefore a contemporary view, and Yasir Qadhi didn’t make mention [from what I can remember] of any scholars from the early generations who either trimmed that which was less than a fist length or said it was permissible to do so. This for me at least is a very important issue, because I for one believe that it is important to know how the early generations understood the actions of the generations that came shortly before them, did they understand such actions to be that of restriction on or permissibility of trimming? And at what point in time did the view that it is permissible to trim that which is less than a fist length become a known opinion?

  57. Avatar


    November 26, 2008 at 1:25 AM

    this is an awesome interview mashaAllah. 13:04 and onwards of part 2= my favorite. wish more people would listen and understand those few points.

  58. Avatar


    November 26, 2008 at 6:25 AM

    Shaykh Yasir says that all four madhaib say beard is wajib, but doesn’t the shafi’i madhab differ on this issue and say it is makrouh?

  59. Avatar


    November 26, 2008 at 6:25 AM

    Shaykh Yasir says that all four madhaib say beard is haram to shave, but doesn’t the shafi’i madhab differ on this issue and say it is makrouh to shave only?

  60. Avatar


    November 26, 2008 at 6:44 AM

    Shaykh Yasir, you said that brother in Univ of Madeenah had the longest beard you’ve seen. Take a look at this:


    Fi Aman Allah

  61. Avatar


    November 26, 2008 at 10:30 AM

    abuAbdullah and siraaj,

    I’m not conflating the issue at hand. I’m merely pointing out what I have observed overtime- basically that we’re witnessing a more relaxed approach by certain students of knowledge when it comes to contemporary issues; in other words, there is an element propagating a more watered down religon to the western muslim youth, albeit in a very very gradual manner.

    This has nothing to do with my youthful exuberance; what I say has been said by a very wise, knowledge and elderly person who has met and knows many of these madinah graduates, he himself being a graduate from madinah. If you asked him 2 years ago, he had already predicted this gradual change as it is a common result of excessive popularity. If you ask him now, he will tell you that many of these instructors still lack age and experience; much of what they’re saying now as regards to issues we face today (beard and voting being two recent examples) is contradicted by their very own teachers who taught them in Madinah :-)

    Wallahu alam – I usually tend to stay away from these forums and from Almaghrib in general, so I wouldn’t want to get into detailed arguments – it wouldn’t benefit or change anyone. The above was just my observation and I believe I have the right to voice my opinion – its a free country after all :-)

    May Allah guide us all. Forgive me if I offended anyone.

    – Sirat

  62. Avatar


    November 26, 2008 at 2:13 PM

    as Abu Hatim said:
    – I dont’ recall as well Shaykh Muhammad Ash-Shanqeetee being the grand mufti before Shaykh bin Baaz. Very odd statement indeed.
    – In fact, I do not recall a single scholar not of saudi descent being grand mufti. Shaykh Bin baaz was pretty much an exceptional case not being form “aal al-shaykh”. But he was still a native saudi.
    – Then again, I could be totally off. But in some bio’s i’ve read on him, they do not mention he was grand mufti. How could they miss this?

  63. Avatar


    November 26, 2008 at 2:15 PM

  64. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    November 26, 2008 at 2:41 PM

    @ Br. Sirat

    You raise some very deep and profound issues, which I myself am currently discussing with students and scholars, peers and teachers. I too have to face this ‘charge’ directly and I understand where it is coming from.

    I am currently in the process of writing a lengthy article (it is an ongoing article, and I don’t plan to release it in the immediate future) where I’m collecting my thoughts and the thoughts of many other peers and scholars on the issue. I’m afraid that while it is self-appeasing to assume that there are simple psychological issues at play and dismiss these opinions ad hominem (which, in the end, is what is happening despite how ‘nicely’ its done :) ), there are in fact far deeper methodological principles that are involved. It is clear that some activists, myself including, are fine-tuning the dawah from how it was expressed and practiced a decade ago by the previous generation of duaat. Some view it as watering down, I personally view it as wisening up. I would go so far as to state that the change in direction that we are witnessing is completely in accordance with the goals of the Shariah, and is also directly a cause (and not a result) of the success of our methodology, with the help of Allah before, during and after of course.

    But that is the topic of the longer article, and when it does come out it will explain a lot more than this brief note. I just wanted to state that obviously I am well aware of this difference of perspective, and respectfully disagree. I also believe that there will always be, let’s say, more ‘conservative’ understandings of our religion, and they are free to practice the religion as they see fit. The problem will come as a result of their view that anyone who doesn’t agree with their specific understanding (or take from their scholars) is somehow not fully authentic (if this sounds familiar, its because it is very similar to other phenomenons that we have all witnessed) .

    Lastly, my opinions on voting and the beard were the same in Madinah as they are now. So this is not a recent ‘change’ but rather my standard opinion for the last (almost) decade.


  65. Amad


    November 26, 2008 at 3:04 PM

    Well said Shaykh sahib, I look forward to this wonderful and much-needed article. It isn’t just scholars and students of knowledge who have to expound on what this watering-down or maturing is, depending on perspective, but also for the other people in dawah and even the laymen to understand properly.

    The example of voting, brought up by Sirat, actually illustrates quite the opposite to what he is indicating. The fact that some great scholars like Ibn Uthaymeen said it was permissible, should lead one to question on the breadth and wideness of one’s own “cliques of scholars”.

    As YQ indicated, many of us have “been there, done that”. I still remember reading Sh. Albani’s book on salah, and engaging in “amr bil maroof and nahil munkar” on fiqh of prayer, because in my mind everyone else HAD to be wrong. The world of scholars was REALLY very small indeed at the time… in fact you could count the scholars on your fingers (at least the “kibaar”). And then I think many of us discovered that there was a world beyond the bubble– a world that was equally full of vigor, intellect and yes, scholarly works.

    Also, the personalities we held on to… we believed they were right in all circumstances, and often we viewed the world through their colored lenses. It was the sort of taqleed of the living students of knowledge, that we warned others about doing with madahib.

    This isn’t an easy struggle. In fact, not long ago, I bemoaned the changing world in this piece on my own now-defunct blog. I think the reflections are still valid. The question is whether the “new us” is better than the “old us”. Change, or more appropriately, the process of maturing, is not always bad.

    I recommend the short-book (nearly a booklet) “Who moved my cheese“… it has an enriching message that everyone will appreciate.

  66. Avatar


    November 26, 2008 at 4:25 PM

    As-salam Alaykum Bro Sirat,

    I think that although you took great care of wording your post in a seemingly courteous manner, it is very clear that it is a ‘vicious attack’ on the character of certain dawah-carriers.

    You said:

    I usually tend to stay away from these forums and from Almaghrib in general, so I wouldn’t want to get into detailed arguments – it wouldn’t benefit or change anyone.

    Then brother why didn’t you follow your own advice/methodology and stay away from making this post? Obviously your post doesn’t benefit or change anyone, so why did you post it?

    You say:

    I respectfully disagree with Sh Yasir

    Followed by the contradiction:

    Sh Yasir, I really hope the popularity you have gained in the west does not make you waver from sticking to the Quran and Sunnah. You will face fitan and challenges around you, but if you stick to the truth, even in the most seemingly trivial issues, inshaAllah Allah (swt) will bless you in this dunya and Akhirah. I really and honestly hope you are sincere and only seeking to please Allah (swt).

    The only insincerity is yours.

    Fi Aman Allah

  67. Avatar


    November 26, 2008 at 9:07 PM

    I’m not conflating the issue at hand. I’m merely pointing out what I have observed overtime- basically that we’re witnessing a more relaxed approach by certain students of knowledge when it comes to contemporary issues; in other words, there is an element propagating a more watered down religon to the western muslim youth, albeit in a very very gradual manner.

    Since when was the beard a contemporary issue?

    This has nothing to do with my youthful exuberance; what I say has been said by a very wise, knowledge and elderly person who has met and knows many of these madinah graduates, he himself being a graduate from madinah. If you asked him 2 years ago, he had already predicted this gradual change as it is a common result of excessive popularity. If you ask him now, he will tell you that many of these instructors still lack age and experience; much of what they’re saying now as regards to issues we face today (beard and voting being two recent examples) is contradicted by their very own teachers who taught them in Madinah.

    Is following blanket non-fiqh related conclusions made by one’s elders considered a valid form of taqleed? I’m not so sure. I have not seen evidence to demonstrate that these teachers have watered themselves down due to popularity – it’s an unjust aspersion to cast against someone without evidence, and the evidence needed is heavy because it goes not just into the action, but the intention behind it – can your teacher (who you’re taking from) prove it? If not, then it’s not worth mentioning.


  68. Avatar


    November 27, 2008 at 4:43 AM

    I have not seen evidence to demonstrate that these teachers have watered themselves down due to popularity

    I think the real reason is that the very popular dawah carriers tend to be smarter people, students of knowledge who shine above and beyond the rest. Every year, hundreds of people graduate from Univ of Madeenah and other Saudi schools…but how many of them do we hear about? The fact is that people like Yasir Qadhi are exceptional; he is a truly gifted and intelligent man.

    So because these people are so smart, they usually come to realize how the simplistic version of Islam that these ‘exuberant youths’ does not represent true Islam.

    The less intelligent dawah-carriers don’t get as famous because they are not exceptional, and because they are not very intelligent, they never expand their religious knowledge like the smarter ones do. Yasir Qadhi has grown by leaps and bounds, and this just shows his intelligence, nothing more. The dumb people are just too dumb to realize this.

  69. Avatar

    Abu Hatim

    November 27, 2008 at 6:24 AM

    @ Yasir Qadhi

    Dear Yasir Qadhi

    Earlier on in this thread I posted:

    “…and Yasir Qadhi didn’t make mention [from what I can remember] of any scholars from the early generations who either trimmed that which was less than a fist length or said it was permissible to do so. This for me at least is a very important issue, because I for one believe that it is important to know how the early generations understood the actions of the generations that came shortly before them, did they understand such actions to be that of restriction on or permissibility of trimming? And at what point in time did the view that it is permissible to trim that which is less than a fist length become a known opinion?”

    I would appreciate it if you could answer my questions concerning this particular issue, since knowing who and/or if any of the early generations understood the actions of some of the sahabah and several of the tabi’in to be highlighting the permissibility of trimming without restriction or to be highlighting the restriction on what can and cant be trimmed is the crux of the issue.

    I look forward to your response!

  70. Avatar


    November 27, 2008 at 7:33 AM

    Assalaam’aalaikum brothers,

    Subhaan allah-I saw this on some other posts (which Amad might remember) and I see this again. With the exception of the noble response of the Sheikh – I found the others who responded to Sirat (whether I agree or not) – to be cliqueish and attacking. Siraaj/Amad – I feel the sheikh is well qualified to defend himself and clarify if required (J-ireserve my comments for i know little to nothing about you) Brothers – please let me be able to say I love you all for the sake of allah (which is sincerely where i started when i first started coming on to – do not become the same people who you deride time and again on these boards-you know the ones i speak of. Even the politest of language can conceal the harshest of attacks-i’m sure u realise that.

    Ya Sheikh Yasir – a teacher is often reflected in his students – we saw this with what happened in the late 90’s and early 2000’s with certain cliques. I remember when Abu Ameenah and many others would tell us that truth will soon ‘out’ – to have patience and adhere to the middle way and await the time when the scholars would finally speak, and remember the noble manner in which he handled his attackers – people who were far harsher and downright insulting in their attacks – I implore you to advise your students to tone down their responses. I dont want to jump the gun here – but I fear for these brothers and I fear for their increasingly antagonistic stand towards ‘conservative’ (if i could use a better term-I would) salafis, ahl us sunnah / call it what u may.

    To the brothers – if it was a point to defend or refute – lets do it with scholarship not acrimony – the one who responds in a noble manner is better than the harsh person (or the one who seems to be attacking).


    Abu Moosa

    (now-go ahead and refute away)

  71. Avatar


    November 27, 2008 at 10:59 AM

    I have a question:

    1. Can we change the captions of the Sh. Yasir’s pictures from “Before/After” to “Before Marriage/After Marriage”?

    2. A little gem that I still love to this day: “If you sincerely think you’re sincere, then you need some sincerity in your sincerity” – Imam Nawawi rahimahullah.

    3. At what point does not shaving the beard turn from a fiqh issue to an issue of a persons aqeedah?

    4. Is it not of the adaab to give advice to specific people in private?

  72. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    November 27, 2008 at 11:55 AM

    @ Abu Hatim

    There are some reports (e.g,. from Mujahid and Ata) where they said it was permissible to trim during Hajj, and they didn’t specify how long. So it is possible to say they didn’t mean any specification, and it is possible to say that they were referring to what other tabiun said of trimming to a fist length. But that is not my main point, rather it’s an usuli one which I tried to summarize in the lecture. The fact that the Companions trimmed is an indication that they understood that what the hadith intended was to grow a beard, and not that it should go untouched. To derive from all of these athar that someone is SINFUL for trimming less than a fist’s length is where I disagree. I simply cannot extrapolate the ruling of tahrim from the actions of some of our early respected generations.
    As I said, if someone were to say that a fistful is mustahab, I would agree (and that is my opinion). In fact, I would even lean towards sayings trimming less than a fistful is makruh (although personally I follow the opinion that is mubah, but I sympathize very much with saying its makruh and see fully where they are coming from). My issue comes from saying that a Muslims faces the punishment of Allah for trimming – I don’t see the evidences stacking up to this claim.

    @ Abu Moosa
    I appreciate the comments, and I do hope that anyone who defends me or any other Muslim, layman or daee or scholar, does so for the sake of the truth, and not for any ‘cliquesh’ reasons.

    @ Zuhair
    Both pics are ‘after marriage’, akhi, so don’t read YOUR fears into them ;)
    The beard issue would never become an aqadi one unless someone says that he doesn’t really care what the Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam wanted us to do – now THAT would be a major issue (of kufr, that is!)

  73. Avatar


    November 27, 2008 at 5:16 PM

    to be cliqueish and attacking. Siraaj/Amad – I feel the sheikh is well qualified to defend himself and clarify if required

    Not sure what you mean by either clique-ish or attacking – do you want to elaborate on that?


  74. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    November 27, 2008 at 6:51 PM

    For those who were asking for quotes from the scholars of the past, here is one:
    The famous Maliki jurist al-Qadi `Iyad (d. 543) wrote in his Sharh Sahih Muslim (2/64):

    As for taking from the beard, from its length and its width, then this is something recommended. And it is disliked to grow up to a length at which it would be considered boastful, just as it is disliked to trim it excessively. But the scholars of the salaf disagreed amongst themselves as to whether there was a specific limit [to the beard], so some amongst them considered there to be no specific limit (lam yuhadid), except that they said that it should not grow to a length of arrogance and fame (shuhra), but rather should trim it. And others amongst them set a limit, and said that anything more than a fistful should be trimmed.

    The concept of shuhra is of course relative, and I am NOT employing it here. Rather, all I’m saying is that there is an opinion that states anything that constitutes a ‘beard’ would be fulfilling the requirements of the Shariah, and that is the position that I hold to. When the Sacred Texts themselves do not specify limits, we turn to language. It is also for this exact same usuli reason that I hold that the definition of ‘travel’ is a relative matter, not defined by a specific distance; even though this is an extremely minority position amongst the classical scholars (perhaps even more of a minority than the opinion that allows trimming the beard), it has become so popular in our times that many think it is a majority opinion! With respect to the travel issue, this was primarily popularized by Ibn Taymiyya, who claimed that since the Shariah did not specify, we should in fact turn to the language and customs. He did this in the face of the fact that the vast majority of scholars of the first few generations have very specific opinions regarding what constitutes ‘travel’ (i.e., they set a very precise measurement for it).

    In the end, Allah knows best, and we try to achieve Allah’s pleasure, and all those who are sincere are rewarded for their striving.

  75. Avatar


    November 27, 2008 at 9:51 PM

    I want to preface this by saying that I agree with Ustadh Yasir Qadhi that there is no real evidence to support the idea that it is sinful to trim your beard so that it is less than a handful.

    Having said that, I think that from a purely aesthetic sense, Yasir Qadhi looked better in the longer beard, i.e. the Madeenah hardcore one. It seemed more symmetrical and nice to me. Wallahu Aalim.

  76. Avatar


    November 27, 2008 at 10:33 PM

    For the sake of clarifying some previous comments – confusion often occurs when discussing scholars from Mauritania. Many scholars, and people in general, from Mauritania have the name Muhammad and they also have compound names such as Muhammad al-Mukhtaar, Muhammad al-Hassan or Muhammad al-Ameen. You even have cases where all the boy children have the name Muhammad and they distinguish them by Muhammad ath-Thaani or Muhammad II, etc.

    Shaykh Muhammad b. Muhammad al-Mukthaar Aal-Mazeed ash-Shanqeeti (hafidhahullah) who teaches in al-Masjid an-Nabawi and also in Jeddah is not the son of Shaykh Muhammad al-Ameen b. Muhammad al-Mukhtaar ash-Shanqeeti (rahimahullah), who also taught in al-Masjid an-Nabawi but was never mufti of Saudi Arabia. Shaykh Muhammad al-Ameen (rahimahullah) also has children who teach in al-Masjid an-Nabawi.

    If you’re not confused yet then in the least it is probably very obvious to you by now that quite a few times opinions and views have been attributed to the Shaykh which he is innocent and free of to the point that there is even a message on his website – – regarding attributing something to him without verifying it beforehand. I am not necessarily referring to anything being discussed here in this post.

    So the Shaykh is the son of Shaykh Muhammad al-Mukhtaar (rahimahullah) who was a teacher in al-Masjid al-Haram in Makkah. His father (rahimahullah) was an outstanding scholar as well with an amazing memory like many from Mauritania. Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (rahimahullah) once said he had memorized the entire history book of Ibn Katheer (rahimahullah) and Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd (rahimahullah) included him in a work of his which was an index of scholars of genealogy.

    Anyone who visits al-Madeenah should take the opportunity to sit in the class of the Shaykh. He is both a faqeeh and waa’idh, connecting fiqh issues to the heart so that the purpose and goal of ‘ibaadah is kept in mind. Though classes may be on hold at the moment since Hajj is coming, they are usually on Thursday at al-Masjid an-Nabawi on al-Muwatta and on Wednesday in Jeddah at Masjid al-Malik Sa’ood on Sunan at-Tirmidhi (listen here – There are also many lectures of his here –

    I know all of this is a bit off topic and I apologize for that but I just wanted to clarify for anyone interested and I hope this is helpful and Allah knows best.

  77. Avatar


    November 28, 2008 at 12:47 AM

    except that they said that it should not grow to a length of arrogance

    Subhaanallah, that one statement says volumes about the culture of those people – it was a sign of arrogance that a man grew a beard, as though it was like, the longer the beard, the more manlier the man, and the more boastful and prideful he could be about it (just thinking about some of the quotes scholars who could not grow beards said about themselves).

