MANY MUSLIMS WONDER how to take proper care of their hair in order to maintain an appropriate outward appearance as a reflection of one’s inner faith and cleanliness. Our best instructions on hair-care come from the examples of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his Companions, who left us with some ideas about this subject.
The Prophet ﷺ said,
Whoever has hair, let him take care of it. (Abû Dâwûd)
Hair should be clean, well-groomed and neatly kept. ʿAṭa’ ibn Yasâr said,
Once a man came before the Prophet ﷺ with his hair and beard unkempt. The Prophet made some gestures as though ordering the man to comb his hair. He did so, and upon his return, the Prophet remarked, ‘Is this not better than one of you coming with disheveled hair, looking like a devil?’ (Mâlik in Al-Muwaṭṭa)
Women should be mindful of arranging their hair before their husbands enter their houses.
Once the Prophet ﷺ was on an expedition with some Companions. Upon their return to Madinah when they were about to go back to their homes, the Prophet ﷺ said,
Wait so that we may enter by the night so that the woman with disheveled hair may comb it and the woman whose husband has been away may get herself clean.
The Prophet himself used to take great care when grooming his hair. ʿÂishah reported,
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ loved to start from the right-hand side for performing ablution, for combing (the hair) and putting on shoes. (Muslim)
I asked Anas ibn Mâlik, ‘How was the hair of Allah’s Messenger, ﷺ?’ He said, ‘His hair was neither very curly nor very straight, and [it] hung over his shoulders and earlobes.’ (Muslim)
Abû Hurairah reported the Prophet ﷺ as saying,
Whoever has hair should honor it. (Abû Dâwûd)
Some Companions used to “honor” their hair by oiling it. It was also customary (but not obligatory) to dye it with henna, katm (a plant from Yemen) or saffron.
Anas ibn Mâlik was asked about the dyeing (of the white hair of) Allah’s Messenger ﷺ. Thereupon he said, “(There were so few white hairs) that if I so liked I could have counted their number in his head,” and Anas further said, “(That is), he did not dye it. Abû Bakr, however, dyed his hair, and so did ʿUmar dye his with pure henna.” (Muslim)
Women who are mourning the deaths of their husbands, however, should not use henna during the period of mourning. (Fiqh Al-Sunnah)
According to religious rulings provided on <http://www.islam-qa.com>, another way of honoring the hair is to make sure it is styled in a manner appropriate to one’s gender and not in imitation of the non-Muslims. It is forbidden for a woman to shave off her hair, while a man may do so as long as he shaves all of it.
Ibn ʿUmar narrated that the Prophet, ﷺ said (with regards to men),
Shave it all or leave it all. (Ahmed and Muslim)
Both sexes may cut the hair as long as they follow the above guidelines. Women should not cut their hair excessively short so that they resemble men, and women should ask for the opinions of their husbands before deciding to change their hair so that they will not feel displeased by a new style which they may find unattractive. However, a woman must not comply with the wishes of her husband if he asks her to add false hair to her head for some reason because it is prohibited in Islam to wear or to make wigs.
Asma’, the daughter of Abû Bakr, reported that a woman came to Allah’s Messenger ﷺ and said, “I have married my daughter whose hair has fallen out. Her spouse likes her hair to be long. O Messenger of Allah! May I add false hair to her head?” He forbade her to do this. In other narrations, ʿÂishah, her sister Asma’, Ibn Masʿûd, and Abû Hurairah all report that “The Messenger of Allah cursed al-waṣila and al-mustawaṣila,” referring both to the wig-maker and the wig-wearer and describing the use of false hair a “forgery.” (Bukhâri and Muslim)
Women who braid their hair may leave the braids in place when they perform ghusl (full-body ablution) provided that the water they pour on their heads reaches the roots of the hair. ʿUbaid ibn ʿUmair reported that Aisha discovered that ʿAbdullah ibn Amr was ordering the women to undo their plaited hair (for ghusl). She observed, “It is amazing that Ibn ʿAmr orders women to undo their plaited hair for ghusl. Why doesn’t he just order them to shave their heads? I and the Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to bathe from one vessel, and all I did was pour three handfuls of water over my head.” (Ahmed and Muslim)
Facts About Hair-Loss
Muslim women should take care to cover their hair completely whenever they are outdoors, in the presence of non-Mahram men, or with women who may talk about their appearance to strangers. Some women who cover their hair experience hair-loss after adopting hijab and assume that hijab is the reason for this difficult condition.
Fortunately, it is unlikely that hijab is the cause for any woman to lose her hair. In fact, hijab is great protection for the hair because it never gets exposed to outside elements such as the sun, wind, air, rain, smog and other forms of pollution. In addition, women who wear hijab are much less likely to use excessive amounts of hairspray or to curl their hair regularly, both of which damage the hair and may cause it to break and fall out.
If you began losing your hair after you started wearing hijab, it is most likely a coincidence as there are many health conditions which can contribute to hair-loss in women. For example, it is common to lose large amounts of hair after giving birth, especially if you are breast-feeding. This usually begins 4-6 months after the birth of a baby and grows back soon after that.
Illnesses such as thyroid disorders and iron-deficiency anemia may also cause hair to thin and fall out while certain types of medications and even stress can do the same. Whether the hair loss is permanent or temporary depends on many factors, and these are best discussed with a qualified physician.
Older women in particular should realize that hair thinning is a natural part of the aging process.
To reduce stress on the hair and scalp, do not style your hair in tight braids. Allow your hair to air dry after shampooing and do not brush it while it is wet. Avoid hot curlers and harsh chemicals such as dyes, perms and styling products. In addition, do not make it a habit to leave your hair wet under the hijab.
A Muslim’s Light
With regards to gray hair, it is a blessing for any Muslim.
ᶜAmr ibn Shuʿaib related that the Prophet, ﷺ said,
Do not pluck gray hairs as they are a Muslim’s light. Never does a Muslim grow gray hair in Islam except that Allah writes for him, due to that, a good deed, and He raises him a degree. And He erases for him, due to that, one of his sins. (Abû Dâwûd and Ahmed)