Introduction to Islam

wayfarer

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In light of thread http://mybroadband.co.za/vb/showthread.php/834991-Muslim-beard-row-hits-top-Durban-hotel

I would like to know the from the learned wayfarer what is the ruling on beards in Islam ?
Thank you for the question, Mineer

In a Hadith, it is reported that Prophet Muhammad said: "Do otherwise than those who ascribe partners to God, leave beards be, and trim mustaches." (Bukhari, Muslim)

The most widespread scholarly ruling on the matter of a man wearing a beard is that it is compulsory, and that not doing it is disobedience to God, and thus sinful. Additionally, the beard should be kept neat and clean.

Exactly what minimally constitutes a beard differs according to the 4 schools of Practice of mainstream Islam (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali).

In the South African context:

The most Muslim-populous region in SA is the Western Cape, where most Muslims follow the Shafi'i code of practice. Shafi'is (and Malikis) maintain that a substantial goatee is all that is needed, preferably untrimmed or minimally trimmed. All Shafi'is agree on this point, but differ on the ruling of not keeping the beard. A minority maintain that being clean-shaven (or keeping a very short beard) is sinful (haram), whereas most Shafi'i scholars suggest that it is not sinful but seriously religiously offensive (makruh), and one should therefore still keep a beard.

Outside of the Western Cape, most Muslims follow the Hanafi code of practice. Hanafis (and Hanbalis) require all facial hair to be left to grow, but should be trimmed when it goes beyond a fist length. Non-adherence to this is regarded as sinful.

Note that Muslim males and females are required to not excessively alter natural facial appearance, unless there is manifest dismorphism, or features that may appear repulsive in a way that negatively affects social interaction. Plucking eyebrows for both sexes is frowned upon, unless the hair is manifestly excessive, such as in a "unibrow". Women with noticeable facial hair are allowed to remove it. Shaving/removing pubic and underarm hair is required for both sexes.

In summary, the most widespread ruling on wearing the beard for Muslim males is that keeping a beard (that is neat and clean) is a necessary requirement for obedience to God Almighty.
 
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Lucas Buck

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Thank you for the question, Mineer

In a Hadith, it is reported that Prophet Muhammad said: "Do otherwise than those who ascribe partners to God, leave beards be, and trim mustaches." (Bukhari, Muslim)

[/b]
Why? What is the context of this quote because the whole god demands that you grow a beard seems ridiculous to me.
 

wayfarer

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Why? What is the context of this quote because the whole god demands that you grow a beard seems ridiculous to me.
Dear Lucas Buck

There are multiple Hadiths on this topic (and other analogous topics), which variously denote contexts of:

  • The male beard being a form of beauty by God
  • Avoiding "mutilation" and unnecessarily altering one's natural appearance
  • Avoiding emulation of certain specific customs of some groups
  • The beard being associated with masculinity (both sexes are honoured in their uniqueness)
  • It being a prophetic practice

...because God demands

Actually, there is no Islamic legal ruling that does not have it's first rationale as "because God demands", and this reason alone is sufficient for a Muslim (Muslim is the Arabic word for "one who surrenders") to submit in obedience. Why avoid pork, or alcohol (even in small amounts), etc? Because God demands. There may or may not be further explanation.
 

Lucas Buck

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Dear Lucas Buck

There are multiple Hadiths on this topic (and other analogous topics), which variously denote contexts of:

  • The male beard being a form of beauty by God
  • Avoiding emulation of certain specific customs of some groups
  • The beard being associated with masculinity (both sexes are honoured in their uniqueness)
  • It being a prophetic practice

...because God demands

Actually, there is no Islamic legal ruling that does not have it's first rationale as "because God demands", and this reason alone is sufficient for a Muslim (Muslim is the Arabic word for "one who surrenders") to submit in obedience. Why avoid pork, or alcohol (even in small amounts), etc? Because God demands. There may or may not be further explanation.
Thanks for the reply wayfarer.

I've read quite a few of your posts in this thread and usually even though I disagree with some of your answers I can at least see the logic or reasoning behind your answers. This is the first time where I find the reasons that you give absolutely baffling. I'm starting to think that you're are one of those who grew their beard for religious reasons.:)

[*]Avoiding "mutilation" and unnecessarily altering one's natural appearance
Cutting off ones beard is stretching the meaning of mutilation. Things like cutting your hair and shaving your armpits would then be altering your natural appearance.