    Now, we’re in the opposite – long beards are frowned upon, and it’s no longer potentially showing off, but rather, stubborness :D


  78. Avatar

    Hasan S

    December 1, 2008 at 12:55 AM

    Bismillah. This is a topic that on the surface may seem trivial, but is a serious matter because it is Allah who has created us and has Decreed that we have . First of all, the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, commanded us to “let the beard grow” and did not command us to “grow your beard”. There is a huge difference between “growing you beard” and “letting your beard grow” – it is Allah who grows the beard, not the human. Man can allow the beard to grow by not trimming it down, but cannot “grow” the beard. The length and texture of the beard depend on your genetic makeup. The Prophet’s command is the command of Allah, and in a Mu’min’s mind, there should be no distinction between a “Quranic command” and the Prophet’s command that we get from the authentic Ahadith. The beard is a feature of the adult human male’s face, no matter how hard Hollywood would have us believe otherwise. Allah has made us in the best of forms (Surah Teen).(Unwarrantedly) changing the creation is from Shaitan – “And surely I (Shaitan) will command them and they will change Allah’s creation.” (An-Nisa’: 119). Muslims are commanded in certain cases, and allowed, in others, to change the creation of Allah as demands of Fitrah. By changing Allah’s creation in any other way, we may be committing kufr and shirk. Let’s face it – preserving the beard takes time and energy, and sometimes the bearded man is faced with hostility from men and women who are programmed to consider beardless men as normal. Alhamdu Lillahi ‘ala kulli ‘haal. If trimming the beard were allowed, our Prophet, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, whom Allah sent as Rahmatullil ‘alameen, would have allowed us to trim the beard and would have trimmed it himself. A man maintaining his beard in its natural form (untrimmed from the start), is not an unusual burden on him or those who see him, if only our society were used to the concept. The untrimmed beard, especially the beards that have never been mutiliated, are soft, graceful, dignified, and natural looking – sort of like untrimmed eyebrows.

    Second, the proof that leaving the beard to grow on its own (sparing it) being a command of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, (and he has used various words to make the command clear that the beard is to be spared, let grown, having mercy on it, lengthening it) is in the most authentic Ahadith and the proof is in the same Ahadith from where circumcision is established as obligatory – it is a ‘demand’ of the fitrah – so the beard should be the first thing that a Muslim man should keep (upon the beard appearing, of course), just as circumcision is performed at an early age. On the other hand, the Ahadith that record the Prophet and a few sahabah trimming their beards, are extremely weak, with fabricators in the musnad, wa-Allahu ‘alam. Since when is taking a weak Ahadith over the strongest Ahadith acceptable to Muslim scholars, when the two Ahadith are contradictory? A’ishah ” reported that Allah’s Messenger sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “There are ten qualities of fitrah: trimming the mustaches, SPARING the beard, siwak (brushing the teeth), inhaling water (to clean the nose) [and rinsing the mouth], cutting the nails, washing the finger knuckles, plucking the armpit hair, shaving the pubic hair, washing the private parts with water, [and circumcision].” [Muslim, Abu Dawud, Ahmad, Ibn Abi Shaybah, and others. The part between square brackets is not in Muslim (Sahah ul-Jami `no. 2222)] This fitrah never changes with time. Allah tells us: “So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [Adhere to] the fitrah of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah . That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know. [ar-Rum 30:30]. How can people interpret “spare the beard” in any other way, except letting the beard to grow naturally? The Arabic words are even clearer.

    Third, in the authentic Ahadith of Ibn Umar, radi Allah ‘anh, in which he trimmed a few hair of his beard that his fist could not hold, the reason for his action is that he thought the trimming of the beard is a ritual of Hajj, along with shaving the hair on the scalp, which was his personal interpretation of the requirements of Hajj. In this case, it is following a command related to a specific act of worship, even if it contradicts the general command. Ibn Umar himself is one of the narrators of the Qualities of the Fitrah Hadith. A similar example, where we make an exception to the rule, is making tahayyatul masjid after ‘Asr – it is forbidden to make salah between Asr and Maghrib, but it is obligatory to make the two rakahs before sitting in a masjid. We have to remember that even though Ibn Umar used to follow the sunnah, he was not the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and in the Qur’an, Allah has commanded us to obey the command of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. “Whatever the Messenger gives, take it, and whatever he forbids abstain from it.” (Surah al Hashr, 59:7). In other words, whatever instructions and orders the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) gives to the people, he gives them on behalf of Allah. The Prophet, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam,

    Fourth, it is a falacy, and a mockery of reality, that if left on its own, the beard will keep on growing down to the ankles or “sweep the floor”. The length of the beard, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was described as thick. Again, is upto Allah to determine the length to which the beard should grow, not humans. He has made us in the best of forms. If no one else in modern society, look at the beards of the ultra-orthodox jews who have the strength of faith to preserve their religion and let their beards grow naturally, despite opposition from western society. (We do not agree with their letting their moustache grow as well, which we are commanded to trim down).

    Lastly, is it not time that we became loyal slaves to Allah, instead of to western ideals of acceptable facial features? Racial bigotry may have forced our forefathers who lived under oppression in lands colonized by western governments, to subject their beards to trimming (which we are commanded to do to our moustaches) and shaving (which we are commanded to do to our pubic hair), but in today’s world, discrimination on the basis of genetic makeup is considered unacceptable. To copy the colonial masters in their dress, language and even their physical features, was a matter of survival – several generations ago, not now. Men mutilated their beards and let their moutaches grow to disgusting lengths, and women wore wigs, plucked hair from their faces, and had their teeth extracted for (attempted) beatification, despite knowing about the curse that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam cast on such women. Alhamdu Lillah, we are free to be Muslims, and men have the right to let their beards grow, in accordance with the command of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, just as women have the right to cover their bodies in public.

    We no longer have to follow our forefathers and please the white Christian colonial masters and struggle to look like them. Is it not time that we stopped pretending to be something we can never be? Brothers, trim your MOUSTACHE, not your beard…SPARE your BEARD COMPLETELY! May Allah spare us COMPLETELY from the Torments of this world and the next, because of our sparing our beards from mutilation, completely, aameen.

  79. Avatar

    A Muslim man

    December 3, 2008 at 1:50 AM

    Asalamu Alaikum. The argument that as long as we do not shave or pluck the beard hair, we are not disobeying the commands of Rasool-Allah, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and trimming is allowed, is flawed, to note the least. Has someone thought for a minute that maybe the reason why the beard was not an issue of contention among Muslims for centuries, is that no Muslim interpretted the clear instructions of Rasool-Allah, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam – to spare, have mercy on, forgive – the beard, as other than what it means – do not mutiliate the beard. That the beard is to be left in its natural shape dimernsions, is especially clear when we consider that the same Ahadith that mention the beard, list the acts of trimming, shaving, and plucking to be performed on the moustache, public hair, and underarm hair, respectively!

    BTW, if someone has ever made fun of any Muslim man whose beard sometimes appear to be scraggly because they have stopped trimming the beard upon Submitting to Allah completely, after years of abuse in the form of shaving and trimming, he or she should restate the shahadah, because making fun of any aspect of Islam is kufr. Whatsoever Rasool-Allah, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, has commanded us to do or not do, defines Islam.

  80. Avatar

    A Muslim man

    December 3, 2008 at 2:09 AM

    What gives scholars the authority to contradict the clear commands of Rasool-Allah, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam! How dare they tell us their “opinion” on any matter of Islam, without quoting Allah or Rasool Allah, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and in contradiction with Allah and Rasool Allah, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam! Let’s not be the ones to follow the mistakes of the People of the Book (even though it is a Prophecy of the Prophet that the ummah will follow the Jews and the Christians in everything they do) who allowed their scholars to change their revealed religion…They have taken their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah, and [also] the Messiah, the son of Mary. And they were not commanded except to worship one God; there is no deity except Him. Exalted is He above whatever they associate with Him. [At-Tawbah:31]

    And who are we to try to ‘improve’ the form that Allah has created us in? Should we not love the face of Rasool-Allah, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, who is not reported (in any non-daeef Hadith) to have ever trimmed his beard, and has told us using several various words to let our beards grow?

  81. Avatar

    Abu Hatim

    December 3, 2008 at 6:17 AM

    @ Yasir Qadhi

    Jazak’Allahu khayran for taking the time to answer my questions. I guess what I am trying to get at is whether or not there are any explicit statements from those very early generations in line with your understanding.

    I do not understand what you mean by “usuli”, because I had always thought that the “usul” of understanding Islam in the first place is to understand it based on the understanding of the Sahabah, and by extension those very early generations who came just shortly after them.

    Ibn Abi Shaybah reported that al-Hasan al-Basri said: “They used to allow for what was in excess of what is gripped by the hand of the beard, that it be taken from.”

    This is an explicit statement from al-Hasan al-Basri stating that they would “allow” that which was in excess of a fist length, so I guess what I am asking for is something in which a scholar from the first 3 generations used to “allow” that which was less than a fist length to be trimmed.

  82. Avatar

    Umm Ibraheem

    December 7, 2008 at 4:00 PM


    Jazza kallahu khairn. I just noticed a bit of a contradiction of where, Sh. Y. Qadi said while he was in Medina, as a over zealous student he let his beard grown and not trim it. But, because of his circumstances now he says its okay in his view to trim the beard. Now, is that because he is at Yale and at Yale you can’t grow the beard the full length? Islam in Medina is same as here in the USA? no?

    Just confused.

    Is there any recommended length of the beard?
    is there any recommended length of the beard traceable from Prophet Muhammad SAAW

    Praise be to Allaah….

    [message clipped, please refrain from copy/pasting, a link to the article is sufficient. -editor]

  83. Avatar


    December 7, 2008 at 6:30 PM


    I am sooooo impressed by your post………….. MASHALLAH.
    YOU said it in the best possible manner.

  84. Avatar

    medium sized beard salafi guy

    December 7, 2008 at 6:36 PM

    Now, is that because he is at Yale and at Yale you can’t grow the beard the full length? Islam in Medina is same as here in the USA? no?

    Did you actually listen to the interview?

    Also the Islam in Medinah is not the same as in the USA. When we have police making sure you go to the masjid 5 times a day, and women not being allowed to travel without a mahram … among other things, then you can say the Islam here and there is the same.

    The comments on this thread are really sad. Why do people insist on giving their opinion about something they CLEARLY did not even listen to in the first place??!?!

    Why do you ask about the recommended length of the beard when the question is not only answered in the audio from the post, but you then proceed to answer it yourself with a copy paste from a fatwa site – which it does not seem yasir qadhi seems to deny as illegitimate in any way.

    this is not a manhaj issue. i shudder to think what would happen if muslim matters decided to make a post about the “minimum requirements of hijab”

    comment edited for language -editor

  85. Avatar


    December 7, 2008 at 10:44 PM

    Aslaamua alkaikum,

    My dear brothers and sister we need to remain calm and balanced, an take every thing in context and then coment once we have thought about, once we get into emotions its just gets out of control..

    Ya Akhi medium sized beard salafi guy Islam is Islam is it not so. is this that which makes it soo beautiful that it trancends everything yet remains constant .. ?
    Yes there are some issues that are different from region to region..

    But what people are saying is we don;t have any incidents from the sahaba that they trimmed thier beards below the fist .. do we if we do would someone care to bring it ? It would change the dynamics of this dramatically.

    Having listened to the audio there is no actual proof in there .. for the shortening of the beard to such an extent… there is not one specific narration…
    Now we are differing on this matter we need to refer back to Allah and his messenger .. and the actions of the companions to resolve this matter ..
    As Allah says in surah An Nisa

    And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad ) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers’ way. We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell – what an evil destination.

    From the hadith from the Prophet we have the command to grow the beard ..

    Now then from the actions of ibn umar comes the trimming of the beard which some shayuk allow…
    And this also sets the limit on the beard woudln’t you say, ?
    Ibn Umar also narrates the hadith about growin it and then we have his action of trimming it and this was someone who loved the prophet so much that he imitated him soo much in every action.
    And in hadith the narrator of the hadith knows best the understanding of the hadith.

    Now if someone was to bring another narration about trimming the beard to less than a fist… not a general trimming but a specific mention of less than we would have game on !

    So can any of our knowledgable brothers do that please ?

  86. Avatar

    A Muslim man

    December 8, 2008 at 12:22 AM

    Asalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah.

    Masha Allah Umm Ibraheem has brought solid evidence to this thread – Jazakum Allahu Khair, sister. I wish all the sisters were like you.

    “medium sized beard salafi guy” used offensive language in his post, and should apologize to Umm Ibraheem.

    Just to add to the evidence, in Sahih Ahadith, the Prophet’s amr (command) regarding the beard is Aufu, A’ufou, Arjou’, Yukhsiroo, Arfou’, which cannot be interpretted in any way other than his commanding us to let our beards grow to its own natural dimensions. Especially if we keep in view that in the same Ahadith, he orders us to trim, shave, and pluck, the moustache, pubic hair, and underarm hair, respectively, his command to “leave” (etc.) the beard becomes even clearer that that we cannot trim, shave or pluck the hair of the beard. I am amazed how, especially modern day ulama, take the amr of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, so lightly.

    As for the Sahih Hadith of Ibn Umar, where he trimmed his beard only at Hajj (not otherwise), Ibn Umar’s ijtihad was that in the Quran regarding the requirements of Hajj, “muhaliqeen” is to do with shaving the head, and “muqassireen” is to do with trimming the beard, which was his personal ijtihad and is relevant only to Hajj.

    In the Hadith in Tirimdhi, that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam used to trim his beard, in the chain of narration there is a person, Umar Ibn Haroon, who was deemed a fabricator by muhadiseen, including Imam Bukhari, which makes the Hadith extremely weak and not acceptable. We know from the usool of Fiqh that when an extemely weak Hadith contradicts several Sahih Ahadith, the weak hadith is not considered, (duh!)

    The logic of those who assert that as long as you keep some part of the beard, and don’t shave or pluck the beard, the command of the Prophet to leave the beard is fulfilled, is perverted, to say the least. Ma’az-Allah! Using this logic, someone could say that even shaving will fulfill the command of leaving the beard, because you have not completely removed the hair through plucking! May Allah Guide us all.

    If you know Urdu, Shaikh Abdullah Naasir Rehmani’s khutba on the importance of the beard is available at

    Jazakum Allahu Khair.

  87. Avatar


    December 8, 2008 at 12:52 AM

    A Muslim man said:


    why are we arguing about the beard………………. just keep according to the sunnah. SIMPLE>

    When people don’t want to do something than they make it complicated.

    You know like when the Bani-Israel didn’t want to sacrifice the animal , they kept asking what color, what breed, and what whatever,
    and they wanted specifics BECAUSE they really didn’t want to sacrifice.

    JUST DO IT>…………………..

  88. Avatar

    Dunia's Stranger

    December 8, 2008 at 12:59 AM

    As salaamu alaikum,

    I’ve come to a point in my life where I realized that I’ve wasted – yes I will use the word “wasted” – much of my time reading, researching, and discussing what is and is not acceptable of my beard.

    In the end, I gained little piety or beneficial knowledge from a narrow fiqh issue.

    As a Muslim teenager in college who decided to be a good practicing Muslim, the issue of the beard with thrust upon me by these “clear” rulings/fatwas by Great Scholars of the past on growing the full beard (I was initially under the impression that even trimming more than what a fist holds was not the preferred method).

    This coupled with the “zealous” young Muslim brothers around me who emphasized the need for a beard so much that it shaped the way I perceived Muslim men who shaved/kept small beards as being open sinners for openly doing something directly in opposition to what the prophet told use to do (let our beards grow).

    In fact, some even pointed me towards the likes of Shaykh Yasir Qadi is an example of of an intelligent American Muslim who held firm to his Islamic principles and let his beard grow in the Sunnah manner. Seeing and knowing that Shaykh Yasir was out there in America and doing great dawah work and even attending Yale later with his Sunnah beard gave me much hope and inspiration to pursue my own academic and professional studies with the feeling that ‘hey, if Yasir is doing it with the full Sunnah beard – I should be able to pull it off as well.’

    This helped me not to cave into all my other family members who regularly pressed me that I should at least shape up my beard and make it “neat and not unkempt looking” since my beard was thick, curly, and frizzy. This concern was further magnified by them when I (still currently am) began my graduate studies and went to job interviews looking very much like the Medina Yasir in terms of my beard.

    Yet now, in this lecture I come to find that I had it all wrong: I should have made my beard “neat and professional” as Shaykh Yasir points out in lecture tape 1 (24:40 mark). I guess I was wrong and stubborn for trying to keep what I genuinely perceived to be a Sunnah beard (coming from the same scholars who I learned/read about hadith & aqeedah and the one’s Shaykh Yasir quoted and referenced in his lectures/books).

    In the end, all this emphasis on following the “correct sunnah” of the Prophet ended up distancing me for learning and practicing other important aspects of Islam – from memorizing more of the Quran, reading more Seerah, and making more prayers/adkhar.

    After 5 years from my teenage years, I’ve come to to this point: I no longer care about what others do/ have about their beard or may think about mine. All of this has left me disillusioned about my Muslim identity and feeling like the narrator in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man – only the Muslim version.

  89. ibnabeeomar


    December 8, 2008 at 2:01 AM

    For all those who are posting here with the other fiqh opinions. My question for you is this:

    Do you believe that a scholar holding that trimming is a valid ikhtilaaf? Especially if it is the case that this opinion exists in the madhahib. I’m not asking you whether you AGREE with the opinion, but whether it is ALLOWED for someone to hold that opinion?

    If it is indeed the case that its a legitimate difference, then why all the arguments on it? I would have to echo the comment above and ask whether the majority of people commenting here have actually listened to the interview posted above or not?

  90. Avatar


    December 8, 2008 at 5:27 AM

    @ ibnabeeomar

    As has been quoted for the growing of the beard there is precedence for this..

    And for cutting after a fistful, no one is asking for illumination on this from our brother Yasir Qadhi..

    But rather that of cutting itself less than a fistful thats where there is a need for a specific narration as such as none has been brought for this…. and on a knowledge based religion… this isn’t too much to ask for.. is it ?

    @Yasir Qadhi

    So please for the sake of Allah could you take some time out and post this for us it would be most beneficial…

    @ Dunia’s Stranger

    Following the sunnah of the prophets ( as they all had beards) is a most beloved thing, and as it is such a physcial thing and we have been commanded to have a beard, people become enthuasiastic about it.

    As for how it looks to people we should not be overly concerned about it as long we are giving the beard its rights, combing it oiling it etc…
    And remeber you will be tested by Allah … so do not become disillusioned because to Allah we wll return and all this will seem soo trivial then..

  91. Avatar

    Abu Ninja

    December 12, 2008 at 2:37 PM

    MashaAllah akhee AK has pretty much summarized all the important issues from everyone’s posts and raised an excellent point.

    A simple question, is there any explicit narration from any of the first three generations where the ulamah allowed to remove hair shorter then the length of the fist?

