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Shaykh Saalih Aal Ash-Shaykh (حفظه الله) regarding trimming the beard

The following is a Translation of an answer by Shaykh Saalih Aal Ash-Shaykh (حفظه الله) regarding trimming the beard
Q) It has been noticed lately on some practicing youth the matter of grabbing from the beard in order to lighten it, so what is the ruling of this action and what are the limits of the beard?

As for the ruling of grabbing from the beard, then shaving the beard is prohibited by consensus. Ibn Hazm has textually showed the prohibition of shaving the beard by consensus, likewise other than him. The scholars of the four madhaahib differ in this issue in terms of shaving the beard primarily. What has been proven in the Sunnah by clear evidences and with various terms is that leaving the beard has been ordered. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: oppose the Majoos (Fire-Worshippers), (hence) leave the beards and trim the moustaches. In another narration he said: elongate the beard. In a third narration he said: increase the beard and he said: honour the beard. This shows that these matters have been ordered with and that shaving the beard is prohibited. Ibn Sa’d has also narrated that a man from the Majoos came to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), and he was one whose beard was shaven and his moustache was very abundant. So the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) turned away from him, then when he approached him, he said: Who commanded you to do this?! So the man answered him. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) then said: But Allah has surely ordered me to grab from this-meaning his moustache-and leave this-meaning his beard.

If this has been resolved, then what is the definition of Al-I’faa (leaving off) linguistically and legislatively that accordingly Al-I’faa will occur? Is the meaning of Al-I’faa that it isn’t permissible to grab a thing from the beard? The scholars have statements in that regard:

Imam Ahmed and his companions went towards the opinion that growing the beard by leaving it upon its condition is Sunnah, and that grabbing from it is disliked if it isn’t to the extent of shaving. This is what has been published in their Madhabs and Imam Ahmed would grab from his beard as Ishaaq Ibn Haani mentioned in his Masaail.
The second opinion which is what our scholars make judgment with and that is due to the apparentness of the evidences, is that the meaning of Al-I’faa is that nothing is taken from it primarily due to his saying: Prolong-ate the beard, Honor the beard, thicken the beard. All these have been commanded with.

However what is the limit of letting free (the beard):
Those that said that grabbing from the beard doesn’t contradict letting the beard go, have said that this order: Prolongate, Leave; the companions have opposed it by taking what has exceeded a grab. So this has proven that the limit to letting free (one’s beard) isn’t absolute, meaning the one who takes from it has surely opposed the order to let it free. For this reason groups from the scholars - among them are the Hanfiyyah and Shaykh Nasirudeen Al-Albaany has supported them with exceeding support (in regards to this issue) in this time, that the limit for the beard is a fistful and whatsoever exceeds that then it isn’t legislated. This opinion has an apparent weakness, because from the companions is he who’s beard was very thick and bulky and his beard would reach his chest as has been mentioned in regards to ‘Ali (رضي الله عنه), and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was (also) very thick bearded, and like that which proves that (the opinion): the limit for letting free is a fistful and it isn’t allowed to let free any more than a fistful; is a statement that is in need of clear evidences in that regard.

If it was that exceeding over a fistful isn’t permissible as Shaykh Nasirudeen Al-Albaany (حفظه الله) went towards, the companions wouldn’t have restricted grabbing of the beard from what exceeds a fistful to the Nusuk. When Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) would perform Hajj or ‘Umrah, he would grab from his beard, hence would take anything that exceeded a fistful. If it was absolutely that he wouldn’t let free what exceeded at fistful, then it’s meaning is that it shouldn’t be restricted to the Nusuk. This is beacause his restriction to the time of Nusuk shows a different meaning and that it isn’t unconditioned.

The purpose of this is that the scholars have opinions in regards to that:

The first opinion is what I have mentioned to you from that which is ruled with by our scholars which is that letting free (the beard) is leaving it upon its condition. Obviously, except in situations of ugliness which are rare situations.

The second opinion is that shaving is prohibited however leaving it upon its condition is liked and that taking from it is disliked - meaning he has left in that regards the better (alternative).

The third opinion is that exceeding over a handful isn’t permissible, rather an innovation, and this is the opinion of Shaykh Nasirudeen Al-Albany. It is an opinion that has no share from the evidence.

Taken from Shaykh Saalih's Explanation of 'Aqeedah Adh-Dhahaawiyyah Tape No.28, Minute: 51 onwards

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