Answered by Shaykh Faiz Qureshy
Question: What is the ruling on a man shaving his beard except his chin, i.e. that which remains on the chin in a typical Western goatee – does this meet the criteria of a “beard”? I am concerned with the Shafi’i position.
In relation to the question, firstly it is important to remember that the pure sunna of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is to keep a full length beard, as is established is many prophetic traditions. From them the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him) said, ‘Trim the moustache, and leave the beard to grow.’ [Muslim]. The beard is a hallmark of the religion, and Allah states, ‘Whosoever exalts the hallmarks of God, this is indeed from the piety of hearts.’ [Hajj: 32]
When Bādhān (the viceroy to Chosroes in the Yemen) sent two emissaries to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in Medina, they had long mustaches and shaved beards. This sight was abhorrent to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), who said, ‘My Lord bids me to grow the beard and trim the mustache.’ Thus it is known that the full length beard is unequivocally a sunna, and attempting to exemplify the best of creation can only lead to good in both abodes.
Bearing in mind the above, the position in the school of al-Shāfi’ī, is known in that the beard (Ar. al-lihya) is defined as the ‘hair that grows on the chin.’ ]Fath al-Mubīn 1.66]. To trim, or pluck the beard is unconditionally disliked (makrūh) [al-Ramlī, Nihāya 8.149]. Attention here should be paid to the word chin (Ar. dhaqan), in that in your question you mention the ‘typical western goatee’. Removal of hair from the chin (either by trimming or plucking) is disliked hence the western style goatee is somewhat at odds with this.
The Shāfi’ī law books go to lengths in defining other facial hair and in doing so discern it from the beard (lihya). Al-Ramlī goes on to say that it is also disliked to shorten the idhā’rayn. [Nihāya 8.149]. This is the hair ]below the temples and above the jawbones. It is also defined as the [hair to] the sides of the beard [Qāmūs al-Muhīt, 436]
It should also be mentioned that some Shāfi’ī scholars hold that it is only disliked to remove the hair from the chin, and these diverse positions are a blessing, in that there is leeway, and Allah knows best.
Lastly it should be mentioned that if one wishes to alter the facial hair to turn away from the pure sunna of the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him), or in order to imitate non-believing people, then this would be deemed sinful behaviour.
May Allah protect us all, and allow us to emulate the best of creation, outwardly and inwardly, amin.
The Ribat Institute
Faiz Qureshy, BSc (Hons) completed a degree in Management Systems in 1997. He subsequently worked in IT, including as a network analyst for the Dell Corporation, before changing direction to study various Islamic disciplines abroad for the better part of 8 years. He studied in the University of Damascus, Syria, and also in Dar al-Mustafa, Yemen. He has taught for the Greensville Trust and Crawley Education Institute, and has carried out pastoral work for the Prison Service. He worked for almost three years with long-term sufferers of mental health illnesses, and is currently employed to undertake spiritual and pastoral care in Broadmoor High Security Hospital. He lives in woking with his wife and three children.