Isbaal & The Beard

I realize that I have not been keeping up with my notes from Precious Provisions. I really need to take a time management class…Anyways, we shall continue inshaAllah with the Fiqh of Men’s Clothing.

After this is the sisters’ Fiqh of Clothing! 😀

Precious Provisions

taught by Yasir Qadhi

Section 4: Fiqh of Men’s Clothing


royaltyIsbaal comes from the verb sabala, which means to proceed down. Sabeel means a path/tunnel. So Isbaal technically means to lower the garments below the ankles.

*For women, this ruling is irrelevant.*

Once upon a time, isbaal was a sign of extravagance and arrogance. Amongst the Arabs, cloth was a rare commodity. Most Arabs only had two garments that they owned. Even the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam probably had three garments, at most, at the same time. So, they would wear what clothes they had at a high level [as in, high on their bodies] so as not to soil the garments. The rich and elite that could flaunt their wealth would make a point to wear their garments very low. Every culture and society has a way of flaunting their wealth – whether it’s through designer brands, etc. The way the Arabs did it was by lowering the garments. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam forbade this act.

The question arose: why was it forbidden? Was it associated with the pride and arrogance? Or is the act itself haram,  regardless of intention?

ALL SCHOLARS AGREE that someone doing this out of arrogance, it is a major sin. The question arises: what if it is out of culture or habit? There are two predominant opinions.

  1. It haraam in ALL circumstances. It doesn’t matter why. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam forbade it; end of story. This is a common position of scholars, the three most famous being: Ibn Hajar, AdhDhahabi and Al Arabi. Their evidences:
    • Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Whatever is below the ankles of the izaar [lower garment] is in the Fire.” (Al Bukhaari)
    • Ibn ‘Umar narrates that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Whoever trails his garment out of pride, Allah will not look at him on the Day of judgment.” Abu Bakr said, “One of the sides of the garment drags below [the other] unless I protect myself against that.” The Prophet said, “You do not do that out of arrogance.” [Bukhaari]
    • Adh Dhahabi says that if you do it out of pride there is a double punishment.
  2. It is makruh. By and large, the standard position of all four madhabs and An Nawawi, and Ibn Taymiyyah is that if it is out of culture and not pride, then it is makruh, and not sinful.
    • They take both of the hadith in the same chapter and do not view them as distinct.
    • The fact that one hadith mentions arrogance, pride, and the other one doesn’t, it means that we understand the unconditional in light of the conditional. The prohibition for us is for the pride. in hadith narrated by Ibn ‘Umar, the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Whoever trails his garment, and he only intends with that pride, Allah will not look at him on the day of judgment.” [Muslim]
    • Abu Bakr told the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that sometimes his garment would drag (and they didn’t have belts), it would get loose on one side and go below the ankle. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said that, “You do not do it out of arrogance.” [hadith in Bukhaari]. The reason for the prohibition is clearly kibr [arrogance].
    • They also understand the sahabah and tabi’oon in light of these hadith. There are many reports from earlier scholars that they used to lower their garments.
      • Of them is Ibn Mas’ood. He is one of the narrators of the hadith, and yet he himself would wear garments that go below the ankles. When he was asked why, he said, “Because my legs are skinny.” Ibn Mas’ood had some deformity on his legs, and some of the sahabah laughed at them, the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam became angry at them and said, “Do you laugh at his legs? Wallahi, they are heavier in the eyes of Allah than the mount of Uhud.” He felt awkward, and would therefore wear long garments.
      • Abu Haneefah wore a long garment below the ankle. He asked if it was forbidden, and he said that it is forbidden for those who show off.
      • Ash Shafi’ee said that it is not permissible for arrogance.

Our classical scholars understood the prohibition to be with the arrogance associated with the isbaal. The arrogance-conotation disappeared with the second generation. In our times, in western lands, no human beings associates long trousers with arrogance.

Bottom line: It depends on the culture. To require someone to do it in the US, it is not something our shari’ah asks of us.

The Beard – Lihya

The salaf (pious predecessors) used to say that Allah has honored men with beards and Allah has honored women with long hair.

Throughout centuries and civilizations, a beard was a sign of manlihood. When the Gillette company invented the disposable razor in 1902, the fad took root. For most of mankind’s existence, it was rarely done and considered effeminate.

Some Hadith regarding the beard:

‘Aa`isha narrated that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Ten matters are from the fitra: trimming the mustache, leaving the beard to grow, brushing the teeth, cleansing the nose with water, trimming the nails, washing the baraajim (joints between the fingers), plucking the underarm hair, and shaving the pubes.” One narrator added: “I forgot the tenth, unless it was: washing the mouth with water.” [Muttafaq ‘alayhi – which basically means “agreed upon by Muslim and Bukhaari :D] 

As disgusted at we would feel leaving the other eight, we should feel the same disgust for leaving the mustache and the beard.