[*]Avoiding emulation of certain specific customs of some groups
There are groups that also share the custom of growing a beard. No matter what you do there will most likely be some group that shares or has a similar custom to yours. This is a rather weak attempt to be unique for the sake of it.


[*]The beard being associated with masculinity (both sexes are honoured in their uniqueness)
If you cut off your beard you are still a man, it doesn't add or take away from masculinity. This is an outdated way of thinking that made sense back in the 800's, while some have moved with the times others seam to be clinging to an outdated tradition.

[*]It being a prophetic practice
If the prophet regularly scratched his nose three times after trimming his beard and someone often witnessed it, would it be necessary for millions of men to follow that habit, after all that's what the prophet did?

...because god demands is not a good enough answer. I get annoyed when people rigidly follow certain practices that fulfills no function especially when the reasons provided can't be justified.
 

wayfarer

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Thanks for the reply wayfarer.

I've read quite a few of your posts in this thread and usually even though I disagree with some of your answers I can at least see the logic or reasoning behind your answers. This is the first time where I find the reasons that you give absolutely baffling. I'm starting to think that you're are one of those who grew their beard for religious reasons.:)
Thank you for your kind words, and thank you for engaging me further. I am indeed guilty of the religiosity you suspect me of. The primary motivation for every act of a believer is to comply with God's precepts, conforming to His will, and thereby seeking His approval and love.

Cutting off ones beard is stretching the meaning of mutilation. Things like cutting your hair and shaving your armpits would then be altering your natural appearance.
You are correct, in that mutilation is not the same as shaving the beard. What is meant is that what they have in common is the unnecessary altering of the natural appearance (especially facial). The permission to cut head hair and the requirement to shave armpits are ordainments by God. For a believer, God is the final adjudicator on what is sanctioned and what is not - and what the rules are, and what the exceptions are.

There are groups that also share the custom of growing a beard. No matter what you do there will most likely be some group that shares or has a similar custom to yours. This is a rather weak attempt to be unique for the sake of it.
I refer to specific customs in specific groups, such as those who were associated with polytheism and directly identified by a particular custom (such as being clean shaven).

If you cut off your beard you are still a man, it doesn't add or take away from masculinity. This is an outdated way of thinking that made sense back in the 800's, while some have moved with the times others seam to be clinging to an outdated tradition.
How one presents oneself to the world is eternally relevant. According to Islam, the beard is one among many outward expressions of masculinity.

If the prophet regularly scratched his nose three times after trimming his beard and someone often witnessed it, would it be necessary for millions of men to follow that habit, after all that's what the prophet did?
But he didn't. In fact, the statement of Islamic creed posits that all prophets (including the OT Hebrew prophets) were protected from unbecoming traits and habits. That being said, there are categories that the scholars have agreed upon in which we do not imitate the Prophet. In terms of the general case, the Quran states:
"You have had a good example in God's Messenger for whosoever hopes for God and the Last Day, and remembers God often." (Quran 33:21)

...because god demands is not a good enough answer. I get annoyed when people rigidly follow certain practices that fulfills no function especially when the reasons provided can't be justified.
This is where our paradigms clearly differ. You see, dear Lucas, just because I do not know the reason for every single command of the Infinitely Wise, All-knowing God, does not mean that I may undermine any of His injunctions. I dare not be as arrogant as to assume that just because a practice appears to me to not have an overt rationale or function, that it needs to be viewed with contempt and dispensed with in derogation. Meanings may (and do) exist beyond my knowledge and capacity.

That being said, the Quran, in several places, exhorts one to rational thought and reflection, and the application of logic. One of the compulsory modules that Islamic scholars have to study is Aristotelian logic, called "mantiq". You are not a Muslim, and I cannot therefore expect you to simply accept a "because God demands" argument. I merely mentioned that to clarify that "God demands" is the first recourse (but certainly NOT the only) from the perspective of a believer. As you have seen, I presented an argument other than "because God demands". You may decide for yourself whether the argument is baseless or at least carries some weight.
 
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Zolani99

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What is your view about Christianity? Is it a biblical religion and how did it originate? Christians say they follow Jesus, but Jesus was a Jew. Shouldn't all followers of Jesus be Jews as He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (the Jews).
 
