Dear Moulana/Mufti Sahib
As Salaamu Alaikum
We, the Pretoria Muslim Trust (PMT) Mosque Committee, write this letter to you, requiring a detailed explanation on a "burning" issue, which our community is presently facing.
Kindly detail us on the following:
Adding to this dilemma is the fact that we see Sunni Ulema who have beards of variant lengths (some full, some short).
We trust you will find this in order and wait in anticipation for your detailed reply to the above questions.
May Allah reward you ten fold.
The PMT Mosque Committee
1 September 1999
20 Jamadil Ula 1420 A.H.
Few years ago, I have been asked about the persons who have beards shorter than fistful, whether they can lead the congregational prayer. Replying to this question, I stated categorically that he who shaves his beard or gets his beard less than fistful is declared sinful. To such a person who commits this sin is not able to lead the Jamaat.
It is Makruh-e-Tahrimi to perform Namaaz behind him. My answer is remaining the same to the question, which have been put to other Muftis. The verdict issued by other Muftis in this regard has been forwarded to me so that I express comments on
it. I have to say in this regard regretfully that:
1. This Fatwa is very uncourageous to the people who have their beards shorter than fistful.
2. It is degrading the importance of Sunnah and the rules of Shari'ah as well, as it is clear.
3. Both the Muftis have adopted a non-preferable opinion and it is forbidden at all to adopt a non-preferable view as it is well known to the Muftis, who are aware of the Rules of Ifta (issuing verdict). It is stated in Durre Mukhtar that we are bound to follow whatever the previous Ulema preferred and whatever they have considered to be correct just as if they would have given us the verdict in their lifetime.
4. Before said (the above-mentioned) opinion is non-preferable if it is supposed to be about Fasiq-e-Molin (declared sinful). In case, we suppose it to be said about the other kind of Fasiq, i.e. Ghair Molin (non- declared sinful) then it is right and there is no difference between the foregoing words of the Bahrur Raiq and there is no evidence on the hands of Muftis.
In this very Bahrur Raiq, Allama Zain Bin Nujain wrote a Hadith narrated by Abu Dawood which says: There are three persons whom Allah never accepts their Namaaz. One of them is the man who comes forward to lead the people in Namaaz meanwhile they hate him. It is clear to every one that people hate the declared sinful. Therefore, in the same before said book the above-mentioned Allama says that it is expedient that the Karahat in regard with the Imaam should be Tahreemi.
This very Allama in this very book brought so many words from Fathul Qadeer, etc. which clearly confirm that the leadership of a Fasiq-e-Molin (declared sinful) is Makrooh Talirimi and people are allowed to follow to such an Imaam only in Jummah on condition that it is impossible to keep him away from the Jamaat, otherwise it is not permissible even in Jumma while people can move to another Mosque. Now you can easily get that the Hadith (Perform Namaaz behind every pious and sinner) is not an absolute permission to follow the sinners. It legitimizes to follow the sinners only in such a condition while refraining from their leadership may raise hue and cry. So this is a limited legitimacy in unavoidable circumstances and it is just similar to the saying i.e. He who undergoes two kinds of trial, he should choose the lighter one. Justifying the above-mentioned statement, I can recite many Hadith and verses and I did write some of the evidences in my detailed fatwa in Urdu. Here I want to conclude with a Hadith narrated by Ibne Maja which says: A sinner must not lead Momin at all but only while he is overpowering where Momin is frightened by his lash or sword.
Hence, you may know the rule of Shari'ah in this issue. Compressing my comments in these few words, I am ending this letter praying that Allah bestows the Muslims to abide by the Shari'ah and to keep on the right path of the right path of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat. I have elaborated the statement in my Fatwa in Urdu. Whoever wants details, he must go over the Fatwa. English speaking people must ask any Urdu reader to explain it to them.
[Mufti] Mohammed Akhtar Raza Khan Qadri Azhari