    If there is.. please could someone share?

    I have personally also noticed that over the years some of the duaat who have graduated from Madinah are promoting a ‘new type’ of dawah which their own shayookh who taught them disagree with.

    Personally, the reason why myself and many of the brothers I know respect many of the duaat in the West is because of who they have studied under and learnt the deen from. Now some of these same duaat openly say, that we do not need to refer to those same ulamah. anymore

    Personally I see two extremes..

    One extreme of the ghulaat hadaddis..

    An some of our brothers and duaat going to the other opposite extreme and co-operating with Ahlul Bidah and presenting this new ‘modern’ salafi dawah.

    Allahu musta’aan.

  92. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    December 12, 2008 at 5:46 PM

    Salaam Alaikum

    With respect to the ‘new’ understandings of some issues, as I said I am in the process of writing a longer article on this topic, and while I understand the concerns I obviously disagree with them. I would also like to point out that there are many ulama, alhamdulillah, who do understand the need to take different cultures and circumstances into account, and even on my last trip to Madinah a few months ago I met with one of my main teachers and had a nice discussion regarding the direction of our dawah. While he personally did not agree on each and every decision that we are making, he was supportive of the fact that we are taking the knowledge he taught us and applying it to our locale. The circumstances of different countries are indeed different, and there are some issues, not all, that are contextual based, and change from culture to time to location. It is the job of the people of knowledge to separate what is immutable from what is not. Insha Allah more on that later.

    With regards to asking for an explicit narration, I think that some more usool needs to be understood before we continue this discussion (and I don’t really plan to discuss too longer). The primary issue at stake is: what is the legal status of a statement, or even an action, of a Companion, or Successor? Are you claiming that disobeying a Companion in a fiqh issue incurs Divine sin? If you say so, then in reality you are saying something that no scholar has every said before, and raising a Companion to the level of a Prophet. In fact, even if we were to find (and there is none) that a Companion explicitly said, “To trim the beard less than a fistful is haram,” that statement in and of itself would remain an opinion of a Companion, and by itself could not become Shariah unless other evidence could be found to support it. There are numerous opinions from the Companions that contradict one another, and it is from these differences that the madhabs and other schools actually differ. Of course this is with fiqh and not aqidah. Later scholars either chose between these opinions or even proposed new ones if they felt there were overriding evidences to suggest so. I have already given one example: that of calculating the distance required to be a ‘musafir’. We find numerous reports from the early generations, and most of the madhhabs took one of these reports. Ibn Taymiyya, however, felt that all of these opinions were not strong enough to make it Divine Law, and proposed that a ‘musafir’ varies from time to place. This is in the face of explicit narrations from the first few generations.

    With regards to the beard, not only do we NOT have any explicit narrations commanding a specific lenght, we have general narrations that state that some of the Successors and early scholars saw no problem with ‘taking from the beard’, and they didn’t specify how much. I quoted al-Qadi Iyad and there are others as well, who clearly understood that this meant they didn’t put a limit on it.

    Now, for someone to come and say that a Muslim will incur Divine Wrath for trimming less than a fistful, because it is reported that Ibn Umar trimmed more than a fistful, is basically using usul al-fiqh that I would very strongly disagree with. To claim that it is BETTER to have a fistful beard because Ibn Umar trimmed after a fist is valid. To go beyond this and say it is makruh to trim less than a fistful is something I would not say, but I would not object to either. But to say that it is haram is simply faulty usul (in my opinion, again), and really extrapolating the actions of a few Companions to become Divine Law. As I said, the very fact that the early scholars allowed trimming shows that they did not view trimming to contradict the hadith of growing a beard. It is therefore logical to assume (as I have done) that any type of trimming would be permissible as long as one still has what constitutes a beard. To say that the trimming of the Companions was done to show anything less was haram is simply going beyond what the text can give you, and also raising the Companions to a higher level than usul al-fiqh (or even theology) allows.

    And to reiterate: conflating this issue with the development of a different methodology of Orthodox Islam here in the West is not accurate. The fact that I trim my beard more in America than I did in Madinah does not imply that I held it to be invalid back then. While I will be the first to admit that I have changed some of the positions I’ve held in the past, the beard and participating in the voting process are not on that list.

    I really think I have written way more than needs to be; there has been a classical difference on this regard from the earliest times, and I do think it is a sad state of affairs when even classical differences such as this one are viewed with such negativity and suspicion if one goes against what someone else has concluded is the ‘correct’ opinion.


  93. Avatar

    Abu Hatim

    December 20, 2008 at 1:48 PM

    @ Yasir Qadhi

    As-salamu ‘alaykum

    I am not sure if I have understood this right, so if not please do correct me. It is regarding the principle you spoke of:

    The Prophet [sall-Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam] ordered us to leave our beards alone, he didn’t tell us to trim them; rather, he only told us to trim our moustaches, so would I be correct in assuming that if it were not for the actions of some of the sahabah in that they trimmed that which was more than a fist length, those who hold it permissible to trim one’s beard, be it what extends beyond the fist or is less than a fistful, would not have any evidence for their opinion? If so, would we all then have to conclude that it would not be permissible to trim our beards at all?

    You mentioned that you do not hold that the action of a Sahabi constitutes a legal ruling in the Shari’ah, but is it not the actions of the sahabah that you base your opinion on? You stated that the actions of some of the Sahabah demonstrate the permissibility of trimming as opposed to highlighting a restriction on what can be trimmed. If I am correct in what I assumed in the above paragraph then it means that to state otherwise must be based on tangible evidence, and in this case the only evidence we have that it is permissible to trim the beard are the actions of some of the Sahabah. If that is the case then whatever opinion one holds with regards to what one can or can’t be trimmed they would be basing it on these actions, would that then not constitute a ruling on the permissibility of trimming based on those actions?

    If the action of a Sahabi is not a legal ruling in the Shari’ah then does this not make the opinion of those who say that you can’t trim at all, all the bit stronger, because they are basing their opinion on the fact the Prophet [sall-Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam] told us to leave our beards alone which is a legal ruling in the Shari’ah [right?] and not on the action of a Sahabi which according to some scholars does not constitute a legal ruling in the Shari’ah. So if you hold the opinion that the action of a Sahabi does not constitute a legal ruling in the Shari’ah you would by default not be able to hold the opinion that the action of some of them highlights the permissibility of trimming, right?

    I really hope what I have said makes sense because I am not sure if I have managed to convey what I mean in how I have worded it. But essentially what I tried to do was tie the various points I mentioned together so that it could all be understood under one light.

    Although I understand how one could argue that the actions of the Sahabah only highlight the permissibility of trimming I feel that the opinion that they demonstrate a restriction is stronger for a number of reasons:

    1. The Prophet [sall-Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam] told us to leave our beards alone.
    2. Although some of the Sahabah, including one of the narrators of the Prophet’s [sall-Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam] command trimmed their beards; there is no report [to the best of my knowledge] of any of them ever trimming that which was less than a fistful, had it been permissible to do so then surely there would be at least one report of at least one of them doing so.
    3. I haven’t seen any report from any of the Sahabah or their successors that have explicitly stated that they understood the actions of some of the Sahabah to mean one could trim less than what those illustrious Sahabah did, i.e. less than a fistful.
    4. Ibn Abi Shaybah reported that the famous successor to the Sahabah, al-Hasan al-Basri said that they did not allow for less than a fistful to be trimmed, which is an explicit report on what can and what can’t be trimmed from a scholar from the first two generations of Islam.

    And Allah knows best!

  94. Avatar

    Abu Hatim

    December 20, 2008 at 8:58 PM

    Just wanted to add some nice points and excellent questions a friend of mine posed to me about the issue at hand:

    “On the point of the sahaabah’s action being a proof: Is the trimming of the Sahaabah of their beards an uncontested action? If it is then wouldn’t that take legal status, showing at least permissibility of trimming, because we follow the Qur’an and Sunnah with understanding of the Sahaabah? This surely is different to where the sahaabah’s view is contested by other sahaabah by action or saying where supporting evidence would be required to see where the haqq lies.

    So if their trimming is an uncontested action the discussion which remains is what ruling their trimming takes: restrictive or showing permissibility, how are we to understand this action?”

    Sorry to drag this out, but some of the finer details of this issue are very interesting!

  95. Avatar

    A Muslim man

    December 21, 2008 at 4:53 AM

    Asalamu Alaikum

    The act of unnecessarily modifying the human body, especially the face, should not be taken lightly, because then we may be expressing our dissatisfaction with how Allah has decreed our physical features to be. The beard, once trimmed, loses its natural form that Allah has decreed for us. Allah is Ahsan-ul-Khaliqeen – then why are we trying to make ourselves more “beautiful” than how he has created us?

    Questions for Brother Yasir Qadhi. In which compilation of Ahadith is the proof that Sahaba allegedly trimmed their beards? Who all are the Sahabah, and what is the authenticity of the Ahadith is which this action is mentioned? If possible, please describe the situation in which the Ahadith are set, because this is important.

    Reading the Hadith of Bukhari (Rahmatullah ‘Alaih) in which Ibn Umar (Radi Allahu ‘Anh) is reported to have cut a few hair from his beard, it is obvious that the occasion was Hajj or Umrah – he reportedly thought that cutting a few hair from the bottom of the beard is part of the masakin (rituals) of Hajj and Umrah. The narrators were very careful to mention that he cut the hair at Hajj and Umrah, which is surely an unusual action – given the crystal clear directives of Rasul Allah, Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, to let the beard grow – and that is why this extraordinary act and the occasion at which it used to happen, was mentioned. In Ibn Umar’s case, it was his understanding of the masakin of Hajj, that the beard is also to be trimmed. Also to note is that when Ibn Umar clasped his beard in his fist, it is not mentioned that his fist was in touch with his chin of whether he left a few inches or more between his chin and his fist. This Hadith might as well be describing the scenario in which his beard was down to just above his navel, and he grabbed his beard such that only a millimeter of beard hair were visible below his fist, and cut only that much. The Hadith, from what I can tell reading the translation, does not necessarily give us a definite answer about the length of Ibn Umar’s beard after he trimmed it. It does tell us what his cutting technique was. Again, he trimmed only at Hajj and Umrah, because his understanding was that this is part of the masakin of Hajj and Umrah. This action cannot be traced to Rasool Allah, Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.

    Please clarify what the source of the other Ahadith about sahaba ever trimming their beards is – I am looking for name of the person who authenticated the Ahadith (e.g. Imam Bukhari, or Tirimdhi), and the category of the Ahadith (e.g. Sahih, or Daeef). So far I have seen only vague quotes such as ‘taking from the beard’, which could mean anything from plucking, to cleaning the beard, and no source of the Hadith has been given.

    In sharp contrast to the weak argument for ever trimming the beard are the multiple Sahih Ahadith in which all the practicable techniques for reducing the hair are mentioned – trimming, shaving, plucking, and it has been commanded to let the beard grow, have mercy on it, lengthen it, forgive it, which clearly indicates that trimming, shaving, and plucking are not to be done on the beard. Reading the descriptions of the Prophet, Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and the khulafa rashideen, one cannot imagine that they ever cut their beards. And why should they, when Allah has made their faces and they were the thankful and sincere slaves of Allah, never seeking faults with Allah’s creation and Allah’s definition of beauty and aesthetics, and when Rasool Allah – Allah’s Prophet – Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, had made clear to them the halal and the haram, regarding the beard, through his words and his actions, Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. By trimming the beard, are we trying to claim to have a better aesthetic sense than Allah, who has decreed that men of certain races shall have hair growth on their faces, up to a certain length and width, and of a certain color, and who has sent the Prophets who never cut their beards to demonstrate to us that beards are not to be ever cut? Who are we fooling, when we think that if we trim the beard that the Prophet, Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, has instructed us, using various phrases so that there is no doubt in our minds, to let grow, we are not contradicting him?

    My Ikhwaan, if we love Rasool Allah, Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, we should also take his directives seriously and love the characteristics of his face so that we can be in his company in Jannah, be-idznillah, instead of in the company of Hollywood actors (Sean Connery in Entrapment and in The Rock and Johnathan Frakes “Commander Riker” in “Startrek: the next generation”) wherever they may end up in the next life.

    Brother Abu Ammar, Jazakum Allahu Khair for helping us find our Muslim identity as the loyal followers of Allah and Rasool Allah, Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. We love you for the sake of Allah, and we love all Muslims for the sake of Allah, however, we expect proof from Qaal Allah and Qaala Rasool Allah, Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and its source, when you tell us about Islam. It is not enough to tell us that scholars thought so, because, again, the scholars are not Rusul and the burden to provide the proof from Al-Qur’an and Ahadith, is on the scholars. Without this proof, at best, there is a high probability that ikhtilaaf will exist, not to mention the other major implications (the scholar’s claim to Prophethood being one). Let’s please recognize that the scholars can make mistakes, and even sahaba can make mistakes, however, Rasool Allah, Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam is guaranteed to be on the Siraat Al Mustaqeem, and he said only what is the truth, and that too in plain words.

    May Allah save us from following Shaitan who wants to distort Allah’s creation, and may we be satisfied with Allah as our Rab, Islam as our Deen and Muhammad as our Nabi, Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, Aameen.

    Allahu A’lum.

    Brother Abu Ammar, please respond. Jazakum Allahu Khair.

  96. Avatar

    A Muslim man

    December 21, 2008 at 11:09 PM

    Asalamu Alaikum Brothers and Sisters in Islam,

    Please accept my apologies for any harm that I may have caused to anyone, directly or indirectly.

  97. Avatar

    Abu Ibrahim

    December 23, 2008 at 12:48 PM

    Assalamu alaykum,

    Shaykh Yasir, jazak Allahu khayran for a very benficial interview indeed. Can you please coment on the following contention:

    The Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded us to let our beards grow in a number of reports. Looking at those reports alone and applying our usul, it seems to me that letting the beard grow would be considered obligatory, and trimming it in any way would be considered unlawful. However, when we look at the actions of the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them), especially that of Ibn Umar which was tacitly approved by all the Companions around him (amounting to ijma` sukuti) we can safely conclude that it is permissible to trim the beard, but only to the extent that the Companions did it, because the asl here is what was indicated by the command of the Prophet (i.e. to leave the beard alone)?

    So we are not basing tahrim of trimming the beard beyond a fistful on the actions of the Companions, but rather we are qualifying the general Prophetic prohibition of trimming the beard by the actions (or silent consensus) of the Companions, but only to the extent that their actions indicate.

    Jazak Allahu khayran.

  98. Avatar

    A Muslim man

    December 23, 2008 at 3:09 PM

    Asalamu Alaikum,

    I am amazed at how we can choose to contradict the clear directives of Rasool Allah, salllallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, based on one Sahabi’s ijtihad that of the manasik of Hajj and Umrah is that the beard should be trimmed. We cannot claim that “the Sahaba” (meaning all the Sahaba) trimmed their beard. Ibn Umar’s trimmed a few hair from his beard at Hajj and Umrah only and not at any other time. That was his personal ijtihad on what should be trimmed at Hajj and Umrah- one that happens to contradict the Prophet’s directives, salllallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. We should not be in the business of judging the Sahabah when they are reported to act in a manner that contradicts the Prophet salllallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam’s directives. We should make excuses for them instead and find out why they did it. Ibn Umar’s reason for trimming his beard at Hajj can be traced to the Quran:
    “muhallaqeen ru’usakum wa muqassireen – shaving their heads and cutting [their hair].” Al-Fath [48:27]
    His ijtihad was that muqassireen could be applied to the beard. Allah A’lum.

    In addition, from the Hadith that Ibn Umar held his beard in his fist and then cutting what extended from his fist, we cannot conclude without doubt that the length of his beard after the trimming was that of the width of his fist. Holding the beard together with his fist and then cutting the hair is his trimming technique, not a measure of the length of his beard after the trimming. From the description of a barber holding a person’s hair between two fingers and cutting the hair that extends beyond the thickness of his fingers, we cannot conclude that the barber cut the person’s hair down to less than an inch. The barber may have held the person’s hair close to the end of the hair length. Similarly, in reality, Ibn Umar’s beard could have extended below his navel, and he could have held his beard around where his navel was, and then cut the part of his beard that protruted from his grip. After the trimming, his beard would still reach his navel.

    As for the other Companions (Abu Huraira) trimming his beard, what is the source and authenticity of that Hadith?

    Allahu A’lum.

  99. Avatar

    Abu Hatim

    December 23, 2008 at 4:36 PM

    As-salamu ‘alaykum

    Dear brother

    There was actually more than just one Sahabi who trimmed that which exceeded a fistful from his beard, there were several. However, there are no reports [to the best of my knowledge] of any of them ever trimming that which was less than a fist.

    The statements of the Messenger of Allah [sall-Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam] are the “base” of the whole issue, whereas the actions of some of the Sahabah are known in Usul al-Fiqh as “specifying evidence” that show the exact and correct understanding of the “base evidence”, in this case the clear and explicit statements of the Prophet [sall-Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam]. It is generally agreed that the ijma’ of the Sahabah is binding upon us, however, when it comes to the actions of some of the Sahabah the scholars differed as to whether or not these actions constitute a proof.

    So, if like Br. Yasir Qadhi one does not hold the actions of some of the Sahabah to constitute a legal ruling in the Shari’ah it is irrelevant what some of the Sahabah did or didn’t do, and as such one will not be taking into account the “specifying evidence” when considering the correct stance on any given issue. Rather, one will be basing his/her opinion on the “base evidence”, and with regards to the issue of the beard the “base evidence” is found in the clear and explicit words of the Prophet [sall-Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam], words such as: “Awfu”, which means “let them grow to their full”, “arkhu”, which means “let them loose untouched”, “waffiru”, which literally means “save them [let them grow to become plentifull]”, and “a’fu”, which means to “set free [ don’t touch them].”

    If one only takes into account the “base evidence” and disregards the “specifying evidence” he/she can only conclude from the clear and explicit words of the Prophet [sall-Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam] that it is impermissible to trim anything from the beard. If I have understood Br. Yasir Qadhi’s argument correctly then he is not taking into account the “specifying evidence”, and if this is the case I do not understand how one can conclude that it is permissible to trim at all, let alone trim that which is less than a fistful.

    In short, if one only takes into account the “base evidence”, then based on the clear and explicit statements of the Prophet [sall-Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam] he/she can only conclude that the beard cannot be touched at all. If however one takes into account the “specifying evidence [i.e. the actions of some of the Sahabah that show the exact and correct understanding of the “base evidence”]”, then one can conclude that it is permissible to trim that which they [some of the Sahabah] trimmed, but cannot trim more than what they trimmed, this is because as mentioned a plethora of times already, their actions are the “specifying evidences” that show the exact and correct understanding of the “base evidences”, and since they did not trim less than a fist length their actions show the exact and correct understanding of the issue at hand.

    And Allah knows best!

