Answered by Shaykh Ilyas Patel
I live in a non-Muslim state. However, the area I live in has a good population of Muslims and we have a masjid very near to my apartment. I am a Hanafee, but the Muslims here are Shaafi’ees. Although the Masjid has a specifically designated Imaam, he does not attend the 5 times prayers because, I gather, he lives/works a little far away from the masjid. The people who usually lead the salaat mostly do not have a beard (except for one elderly man). And even the “actual” Imaam shaves his beard every few days. Please note that some of these people are quite knowledgeable, and some even scholars. The remaining of the masaajid aren’t within a “reasonable” distance where I could attend the 5 times prayers. There are a few other Hanafees (all tablighi brothers) who attend this masjid regularly for the daily prayers. In these conditions, should one continue to attend the prayers in the masjid, or do them at home, or first attend the jamaa’ah then make up (which I tried doing for a couple of days but wallaahi it’s really difficult)? Or is there a different ruling regarding this? I hope the information provided is sufficient to give the proper ruling. May Allaah ‘Azza wa Jall reward you immensely in both worlds.
In the name of Allah Most Compassionate Merciful
I hope you are fine and in the best of health and iman.
It would be permissible to perform the prayer behind an Imam without a beard, though it would better to pray behind someone who has one if you have the choice. And in your case, for many reasons you should pray behind the imam of your locality to avoid any fitna and ill feelings.
And Allah alone knows best