Q. What exactly defines as beard, to the side of your face or isn’t it the jaw bone?
A. With respect to the guidelines which have been given regarding the beard, the Prophet (S.A) is reported to have said:
1) ‘Grow your beards (Al-liha) and shorten your moustaches’ (Ahmad).
2) ‘Differ from the polytheists, grow your beards (Al-liha) and clip your moustaches’. (Bukhari)
3) ‘Pare your moustaches and leave your beards (Al-liha). Differ from the Zoroastrians’. (Muslim)
In all the above traditions (as well as others), the Prophet (S.A) has ordered his followers (the men), to ‘grow their beards’ and to ‘leave their beards’. In these traditions, the Arabic word which has been used is ‘Al-liha’, which is normally translated as ‘the beard’. Since the word ‘beard’ is the English equivalent of the word which has been used, it has been normally misunderstood by many Muslims that the teaching of the Prophet (S.A) regarding beard, referred to only that which grew on the jaw bone, which is commonly referred to as ‘beard’. This however, is a mistake and clear misunderstanding of the Arabic word which has been used by the Prophet (S.A) himself.
According to all the reliable Arabic dictionaries, the word ‘Al-liha’ (which the Prophet (S.A) has used in all the narrations) means the hair that grows on the both cheeks and chin. So, when the Prophet (S.A) ordered the Muslim men by saying, ‘Grow the liha’, he meant that they must grow the hair that comes out on the both cheeks and on the chin.
In Al Mujam Al Waseet (a famous Arabic dictionary), it states, ‘Al liha (the beard) means the hair of both cheeks and the chin’. (pg.820) In Al Qamoos Al Waheed (another famous Arabic dictionary), it is written, ‘Liha and Al-liha (the beard) means the hair of the both cheeks and the chin’. ( Vol. 2 pg.1462 ).
Besides this the permanent practice of the prophet (SAS) and the Sahabahs, along with the Tabieen and Tabu’t Tabieen was that they kept the beard by growing the hair of the cheeks and chin, and the only hair they clipped or removed from the face was the moustache.
The ‘beard’ therefore,includes the hair on the cheeks and that of the chin. The above is the ruling given by the sound and reliable scholars of the past and present, and no one from among them has given the allowance to remove the hair of the cheeks.
In this regard, the late grand Mufti of Makka and Madina, Shaikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Baz has given the following fatwa: ‘The beard is what grows on the cheeks and the chin, as defined by the author of Al-lisan and Al-Qamoos. It is obligatory to leave the hair which grows on the cheeks and chin and not to shave it or cut it’. (Fatawa Islamiya vol.8 pg.241).
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan