The Standing Committee for Issuing Fatwas was asked:

In a number of ahaadeeth it says “trim the moustache”. Is shaving different from trimming? Some people trim the first part of the moustache that is closest to the upper lip, and they leave the hair of the moustache, so they trim nearly half of the moustache and leave the rest. Is this what is meant? Or does trimming the moustache mean shaving off all of it? Please advise me of the manner in which the moustache should be trimmed.

They replied:

The saheeh ahaadeeth from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) indicate that it is prescribed to trim the moustache. For example, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Trim the moustache and let the beard grow; be different from the mushrikeen.” (Agreed upon [by both Imaam Bukhari and Imaam Muslim of its authenticity]). And he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Trim the moustache and let the beard grow; be different from the Magians,” and in some versions it says: “Trim the moustache.” Trimming means cutting it very short. The one who cuts his moustache very short so that the upper lip is visible or trims it is not to blame, because the ahaadeeth mention two things, but it is not permissible to leave the edges of the moustache, rather the whole moustache should be trimmed or cut, in accordance with the Sunnah. End quote.

Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Razzaaq ‘Afeefi, Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Qa’ood.

Also pertaining to the matter of taking from the moustache, Shaykh Muqbil mentioned that it comes in a narration reported by al-Imaam an-Nisaa’i in his book al-Kubraa with the wording “و حلق الشارب”  which means to shave off the moustache. However the Shaykh says it is feared that it is a narration which is inaccurate although the Shaykh still mentioned that it is inappropriate to criticize the person for totally shaving off his moustache.

[Min Fiqh al-Imaam al-Waadie page 132.]

Concerning the aforementioned wording, Shaykh Albany declares it to be weak in his book Da’ef al-Jaami #4027

Note: I have witnessed some of the shuyookh of Yemen shaving off their moustaches due to them seeing it to be permissible. However, trimming it is more preferable and closer to the meaning of the hadeeths.

Mentioned by

AbdulFattaah bin Uthman
Abu Fajr

Imam Ibn Qayyim rahimahullah said:

And the salaf differed in trimming the mustache or shaving it, which is best? Imam Malik said in his muwatta, “the mustache is taken from until you find the edge of the lip, that is the rim and he does not take cut it so that he mutilates himself.” And ibn abdul Malik reported from Imaam Malik, “take from the mustache and leave the beard and taking from the mustache does not mean shaving it. I see that the one who shaves his mustache be disciplined.” Ibn Qaasim said reported from him (Imaam Malik): taking excessively from the mustache and shaving with me are considered mutilation. Malik said, “the tafsir of the hadith of the Prophet sallahu alayhi wa salam in excessively trimming the mustache is only the rim”, and he disliked that one takes from the upper part of it, and he said, “I bear witness that shaving the mustache is a bidah and I see that he be painfully beaten.” Malik said, “Umar ibn al-khattab used to twist his mustache and blow (his breath out) when he got angry.” [Note: this narration is munqati (disconnected) because Malik did not hear from Umar ibn al-khattab, thus this narration is weak]

Umar ibn Abdul Aziz said, “The sunnah in the mustache is cutting until the rim”. And [Imaam] Tahawi said, “I did not find from Shafiee anything specified for this and his companions Muzani and Rab’ee ibn sulayman used to excessively trim their mustaches and this is proof that they both took it from Shafiee.”

As for Abu Hanifa and Zufar and Abu Yusuf and Muhammad ibn hasan, their mathhab in the hair of the head and mustache is that shaving is better than trimming. And ibn khuwayz mandad al Maliki mentioned from Shafiee that his mathhab in shaving the mustache is that of Abu Hanifa in his mathhab, and this is the statement of ibn umar.

As for Imam Ahmad, then Al-athram said, “I saw Ahmad ibn Hanbal excessively trim his mustache and I heard him being asked ‘is excessively trimming the mustache the sunnah?’ He said: He should excessively trim it as the Prophet sallahu alayhi wa salam said:  أَحْفُوا الشَّوَارِبَ excessively trim he mustache.” Al-Hanbal said: “it was asked to [Imaam] Ahmad ‘should a man excessively trim his mustache or just take from it? Or how should he take from his mustache?’ He said, “if he takes from it no problem, and if he excessively trims it, no problem” “.

Ibn Qudama al Maqdisi said in his al-Mughni, “he (the person) has a choice between excessively trimming it or trimming without shaving.” [Imaam] Tahawi reported that Mughira ibn Shu’bah radiallah anhu that the Prophet sallahu alayhi wa salam took from his mustache upon a siwak. [Imaam] Tahawi said, “and this is not shaving [Note: this hadith is saheeh according to Imam Albani in his checking of Shamaail al-Muhammadiyyah]

The one who does not agree to shaving use as proof the hadith from Aisha and Abu Huraira from the Prophet:  عشر من الفطرة  “ten are from the fitrah” and he mentioned in there cutting the mustache. And the hadith of Abu Huraia is agreed upon and it mentions: الفطرة خمس “Five are from the fitrah” and it mentions cutting the mustache.

And those who excessively trim use as evidence the ahaadith that order excessive trimming which are saheeh and the hadith of Ibn Abbas radiallahu Anhumma:  أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم كان يجز شاربه that the Rasul of Allah sallahu alayhi wa salam used to cut his mustache. [Note: reported by Imam Baghawi in his book Anwaar fi shamaail with a weak chain].

Imam Tahawi said, “and this most likely means excessively trimming and it has two versions  And it was reported from Abu Huraira raised to the Prophet: جزوا الشوارب وأرخوا اللحى trim closely the mustache and leave the beard which also carries the meaning of excessively trimming. He (Imaam Tahawi) mentioned with his chain that Abu Said and Abu usaid and Rafi’ ibn khadij and Sahal ibn Sa’ad and Ibn Umar and Jabir and Abu Huraira radiallahu anhum used to excessively trim their mustaches.

Ibrahim ibn muhammad ibn Haatib said: “Ibn Umar used to trim his mustache as if he plucked it”. And some of them said the whitness of his skin could be seen. [Imaam] Tahawi said, “If cutting is recommended by all, then shaving is better as an analogy for head, for surely the Prophet sallahu alayhi wa salam made dua three times for those who shave their heads in hajj and once for those who trim. So he made shaving the head better than trimming it and likewise the mustache”.

[Zaad al-Ma’aad (1/171)]

Translated by

Faisal Ibn Abdul Qaadir Ibn Hassan
Abu Sulaymaan