Salah (نماز) behind a man who trims his beard


Can one pray Salah (نماز) behind a man who trims his beard?


According to the Hanafi school of Fiqh (فقہ حنفی), praying Salah (نماز) behind a man who trims his beard is not permissible. This is because it is obligatory (Wajib – واجب) to keep a fistful length beard. Trimming or cutting the beard to less than a fistful length is sinful and prohibited. Such a person is considered a blatant sinner (Fasiq-e-Ma’lin – فاسقِ معلن), and it’s Makruh Tahrimi (extremely undesirable) to pray Salah behind him, which is sinful. Making such a person an Imam (leader in prayer) means respecting him, whereas, according to Shariah (Islamic law), a blatant sinner is deserving of disrespect.

Supporting Hadiths (Prophetic Traditions):

Keeping a fistful beard is obligatory, as narrated by Aisha Siddiqah Tayyibah Tahira (رضی الله عنہا) that the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:

عشر من الفطرة: قص الشارب، وإعفاء اللحية

Translation: Ten things are from the ancient continuous tradition of the Prophets (peace be upon them), among which are trimming the mustache and letting the beard grow.”

(Sunan Abu Dawood, Vol. 1, Page 8, Aftab Alam Press, Lahore)

Explaining this Hadith, Sheikh Abdul Haq Muhaddith Dehlvi states:

گذاشتن آں بقدر قبضہ واجب ست ،وآنکہ آنرا سنت گویند بمعنی طریقہ مسلوک دین ست یا بجہت آنکہ ثبوت آن بسنت ست ،چنانچہ نماز عید راسنت گفتہ اند

 Translation: Keeping the beard to the length of a fist is obligatory. Those who term it Sunnah either mean it’s the established practice in religion by the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) or because its proof is derived from the Sunnah, like the Eid prayer is called Sunnah even though it’s obligatory.

(Ashi’at-ul-Lama’at, Explanation of Mishkat, Book of Tahara, Chapter on Miswak, Vol. 1, Page 212, Maktaba Nooria Razvia, Sukkur)

In Sahih Bukhari, it is narrated from Ibn Umar (رضی اللہ تعالی عنہما) that the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:

خالفوا المشركین وفروا اللحی وأحفوا الشوارب ،وكان ابن عمر أذا حجّ او اعتمر قبض علی لحیتہ فما فضل أخذہ

Translation: Oppose the polytheists; grow the beard and trim the mustaches. And when Ibn Umar performed Hajj or Umrah, he would hold his beard in his fist and trim whatever exceeded.

(Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 2, Page 398, Lahore edition)

One cannot pray behind a sinner, as mentioned in Sunan Ibn Majah:

ولا یؤم فاجر مؤمنا ،الا ان یقھرہ بسلطان یخاف سیفه و سوطه

Translation: A sinner should not lead a Muslim in prayer, unless he is forced to do so by a ruler, fearing his sword or whip.

(Sunan Ibn Majah, Chapter on the Obligation of Jumu’ah, Vol. 1, Page 343, Hadith No. 1081, Dar Ihya al-Kutub al-Arabiyya, Beirut)

In the explanation of this blessed Hadith, Abu Al-Hassan Abdul Hadi Sindhi (رحمۃ اللہ علیہ) writes:

فاجر ای فاسق…بسلطان ای غلبة

Translation: The term ‘فاجر’ means ‘فاسق’, and ‘بسلطان’ signifies ‘غلبہ’, ie dominance.”

(Hashiya Sindhi on Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 1, pg. 343, Hadith no. 1081, Published by Dar Ahya al-Kutub al-Arabiya, Beirut)

An Imam should not be a sinner but a righteous person, as mentioned in Darqutni:

اجعلوا ائمتکم خیارکم، فانھم وفدکم فیما بینکم و بین اللہ عزوجل

Translation: Appoint your best (i.e., righteous) individuals as Imams, for they are your representatives between you and Allah (عزوجل).

