Praise be to Allaah.
The commands that are narrated in Islam are
of three types:
1 – A command which is accompanied by
evidence which indicates that what is meant is that it is obligatory, such
as the verse in which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And perform As-Salaah
The definitive evidence from the Qur’aan
and Sunnah, and the consensus of the Muslims, indicates that the command to
establish the five daily prayers means that it is obligatory.
2 – A command which is accompanied by
evidence that it is not obligatory, such as the hadeeth in Saheeh
al-Bukhaari (1183) in which the Messenger (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) said: “Pray before Maghrib,” and the third time he said:
“for whoever wants to,” not wanting the people to take it as a Sunnah.
The words “for whoever wants to” indicate
that the command in the words “Pray before Maghrib” does not mean that it is
3 – A command which does not come with any
indication as to whether it is obligatory or not. This is what the scholars
call al-amr al-mutlaq (general commands). It is not accompanied by anything
to suggest whether it is obligatory or otherwise. The ruling on such
commands is that they are obligatory.
Hence the scholars said: A command that is
not accompanied by any indication is obligatory.
This is the view of the majority of scholars
from the four madhhabs.
See: Sharh al-Kawkab al-Muneer, 3/39
They quoted a great deal of evidence
from the Qur’aan and Sunnah to support this view.
The evidence from the Qur’aan includes the
“It is not for a believer, man or woman,
when Allaah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have
any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allaah and His Messenger,
he has indeed strayed into a plain error”
So Allaah has decreed that His command
and the command of His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon
him) rule out any other option, which proves that it is obligatory.
End quote from al-Mudhkirah by
al-Shanqeeti, p. 191
“And let those who oppose the Messenger’s
(Muhammad’s) commandment (i.e. his Sunnah
legal ways, orders, acts of worship, statements) (among the sects) beware,
lest some Fitnah (disbelief, trials, afflictions, earthquakes, killing,
overpowered by a tyrant) should befall them or a painful torment be
inflicted on them”
Here, Allaah warns those who go against the
command of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) of
fitnah (trial or tribulation), namely deviation, or of a painful torment;
such a warning is only issued to one who fails to do something that is
obligatory. This indicates that the general command of the Messenger
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is obligatory.
End quote from Sharh al-Waraqaat by
al-Fawzaan, p. 59.
Al-Qurtubi said: This verse is quoted as
evidence by the fuqaha’ to show that the command means that a thing is
Another example of the evidence quoted is
the verse in which Allaah denounces Iblees for not prostrating to Adam when
he was commanded to do so (interpretation of the meaning):
“ ‘What prevented you (O Iblees) that you
did not prostrate yourself, when I commanded you?’”
So He rebuked Iblees for going against
Al-Shanqeeti, p. 192
“ ‘Have you then disobeyed my order?’”
And He says of the angels (interpretation of
“ [they] disobey not, (from executing)
the Commands they receive from Allaah, but do that which they are commanded”
This indicates that going against the
command is disobedience or sin.
Al-Shanqeeti, p. 192
“And when it is said to them: ‘Bow down
yourself (in prayer)!’ They bow not down (offer not their prayers)”
This is a criticism of them for not
obeying the command to bow. This indicates that it is obligatory.
End quote from al-Shanqeeti, p. 191
As for the evidence from the Sunnah that the
general command means that a thing is obligatory, there is a great deal of
such evidence, including the following:
1 – The story of Bareerah, when she was
set free and she chose to annul her marriage to her husband, who was a
slave. Her husband loved her, and he was walking behind her on the streets
of Madeenah with tears flowing down his cheeks, pleading with her to come
back to him, and she refused; the Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) interceded for him and said to her – as is narrated by
Abu Dawood (2231) – “O Bareerah, fear Allaah, for he is your husband and the
father of your child.” She said: “O Messenger of Allaah, are you commanding
me to do that?” He said, “No, I am just interceding.” She said: “I have no
need of him.”
Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh
Abi Dawood, 1952.
It was also narrated by al-Bukhaari, with
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah
have mercy on him) said: She said: “Are you commanding me?” because it is
established among the Muslims that his command means that a thing is
The Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) said: “Were it not that it would be too difficult for my
ummah, or for the people, I would have commanded them to use the siwaak at
the time of every prayer.”
Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 887; Muslim, 252.
Al-Haafiz said in al-Fath: this
indicates that a command implies that a thing is obligatory in two ways:
It is shown not to
be obligatory although it is recommended; if a command may be interpreted as
a recommendation, the hadeeth would have not stated that this is not
He described the
command as being difficult for them, which would only be the case if a
command was understood as meaning that it was obligatory, because there is
no hardship in a thing that is encouraged but left as optional, because it
is permissible not to do it.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah
have mercy on him) said: If the command of Allaah and His Messenger is
general in meaning, that implies that it is obligatory.
There is no contradiction between this
principle, that a command means a thing is obligatory, and the words of the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “If I forbid you
to do a thing, then avoid it, and if I command you to do a thing, then do as
much of it as you can” (narrated by al-Bukhaari, 7288; Muslim, 1337),
because all that we understand from this hadeeth is that following commands
is dependent upon one's ability to carry them out. This is part of the mercy
and perfection of Islam. This does not apply only to the commands of the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), rather the
commands of Allaah, may He be exalted, are also dependent upon one's ability
to do them, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“So keep your duty to Allaah and fear Him as
much as you can”
“Allaah burdens not a person beyond his
Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on
him) said in Sharh Muslim: The words of the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him), “If I command you to do a thing, then do
as much of it as you can”, form one of the basic principles of Islam, and is
an example of the conciseness of speech which was bestowed upon him
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). This includes innumerable
rulings, such as prayers of all kinds. If a person is unable to do some of
the essential parts of the prayer or fulfil some of its conditions, he may
do the rest. If he is unable to wash some of the parts that should be washed
in wudoo’ or ghusl, he should wash what he can. If he finds water that is
only enough to wudoo’ or wash off some impurity partially, he should do
whatever he can, and so on. If he finds something to cover only part of his
‘awrah, or he learns some of al-Faatihah and not all of it, he should do
whatever he can, and so on. This is well known in the books of fiqh.
Allaah says concerning Hajj, which is
one of the pillars of Islam, and one of the greatest duties (interpretation
of the meaning):
“And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to
the House (Ka‘bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allaah, those who can
afford the expenses (for one’s conveyance, provision and residence)”
[Aal ‘Imraan 3:97]
Based on the above, the command of the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to let the beard
grow indicates that it is obligatory, because the basic principle concerning
commands is that they are obligatory, and there is no evidence in this case
to suggest otherwise.
For more information on the issue of
letting the beard grow, please see the answer to questions no.
And Allaah knows best.