The literal definition refers to the hair which grows on the face naturally (i.e. the sides of the face and the chin).
The Three Aspects Regarding The Beard
1. The beard is a part of the male anatomy which beautifies, gives respectability and adorns the man. (That is only when it is kept in good trim).
2. The beard is a natural inherent part of the biological characteristics of the male gender of the human being, its purpose is to differentiate between the male and the female. This very conclusion is also derived by logical reasoning and intellect. We should also bear in mind that the intellect is one of the most important factors which separates the human being from the other animal species.
3. In answer to the supplication made by our grandfather Adam (as), Allah, the Blessed, the Exalted, made the growth of the beard an in-built natural feature of the male, a feature which will continue being such till the day of reckoning.
Allamah Majlisi (May Allah have mercy on his soul) quotes in a narration, in Vol 16 of his book Bihar al-Anwar (Seas of Illuminations) on the authority of Ibn Masud in which the Holy Prophet of Islam Muhammad (p.b.u.h) states:
“When Allah, the Blessed, the Merciful, accepted the repentance of Adam (p.b.u.h), Gabriel (as) came to Adam (p.b.u.h) and said, “May Allah grant you a (long) life and bestow beauty upon you” Adam (p.b.u.h) then said, “I understand what you mean by long life, however, I do not understand what you mean by beauty” [Thus, in thanking Allah, his Lord and Master] he went into prostration and when he raised his head from it, he made a supplication and said, “O, Allah, Increase in me the beauty [that you have promised me]”, soon after he had made the supplication a beautiful beard appeared on his radiant face. When Gabriel (as) witnessed what had happened, he touched the beard of prophet Adam (p.b.u.h) and said, “This is in response to the supplication you made to your Lord, and it has been granted to you and your male offspring till the day of reckoning”.
It is evident from this narration that the beauty which Allah, the Blessed, the Exalted, bestowed upon Adam (p.b.u.h) in the form of a beard would remain for him and his male offspring till the day of reckoning.
The shaving of the beard in general is considered to be from amongst those actions which the Lawgiver (Allah) has indeed considered unlawful. This is to such an extent, that it is regarded a sin by which an individual may be considered worthy of being punished. As far as some of the rulings which the Lawgiver has ordained for His servants, whether they find them difficult to resist or difficult to perform, they are still taken into account as far His pious servants are concerned, the main reason for that is the strong faith His loyal pious servants have with regard to His commands and prohibitions. They know that their Creator, Allah, the All Mighty, the Blessed, the Exalted, knows and does what is best for His humble servants.