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wayfarer

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What is your view about Christianity? Is it a biblical religion and how did it originate? Christians say they follow Jesus, but Jesus was a Jew. Shouldn't all followers of Jesus be Jews as He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (the Jews).
Excellent question, Zolani!

Note that you're asking a Muslim whether the iconic figure of Christianity is in fact a Jew :D

Nevertheless, I'm happy to share the Muslim perspective with you. Jesus Christ was born into a Jewish community who were required to uphold the Old Testament (or Torah). But God instructed him to challenge corruption that had set in among Jewish religious leaders. God also instructed Jesus Christ to make some changes to the historic Mosaic Law brought by Prophet Moses. Additionally, God instructed Jesus Christ to extend the Message to the Gentiles (non-Jews).

You may be interested to know that Muslims regard all Jews who devoutly followed they annointed prophets, and the early Christians who were loyal to Jesus Christ and his original message, as being true believers. In fact, we call them "muslim" in faith - "muslim" means a person who submits to the will of God. Muslims regard those earlier prophets as true prophets, and their followers as true believers.

So was the iconic figure of Christianity, Jesus Christ, a Christian or a Jew? Neither, he was a Muslim! But that is in a very general sense, and not in the sense that one would refer to a present-day practitioner of Islam. For sure, Jesus Christ was a Hebrew prophet from the Jews.

I just posted a piece in PD that gives the necessary context for this answer, click here...
 

Zolani99

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You may be interested to know that Muslims regard all Jews who devoutly followed they annointed prophets, and the early Christians who were loyal to Jesus Christ and his original message, as being true believers. In fact, we call them "muslim" in faith - "muslim" means a person who submits to the will of God. Muslims regard those earlier prophets as true prophets, and their followers as true believers.
Do you consider loyalty to Jesus and His message the same as submitting to the will of God? Does the will of God in Islam not involve following the 5 commandments of Islam?
Is it possible to be a loyal follower of Jesus but not submit to the 5 commandments and still be regarded as Muslim and attain heaven?
 
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Splinter

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So was the iconic figure of Christianity, Jesus Christ, a Christian or a Jew? Neither, he was a Muslim! But that is in a very general sense, /URL]
General sense or not, that will set a cat among the pigeons...

Although now I think I get where Zolani is coming from. A bit of a trojan horse thing...although this time it is between religions.


Shame on you Zolani.
 

RazedInBlack

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What is your view about Christianity? Is it a biblical religion and how did it originate? Christians say they follow Jesus, but Jesus was a Jew. Shouldn't all followers of Jesus be Jews as He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (the Jews).
Err, there was no Christianity before the birth of JC. I would assume that how christianity originated
 

Zolani99

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Err, there was no Christianity before the birth of JC. I would assume that how christianity originated
Yes, I'm aware there was no Christianity before Jesus nor during the time He walked the earth as He was a Jew. So the question remains unanswered.
 

saturnz

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Yes, I'm aware there was no Christianity before Jesus nor during the time He walked the earth as He was a Jew. So the question remains unanswered.
if you mean follow Jesus as if he is a God the answer is probably no

if you mean follow Jesus as if he is a prophet then the answer is they already do
 

wayfarer

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Do you consider loyalty to Jesus and His message the same as submitting to the will of God? Does the will of God in Islam not involve following the 5 commandments of Islam?
Is it possible to be a loyal follower of Jesus but not submit to the 5 commandments and still be regarded as Muslim and attain heaven?
Since later prophets abrogate and fix distortions of God's earlier guidance, believers in earlier prophets are required to embrace the message of the most recent prophet of God. Jesus Christ was a Messenger for a particular context, and his unitarian monotheistic message has anyway been corrupted.

Note that those who have genuinely conducted an open-minded search for Truth, having explored various positions, including Islam, and thereafter sincerely rejected it, because they genuinely cannot conceive of it as the truth, are not the same as those who refuse to search for truth, or refuse to see Islam as truth due egotism, laziness, bigotry or arrogance. God is the only one who can look into people's hearts, and they are not all the same.

You would be interested in these Quran verses:

"They are not all alike; of the Jewish and Christian followers of Scripture, there is an upright party; they recite God's verses at night and they adore (Him). They believe in God and the last day, and they enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong, and they strive with one another in hastening to good deeds, and those are among the righteous." (Quran 3:113)

"...nearest among them in love to the believers you will find those who say, "We are Christians": because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant. And when they listen to the revelation received by the Messenger, you will see their eyes overflowing with tears, for they recognise the truth: they pray: "Our Lord! we believe; write us down among the witnesses." (Quran 5:82-83

"Of the people of Moses (Jews) there is a section who guide and do justice in the light of truth." (Quran 7:159)

"Those who believe (in the Quran), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve." (Quran 2:62)

There are several more such verses to be found in the Quran.
 

