The beard is one of those issues about which the Muslim scholars differed. Some view it as necessary while others consider it only recommended. Unfortunately, in some places people tend to judge others choices in this regard. We must remember that as long as there is a legitimate difference of opinion on an issue among the Muslim scholars, we must never make it a focus of contention in the community.
The following is what the official position of the Hanbali school of law is on the subject of a man’s facial hair.
According to Hanbalis, it is prohibited for a man to shave his beard, and it is disliked for him to take more than a fist length from his beard. And the sunnah is for him to strongly trim his mustache, such that it is not quite totally shaved, but trimmed very short.
So in other words, the relied upon position (mu’tamad) of the school when it comes to the mustache and beard is as follows:
- Growing more than a fist length beard = Sunnah (recommended)
- Trimming what is more than a fist length = Mubah (permissible)
- Trimming what is less than a fist length = Makrooh (disliked)
- Total shaving = Haram (prohibited)
- Short trimming of mustache = Sunnah (recommended)
The above information can be found in Hanbali texts:
There is also a discussion on this topic here.