  100. Avatar

    A Muslim man

    December 23, 2008 at 5:25 PM

    Wa Alaikum Salam,

    Will someone please tell us what the source of the Ahadith and their authenticity is, in which Sahabi other than Ibn Umar used the same trimming technique as Ibn Umar – held his beard in his hand and trimmed it? We learnt in Heavenly Hues, that if one quotes a Hadith, one has to give the source of the Hadith, otherwise it is assumed that the source is Sahih Bukhari or Sahih Muslim.

    Again, and this still does not seem to be accepted by some people, Ibn Umar’s action was relevant only to Hajj and Umrah, was not something he did outside Hajj and Umrah, and from the description of his action, we cannot conclude that he trimmed his beard to the length of the width of his fist – only that he held his beard in his fist and cut hair that extended beyond his fist. The distance between his fist and his chin could have been a few feet or several inches.

    Let’s look at the description of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and the Khulafa Ar-Rashideen, and see whether the fist length rule holds.

  101. Avatar

    Abu Hatim

    December 23, 2008 at 5:50 PM

    As-salamu ‘alaykum

    Dear brother

    As for the Sahabah, al-Bukhari reported Ibn ‘Umar’s action and al-Albani mentions a number of authentic reports in his “Ad-Da’ifah” that some of the Sahabah would cut that which EXTENDED beyond a fist-length, namely Ibn ‘Umar, Ibn ‘Abbas and Abu Hurayrah, he also mentioned that some of the Salaf would do likewise, namely Malik and Ahmad.

    I was not suggesting other than what you have regarding the action of Ibn ‘Umar, so I agree with you on that point. All I am saying [as I mentioned in my last post] is that either one takes the “base evidence” and disregards the “specifying evidence”, thus concluding it is impermissible to trim anything at all from the beard or one takes the “base evidence” and understands it in light of the “specifying evidence”, thus concluding that one can trim something from one’s beard, but that something is only that which EXTENDS beyond a fist-length due to the reasons I mentioned in my last post.

    And Allah knows best!

  102. Avatar

    Abu Muslim

    December 23, 2008 at 9:24 PM

    I believe that some people may have misunderstood the point.

    One of the main issues raised is the status of the Ijtihaad of a Companion(RA.)

    Yaser Qadhi has highlighted above that an opinion of a companion cannot be held to be binding in the way that a hadith is, because the statements of Companions(RA) are not considered to be revelation.

    Regarding the claims of consensus, where is the evidence for those who claim that thousands of Companions (RA) all clearly(Ar. qatee’an) agreed that
    1) the beard is obligatory
    2)its minimum length is one fistful?

    Regarding the hadith, the meaning is open to interpretation and cannot simply be reduced to “the hadith is clear”.

    Whilst we should respect legitimate Shareeah opinions, we cannot accept exaggeration in the Religion.

    I would like to emphasise also that even if a person believed in the strictest opinion, to exaggerate in any obligation and to treat it as a pillar of the Religion would be considered a bid’ah(a blameworthy innovation.)

    At the end of the day it will be the Ulema who will give the final ruling based on the evidence and for the Muslim masses to follow.

    Wallah bittawfeeq.

  103. Avatar

    A Muslim man

    December 26, 2008 at 9:32 PM

    Wa Alaikum Salam

    I think we’re getting close to the source of the confusion and ikhtilaf now, be-idthnillah.

    Jazaum Allahu Khair for the reference – Ad-Da’ifah. The full title of the book by Al-Albani, Rahmatullah ‘Alaih, is Silsilat Al-Ahadith Ad-Da`ifah wa Al-Mawdu`ah wa Atharuh As-Sayi’ fil Ummah. This is a book of Daeef (weak) and Mawdu’ (fabricated) ahadith, as the title suggests. (Correct me if I’m wrong).

    Can someone give us the exact words of the Ahadith in which Ibn Abbas, Abu Hurairah, Malik, and Ahmad allegedly cut their beards, and the classification of each Hadith? The actual meaning may have been lost in translation. The description that he grabbed the beard in a fist and cut the hair that extend beyond that fist, does not tell us the length of the beard after the trimming, because the person may have held the beard away from his chin, with possibly several inches, or even a few feet of hair in between the fist and the chin.

    Again, the beard is not a minor or trivial matter, and is a very important part of the Muslim identity. Already we have seen the cultural effects of attacks on it – we have seen shaven imams and the youth regard Muslims with untrimmed “long” beards as weird. We have come to a point in civilization where few people know how long a beard gets if left untrimmed. The Answer: depends on the race and environmental factors, but the beard, if left untrimmed over a lifetime, does not become as long as the shayateen among humans have lied about it becoming. I have seen people from a hairy racial mixture (Arab and Indian) who have never trimmed their beards, and in their thirties their beards are hardly twelve inches long, from their chin. The growth slows down with age and length.

    Just to clarify, the purpose of this research and investigation is to uncover the truth and draw the RATIONAL and CORRECT conclusion from the evidence in existence. This investigation is not meant to belittle the efforts of ulama of the past who have held on to the conclusion that the beard can be trimmed as long as it is of fist-length. They will get a reward from their Rab, just for trying. May Allah illuminate the graves of the ulama who’re on the siraat al mustaqeem, aameen.

    Jazakum Allahu Khair.

  104. Avatar


    January 4, 2009 at 11:01 PM

    This is from al-Albani’s ‘as-Silsilah ad-Da’ifah‘ (5/375):

    “However, this act (of trimming the beard) is affirmed from some of the Salaf, and for you, I present a brief exposition on the topic below:

    1 – Marwan bin Salim al-Muqaffa’ said:

    “I saw Ibn ‘Umar grasp his beard and cut off that which had exceeded a fistful.”

    This was reported by Abu Dawud and others with a hasan chain as I have explained in ”Irwa’ al-Ghalil’ (920) and ‘Sahih Abu Dawud’ (2041).

    2 – Nafi’ said:

    “When ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar used to finish fasting in Ramadan and he intended to make Hajj, then he would not take off any of his hair or beard until he had made Hajj.”

    And in another narration: “When ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar used to cut his hair after Hajj or ‘Umrah, he would also take from his beard and moustache.”

    Reported by Malik in ‘al-Muwatta’.’

    And al-Khallal reports in ‘at-Tarajjul’ (p. 11) with an authentic chain from Mujahid, who said: “I saw Ibn ‘Umar grasp his beard on the day of sacrifice, then he told the cupper: “Take off what is below a fistful.”” al-Baji said in ‘Sharh ‘al-Muwatta”: “meaning that he used to trim form it along with cutting his hair, and Malik recommended that since trimming it is in a way that does not alter the natural disposition of the creation in terms of beauty…”

    3 – Ibn ‘Abbas said, regarding His – the Most High – Saying: {“Then let them complete their prescribed duties…”} [al-Hajj: 29]:

    “The duties are: shaving the head, trimming the moustache, plucking out the armpit hairs, shaving the pubic hairs, cutting the nails and taking hair off the cheeks (and in another narration, the beard) and throwing stones at the pillars (jamarat), and staying in ‘Arafah and Muzdalifah.”

    Reported by Ibn Abi Shaybah (4/85) and Ibn Jarir at-Tabari in his ‘Tafsir’ (18/109) with an authentic chain.

    4 – Muhammad bin Ka’ab al-Quradhi used to say, regarding the verse: {“Then let them complete their prescribed duties…”} [al-Hajj: 29] what has been stated above, and in it is his saying “…and trimming the moustache and beard.”

    Reported by Ibn Jarir as well, with a chain that is authentic.

    5 – Mujahid said the same as above with the wording:

    “…and trimming the moustache…and trimming the beard.”

    Reported by Ibn Jarir as well, and its chain is authentic.

    6 – al-Muharabi said:

    “I heard a man ask Ibn Jurayj regarding His Saying: {“Then let them complete their prescribed duties…”} [al-Hajj: 29], and he said: “Trimming the beard and the moustache…””

    Reported by Ibn Jarir also, and its chain is authentic.

    7 – And in ‘al-Muwata” also, that it reached him that when Salim bin ‘Abdullah intended to go into ihram, he asked for some scissors and trimmed his moustache and beard before setting off and before putting on his ihram.

    8 – Abu Hilal said:

    “I was informed by an old man – I think he was from the people of Madinah – who said: “I saw Abu Hurayrah trim the hair from his cheeks.” And he said: “And I saw him with a yellowish beard.”

    Reported by Ibn Sa’d in ‘at-Tabaqat’ (4/334).

    So, the authentic narrations contain that which is a proof for the permissibility of trimming the beard or taking from it, and that it was a well known practice amongst the Salaf. This is in opposition to what some of our brothers from Ahl al-Hadith think, those who are severe against allowing the trimming of the beard, clinging to the general saying of his “…and leave the beard!” without paying attention to the fact that what was understood from the general meaning was not intended due to the lack of the action of the Salaf upon this interpretation, and amongst them are those who reported the general hadith itself, and they are: ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar, and his hadith is in the two ‘Sahih’s; Abu Hurayrah, and his hadith is in ‘Sahih Muslim,’ and I have given the origins of both in ‘Jilbab al-Mar’ah al-Muslimah’ (p. 185-187); and Ibn ‘Abbas, and his hadith is in ‘Majma’ az-Zawa’id’ (5/169).

    And from that in which there is no doubt is that the reporter of the hadith is the most knowledgeable about the intended meaning of it than those who did not hear it from the Prophet (peace be upon him), and he is the more enthusiastic in following it than them.

    al-Khallal has reported from them (Ibn ‘Umar and Abu Hurayrah) in ‘at-Tarajjul’ (p. 11) with two authentic chains, and he reported from Imam Ahmad that he was asked about taking from the beard, so he said: “‘Ibn Umar used to cut off that which was in excess of a fistful,” and it is as if this was Ahmad’s opinion. Harb said: “I said to him (Ahmad): “So, what is meant by ‘leaving it’?” He replied: “It is reported from the Prophet that this is what ‘leaving’ was, according to him.””

    And it is well known that the narrator is the most knowledgeable about what he narrates than others, especially when he one who is very strict about following the Sunnah – such as Ibn ‘Umar – and he saw his Prophet – the one who ordered with leaving it – day and night, so reflect upon this!

    Then al-Khallal reported by way of Ishaq, who said: “I asked Ahmad about a man who trims from his cheeks, so he said: “He should take off his beard what is in excess of a fistful.” I said: “And the hadith of the Prophet: “Trim the moustache and leave the beard”?” He replied: “He takes from its length and from under his neck,” and I saw Abu ‘Abdullah (Ahmad) trim its length and take from under his neck.”

    And I have expanded a little bit here by mentioning the sayings of some of the Salaf and imams due to their strength and due to the misconception of many people that this is in opposition to the general “and leave the beard,” and they did not pay attention to the principle that when an element from the elements of the general ruling is not acted upon, then is it proof that it is not intended meaning.”

    End Quote.

  105. Avatar


    January 7, 2009 at 1:40 PM


    @ brother yasir qadhi..

    i am a normal muslim guy who is as sinful as anyother human and as good as a muslim as anyother muslim would be.certainly i am not a scholar and an alim but alhamdulilah blessed with an understanding of the religion. i came from pakistan to states for residency (medicine)
    .i kept beard when i was 22 and it was the normally found length. but i always knew that fistful is the mos appropriate length.
    when i came here i dont know how i came out of that fear of growing it and alhamdulilah now its out of the normally found length.though a lill short of the fist length bc my hair growth is slow but i know that it should be neat and decent and alhamdulilah apart from my family who is against beard nobody ever said it looks bad on me.

    but i found a problem when my family gives reference of you and other scholars who are here and they say that if people of those stature can do like this what is the your problem.?
    i didnt get any interview and one i got i was questioned about it and the interviewer gave quite a bad remarks about it.which i listened to with smiles becuase i knew he is ignorant about my religion.
    i am never afraid of any nonmuslim but when my family say things about it i just…anywaz
    brother honestly speaking those people who can become signs for us to present to the ordinary people are becoming problem. what should i say to them because i dont want to short it and go back again to the same length to get out of which it took me 5 years.

    its not that brother i am saying it to you its just that i am sick and tired of the beard issue…when i am not saying it to anyone that u should be particular about these sunnahs but they kept on saying me about beard ,if i fold my pants , if i place a topi because they are not particualr about their namaz , no girl do pardah and music and dancing is the common thing.
    then they keep on saying these non muslims would not give you job (though may be my link to pakistan and my religious outlook is a problem) but why dont we muslims wana believe nothing is but from ALLAH.

    anywaz brother i just wanted to share my feelings with you…yesterday when i came to know that u shortened it from the length i was quite disturbed…anywaz…i have heard your interview and your views but i just want to say one thing
    with every passing day things are becoming difficult to follow the proper sunnah,yes our rituals would remain there but the proper way of doing them would be are a scholar and i have no objection about your fiqhi stance about it but may be when i needed you the most i didnt find you there.
    may ALLAH bless you for all the good deeds you do..i am not one of those who measure the iman with the length of beard your respect in my heart remains the same and thanks for the beautiful lectures on surah yusuf.

    ALLAH hafiz

  106. Avatar


    January 8, 2009 at 6:44 PM

    This article that i am sending on this site is good news for all the brothers that keep the BEARD according to the SUNNAH…………..
    and for those that don’t as well

    I am sending an EXCERPT:

    “Women see a broad chest and shoulders as a sign of someone who can clobber a steady supply of meat and keep lions away from the cave. And while a hairy chest and a full beard have fallen out of favor in the waxed and buffed 21st century, they are historically–if unconsciously–seen as signs of healthy testosterone flow that gives rise to both fertility and strength.”

    and the web link…………….. better yet read the Journal that the study it was published IN. IGNORE THE PICTURE FOR NOW,9171,1704672-2,00.html
    You decide if it is the TRUTH……….

  107. Avatar


    January 10, 2009 at 11:03 AM

    Dear Yusuf,

    Shaykh Muhammad al-Mukhtar bin ash-Shaykh Muhammad al-Ameen ash-Shanqiti is the son of Shaykh M al-Ameen ash-Shanqiti, the author of Tafsir Adwa’ al-Bayan fi Eydah al-Quran bi al-Quran and the teacher and colleague of Shaykh Bin Baz. I think Ustadh Alshareef was referring to him in his speech. He was among the seniormost scholars in Saudi Arabia.

  108. Avatar

    The Ghazzali Blogger

    January 14, 2009 at 5:12 AM

    So one question (and forgive me if this was asked before because I skimmed through all this comments). We have Muslim fire fighters here in NYC (converts) and at one point I was going to be a firefighter HENCE I ask (because at one point it did concern me). Now they can’t grow their beard, they always need to be clean shaven so when a fire happens they can quickly where their gas masks and run in. However if they have a beard and the alarm goes off they really do not have time to shave, specially if it is a fist length beard. Now I know my construction worker/plumber friends who have to be working in a tunnel and also wear masks. But they grow their beards and when they are told to go work in an area that will require the mask, they shave it that day, and then restart to grow it (they live in Malaysia where most of the population is Muslim and the country does need its workers, unlike here where a Muslim can choose to work someplace else). However firefighters do not have that option for obvious time reasons. So my question is, is this one of the times we can make the acceptation for the beard (or should one not be a firefighter, but if that’s the case then should Muslim nations import firefighters from overseas?).

    OH and if you have itchy beards like I do. Use coconut oil :) and rub a little head and shoulders into your beard when you shower. :)

  109. Avatar


    February 18, 2009 at 12:00 PM

    Salaam …i went through the posts but maybe i missed the point I was looking for …

    Can someone tell me of other salaf scholors …of today and of the past who have had the same view about the beard as Shailkh Yassir has.


  110. Avatar


    April 9, 2009 at 2:06 AM

    Asalamu Alaikum, ladies and gentlemen of Islam. I am not commenting on Yasir Qadhi, specifically. He seemed to be quoting other scholars. This debate is an example of the classic tussle between the people who follow the Qur’an and Ahadith, ‘saying’ Sami’naa wa ata’naa (Ghufraanaka Rabbaanaa wa ilaikal maseer) and the people who rely on opinions and qiyaas even though the opinions may contradict the Qur’an and Ahadith. It makes sense for me to follow Allah and His Messenger, only, in order to be on the Siraat Al-Mustaqeem. In the Qur’an, we are told that when we have a dispute, we should refer back to Allah and His Messenger, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, meaning the Qur’an and Ahadith.

    The words and actions of the Prophet, salllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, and the Khulafa Rashideen, are well documented and authenticated, and leaves no doubt in the honest reader and thinker’s mind, that the beard is to be “forgiven”, “kept (protected, as in, O Allah, keep us)”, allowed to grow, lengthened, and not trimmed at all. We ask Allah for complete Forgiveness, don’t we? I will leave this for you to derive the implications of disobeying the Prophet’s commands.

    Examining the ahadith that are used to justify trimming, the ahadith are classified as da’eef shiddan, weak, or MADE-UP! The only Hadith that is truly authentic to my knowledge, is the Hadith about Ibn Umar, authenticated by Bukhari, Rahmatullahi ‘alaih, which starts with the Prophet’s clear instructions, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, of trimming the moustache and leaving the beard, describes Ibn ‘Umar holding his beard in his fist at Hajj or Umrah…and his trimming the moustache such that his skin could be seen…and trimming between his moustache and beard (meaning the hair that covered any part of his lips…). Where he was holding his beard from (he could have been holding his long beard at navel-level) and why (probably to save it from being trimmed, while he was trimming his moustache), is anyone’s guess.

    Trimming the beard may be justified only when there is a threat to life from not trimming it, or when keeping oneself from doing dhulm on one’s nafs, in specific circumstances, just as eating pork is allowed for survival, but not in normal circumstances. Firefighters sometimes have large moustaches, so I don’t buy the cop-out that beards somehow threaten the safety of the firefighters. They can wear a thin ski mask, to improve the seal of the breathing apparatus on their faces. When Allah and His Messenger, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, has decided on a matter, it is not befitting for the Believers to have an ‘opinion’, let alone following the contradictory opinion of a non-Prophet, ‘faqih’.

    BTW, we are commanded to PLUCK (not shave) our underarm hair, and shave (not trim) our public hair. Also, it is insulting to Muslims, that an image of a razor be used for linking to this page, as it is/was done on the website.



  111. Avatar

    abu zayd

    February 3, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    If there are more important issues in today’s world than growing a beard, then surely its ironic that it is the very fact that Muslims have left the Sunnah of the Messenger (SAW) that they are in the current weakness and crisis? The fard of growing the beard is intricately linked to being a Muslim, an identity.

  112. Avatar

    Muslim Man

    February 3, 2010 at 3:41 PM

    As-Salaam Alaikum. Bismillah Rahman Raheem, wa-Ssalaatu wa-Sassalamu ‘ala Rasoolillah.

    The Ahadith on trimming the MOUSTACHE and leaving/sparing/forgiving/lengthening/having-mercy-on the beard are Sahih, and the meaning well known, correct?

