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The Beard and Isbal-i Izar
Social Issues
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

Men have been known to keep beards. The Prophet (sws) too had kept one. If someone among his followers keeps it to express his affiliation to him or merely to follow his ways, then this indeed is a very blessed practice. However, keeping a beard is no directive of religion. Hence if a person does not keep a beard, it cannot be said that he is evading an obligatory directive or has done something harām or forbidden.

Whatever the Prophet (sws) has said in this regard are not directives to keep a beard but the manner in which it should be kept if a person decides to keep it: he has said that the beard and the moustache should not be kept in any manner which may give the impression of arrogance or haughtiness. Arrogance is a great sin which manifests in a person’s gait and conversation, appearance and clothes, mannerism and etiquette – in short in everything. Similar is the case with the beard and the moustache. Some people shave their beards or keep them trimmed but keep a big moustache. The Prophet (sws) has disliked such an appearance, and has directed such people not to adopt the looks of arrogant people. If they want to increase the size, then it should be of the beard and not the moustache, which should be kept trimmed in all circumstances.1 The guidance received by mankind through the prophets of God deals with worship rituals as well as issues related to cleansing and purification of the body, edibles and morals. Whatever the Prophet (sws) has said with regard to keeping the beard relates to the cleansing of morals. It was in this context in which he expressed his views about keeping the beard but people regarded it to be a directive of increasing the size of the beard. In this manner, they incorporated in religion something which can never be related to it.

The issue of wearing isbāl izār is no different. It was very common among the arrogant in the pre-Islamic Arab society to wear a long shirt, let the loose end of their turban hang below their back and let their legware (izār) dangle so far below the ankles as if half of it would drag behind on the ground. In Arabic, this is called isbāl. The Prophet (sws) showed his great dislike for this, and once remarked that the Almighty would not like to see the person on the Day of Judgement who walked while arrogantly dragging his leg-cloth (tehband).2 All narratives regarding izār relate to this appearance.

It can however be said about the tehband that if it is allowed to dangle below the ankles, then it to some extent resembles the appearance of the arrogant just discussed; so even if the purpose to make it dangle is not arrogance, then also care must be exercised. Thus this can be said about the tehband; however, it is a fact that this resemblance is only reflected in the tehband; it has no similarity with shalwār, pajāmas and trousers.


(Translated from Maqāmāt by Shehzad Saleem)



1. Al-Bukhārī, Al-Jāmi‘ al-sahīh, no. 5892; Muslim, Al-Jāmi‘ al-sahīh, no. 602.

2. Al-Bukhārī, Al-Jāmi‘ al-sahīh, no. 5783; Muslim, Al-Jāmi‘ al-sahīh, no. 5455.

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