(Sunan Darqutni, Chapter: Light Reading for a Need, Vol. 2, pg. 463, Published by Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyya, Beirut)

Jurisprudential Narrations:

Trimming the beard or cutting it less than a fist length is forbidden. As mentioned in Hashiya Tahtawi on Al-Maraqi (681), Durar’s explanation of Gharar (1/208), and Fath al-Qadir:

واللفظ للاخر :والاخذ منھا وھی دون ذلک کما یفعلہ بعض المغاربۃومخنثۃ الرجال فلم یبحہ احد ، و اخذ کلھا فعل مجوس الاعاجم و الیھود والھنود و بعض اجناس الافرنج

Translation: No jurist considers trimming the beard less than a fist length permissible, as some Westerners and effeminate men do. Completely cutting the beard is the practice of non-Arabs, Zoroastrians, Hindus, and some Europeans.

(Fath al-Qadir, Vol. 2, pg. 352, Published by Quetta)

In Maraqi al-Falah, Hazrat Allama Hasan bin Ammar Sharnblali (رحمۃ اللہ علیہ), who passed away in 1069H, writes:

کرہ امامۃ الفاسق العالم لعدم اھتمامہ بالدین فتجب اھانتہ شرعاً فلایعظم بتقدیمہ للامامۃ

Translation: The leadership in prayer of a sinful (فاسق) scholar is disliked because he does not care about following the religion. Thus, his humiliation is obligatory by Shariah, and he should not be honored by leading the prayers.

(Maraqi al-Falah explanation of Nur al-Idah, pg. 163, Maktaba al-Madina, Karachi)

It’s sinful to appoint an openly sinful person as an Imam, as mentioned in Maniyah al-Musalli:

لو قدموا فاسقا یاثمون بناء علی ان كراهة تقدیمه كراهة التحریم

Translation: If people appoint a sinner as an Imam, they commit a sin; for promoting a sinful person is highly undesirable (Makrooh e Tahreemi).

(Ghaniyah explanation of Maniyah al-Musalli, Vol. 1, pg. 442, Published by Quetta)

In Dar Mukhtar, it is mentioned:

کل صلاۃ ادیت مع کراهة التحریم تجب اعادتھا

Translation: Every prayer performed with a significant undesirability (کراہت تحریمی) must be repeated.

(Dar Mukhtar with Radd al-Muhtar, Book of Salah, Vol. 2, pg. 182, Published by Quetta)

The esteemed Syedi Imam Ahmad Raza Khan (رحمۃ اللہ علیہ) advises in Fatawa Razwiya: “It’s sinful to appoint someone who shaves his beard as an Imam, and praying behind such an Imam is Makruh Tahrimi (highly undesirable), thus repeating the prayer is obligatory. Trimming the beard and cutting it less than the prescribed limit are both forbidden and sinful. It’s as if ‘Fasiq’ (sinner) is written on their faces, and leading the prayer for such a publicly sinful person is prohibited and sinful.”

(Fatawa Razwiya, Vol. 6, pg. 503-505, Raza Foundation, Lahore)

On another occasion, the esteemed Syedi (رحمۃ اللہ علیہ), who passed away in 1340H, says:

لما صرحوا بہ من کراھۃ الصلاۃ خلف الفاسق و ان کل صلاۃ ادیت مع کراھۃ فانھا تعاد وجوبا لوتحریمۃ، وندبا لو تنزیھۃ وقد اختار المحقق الحلبی کراھۃ التحریم فی الفاسق وھو قضیۃ الدلیل لاسیما اذا کان معلنا

Translation: As the jurists have clarified that praying behind a Fasiq is Makruh (disliked), and any prayer performed with dislike, it should be repeated mandatorily if it’s due to a prohibited reason, and is recommended (Mustahab) to be repeated if it’s for a precautionary reason (Makrooh e Tanzeehi). The esteemed scholar Al-Halabi chose the ruling of it being Makruh Tahrimi (prohibitive dislike) for praying behind a Fasiq, and this is the requirement of the evidence, especially when he is an openly declared Fasiq.

Answered by: Mufti Sajid Attari

Translated by: Arslan Attari 

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