    Perhaps this is a matter of aqeedah, and not only fiqh, if we believe in the Quran that declares the Prophet “does not speak of his own desire; his (speech was nothing other than) a revelation that was revealed.” see In fact, in one of the narrations – the one in which he told the foreigners who had large moustaches and shaved or trimmed beards, that my Lord has Commanded me to trim my moustache and leave my beard . So the Command to trim the moustace and leave the beard is from Allah.

    Once we believe that the Prophet’s word in matters of Deen were a Revelation, the question then is whether trimming the beard contradicts the commands of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam or not. And the answer is, “YES, it does”. The command is to trim and MOUSTACHE and spare the beard, not trim the moustache and trim the beard as well. Trimming and sparing the beard are mutually exclusive, except in the minds of those (‘scholars’ and ‘students of knowledge’) who, using twisted logic, want to make trimming (and even shaving parts of) the beard halal. If you trim the beard, you will no longer be leaving/sparing/forgiving/lengthening/having-mercy-on it.

    Brother Yasir Qadhi in one of his posts rightly points out that the words and actions of some of the Companions do not become Divine law. He correctly applies this principle to reject the one-fist rule, but then does not apply the same pricipal to reports of Companions ‘taking from their beards’. Even if the reports that he mentioned that ‘some of’ the Companions and ‘early scholars’ “took from the beard” (a vague description as it is) are Sahih (their Sahih status is yet to be proven by him), the actions of a few Companions and ‘early scholars’ do not make the authentic Commands of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, invalid. Remember the Prophet’s saying ‘laa nabiyyaa ba’dee” (there is no Prophet after me)?

    Just because in the West, Shaitan has convinced us that it’s a little inconvenient to spare the beard to let it grow to its natural length, this does not mean people have the authority to justify disobeying the Command of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. Masha Allah, it’s not like we’re in Combodia in the 70’s where someone would murder us if we appear to be Muslim. One can tie a long beard with rubber bands and tuck it in when playing sports or when there’s danger of persecution.

    It’s obvious that trimming and shaping the beard is what the non-Muslims do. Do we want to live our lives imitating them and disobeying the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam?

    Then there is the class of scholars who have declared that one can SHAVE the upper and lower parts OF THE BEARD because these are not part of the beard! Unbelievable!

    Let’s not forget the jewish people’s mistakes. Lard was forbidden to them. They used to melt the lard before consuming it – according to their logic, melting the lard changes it and so it becomes something that is not forbidden. They cast nets before the Sabbath and retrieved their catch at the end of Sabbath. These practices of theirs have earned them the Wrath of Allah.

    (Wa-Allahu A’lum)

    May Allah Save us and the scholars of Islam from His Wrath and from being misguided and from misguiding others, and may He Guide us and Keep us on Us-Siraat Al-Mustaqeem, aameen.

    Wassalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

  113. Avatar


    September 23, 2010 at 3:47 AM

    Fascinating conversation. Very personalized and heartfelt description about the beard.

  114. Avatar


    October 30, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    I don’t need Yasir Qadhi or any Tom, Dick or Harry to tell me what I should do with my facial hair.

  115. Pingback: Q&A Concerning Modern-Day Callers & Groups and The Tricks they Employ [Abu Khadeejah on Yasir Qadhi and Al-Maghrib Institute] | working towards heaven

  116. Avatar


    April 7, 2016 at 7:13 PM

    If there is ijma on fist-length beard (if I am not mistaken), why does brother Yasir Qadhi say there is nothing wrong in trimming beard less than a fist length? Is it okay in usul-al-fiqh to go against ijma?

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#Current Affairs

The Duplicity of American Muslim Influencers And The ‘So-called Muslim Ban’

Dr Joseph Kaminski



As we approach the beginning of another painful year of the full enforcement of Presidential Proclamation 9645 (a.k.a. ‘the Muslim ban’) that effectively bars citizens of several Muslim majority countries from entering into the United States, the silence remains deafening. As I expected, most of the world has conveniently forgotten about this policy, which thus far has separated over 3,000 American families from their spouses and other immediate relatives. In June 2019, the Brennan Center of Justice notes that: The ban has also kept at least 1,545 children from their American parents and 3,460 parents from their American sons and daughters. While silence and apathy from the general public on this matter is to be expected— after all, it is not their families who are impacted— what is particularly troubling is the response that is beginning to emerge from some corners of the American Muslim social landscape.

While most Muslims and Muslim groups have been vocal in their condemnation of Presidential Proclamation 9645, other prominent voices have not. Shadi Hamid sought to rationalize the executive order on technical grounds arguing that it was a legally plausible interpretation. Perhaps this is true, but some of the other points made by Hamid are quite questionable. For example, he curiously contends that:

The decision does not turn American Muslims like myself into “second-class citizens,” and to insist that it does will make it impossible for us to claim that we have actually become second-class citizens, if such a thing ever happens.

I don’t know— being forced to choose exile in order to remain with one’s family certainly does sound like being turned into a ‘second-class citizen’ to me. Perhaps the executive order does not turn Muslims like himself, as he notes, into second-class citizens, but it definitely does others, unless it is possible in Hamid’s mind to remain a first-class citizen barred from living with his own spouse and children for completely arbitrary reasons, like me. To be fair to Hamid, in the same article he does comment that the executive order is a morally questionable decision, noting that he is “still deeply uncomfortable with the Supreme Court’s ruling” and that “It contributes to the legitimization and mainstreaming of anti-Muslim bigotry.”

On the other hand, more recently others have shown open disdain for those who are angered about the ‘so-called Muslim ban.’ On June 6th, 2019, Abdullah bin Hamid Ali, a Senior Faculty Member at Zaytuna College, Islamic scholar and the founder of the Lamppost Education Initiative, rationalized the ban on spurious security grounds. He commented that,

The so-called Muslim ban, of course, has us on edge about his potential. But, to be fair, a real Muslim ban would mean that no Muslim from any country should be allowed in the US. There are about 50 Muslim majority countries. Trump singled out only 7 of them, most of which are war torn and problem countries. So, it is unfair to claim that he was only motivated by a hatred for Islam and Muslims.

First, despite how redundant and unnecessary this point is to make again, one ought to be reminded that between 1975 and 2015, zero foreigners from the seven nations initially placed on the banned list (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) killed any Americans in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and zero Libyans or Syrians have ever even been convicted of planning a terrorist attack on U.S. soil during that same time period. I do not think these numbers have changed over the last 4 years either. If policy decisions are supposed to be made on sound empirical evidence and data, then there is even less justification for the ban.

Second, Bin Hamid Ali comments that ‘the so-called Muslim ban, of course, has us on edge about his [Trump’s] potential.’ Whoa… hold on; on edge about his potential? For the millions of people banned from entering the United States and the thousands of Muslim families connected to these millions of people, this ‘potential’ has been more than realized. To reduce the ‘so-called Muslim ban’ to just targeting ‘war torn and problem countries’ is to reduce our family members—our husbands, wives, and children—to (inaccurate) statistics and gross stereotypes. Are spouses from Syria or Yemen seeking to reunite with their legally recognized spouses or children any less deserving to be with their immediate family members because they hail from ‘problem countries’? How can one be concerned with stereotypes while saying something like this? Is this not the exact thing that Abdullah bin Hamid Ali seeks to avoid? Surely the Professor would not invoke such stereotypes to justify the racial profiling of black American citizens. What makes black non-Americans, Arabs, and Iranians any different when it comes to draconian immigration profiling? From a purely Islamic perspective, the answer is absolutely nothing.

More recently, Sherman Jackson, a leading Islamic intellectual figure at the University of Southern California, King Faisal Chair in Islamic Thought and Culture and Professor of Religion and American Studies and Ethnicity, also waded into this discussion. In his essay, he reframed the Muslim ban as a question of identity politics rather than basic human right, pitting Muslim immigrants against what he calls ‘blackamericans’ drawing some incredibly questionable, nativist, and bigoted conclusions. Jackson in a recent blog responding to critiques by Ali al-Arian about his own questionable affiliations with authoritarian Arab regimes comments:

Al-Arian mentions that,

“the Muslim American community seemed united at least in its opposition to the Trump administration.”  He and those who make up this alleged consensus are apparently offended by Trump’s so-called Muslim ban.  But a Blackamerican sister in Chicago once asked me rhetorically why she should support having Muslims come to this country who are only going to treat her like crap.

These are baffling comments to make about ‘Trump’s so-called Muslim ban.’ Jackson creates a strawman by bringing up an anecdotal story that offers a gross generalization that clearly has prejudiced undertones of certain Muslim immigrants. Most interesting, however is how self-defeating Jackson’s invocation of identity politics is considering the fact that a large number of the ‘blackamerican’ Muslims that he is concerned about themselves have relatives from Somalia and other countries impacted by the travel ban. As of 2017, there were just over 52,000 Americans with Somali ancestry in the state of Minnesota alone. Are Somali-Americans only worth our sympathy so long as they do not have Somali spouses? What Jackson and Bin Hamid Ali do not seem to understand is that these Muslim immigrants they speak disparagingly of, by in large, are coming on family unification related visas.

Other people with large online followings have praised the comments offered by Abdullah bin Hamid Ali and Sherman Jackson. The controversial administrator of the popular The Muslim Skeptic website, Daniel Haqiqatjou, in defense of Jackson’s comments, stated:

This is the first time I have seen a prominent figure downplay the issue. And I think Jackson’s assessment is exactly right: The average American Muslim doesn’t really care about this. There is no evidence to indicate that this policy has had a significant impact on the community as a whole. Travel to the US from those four countries affected by the ban was already extremely difficult in the Obama era.

What Haqiqatjou seems to not realize is that while travel from these countries was difficult, it was not as ‘extremely difficult’ as he erroneously claims it was. The US issued 7,727 visas to Iranian passport holders in 2016 prior to the ban. After the ban in 2018, that number dropped to 1,449. My own wife was issued a B1/B2 Tourist visa to meet my family in 2016 after approximately 40 days of administrative processing which is standard for US visa seekers who hold Iranian passports. On the other hand, she was rejected for the same B1/B2 Tourist visa in 2018 after a grueling 60+ day wait due to Presidential Proclamation 9645. At the behest of the Counselor Officer where we currently live, she was told to just finish the immigration process since this would put her in a better position to receive one of these nearly impossible to get waivers. She had her interview on November 19, 2018, and we are still awaiting the results of whatever these epic, non-transparent ‘extreme vetting’ procedures yield. Somehow despite my wife being perfectly fine to enter in 2016, three years later, we are entering the 10th month of waiting for one of these elusive waivers with no end time in sight, nor any guarantee that things will work out. Tell me how this is pretty much the same as things have always been?

What these commentators seem to not realize is that the United States immigration system is incredibly rigid. One cannot hop on a plane and say they want to immigrate with an empty wallet to start of Kebab shop in Queens. It seems as if many of these people that take umbrage at the prospects of legal immigration believe that the immigration rules of 2019 are the same as they were in 1819. In the end, it is important to once again reiterate that the Muslim immigrants Jackson, Bin Hamid Ali and others are disparaging are those who most likely are the family members of American Muslim citizens; by belittling the spouses and children of American Muslims, these people are belittling American Muslims themselves.

Neo-nationalism, tribalism, and identity politics of this sort are wholly antithetical to the Islamic enterprise. We have now reached the point where people who are considered authority figures within the American Islamic community are promoting nativism and identity politics at the expense of American Muslim families. Instead of trying to rationalize the ‘so-called Muslim Ban’ via appeals to nativist and nationalist rhetoric, influential Muslim leaders and internet influencers need to demonstrate empathy and compassion for the thousands of US Muslim families being torn apart by this indefinite Muslim ban that we all know will never end so long as Donald Trump remains president. In reality, they should be willing to fight tooth-and-nail for American Muslim families. These are the same people who regularly critique the decline of the family unit and the rise of single-parent households. Do they not see the hypocrisy in their positions of not defending those Muslim families that seek to stay together?

If these people are not willing to advocate on behalf of those of us suffering— some of us living in self-imposed exile in third party countries to remain with our spouses and children— the least they can do is to not downplay our suffering or even worse, turn it into a political football (Social Justice Warrior politics vs. traditional ‘real’ Islam). It seems clear that if liberal Muslim activists were not as outspoken on this matter, these more conservative voices would take a different perspective. With the exception of Shadi Hamid, the other aforementioned names have made efforts to constrain themselves firmly to the ‘traditional’ Muslim camp. There is no reason that this issue, which obviously transcends petty partisan Muslim politics, ought to symbolize one’s allegiance to any particular social movement or camp within contemporary Islamic civil society.

If these people want a ‘traditional’ justification for why Muslim families should not be separated, they ought to be reminded that one of al-Ghazali’s 5 essential principles of the Shari’a was related to the protection of lineage/family and honor (ḥifẓ al-nasl). Our spouses are not cannon fodder for such childish partisan politics. We will continue to protect our families and their honor regardless of how hostile the environment may become for us and regardless of who we have to name and shame in the process.

When I got married over a year prior to Donald Trump being elected President, I vowed that only Allah would separate me from my spouse. I intend on keeping that vow regardless of what consequences that decision may have.

Photo courtesy: Adam Cairns / The Columbus Dispatch

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Obituary of (Mawlana) Yusuf Sulayman Motala (1366/1946 – 1441/2019)

Monday, September 9, turned out to be a day of profound anguish and sorrow for many around the world. In the early morning hours, news of the death of Mawlana* Yusuf Sulayman Motala, fondly known as “Hazrat” (his eminence) to those who were acquainted with him, spread. He had passed away on Sunday at 8:20 pm EST in Toronto, after suffering a heart attack two weeks earlier.

Dr. Mufti Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf Mangera



Dar Al Uloom Bury, Yusuf Sulayman Motala

A master of hadith and Qur’an. A sufi, spiritual guide and teacher to thousands. A pioneer in the establishment of a religious education system. His death reverberated through hearts and across oceans. We are all mourning the loss of a luminary who guided us through increasingly difficult times.

Monday, September 9, turned out to be a day of profound anguish and sorrow for many around the world. In the early morning hours, news of the death of Mawlana* Yusuf Sulayman Motala, fondly known as “Hazrat” (his eminence) to those who were acquainted with him, spread. He had passed away on Sunday at 8:20 pm EST in Toronto, after suffering a heart attack two weeks earlier. (May the Almighty envelope him in His mercy)

His journey in this world had begun more than 70 years ago in the small village of Nani Naroli in Gujarat, India, where he was born on November 25, 1946 (1 Muharram 1366) into a family known for their piety.

His early studies were largely completed at Jami’a Husayniyya, one of the early seminaries of Gujarat, after which he travelled to Mazahir Ulum, the second oldest seminary of the Indian Sub-Continent, in Saharanpur, India, to complete his ‘alimiyya studies. What drew him to this seminary was the presence of one of the most influential and well-known contemporary spiritual guides, Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi (d. 1402/1982), better known as “Hazrat Shaykh.” He had seen Mawlana Zakariyya only briefly at a train stop, but it was enough for him to understand the magnitude of his presence.

Mawlana Yusuf remained in Saharanpur for two years. Despite being younger than many of the other students of Shaykh Zakariya, the shaykh took a great liking to him. Shaykh Zakariya showered him with great attention and even deferred his retirement from teaching Sahih al-Bukhari so that Mawlana Yusuf could study it under his instruction. While in Saharanpur, Mawlana Yusuf also studied under a number of other great scholars, such as Mawlana Muhammad ‘Aqil (author of Al-Durr al-Mandud, an Urdu commentary of Sunan Abi Dawud and current head lecturer of Hadith at the same seminary), Shaykh Yunus Jownpuri (d. 1438/2017) the previous head lecturer of Hadith there), Mawlana As‘adullah Rampuri (d. 1399/1979) and Mufti Muzaffar Husayn (d. 1424/2003).

Upon completion of his studies, Mawlana Yusuf’s marriage was arranged to marry a young woman from the Limbada family that had migrated to the United Kingdom from Gujarat. In 1968, he relocated to the UK and accepted the position of imam at Masjid Zakariya, in Bolton. Although he longed to be in the company of his shaykh, he had explicit instructions to remain in the UK and focus his efforts on establishing a seminary for memorization of Qur’an and teaching of the ‘alimiyya program. The vision being set in motion was to train a generation of Muslims scholars that would educate and guide the growing Muslim community.

Establishing the first Muslim seminary, in the absence of any precedent, was a daunting task. The lack of support from the Muslim community, the lack of integration into the wider British community, and the lack of funds made it seem an impossible endeavour. And yet, Mawlana Yusuf never wavered in his commitment and diligently worked to make the dream of his teacher a reality. In 1973 he purchased the derelict Aitken Sanatorium in the village of Holcombe, near Bury, Lancashire. What had once been a hospice for people suffering from tuberculosis, would become one of the first fully-fledged higher-education Islamic institutes outside of the Indian-Subcontinent teaching the adapted-Nizami syllabus.

The years of struggle by Maulana Yusuf to fulfil this vision paid off handsomely. Today, after four decades, Darul Uloom Al Arabiyya Al Islamiyya, along with its several sister institutes, also founded by Mawlana Yusuf, such as the Jamiatul Imam Muhammad Zakariya seminary in Bradford for girls, have produced well over 2,000 British born (and other international students) male and female ‘alimiyya graduates – many of whom are working as scholars and serving communities across the UK, France, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, the US, Canada, Barbados, Trinidad, Panama, Saudi Arabia, India and New Zealand. Besides these graduates, a countless number of individuals have memorized the Qur’an at these institutes. Moreover, many of the graduates of the Darul Uloom and its sister institutes have set up their own institutes, such as Jamiatul Ilm Wal Huda in Blackburn, Islamic Dawah Academy in Leicester, Jami’ah al-Kawthar in Lancaster, UK, and Darul Uloom Palmela in Portugal, to just mention a few of the larger ones. Within his lifetime, Mawlana Yusuf saw first-hand the fruit of his labours – witnessing his grand students (graduates from his students’ institutes) providing religious instruction and services to communities around the world in their local languages. What started as a relationship of love between a student and teacher, manifested into the transmission of knowledge across continents. In some countries, such as the UK and Portugal, one would be hard-pressed to find a Muslim who had not directly or indirectly benefited from him.

Mawlana Yusuf was a man with deep insights into the needs of Western contemporary society, one that was very different from the one he had grown up and trained in. With a view to contributing to mainstream society, Mawlana Yusuf encouraged his graduates to enter into further education both in post-graduate Islamic courses and western academia, and to diversify their fields of learning through courses at mainstream UK universities. As a result, many ‘alimiyya graduates of his institutes are trained in law, mainstream medicine, natural medicine and homeopathy, mental health, child protection, finance, IT, education, chaplaincy, psychology, philosophy, pharmacy, physics, journalism, engineering, architecture, calligraphy, typography, graphic design, optometry, social services, public health, even British Sign Language. His students also include several who have completed PhDs and lecture at universities. His vision was to train British-born (or other) Muslim scholars who would be well versed in contemporary thought and discipline along with their advanced Islamic learning, equipping them to better contribute to society.