“Trimming the mustache” has two opinions: trimming and shaving completely. The point is that it is to be trimmed so that it is not an unhealthy amount, where it interferes with the food. 😛

Ibn ‘Umar reported that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Be different from the pagans; let the beard grow and trim the mustache.” And when Ibn ‘Umar would perform Hajj or ‘Umrah, he would hold on to his beard, and whatevevr descended below, he would remove it. [Al Bukhaari]

There is no authentic hadith in which the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam trimmed his beard. We know for a fact that he had a large beard because the sahabah would be able to tell if he was reciting in a silent prayer by the movement of his beard. 🙂 

What Constitutes a Beard?

The word lihya is used in the Sunnah and the Qur’aan (when Musa held onto Harun’s beard[1]).

Lihya comes from laha, which means the area of the bones upon which the teeth grow. According to the word laha, your lihya would be the places where the beard grows 😀

The lihya is the hair which grows on the laha. A small group of scholars say that this would be the bones were the front teeth grow – which is a goatee? Basically. This is a difference of linguistics, and not fiqh.

ALL SCHOLARS agree that is the hair on the chin. The vast majority agree that the hair on the cheekbones is included. The vast majority also agree that the hair on the throat and the hair under the eyes is NOT part of the lihya.

Never give a khutbah or a halaqa about the beard, because we have far bigger things to talk about! 😉

Waajib or Sunnah?

It is waajib/obligatory. This is the opinion of the vast majority of scholars, so much so that some have narrated ijmaa` on this. Of those who have said there is Ijmaa` is ibn Hazm. 

They agree that is waajib to grow a beard – but what is the minimum? Some of the many opinions:

  • Haraam to trim in any fashion or form – unheard of opinion in classical Islam. A noble, esteemed Grand Mufti of our times took this opinion and popularized it. very solitary opinion
  • It is makruh to trim – standard position of shafi’ee madhab
  • Mubah – some shafi’ee scholars say, given the condition that you have more than a fistful and it is during hajj/umrah (hadith of ibn ‘Umar)
  • Hambali madhab and Ibn taymiyyah – permissible to trim more than a fistful at any time
  • You should trim beyond a fistful at any time – standard position of Hanafi
  • It is mustahab, and shaving it completely is makruh. This is the standard position of modern Shafi’ees in Al Ahzar.

It may be mustahab to have a fistful (YQs opinion), but trimming even to the #1 setting would qualify as a beard.

What does NOT qualify is: the chin strap (pencil beard), or a two day shadow 🙂

The popular conception amongst the masses is that it is simply  Sunnah because of Al Ahzar’s fatwas. There is ijmaa` that this was never the case. Because the majority of the Muslims believe that the beard is Sunnah and don’t have a beard, we cannot judge them, because Allah will judge them based on what they know. Concentrate on the bigger picture 🙂

The Etiquettes of the Beard

oliveoilThe Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would regularly comb and put oil on his hair. That means he wanted his hair to look healthy. In our times we have shampoo and conditioner, etc. Don’t go overboard in your looks though, because that is effeminate. Allah is beautiful and loves beauty.

There is a hadith in which a man came to the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam looking unkempt, and the Prophet asked him if he could afford it and told him to take care of himself.

It is makruh to pluck the white hair.

It is haram/makruh to die white hair with black. The time it is allowed is before the battle in which the enemy will think you are young.

It is Sunnah to die it with henna and other non black colors. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did so.

When the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam conquered Makkah, Abu Bakr bought his father (Abu Quhafah) and his father was an old man, and he had been an ardent enemy of Islam for the last 20 years. Abu Quhafah was carried on the backs of men because he was too old to walk. His hair was white as a pigeon. After 20 years of open hostility, the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was gentle with him and smiled and joked with him. He said to Abu Bakr: “Why didn’t you leave the shaykh [old man] at home? It was more befitting that I go to visit him.” When such kindness was showered upon Abu Quhafah, he accepted Islam. As he was leaving, the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam told the women around him, “Go change the color of his hair, but make sure you don’t choose black.” It shows us that it is Sunnah to have your hair dyed if it is pure white (because he commanded them to). The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had speckles of white in his hair, so you don’t have to dye that.

[1] Some scholars use this as proof that we have to keep a beard; we must follow the prophets

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3 Responses to Isbaal & The Beard

  1. Abd Al-Baasit says:

    Masha’Allah, thank you so much & May Allah multiply your reward… I was searching all over for this (notes from Sh. YQ’s class), and voilà! I found this article. 🙂

  2. Sayem says:

    جزاك الله خيرا

    It was a pleasure to read this and other articles on your website. Please keep up the good work.

  3. Finally, a great article i was searching for. Thanks a lot sister 🙂 May allah reward your efforts.

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