Islam is a complete religion. Believers are scattered across many racial and regional groups but are bound together by common essential beliefs and practices. Some of these beliefs and practices have been interpreted differently and has caused debates amongst Muslims. A good example is the issue of Muslim men keeping beards.

In Islam, the Holy Qur'an is the ultimate guide for Muslims. The Sunnah (documented ways and life of Prophet Muhammad) gives in details of the laws and guide of the Qur'an. For instance, the Qur'an orders Muslims to pray (Salaat), the Sunnah gave in details the number of times (5). If a case or situation isn’t addressed in both the Qur'an and the Sunnah, then we must oblige to the local verdicts of our religious authorities which would be based upon cultural and social situations. “O ye who believe! Obey God, and obey the Apostle, and those charged with Authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourself, refer it to God and his Apostle. If ye do believe in God and the last day; that is best and most suitable for final determination”. [Qur'an 4:59]

Growing beard isn’t addressed in the Qur'an. It is imperative for Muslims to know what Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said regarding it. “Once in the lifetime of the Prophet (pbuh) the people were afflicted with drought (famine). While the Prophet was delivering the Khutba on a Friday, a Bedouin stood up and said, "O, Allah's Apostle! Our possessions are being destroyed and the children are hungry; please invoke Allah (for rain)". So the Prophet raised his hands. At that time there was not a trace of cloud in the sky. By Him in Whose Hands my soul is as soon as he lowered his hands, clouds gathered like mountains, and before he got down from the pulpit, I saw the rain falling on the beard of the Prophet. It rained that day, the next day, the third day, the fourth day till the next Friday. The same Bedouin or another man stood up and said, "O Allah's Apostle! The houses have collapsed, our possessions and livestock have been drowned; Please invoke Allah (to protect us)". So the Prophet raised both his hands and said, "O Allah! Round about us and not on us". So, in whatever direction he pointed with his hands, the clouds dispersed and cleared away, and Medina's (sky) became clear as a hole in between the clouds. The valley of Qanat remained flooded, for one month, none came from outside but talked about the abundant rain (Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 13, Number 55).  The Hadith clearly indicates that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had beards.

The Prophet ordered Muslims to grow beards not to look like pagans (Idol worshipers). He ordered Muslims to grow beards to distinguish them from security and cultural reasons. The Prophet (pbuh) ordered beard growing to address an issue at that time. If the Qur'an ordered the growing of beards, then I am sure we will not have any argument. The fact is, 1400years ago, growing beards was common to all men from different geographical region. In modern time, growing beards could be a difficult thing for Muslims (for instance, Muslims living in the West). Some restaurants will not employ men with beard for example.

Personally, I am growing my beards. Are we to conclude that Muslims who don’t grow beards aren’t true Muslims? I don’t think so. Nigeria has many Muslims in the army.  These are men who have sworn to fight and possibly die to protect their nation are not allowed to keep beards; does this mean they aren’t true Muslims? We Muslims should be aware that only the Noble Qur'an laws are 100% applicable at all times and places. The world is certainly different from what it was 1400 years ago. The issues that weren’t sensitive back then maybe very sensitive in modern time.

Conclusively, growing beards should be encouraged, but shouldn’t be mandatory.

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