Despite his commitment to the establishment of a public good, the shaykh was an immensely private person and avoided seeking accolade or attention. For many decades he refused invitations to attend conferences or talks around the country, choosing to focus on his students and his family, teaching the academic syllabus and infusing the hearts of many aspirants with the love of Allah through regular gatherings of remembrance (dhikr) and spiritual retreats (i’tikaf) in the way of his shaykh’s Chishti Sufi order.

During my entire stay with him at Darul Uloom (1985–1997), I can say with honesty that I did not come across a single student who spoke ill of him. He commanded such awe and respect that people would find it difficult to speak with him casually. And yet, for those who had the opportunity to converse with him, knew that he was the most compassionate, humble, and loving individual.

He was full of affection for his students and colleagues and had immense concern for the Muslim Ummah, especially in the West. He possessed unparalleled forbearance and self-composure. When he taught or gave a talk, he spoke in a subdued and measured tone, as though he was weighing every word, knowing the import it carried. He would sit, barely moving and without shifting his posture. Even after a surgical procedure for piles, he sat gracefully teaching us Sahih al-Bukhari. Despite the obvious pain, he never made an unpleasant expression or winced from the pain.

Anyone who has listened to his talks or read his books can bear testimony to two things: his immense love for the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his love for Shaykh Mawlana Muhammad Zakariya Kandhlawi (may Allah have mercy on him). It is probably hard to find a talk in which he did not speak of the two. His shaykh was no doubt his link to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) in both his hadith and spiritual transmissions.

Over the last decade, he had retired from most of his teaching commitments (except Sahih al-Bukhari) and had reduced meeting with people other than his weekly dhikr gatherings. His time was spent with his family and young children and writing books. His written legacy comprises over 20 titles, mostly in Urdu but also a partial tafsir of the Qur’an in classical Arabic.

After the news of his heart attack on Sunday, August 25, and the subsequent effects to his brain, his well-wishers around the world completed hundreds of recitals of the Qur’an, several readings of the entire Sahih al-Bukhari, thousands of litanies and wirds of the formula of faith (kalima tayyiba), and gave charity in his name. However, Allah Most High willed otherwise and intended for him to depart this lowly abode to begin his journey to the next. He passed away two weeks later and reports state that approximately 4,000 people attended his funeral. Had his funeral been in the UK, the number of attendees would have multiplied several folds. But he had always shied away from large crowds and gatherings and maybe this was Allah Most High’s gift to him after his death. He was 75 (in Hijra years, and 72 in Gregorian) at the time of his death and leaves behind eight children and several grandchildren.

Mawlana Yusuf educated, inspired and nourished the minds and hearts of countless across the UK and beyond. May Allah Almighty bless him with the loftiest of abodes in the Gardens of Firdaws in the company of Allah’s beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) and grant all his family, students, and cherishers around the world beautiful patience.

Dr Mufti Abdur-Rahman Mangera
Whitethread Institute, London
(A fortunate graduate of Darul Uloom Bury, 1996–97)

*a learned Muslim scholar especially in India often used as a form of address

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Reflections on Muslim Approaches to the Abortion Debate: The Problem of Narrow Conceptualization

American Muslims must go beyond simplistic and emotionally-charged approaches to the abortion question.

Shaykh Salman Younas




“Islam is the golden mean between all ethical extremes’ is what certain Muslims would assert… This moral assumption isn’t far from the truth.”

Shaykh Abdullah Hamid Ali in A Word on Muslim Attitudes Toward Abortion

“The golden mean is kind of a summit, and it is a struggle to get there. The ego does not want balance because you have to think and make sacrifices.”

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad in Paradigms of Leadership (6)

A few months ago, Governor Kay Ivey signed into law House Bill 134, or the Human Life Protection Act, which prohibited all abortion in the state of Alabama except in cases where it was deemed necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the mother. The bill additionally criminalized abortion or any attempt to carry it out in situations deemed non-necessary. A motion to exempt rape and incest victims from this law was defeated in the Alabama state senate, which give the state the (dubious) distinction of possessing one of the most restrictive abortion laws in America. This move by Alabama to place extreme restrictions on abortion followed a spate of similar legislative moves by other states, such as Georgia, Kentucky, and Mississippi.

This escalation in anti-abortion legislation occasioned intense debate within the Muslim community.[1] Muslims who self-identify as progressives chanted the familiar mantra of “my body, my choice” to affirm a notion of personal rights and bodily autonomy in defending a woman’s right to choose. The ideological underpinnings of this view are extremely problematic from a theological perspective, and the practical policies arising from it that sanction even late-term abortions contravene the near-consensus position of classical jurists and is rightly seen as an assault on inviolable human life. For this reason, this essay will not pay any particular attention to this view.

Several people pushed back against this permissive attitude by arguing that abortion is essentially prohibited in Islam in all but the direst of situations, such as when the life of the mother is at genuine risk. This opinion has a sound precedent in the legal tradition and is the mainstream view of some of the legal schools, but it has often been presented in a manner that fails to acknowledge the normative pluralism that exists on the matter in the shariah and rather perniciously presents these alternative opinions as ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’. Similarly, those who favour the more lenient view found in other legal schools are often seen characterizing the stricter opinion as ‘right-wing’ or reflective of the Christianization of Islamic law. Despite having legal precedent on their side, both groups engaged the abortion question in a manner that was rather superficial and fundamentally problematic.


Did Jurists Only Permit Abortion in ‘Dire’ Circumstances?

I will begin this essay by offering a corrective to the mistaken notion that classical jurists only permitted abortions in cases of necessity, an assertion that has become very common in current Muslim discourse on abortion in America. One need not look much further than the Ḥanafī school to realize that this claim is incorrect. Though there are opinions within the school that only permit abortion before 120 days with the existence of a valid excuse, the view of several early leading authorities was that abortion was unconditionally permissible (mubāḥ) before this period and/or prior to the physical form and features of a fetus becoming clearly discernible.[2] In his encyclopaedic work al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī, Burhān al-Dīn ibn Māza (d. 616/1219) presents two main opinions on abortion in the school:

(i) It is permitted “as long as some physical human features are not clearly discernible because if these features are not discernible, the fetus is not a child (walad)” as per Fatāwā Ahl al-Samarqand. Some scholars asserted that this occurs at 120 days,[3] while others stated that this assertion, though incorrect, indicated that by discernibility jurists intended ensoulment.[4]

(ii) It is disliked because once conception occurs, the natural prognostication is life and so the fetus is granted this ruling at the moment of conception itself. This was the view of ʿAlī ibn Mūsā al-Qummī (d. 305/917-18).[5]

The first opinion of unconditional permissibility was not a solitary one in the school. It was forwarded by many of the foremost Ḥanafī authorities, such as Ḥussām al-Dīn ibn Māza (d. 536/1141),[6] Raḍī al-Dīn al-Sarakhsī (d. 575/1175),[7] Jamāl al-Dīn al-Ghaznawī (d. 593/1196),[8] Zayn al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 666/1267),[9] ʿAbd Allāh ibn Maḥmūd al-Mawṣilī (d. 683/1284),[10] Fakhr al-Dīn al-Zaylaʿī (d. 743/1343),[11] Qiwām al-Dīn al-Kākī (749/1348),[12] Jalāl al-Dīn al-Khawārizmī (d. 767/1365),[13] Kamāl ibn al-Humām (d. 861/1457),[14] Muḥyī al-Dīn Jawīzāda (d. 954/1547),[15] Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥaṣkafī (d. 1088/1677),[16] and several others.[17] The reasoning underlying this view was that prior to a specific period (whether defined by days or by fetal development), a fetus is not a ‘child’ or ‘person’.[18] Therefore, no ruling is attached to it at this stage.[19]

Another opinion in the school, and one that has gained wide acceptance amongst contemporary Ḥanafī jurists, argued that abortion prior to 120 days was disliked and sinful unless carried out with a valid excuse. This view was most famously expressed by Fakhr al-Dīn Qāḍīkhān (d. 592/1196) in his Fatāwā and subsequently supported by the likes of Ibn Wahbān (d. 768/1367),[20] Ibn Nujaym (d. 970/1563),[21] and Ibn ʿĀbidīn (d. 1252/1836).[22] These sources, however, do not define or fully flesh out what constitutes an excuse, sufficing mainly with a single example as illustrative of a case where abortion would be permitted, namely when a woman ceases to produce milk on account of pregnancy and her husband is unable to provide an alternative source of sustenance for their child and fears his or her perishing. Cases of rape, incest, adultery, and other possible excuses are not discussed by most of these authors, and it is not clear whether they would have deemed these valid excuses or not.[23]

The Ḥanafī school, therefore, had three main opinions on the issue: unconditionally permissible prior to a specific time period; unconditionally disliked; and conditionally permissible prior to a specific time period. Of the three, the first view seems to have been the dominant one in the school and held by multiple authorities in virtually every century. The view of conditional permissibility was also a strong one and notably adopted by several later jurists. It is also the view that has gained currency among modern Ḥanafī scholars who are generally not seen forwarding the view of unconditional permissibility.

Some Contemporary Views on Abortion

A wide range of opinions is also found in the discourse of contemporary jurists. Shaykh Muṣṭafā Zarqā (d. 1999) presented a gradated scheme where abortion prior to 40 days was permitted without a “severe excuse”, which included “undertaking necessary travel where pregnancy and giving birth would prove a hindrance, such as for education or for work that requires a couple to move.”[24] He also considered financial strain arising from a child as a valid excuse during this limited time period. According to him, the threshold for a valid excuse would become higher as the pregnancy proceeded beyond 40 days.

Muftī Maḥmūd Ḥasan Gangohī (d. 1996), one of the foremost scholars of the Deobandī school, permitted abortions when conception occurred out of wedlock (zinā).[25]

Muftī Salmān Manṣurpūrī states emphatically that the basis is that abortion is impermissible unless there is a valid excuse before 120 days, such as the life of the mother being at risk, serious consequences to her general health, an actual inability to bear pregnancy, clear harm or danger to one’s current children, and adultery, but not fear of economic difficulty nor the decision not to have children.[26]

In Fatāwā Dār al-ʿUlūm Zakariyya, Muftī Raḍā’ al-Ḥaqq states that a fetus diagnosed by medical professionals with an incurable and serious disorder that will prove to be an extreme burden on the child and its family is permitted to abort prior to 120 days as per the Islamic Fiqh Academy in Mecca.[27] Elsewhere, he divides pregnancy into three stages. The first stage is when the general form and facial features of the fetus take shape but prior to the formation of its limbs. At this stage, it is permitted to carry out on abortion with a valid and established excuse, such as the fetus suffering from a “dangerous hereditary disease”, “physical abnormality/deformity”, the life of the mother being at risk, or reasonably-established fear of the mother’s “physical and mental health” being impacted. The second stage is when the limbs of the fetus are clearly formed and discernible, and the third stage is after 120 days. In both these stages, the respected Muftī rules that abortion is not permitted except in cases of necessity, such as saving the life of the mother.[28] The permission to abort the fetus is also extended to cases of rape.[29]

Mawlānā Zubayr Aḥmad Qāsmī (d. 2019), a founding member of the Islamic Fiqh Academy, India, argued that the permission to carry out an abortion before ensoulment (even after discernibility) is not simply restricted to cases of necessity (ḍarūra) but includes cases of need (ḥāja), which broadly includes “any situation that entails bodily or psychological harm for the parents or the child and is a cause for continual distress.”[30] Examples of valid excuses include “danger to the general health, mental health, or life of the mother”, pregnancy resulting from rape or fornication (so long as it is not someone who has engaged in the latter habitually), the strong possibility that the child will be born with serious physical abnormalities or defects as determined by a medical professional, and the genuine inability of the parents to raise and maintain/sustain more than one child without it negatively impacting their current children.[31]

Mawlānā Khālid Sayf Allāh Raḥmānī states, “Essentially, abortion is impermissible in Islam, and there is no time period in which it is acceptable to abort a fetus. However, this impermissibly has degrees. In the first scenario (i.e. post-ensoulment) it is a grievous sin and categorically prohibited; in the second scenario (i.e. pre-ensoulment but post-discernment of limbs) it is lesser than this; in the third scenario (i.e. before features/limbs become discernible) it is relatively less severe than the previous two.” He then goes on to rule that abortion is not permitted for the following reasons: not desiring more children; conception out of wedlock; or being physically or mentally unable to care for a child, since others may be able to do so. Excuses that permit abortion before ensoulment include a doctor concluding with reasonable-surety that the child will suffer from a dangerous hereditary disease, physical abnormalities, and deformities, and the life of the mother is at serious risk.[32]

There are stricter views than some of those mentioned above, especially from non-Ḥanafī scholars. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, taking the Mālikī school as his basis,[33] has argued that abortion before 40 days is prohibited “with rare exception.”[34] This view of impermissibility is also held by Shaykh Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī although he allows for a dispensation to be given to victims of rape.[35]

Shaykh ʿAbd Allāh ibn Bayya also deems abortion at all stages of pregnancy to be sinful to varying degrees except in situations where the life of the mother is at risk.[36]

Shaykh Wahba al-Zuhaylī (d. 2015) ruled that abortion was impermissible from the moment of conception “except in cases of necessity” such as being afflicted with cancer or an incurable disease.[37]

Framing the Problem: Basic Levels of Engaging the Law

The discussion so far makes one point quite evident: there are an array of opinions on the issue of abortion ranging from the extremely restrictive to the more permissive. Though ‘difference of opinion’ (ikhtilāf) has generally been viewed as one of the outstanding and unique features of Islamic legal discourse, it is precisely the range of views that exist in the tradition on abortion that partly plays a role in the problematic approaches to the issue seen amongst certain Muslims. It is not so much the differences themselves that are the issue, but the manner in which particular opinions are selected by individuals who subsequently propagate them to the community as binding doctrine.

To better understand this, one can broadly identify four basic levels of engagement with religious law applicable to Muslim leaders and scholars in the West in the context of the abortion issue,[38] which often overlap with one another: (a) personal, (b) academic, (c) fatwā, public preaching, and irshād, and (d) political.

(a) The Personal

The ‘personal’ level concerns an individual’s own practice where he or she can follow the legal school (or trusted scholar) of their choosing or decide on the rulings that govern their lives when possessing the ability to do so. This level does not directly concern anyone but the individual himself.

(b) The Academic

The ‘academic’ level in the current context refers primarily to a process of study, reflection and deduction, and research to arrive at a personal conclusion regarding some aspect of the law that is undertaken in conversation with a guild of peers and not the general population. Such academic activity is often theoretical, abstract, and conceptual, and even when it addresses more practical concerns, it constitutes a general articulation of an opinion, not an individualized responsa, that others engage with as members of a scholarly class. This scholarly class includes the ʿulamā’ and others whose input is relevant to a particular issue.

(c) Fatwā, Irshād, and Public Preaching

The realm of fatwā is exclusively for a qualified scholar. Here, the scholar enters most directly into the practical implementation of a legal ruling. Fatwā does involve an academic process, and it is often conveyed by a jurist as a universal ruling in accordance with his academic conclusions. However, the practice of fatwā is commonly understood as an answer directed by a qualified jurisconsult (muftī) to an individual (mustaftī) who requires guidance on a particular religious matter. The jurisconsult providing said individual with an answer is now tasked with translating the abstract, theoretical, and academic into a practical solution, which requires taking into account the circumstances of the questioner.[39]

The delicateness of this matter has led some scholars to compare the relationship of a jurisconsult with the questioner to that of a doctor and his patient.[40] Indeed, the answer that a scholar provides a questioner may not be fully in accordance with the theoretical and abstract conclusions the former has reached in an academic setting, it may disregard an opinion that the jurisconsult otherwise deems a valid legal interpretation because its application is not appropriate in the specific case at hand, it may be strict or lenient, in accordance with the legal school of the scholar or a dispensation from another, and it may be inapplicable to anyone but the questioner. Further, a fatwā is non-binding (unlike a judicial court ruling) and does not negate other valid opinions or peoples’ choice to follow them. This is important to note in contexts where a fatwā is issued to communicate a universal rule.

In many cases, the answer that is provided to a person is not presented as a fatwā but merely a form of religious advice or irshād. Though there is presumably a difference between these two concepts, they are sometimes indistinguishable in a Western context. Irshād has a seemingly less formal quality to it, and it can be offered by a non-scholar though the prerequisite of sound knowledge still remains. Like fatwā, the proffering of religious advice and guidance can assume a more public form and have an academic flavour to it. The articles written by non-scholars on the blogosphere, lectures and speeches delivered by speakers, and religious counsel extended to others falls within this general category of irshād. For those in leadership roles, the public nature of their work means that high standards are required even here when it comes to addressing and conveying religious issues of a complex or delicate nature.

(d) The Political

If the issuance of a fatwā and providing religious advice is a delicate matter, the process of forming, advocating for, and/or enacting laws on the political level is far greater in this regard. Such laws are made in the context of human societies and affect large swaths of people who objectively vary in their circumstances – individual, social, religious/ideological, and economic. Unlike a fatwā or irshād, once a law has been settled upon by the state, it becomes binding upon an entire population and any reasonable alternative ceases to hold validity in practice at least until the law is reviewed and amended. Exemptions are only tolerated when affirmed by the law itself. Further, law interacts with and influences society in complex ways. This is true for all forms of law, not just ones that are state-enacted.

A core question in legal philosophy is what the law ought to be or what makes a law good. The ‘good’ is a moral concept and might be described as one that is essentially contested in so far as people differ over its conception and the criteria for its application. Some emphasize the consequences of a rule (consequentialism), while others favour a deontological moral ethic or one that is virtue-centred. Each of these families of theories subsume within them further particular theories that differ with one another. There are also considerations of fairness, equity, distributive justice, enforceability, practicality, and/or efficiency that those evaluating the law might assign significant value to. These notions of morality and the good influence policy-making and legal systems.

How do Muslims approach this issue? Islam is viewed by Muslims as a comprehensive moral and philosophical system where the moral value of an act is determined by the divine will. It is the commands and prohibitions of God that render an action good or evil, and under this divine command theory, revelation is the primary source for moral knowledge.[41] However, this legal notion of moral value is not as straightforward as it sounds since a significant number of legal rulings are probabilistic in nature and differed upon. Consequently, the moral value attached to these rulings lack a decisive character, which engenders a plurality of moral outlooks. This pluralism is an indelible feature of the tradition itself creating a paradox whereby Muslims can affirm that good and evil are known through revelation, while recognizing that differences concerning moral judgments are part of the moral vision of revelation itself.

This raises important questions regarding the political approach a minority Muslim population in the West might take regarding the abortion issue. Should Muslims seek to accommodate a pluralism justified by tradition and avoid commandeering the state to coercively impose laws that negate the right of people to follow an acceptable and mainstream Islamic legal opinion?