Zolani99

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"Those who believe (in the Quran), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve." (Quran 2:62)

There are several more such verses to be found in the Quran.
So what I can see from your response is for a Jew or Christian to attain their reward (heaven), they should:
1. Believe in God, the Last Day, the Quran and Mohammed
2. Work righteousness

Firstly, will it be acceptable for me as a Christian to testify I believe in the Quran but not carry out the Quranic way of prayer, alms-giving, fasting and pilgrimage?

Secondly, I note from your response the Quran acknowledge Christianity as a religion. Seeing Jesus was a Jew and the term Christian(ity) was a man-made invention after the death of Jesus and Jesus never used the term Christian or Christianity, I'm surprised to learn the Quran elevates Christianity to the same level as Judaism and Islam.

Thirdly, the Torah was revealed to Moses and the Quran to Muhammad, was the Bible revealed to Jesus and if so, why was another scripture needed if Jesus came to confirm and not change the Law revealed to Moses?
 
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wayfarer

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So what I can see from your response is for a Jew or Christian to attain their reward (heaven), they should:
1. Believe in God, the Last Day, the Quran and Mohammed
2. Work righteousness

Firstly, will it be acceptable for me as a Christian to testify I believe in the Quran but not carry out the Quranic way of prayer, alms-giving, fasting and pilgrimage?
Thank you for another great question, dear Zolani!

If you testify belief in the One God, Umvelinqangi, and that Prophet Muhammad is His messenger, the foremost amongst His izinyanya, but you do not carry out the other 4 pillars (while affirming that they should be carried out), you would be considered a Muslim, albeit a habitual sinner for omitting of the essential pillars. Furthermore, there is tremendous lenience for new Muslims, who still have to learn those essential acts of worship, and internalise them.

Secondly, I note from your response the Quran acknowledge Christianity as a religion. Seeing Jesus was a Jew and the term Christian(ity) was a man-made invention after the death of Jesus and Jesus never used the term Christian or Christianity, I'm surprised to learn the Quran elevates Christianity to the same level as Judaism and Islam.
The term Jew is understood to come from the name Judah, the 4th son of the Prophet Jacob. Jews follow the Hebrew prophets, especially Moses. Christians revere the Hebrew prophets, but exclusively follow what they believe to be the teachings of Jesus Christ. Christos means "anointed/chosen one", and this is where the term Christian comes from.

In both of these faiths, the original doctrine was altered over time, and they do not accurately follow their prophets. It must, however, be recognised that both Judaism and Christianity, at their respective cores, stand strongly for peace, mercy, love and justice. Despite terrible blemishes of extremes and excesses, and religious wars and persecution, these faiths have made major contributions for the betterment of our world. Together with Islam, they make up the great Abrahamic Tradition, which you correctly pointed out constitutes over 55% of the world's population.

Thirdly, the Torah was revealed to Moses and the Quran to Muhammad, was the Bible revealed to Jesus and if so, why was another scripture needed if Jesus came to confirm and not change the Law revealed to Moses?
Many errors had crept into the Torah (Old Testament). Jesus came to correct those errors and affirm the Mosaic Law, but he also came to bring some changes to that Law, as instructed by God. Jesus Christ received a Holy Book into his heart, known as the Gospel/Evangel. He did not transmit that Gospel to his disciples, but he did teach and guide from it. The New Testament of the Christians, which includes the 4 Gospels, is not the Gospel that was revealed to Jesus Christ.
 

Zolani99

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Furthermore, there is tremendous lenience for new Muslims, who still have to learn those essential acts of worship, and internalise them.
The above response assumes the premise of conversion to Islam. I'm more interested in the obligations of someone who wish to remain faithful to his religion eg Christianity but still wants to work towards a heavenly reward. The Bible talks about prayer, fasting and alms but not in the clear language of the Quran.
If I pray to God and fast and give alms to the best of my ability, will it qualify as "righteous works" to earn myself a heavenly reward while remaining a Christian?
 
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