Should Muslims simply support restrictions on abortion practices that contravene the consensus position of Islam? Or should Muslims seek to promote an opinion, or some combination of opinions, among those found in the legal schools on the basis of a reasonably defined criteria that assesses the issue holistically from the perspective of the theological, legal, ethical, and the public good?

Indeed, there are many classical opinions whose validity scholars did not accept, others that were prima facie valid but not put into practice, and classical jurists themselves erected systems to keep a check on legal chaos resulting from people being allowed to arbitrarily follow any opinion with a basis in precedent. Yet, Muslim societies always tolerated differences of opinion, and for most of its history, people living in these societies had recourse to various scholars from multiple legal schools. Unlike the centralizing and homogenizing tendencies of the modern nation-state, Islamic law was centrifugal and operated on a grass-roots level to produce self-governing societies. In many periods, this diversity was even found in judicial settings where courts were established for each of the legal schools. This was extended to non-Muslim populations living under Islamic governments as well who were accorded a high degree of autonomy. While this might strike some as a thing of the past, a nostalgic yearning for a bygone era, there are many lessons the community can draw from the attitudes and approaches of past societies.

In a political context, the notion of the ‘public good’ (maṣlaha) is particularly relevant given the scope and consequences of legislative actions, but it is a notoriously complicated one to pin down and, like the ‘good’, might be described as essentially contested. Even the basic question “who will this law or opinion impact, and in what manner” takes one into a complex maze of considerations and perspectives that demand careful attention and thought. It is hard to imagine any informed answer to this question without the input of a variety of experts. While Muslims are not quite in a position to craft legislation, influential religious activists and scholars who advocate for specific legislation and/or discourse on it to the wider community should keep the above points in made for any advocacy that proceeds in the name of religion is one that must be approached with care and seriousness.


Identifying the Problem: Beyond Personal Preferences, Emotions, and Selective Madhhab Picking

With this framework in mind, it is now possible to identify a major problem in current American Muslim discourse on abortion, which is that it does not meaningfully engage any of the levels described above save the personal. The distinction between these various engagement contexts is hardly recognized. Most public discourse on abortion promotes one traditional opinion over another based not on a rigorous standard that is grounded in revelation, theology, legal theory, ethics, the public good, and a keen awareness of human nature, the individual, political, social, and ideological currents and factors, historical trends, and the challenges of the contemporary world, but seemingly on personal opinions based on little more than a reaction to a perceived ideological threat, individual proclivities, or pure taqlīd. The mainstream opinions of the legal school simply act as tools of legitimation for one’s personal view.

The Problem of Imposition

On a personal level, this is not a problem per se, and people have their reasons to select certain views as opposed to others and even vociferously promote them in some limited capacity to friends, colleagues, or family over a session of tea or a short-lived social media feud with random individuals. However, for those in positions of leadership and influence, this cannot be the basis for a fatwā, general communal irshād, or public advocacy impacting millions of people. The imposition of the personal onto these areas in this manner is both ill-advised and potentially harmful. Even the conclusions reached by a scholar on the basis of sound academic research may be put aside in these contexts, i.e. fatwā and political activism/legislation, when the scholar feels that competing considerations and interests demand so. Thus, a scholar may believe in a reading of revelation that is extremely restrictive on abortion but recognizing the probabilistic nature of his interpretation and the variety of individual circumstances, the ethical norms of ease and warding off hardship, profound societal and economic changes, complex and strained community and family structures, the advice of other experts, and the general public good chooses not to advocate for this view as a matter of policy to be implemented as law or provided to a specific individual as a legal edict.

The Sunna Imperative for Leniency, The Lack of Depth of the Lenient

It is often forgotten that a peculiar response by some classical jurists to the degenerated state of society was not in toughening up legal prescriptions but relaxing them: “Our time is not one of avoiding the doubtful (shubuhāt), meaning if a person only avoids the impermissible, it is sufficient.”[42] This was an ethical consideration influencing the judgment of the jurist who saw it not as compromising religion nor a dereliction of his duty but part of the guidance of the sunna itself where facilitating the affairs of people was deemed important.[43] As Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad states commenting on the instruction of al-Birgivī (d. 981/1573) not to give the laity the more difficult opinion on an issue validly differed upon:

This, of course, is a Prophetic counsel. The ego doesn’t always like giving people easy options because we assume it is because of our laziness or some kind of liberal Islam. For al-Birgivī it is taqwā to give the ordinary Muslims the easier interpretations… but nowadays, we tend to assume that the narrower you are, the less compromises you make, the more the West will be angry and, therefore, the better the Muslim you must be.[44]

The Prophetic counsel that Shaykh Abdal Hakim refers to is known to many: “Make things easy and do not make them difficult.” This attitude of facilitating matters for people, granting them leniency, and not repulsing them with harshness and difficulty is a part of Islam. As Imām al-Shāṭibī stated, the removal of hardship (rafʿ al-ḥaraj) is a decisively established foundational principle in the shariah.[45] From this foundational principle arises some of the most important legal and ethical principles in the Islamic tradition, such as hardship necessitates ease, there is no harm nor reciprocating harm, harm is lifted, the lesser of two evils, taking into account the consequences of an act, custom as a source of law, and more. In fact, some jurists opined that when the evidence for an issue was contradictory or conflicting, the more lenient opinion was to be given preference due to the generality of revelatory texts affirming ease in the shariah.[46]

But there is a problem. Many of those who promote and relay the lenient Ḥanafī opinion of unconditional permissibility approach it in a manner that lacks substance. On the academic plane, even basic questions regarding this position are not addressed or understood, much less entertained. Take, for example, the difference between the statement of Ḥanafī jurists that abortion is impermissible after the physical features of the fetus become discernible and the statement of others in the school that this impermissibility comes into effect after a 120-day period. Are these the same? Who in the madhhab held these positions? Is there a clear preference for one or the other? How was discernibility understood? What features needed to be discernible? Did discernibility refer to what is normally observable by humans or to what is discernible by modern embryogenesis? How have contemporary jurists addressed this issue? Then there is the matter that one is hard-pressed to find a single contemporary Ḥanafī jurist who favours the view of unconditional permissibility. What does this reveal about this opinion and the possibility of critically evaluating past opinions that fall within the scope of differences of opinion?[47]

These questions largely fall within the parameters of an intra-school discussion and do not even begin to address the broader social and political considerations mentioned earlier.

Here, the sheer fact that there were over six-hundred thousand abortions reported in America in 2015, the latest year for which statistics exist from the CDC, should be alarming to people and cannot be callously dismissed.

Though the overwhelming majority of these occurred well within a 120-day period (≤13 weeks’ gestation, which is measured from the first day of the woman’s last menstruation and not from the day of conception), most of those who obtained these abortions were unmarried women who did so in non-dire circumstances.[48] The culture of sexual freedom out of which the abortion movement emerged and its ideological grounding in notions of bodily autonomy and personal choice cannot be ignored in this discussion.[49] Nor can the devaluing of family and motherhood,[50] the practice of female foeticide, the increasingly materialistic outlook of society, and its mechanistic view of human beings.

Additionally, some Muslims seem largely oblivious to the fact that abortion politics link to many other issues that have little do with abortion itself, such as assisted suicide or end-of-life care. In a famous district court case on assisted suicide, Compassion in Dying vs. Washington, it was Planned Parenthood vs. Casey that was cited as an important precedent to rule that a ban on physician-aided suicide was unconstitutional.[51] Clearly, it is not sufficient to make simplistic appeals to leniency to justify promulgating an opinion that leads to such wider consequences. Abortion, in other words, cannot be treated as a ‘stand-alone’ issue with little or no relation to a broader philosophical outlook that downplays a sanctity of life ethic.[52]

Thou Shalt Make No Exceptions, But Should We?

Many of the issues highlighted in the previous paragraph raise serious theological and ethical concerns for Muslims and should push them to reflect on the type of society they wish to create and sustain in America. Is the abortion movement today in line with the moral vision envisioned for society by God and His Prophet (blessings upon him)? Clearly not. But while the seriousness of this crisis cannot be understated, a core question, at least in the context of this debate, is often missed: if it is misplaced and dangerous to forward the most lenient opinion in this context, in what way does the strictest possible position on abortion where exemptions are not even extended to victims of rape and incest ameliorate the current situation? Or to put it differently, how do these social and ideological problems make the strictest possible opinion on abortion the most appropriate one to adopt for the individual and society?

The answer to this question is not usually satisfactorily provided. Generally, such a view returns to a genuine moral belief one holds regarding a fetus being an inviolable living person. This moral belief may be grounded in a preferred reading of revelation, simple adherence to a specific legal school, a reaction to a perceived ideological battle framed in the language of pro-life vs. pro-choice, personal inclinations, or, as is usually the case, some combination of these factors. But the no-exception view is at least initially a personal view one holds, which is then forwarded as a broad religious and political solution. One may wonder why this is an issue. After all, why shouldn’t a person forward what he or she personally believes to be the Islamic ruling on an issue?

Certainly, this is expected especially when it concerns human life, but as stated earlier, it is problematic when that personal view, which it should be noted in this case lacks a decisive legal/moral character from a religious perspective, moves into the realm of fatwā and public advocacy without taking into account the many considerations required to make an informed decision in these areas. This is in addition to the fact that those who hold this view feel perfectly within their rights to tell others to set aside their personal moral views permitting abortions precisely in view to a broader context.

Here, it is worth sharing the response given by Shaykh Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī when he was asked about abortions for Bosnian Muslim women who were raped during war. After mentioning that his basic view is that abortions are impermissible “from the moment of conception” and “this is what we give preference to”, he states:

However, in cases of need, there is no harm in taking one of the two alternative views (i.e. permissibility before 40 or 120 days), and whenever the excuse is more severe, the dispensation will be more established and manifest, and whenever it is before the first 40 days, it is closer to dispensation.

We know that there are jurists who are very strict on this matter and do not permit abortion even a day after conception… but what is most preferable is a middle path between those who are expansive in granting permission and those who are excessively strict in prohibition.[53]

This is, of course, how knowledge and fiqh operate. They do not merely float around in the world of the abstract but address a complex world of real people, which in the context of fatwā, irshād, and politics often requires setting aside individual feelings and personal adherences to particular legal opinions: “Know that this ikhtilāf [between scholars] may be a reason to provide facilitation and ease, which is one of the higher aims of the shariah affirmed by the unequivocal text of the Qur’an and sunna.”[54]

Too often, many of those who vociferously promote the strictest view on abortion address the issue on the level of the abstract and then transfer it to the practical realm with little further thought. Take, for example, the argument that Muslims should oppose the legalization of abortion because a majority of abortions are due to economic anxiety or a feeling of unreadiness, which in turn return to the increasingly materialistic outlook of society and crumbling family structures.

This materialistic outlook and erosion of the family must be remedied. However, no justification is ever furnished as to why a no-exception abortion stance is the best method to address this social problem, and there is almost no focus on the individual. It never crosses the mind of the proponents of this view that it is the very fact that society is materialistic to its core and the family lay in ruins that causes economic anxiety and feelings of unreadiness to be felt much more palpably and intensely by young, unmarried, pregnant women.

Web MD

By largely confining their analysis and presentation of the issue to ‘materialism’, ‘decay of family’, ‘feminism’, etc., proponents of the restrictive view (inadvertently) divert attention away from the lived realities of people. This leads to neglecting the more concrete conditions and circumstances people are subject to, such as poverty, unemployment, drug abuse, poor health, psychological issues, sexual abuse, incarceration, social inequality and stratification, and the varying abilities of people to cope with life pressures and struggles. This focus away from the individual produces an unsympathetic, even antagonistic attitude, where the solution favoured is uncompromising and rigid. The ethical is erroneously conflated with strictness even though it might entail leniency in recognition of individual and social conditions.

To take one example where these broader considerations come into play, take the issue of pregnancy resulting from rape. Though statistics regarding rape are inconsistent because the crime is so underreported, it is safe to say that hundreds of thousands of women are victims of rape every year with tens of thousands of these rapes resulting in pregnancy (approximately five percent).[55] A significantly high number of rape victims are under eighteen with many actually being under the age of twelve.[56] Victims of rape spend many weeks simply recovering from physical injuries and managing mental health symptoms, which can remain with them for years. Beyond the physical and psychological symptoms common after rape, if a rape victim decides to carry her child to term, she is forced to go through a lengthy and exhausting process to prosecute her rapist in a criminal court and contest custody in a family or dependency court.

The political and legislative context makes matters even more difficult. Not every state has legislation in place allowing for parental rights to be terminated for a rapist. Most states that do have such legislation in place require a criminal conviction of rape beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard of evidence possible, with several also requiring a civil court conviction by clear and convincing evidence that conception resulted from rape.

Some states require the rape to be of the first-degree, which is varyingly defined.[57] Generally, the chances of obtaining a conviction of first-degree rape are slim. Not only do rape crimes go unreported in a majority of cases,[58] there are numerous hurdles in the criminal justice system that disadvantage rape victims at every stage of the process, such as ‘rape myths’ that influence police, investigative officers, jurors, and judges.[59]

In most cases, a rapist will plead guilty to lesser crimes in order to avoid prolonged jail time, which would potentially allow him to gain parental rights in states requiring first or second-degree rape convictions for such rights to be terminated.[60] In view of this, one can state that the suggestion by some Muslims that abortion should not be permitted even in such contexts because a woman can simply put her child up for adoption is seriously misinformed and potentially harmful.[61] Is the correct solution in this context to support the most restrictive view on abortion?

Conclusion: Refining our Conceptualization & The Bigger Picture

American Muslims must go beyond simplistic and emotionally-charged approaches to the abortion question. This issue, like many others, cannot be properly addressed through a narrowly defined law, politics, or clash of ideologies narrative, especially at the level of individual fatwā, communal irshād, or political activism, advocacy, and legislation.

Nor can the wider community be shown direction on this issue, or have a course charted for them, merely on the basis of narrowly-informed personal opinions and proclivities neatly presented in the classical opinions of our choosing. Our approach must address the issue through real fiqh, namely deep understanding, where the question of abortion is tackled with an academic rigor that is cognizant of lived realities and is grounded in the ethics and guidance of revelation.

Today in America, a crisis we face is of an activism not based in, or guided by, real scholarship, and a scholarship that is wanting, uninspiring, and disconnected from those it seeks to guide. The first step scholars must take on this issue is to gain a proper and thorough conceptualization of the issue. No sound and effective conclusion can arise without such a conceptualization. This is true for any issue we find ourselves dealing with.

On the level of addressing the broader community, this is not an issue to be decided by an individual but a collectivity of minds coming together to exchange ideas and opinions. The laity should understand that American Muslims will not reach an agreement on this matter, and nor should we demand that they do. People will continue to forward different opinions and solutions. The progression of time will likely result in a plurality of acceptable views emerging within our context. This should not be met with confusion.

Muslims once lived in an age of ambiguity where opinions were confidently held but differences embraced. Today, we live in an age of anxiety, people with confused identities, threatened by modernity and various ideologies, so much so that “the only form of Islam [we] can regard as legitimate is a totalitarian, monolithic one” as Shaykh Abdal Hakim once remarked. Let us avoid this, allow for different perspectives, but demand higher standards from those who seek to guide us and speak on our behalf especially when the matter veers into a space that impacts people and communities in a very real way.

Finally, and most importantly, Muslims must break out of the mindset that social problems can simply be legislated away or solved through polemical battles waged on the internet against pernicious ideologies. The political and social are intimately intertwined, but it is all too common to see many Muslims neglecting the latter while imagining that the activities they are engaged in to address the political are actually meaningful and impactful. In fact, it is often detached from the real world, a mouthing of clichés and idle moralizing on social media platforms that elicits rage and fails to yield actual solutions on the ground. If television altered the meaning of being informed as Neil Postmann asserted, social media has undoubtedly taken things a step further by altering the meaning of ‘taking action’.

The erosion of family, the decay of morality, the rise of materialistic outlooks, the loss of higher purpose and meaning, and the devaluing of life must be addressed more directly through education, the creation of a real community, the nurturing and training of leaders who embody knowledge and wisdom, and the erection of structures that support peoples’ faith and anchor them in times of crisis. It should not be forgotten that these non-legal institutions play an important role in shaping behaviours and promoting social mores.

Muslims should learn from the many conservative Christian activists who, contrary to popular stereotypes, demonstrate an acute awareness of the struggles and anguish that many women contemplating abortion experience. As the prominent pro-life activist Frederica Mathewes-Green states:

This issue gets presented as if it’s a tug of war between the woman and the baby. We see them as mortal enemies, locked in a fight to the death. But that’s a strange idea, isn’t it? It must be the first time in history when mothers and their own children have been assumed to be at war. We’re supposed to picture the child attacking her, trying to destroy her hopes and plans, and picture the woman grateful for the abortion, since it rescued her from the clutches of her child.

If you were in charge of a nature preserve and you noticed that the pregnant female mammals were trying to miscarry their pregnancies, eating poisonous plants or injuring themselves, what would you do? Would you think of it as a battle between the pregnant female and her unborn and find ways to help those pregnant animals miscarry? No, of course not. You would immediately think, “Something must be really wrong in this environment.” Something is creating intolerable stress, so much so that animals would rather destroy their own offspring than bring them into the world. You would strive to identify and correct whatever factors were causing this stress in the animals.[62]

It is this realization, which arises from a perspective that looks beyond abortion as simply an ideological battle between ‘the feminist’ or ‘the liberal’, that generates a sense of empathy within many conservative Christian activists who are then motivated to assist women in concrete ways.

Take the example of Embrace Grace, a Texas-based non-profit organization, which describes its purpose as “providing emotional, practical and spiritual support for single, young women and their families who find themselves in an unintended pregnancy” and to “empower churches across the nation to be a safe and non-judging place for the girls to run to when they find out they are pregnant, instead of the last place they are welcomed because of shame and guilt.” Christians have set up hundreds of pregnancy care centers across the United States, which, despite issues of concern, provide resources and services to pregnant women. Various churches have set up support groups for single mothers and mothers-to-be, while the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) has set out to confront systemic injustices in society that lead women to seek out abortions, such as poverty.[63]

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad said reaching the golden mean requires that we think and make sacrifices. It is time for leaders, thinkers, and scholars in our community to begin thinking more deeply and contemplatively about the issue of abortion in its various contexts, and it is time for our community to sacrifice their time, wealth, and energies in providing concrete solutions and remedies that demonstrate a true concern for both the unborn and the women who carry them.

God alone is our sufficiency.

[1] References to Muslims in this article should be primarily understood as referring to people in positions of leadership and influence. In this article, I discuss some of the technical aspects surrounding the legal debate over abortion, but my intent is to simply provide a brief overview of this aspect of the debate in order for a general audience to appreciate some of the complexities of the topic.

[2] Though the term fetus technically refers to the unborn after 8 weeks of gestation, many use it to refer to the unborn throughout the period of pregnancy. I will be using the latter convention for the sake of simplicity.

[3] al-Ḥasan ibn Manṣūr al-Farghānī, Fatāwā Qāḍīkhān, on the margins of Fatāwā Hindiyya (Bulāq: al-Maṭbaʿa al-Amīriyya, 1310 A.H.), 3:410.

[4] Ibn Māza himself framed the ruling in terms of ensoulment. He stated that jurists differed on the permissibility of abortion pre-ensoulment with some permitting it. He then cited the text of Fatāwā Ahl al-Samarqand, which only speaks of discernibility. Qāḍīkhān mentioned how the discernibility of physical features and limbs was “determined” by some as occurring at 120 days. Kamāl ibn al-Humām and others correctly pointed out that observation proves otherwise but proceed to state that the connection made between discernibility and ensoulment shows that scholars intended the latter when expressing the former. Ibn ʿĀbidīn, however, questioned this. I agree for several reasons: firstly, many jurists make no reference to 120 days or ensoulment when presenting this ruling; secondly, discernibility and ensoulment are clearly different stages during the pregnancy, a fact that was known to classical scholars who sometimes applied different terms to these two stages, such as taṣwīr/ṣūra and takhlīq/khalq; and, thirdly, most Ḥanafī rulings premised on determining personhood rely on the discernibility criterion. Given this, there are two possible views in the Ḥanafī school regarding the period before which abortion is permissible: before some of the physical features of the fetus become discernible or prior to ensoulment at 120 days. Additionally, there was discussion in the Ḥanafī school on the features that were to be given consideration when assessing whether a fetus was a ‘person’. These discussions are highly significant in modern debates for if the criterion for personhood is discerning a particular physical form on the basis of observation, this potentially broadens the scope for modern Ḥanafī understandings of the concept of personhood and how/when it is established. I hope to address these issues in a separate paper. See Maḥmūd ibn Aḥmad ibn Māza, al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī fī al-fiqh al-Nuʿmānī, ed. Nuʿaym Ashraf Nūr Aḥmad (Karachi: Idārat al-Qur’ān wa’l-ʿUlūm al-Islāmiyya, 2004), 8:83-84; al-Farghānī, Fatāwā Qāḍīkhān, 3:410; Muḥammad Amīn ibn ʿĀbidīn, Radd al-Muḥtār (Būlāq: al-Maṭbaʿa al-Kubrā al-Amīriyya, 1323 A.H.), 1:201.

[5] Ibn Māza, al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī, 8:83-84. It is worth noting that al-Qummī did not say fetus is a life at conception but that it has begun a process that concludes with life.

[6] Ḥussām al-Dīn ʿUmar ibn Māza, al-Fatāwā al-Kubrā (Istanbul: Rāghib Bāshā #619), ff. 96b.

[7] Raḍī al-Dīn al-Sarakhsī, al-Wajīz (Istanbul: Koprulu #684), ff. 116a.

[8] Jamāl al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad, al-Ḥāwī al-Qudsī, ed. Ṣāliḥ al-ʿAlī (Lebanon: Dār al-Nawādir, 2011), 2:326.

[9] Zayn al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Abī Bakr al-Rāzī, Tuḥfat al-Mulūk, ed. Ṣalāḥ Abū al-Ḥajj (Amman: Dār al-Fārūq, 2006), 290.

[10] ʿAbd Allāh ibn Maḥmūd al-Mawṣilī, al-Ikthiyār, ed. Shuʿayb Arna’ūṭ (Damascus: Dār al-Risāla 2009), 4:153.

[11] ʿUthmān ibn ʿAlī al-Zaylaʿī, Tabyīn al-Ḥaqā’iq Sharḥ Kanz al-Daqā’iq (Multan: Maktaba Imdādiyya, n.d.), 2:166.

[12] Amīr Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Kākī, Miʿrāj al-Dirāya (Istanbul: Koprulu #619), ff. 395b.

[13] Jalāl al-Dīn ibn Shams al-Dīn al-Khawārizmī, al-Kifāya Sharḥ al-Hidāya, on the margins of Fatḥ al-Qadīr (Cairo: Maṭbaʻat al-Maymaniyya, 1901; reprint Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, n.d.), 3:373.

[14] Kamāl ibn al-Humām, Fatḥ al-Qadīr (Cairo: Maṭbaʻat al-Maymaniyya, 1901; reprint Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, n.d.), 3:372-73.

[15] Muḥyī al-Dīn ibn Ilyās Jawīzāda, al-Īthār li-Ḥall al-Mukhtār, ed. Ilyās Qablān (Istanbul: Maktabat al-Irshād, 2016), 4:98.

[16] Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī al-Ḥaṣkafī, al-Durr al-Mukhtār (Lebanon: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 2002) 197.

[17] I am usually disinclined to list names of jurists in this manner when relating who held a specific legal opinion. One reason for this is that it creates the mistaken illusion that every one of these jurists came to this conclusion on the basis of their individual ijtihād when it may in fact simply be an exercise in taqlīd. Thus, one finds that most of these authors merely relate verbatim those who preceded them without any additional comments. However, it still indicates that these jurists accepted the ruling in question as the position of the school without qualms.

[18] When does a fetus qualify as a ‘person’ or a ‘human’? What are the necessary and sufficient features for personhood? Does personhood correspond to the beginning of life? If not, when does life begin? How is this connected to ensoulment? When does ensoulment occur? When does a fetus have moral standing? What is the nature of this moral standing over the course of a pregnancy? These are central questions in classical and modern debates on abortion. Sometimes, one finds that ‘person’, ‘human’, ‘life’, and related terms, are not properly defined, which is a problem given that conclusions regarding abortion are often premised on their proper conceptualization. Further, when attempts at proper definition are undertaken, people naturally come to different conclusions. For example, some modern pro-life philosophers argue that ‘persons’ are individuals of a rational nature and a fetus has no capacity for sentience, at least not until mid-gestation. Conception, therefore, cannot mark the beginning of a person. Yet even here, some scholars note that the fetus is a potential person. Therefore, it has some moral value and standing, but others counter with a “person-affecting restriction” that argues that merely potential people possess no moral claims. Some people work under material assumptions regarding the nature of the mind and opine that a moral person must be a ‘self’ and a necessary condition for something to be a self is some form of electrical brain activity. The bioethicist, Baruch Brody (d. 2018), also relied on this criterion of brain waves in his conception of personhood. Jane English presents a range of features or ‘factors’ that she views as being found in typical conceptions of a person: biological, psychological, rationality, social, and legal. There are religious conservative thinkers who define being human on the basis of genetics. John T. Noonan stated, “The positive argument for conception as the decisive moment of humanization is that at conception the new being receives the genetic code. It is this genetic information which determines his characteristics, which is the biological carrier of the possibility of human wisdom, which makes him a self-evolving being. A being with a human genetic code is man.” Many religious conservatives also maintain that there is no moment during pregnancy that can be identified as conferring moral significance on the unborn, i.e. it possesses moral standing before birth and after. Thus, brain waves, sentience, quickening, viability, physical human form, etc., are given no consideration as points at which moral standing is affirmed for the fetus and prior to which it is denied. For important early works on this topic see John T. Noonan, The Morality of Abortion: Legal and Historical Perspectives (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970); Jane English, “Abortion and the Concept of a Person,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 5, no. 2 (1975): 233-43; Baruch Brody, Abortion and the Sanctity of Life (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1975); Stephen Buckle, “Arguing From Potential,” Bioethics 2, no. 3 (1988): 226–253; Mary Anne Warren, Moral Status: Obligations to Persons and Other Living Things (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000); Michael Tooley, Abortion and Infanticide (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983); Richard Warner, “Abortion: The Ontological and Moral Status of the Unborn,” Social Theory and Practice 3 (1974). The literature on this is vast.

Classical jurists of Islam were guided fundamentally by revelation in their answers to these questions, but they still had substantial disagreements. Some identified a fetus as a person from the moment of conception, others as potentially so, yet others as a person only when its physical features became discernible, while some seemingly assigned no status to it at any fetal stage prior to ensoulment. When it came to ensoulment, the majority said this occurred at 120 days, while others said 40 days. Some equated ensoulment with personhood, while others distinguished between them. There were other conceptual frames utilized in discussions concerning the fetus as well, such as dhimma and ḥuqūq, being ‘animate’ or ‘inanimate’, a constituent part (juz’) of the mother or a separate self (nafs), and so forth. This occasioned a degree of ambiguity regarding the moral standing of the fetus at various stages of pregnancy. For example, Imām al-Ghazālī prohibited abortion at all stages of pregnancy but stated that the sin of doing so is less severe in earlier stages than later ones. Some jurists deemed it permissible to undergo an abortion due to a minor excuse in the first 40 days, requiring a more serious excuse from that point up until 120 days, and impermissible in all but the direst of situations following ensoulment. The fetus, therefore, seems to have a diminished moral standing at the beginning of the pregnancy and full moral standing post-ensoulment even in the eyes of jurists who affirmed personhood from conception. This is also reflected in rulings concerning financial compensation (ghurra) and expiation (kaffāra) owed by someone who causes a woman to miscarry. Meanwhile, many Ḥanafīs seemed to have assigned no moral status to the fetus before it had a discernible human form. The moral standing of the fetus was also influenced by the manner of conception with some jurists suggesting that a fetus conceived out of wedlock was not similar to a fetus that was conceived through a religiously sanctioned relationship. Besides revelation, observation played an important role in these determinations, as did the specific legal traditions jurists operated within. Today, science and embryology have guided the conclusions of many scholars, which has raised questions regarding the epistemological and interpretive value of the former. There is arguably a need to go beyond limited legal conceptions of personhood and life and engage in deeper theological and philosophical discussions on this matter.

[19] This ruling was consistent with several others in the school regarding whether a miscarried fetus is named, shrouded, and washed, whether a miscarriage concludes the waiting-period of a pregnant woman, and even whether a fetus is resurrected in the next-life. These rulings, among others, returned to whether the miscarried or stillborn fetus was actually considered a child/person, which in turn related to the formation and discernibility of its physical features. I believe this strengthens the view that discernibility of physical features was the main criterion for personhood in the Ḥanafī school. For some of these rulings see Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan al-Shaybānī, al-Aṣl, ed. Mehmet Boynūkālin (Beirut: Dār Ibn Ḥazm, 2012), 1:296, 4:415, 481, 5:144. This interconnectedness of legal doctrine, or its organic unity, is expressed in a famous aphorism, “The law is a seamless web.” These discussions are also present in the other three legal schools.

[20] Abū Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Wahhāb ibn Wahbān, ʿIqd al-Qalā’id wa-Qayd al-Sharā’id, ed. ʿAbd al-Jalīl al-ʿAṭā (Damascus: Maktabat al-Fajr, 2000), 195.

[21] Zayn al-Dīn ibn Nujaym, al-Baḥr al-Rā’iq (Cairo: al-Maṭbaʿa al-ʿIlmiyya, 1893; reprint by H.M. Saeed, n.d.), 3:215.

[22] Muḥammad Amīn ibn ʿĀbidīn, Radd al-Muḥtār (Būlāq: al-Maṭbaʿa al-Kubrā al-Amīriyya, 1323 A.H.), 2:388-89.

[23] The Hidāya mentions that a child conceived out of wedlock is still muḥtaram and so cannot be aborted. Imām ʿAbd al-Ḥayy al-Lakhnawī mentions that this only applies to a fetus that has reached the stage of post-discernibility. He then goes onto state that the fatwā position in his time is that it would be permissible pre-discernibility and post-discernibility. See Burhān al-Dīn al-Marghinānī, al-Hidāya Sharḥ Bidāyat al-Mubtadī maʿa Sharḥ al-ʿAllāma ʿAbd al-Ḥayy al-Lakhnawī, ed. Naʿīm Ashraf Nūr Aḥmad (Karachi: Idārat al-Qur’ān wa’l-ʿUlūm al-Islāmiyya, 1417 A.H.), 3:25.

[24] Muṣṭafā Zarqā, Fatāwā (Damascus: Dār al-Qalam, 2010), 285.

[25] Maḥmūd Ḥasan Gangohī, Fatāwā Maḥmūdiyya (Karachi: Idārat al-Fārūq, 2009), 18:321.

[26] Sayyid Muḥammad Salmān Manṣurpūrī, Kitāb al-Nawāzil (Muradabad: al-Markaz al-ʿIlmī lil-Nashr wa’l-Taḥqīq, 2016), 16:248-81.

[27] Muftī Raḍā’ al-Ḥaqq, Fatāwā Dār al-ʿUlūm Zakariyya (Karachi: Zam Zam Publishers, 2015), 6:756.

[28] Ibid., 6:755.

[29] Ibid., 6:763.

[30] Zubayr Aḥmad Qāsmī, “Khāndānī Manṣūbabandī,” in Jadīd Fiqhī Mabāḥith (Karachi: Idārat al-Qur’ān, 2009), 1:332.

[31] Ibid., 1:331-32.

[32] Khālid Sayf Allāh Raḥmānī, Kitāb al-Fatāwā (Karachi: Zam Zam Publishers, 2008), 6:218-226

[33] The relied-upon position in the Mālikī school prohibits abortions almost entirely even if done prior to ensoulment, which Mālikī jurists opine as occurring at 40 days.


[35] Yūsuf al-Qaraḍāwī, Fatāwa al-Muʿaṣara (Cairo: Dār al-Qalam, 2005), 2:541-50.

[36] ʿAbd Allāh ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā wa-Fiqh al-Aqaliyyāt (UAE: Masār lil-Tibāʿa wa’l-Nashr, 2018), 577-78.

[37] Wahba al-Zuhaylī, al-Fiqh al-Islāmī wa-Adillatuhu (Damascus: Dār al-Fikr, 1985), 3:557.

[38] The delineation and explanation I have presented here should not be seen as a comprehensive exposition of the concepts being discussed. Rather, it should be seen as a basic explanatory framework to understand the problem I wish to highlight in the next section. I have intentionally left out many details surrounding fatwā, siyāsa, taqlīd, etc., for the sake of the average reader.

[39] Muḥammad Kamāl al-Dīn al-Rāshidī, al-Miṣbāḥ fī Rasm al-Muftī wa-Manāhij al-Iftā’ (Deoband: Ittiḥād Book Depot, n.d.), 61-62 in the Takmila; Ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā, 28-29, 230.

[40] al-Rāshidī, al-Miṣbāḥ, 28.

[41] ʿ Abd al-Malik ibn Yūsuf al-Juwaynī, Kitāb al-Irshād ilā Qawāṭiʿ al-Adilla fī Uṣūl al-Iʿtiqād, ed. Aḥmad ʿAbd al-Raḥīm (Cairo: Maktabat al-Thaqāfa al-Dīniyya, 2009), 210-11. This is admittedly a simplification of a very complex debate on the role of reason, its meaning and limitations, its relationship to revelation, deontological vs teleological theories of Islamic normative ethics, and more. These were issues of fundamental debate between the great theological schools, namely the Ashʿarīs, Māturīdis, and the Muʿtazila.

[42] Ibrāhīm ibn Ḥusayn Bīrīzāda, ʿUmdat Dhawī al-Baṣā’ir li-Ḥall Muhimmāt al-Ashbāh wa’l-Naẓā’ir, ed. Ilyās Qablān & Ṣafwat Kawsa (Istanbul: Maktabat al-Rushd, 2016), 2:415.

[43] This is also seen in the tradition of rukhas, or dispensations, and ḥiyal, or legal stratagems/loopholes.

[44] From his Paradigms of Leadership (6) lecture series.

[45] Ibrāhīm ibn Mūsā al-Shāṭibī, al-Muwāfaqāt, ed. Mashhūr Ḥasan (Cairo: Dār Ibn ʿ Affān, 1997), 1:520.

[46] For reference to this see Ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā, 273-75.

[47] One might state that these people are simply engaging in a form of taqlid. This is fair, but there is still a level of diligence and rigor expected from anyone who wishes to publicly opine on a matter of such nature.


[49] Take the following statements made by Judith Thomson in her well-known defence of abortion, which continues to be loudly echoed by the pro-choice movement: “My own view is that if a human being has any just, prior claim to anything at all, he has a just, prior claim to his own body” and “No doubt the mother has a right to decide what shall happen in and to her body.” The violinist analogy she forwards, among others, expresses this point quite clearly. See Judith Jarvis Thomson, “A Defense of Abortion,” Philosophy & Public Affairs 1, no. 1 (1971): 48, 54.

[50] The sociologist Kristen Luker noted over three decades ago that pro-life and pro-choice activists were mainly divided due to their differing views on the meaning of sexuality, motherhood, and the role of women. See Kristin Luker, Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood. Berkeley (California: University of California Press, 1984), especially Ch 7.

[51] Compassion in Dying v. Washington, 850 F. Supp. 1454 (WD Wash. 1994). This was unanimously overturned by the Supreme Court in 1997.

[52] The phrase ‘sanctity-of-life’ has featured prominently in theological, political, and biomedical ethical discussions related to abortion and end-of-life questions. Some members of congress, for example, have tried repeatedly to introduce a ‘Sanctity-of-Life Act’ to protect the unborn. However, the origins, meaning, and application of the phrase remain unclear and heavily debated. For a basic overview see the edited volume Sanctity of Life and Human Dignity (Boston: Springer Dordrecht, 1996).

[53] al-Qaraḍāwī, Fatāwa al-Muʿaṣara, 2:609-13.

[54] Ibn Bayya, Ṣināʿ at al-Fatwā, 273.

[55] The Federal House Bill 1257 that passed in 2015 as the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act cites between 25,000 and 32,000 pregnancies from rape annually but this is almost certainly an underestimate.

[56] For details on these and other related statistics see

[57] For detailed information regarding state statutes and provisions on the termination of pregnancy in contexts of children born as a result of sexual assault see

[58] For statistics on this see the Department of Justice Criminal Victimization analysis (revised, 2018) at There are several reasons why women choose not to report such crimes, which include fear of retaliation, shame and guilt, and a belief that police will not be able to help them.

[59] For a brief discussion on existing research around rape myths see Olivia Smith & Tina Skinner, “How Rape Myths Are Used and Challenged in Rape and Sexual Assault Trials,” Social & Legal Studies 26, no. 4 (2017): 442-45.

[60] Rachael Kessler, “Due Process and Legislation Designed to Restrict the Rights of Rapist Fathers,” Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy, no. 10, vol 1 (2015): 199-229.

[61] There is a sensitive discussion surrounding the definition of rape in Islamic law specifically as it relates to intimate married partners. I have ignored this issue because it would distract from the main purpose of this article.


[63] There have been initiatives in the Muslim community directed at addressing these pressing issues, such as the work of Dr. Aasim Padela of the University of Chicago and his Initiative on Islam and Medicine, Dr. Rafaqat Rashid and the work of al-Balagh Academy, Dr. Mansur Ali of Cardiff University and his research on bioethics, and several others. This is not to mention the many individuals who have tried to create practical spaces to assist people who may find themselves in difficult life circumstances. While there is much more to do, the efforts of these people should not go unnoticed.

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