Friday, February 10, 2006

We are working on a new site which will drastically change the direction of the blog thus far. We have obtained a URL http://www.islamicallylocked.org

Please see my previous post to get a idea of where we are going with the new site. We are also looking for Muslims who would like to contribute to change in our ummat and are commited to the improvement of our societies. If you are please feel free to email me at alotsum@gmail.com

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Shifting Gears


I have decided to shift gears a bit in my blog. I mean really, how long can one talk about a hair style? I have decided to tackle social and cultural issues facing Muslims in the western world. I figure this should tie in with my original subject. Think about it for a second, you have a hair style which is not very common among the wider body of Muslims and many Muslims look down on it or discriminate against those with it, simply because it is not prevalent in THEIR culture. In the end my goal is and has always been to open the eyes of my fellow man.

So in the coming week(s) I will start to move toward issues which I have found to be worrisome among the Muslim body as a whole. I hope as a result it will open the eyes of my fellow brothers and sister, and if not at least I hope it starts some sort of feed back in the comments section. With that I bid you adieu until next time.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Where to start?

I had my hair washed and re-twisted today so I decided to make a post on how to begin the locking process.

Alright, so you decided you’re going to take the plunge. Now the question is: where do I begin? Well, before we get started you’re going to need a few items, the first of which is enough hair length. To start locking, you need at least six inches to a foot of hair to start. I would suggest a foot of hair because shorter hair generally comes undone a lot quicker and really does become a time consuming chore to make sure that every lock is still in place by the time you wash your hair again.

OK, you have the foot of hair, so what’s next? Well, the first thing you’re going to need is a very small-toothed comb and some sort of "locking agent", meaning a gel of some sort which will help to keep your hair in the spiral you will create. The spiral will eventually become a lock over time so you have to decide how thick you want your lock to be.

Also keep in mind, when starting this process, the size of your future locks. If you decide to go with a thin lock, you have to remember as hair sheds over time the lock may become thinner resulting in fewer hairs within the single lock. This is a disadvantage because the lock is thin and as the hair naturally sheds, the lock may break altogether. The more hair present in a single lock, the more hair you will have to keep things together, as some of the strands in that lock will continue to naturally break and shed. Think about combing or brushing your hair; you have tons of hair that will break with each stroke. This same process occurs when locking your hair. Starting with thicker locks will help to ensure a fuller stronger lock.


Let’s see, you have made your decision regarding the thickness of your locks, and you have your small-toothed comb. The next thing you will need is shampoo, an extra set of hands, and your locking gel. Before I continue, let me stress that whatever you do, DO NOT use bee’s wax. This stuff is WAY too thick to use as a locking gel and you will end up with a very nasty white build-up in your locks that will never come out as long as you have locks. So, try to find a product that has a many natural ingredients as possible and NO wax.

After washing your hair, use your small-toothed comb to section off your hair into little squares just like the picture to the left. With each square of hair take a LITTLE bit of the gel product and twist your hair into a clock-wise spiral. Use a hair clip to hold the lock in place at the base of the twist. The clip should rest on the scalp. You will do this for each lock until you have completed your entire head.


The next step is deciding on how you are going to let the hair set. The locking gel you use generally is going to have an agent in it that hardens when it dries. Some people use a full head dryer to dry their hair because it cuts down on the time it is going to take for the gel to set. You can also let the hair air dry, but remember this is going to take a lot longer. Also, you have to make sure that some of the hair does not start to separate from the individual spirals before they have a chance to fully dry. The only drawback to blow drying is that you will need to condition your hair once a month to keep the damage from the heat to a minimum. The extreme heat your hair will have to endure under that dryer will make your hair brittle and promote breakage. Conditioning your hair will help to remedy this.

Once the above steps are complete, you are on your way to locking your hair; however you have to remember this is a very long and tedious process. One thing that has to be kept in mind is that the locking process is extremely long and not easy; in fact hair after one year still won’t be fully locked and it could take as long as two or three years for them to fully lock up. Generally you want to wash and re-twist your hair every two weeks. Between touch-ups your hair is going to be frizzy because the hair is not matted as of yet, and the hair is not accustomed to staying in a spiral and naturally fights to go back to its natural state. This is really a venture in training your hairs in each spiral to think as one unit instead of five individual units or however many strands of hair are in each of your spirals. You will also need to be gentle when washing your hair while maintaining it. Since your hair won’t be locked the next time you go to get your hair done you will need to put a rubber band or something around each lock to keep it in place when washing your hair. This is why having someone help you with this will make the process far easier. You can put a rubber band or something around each spiral when washing your hair to keep the hair in the spiral you originally started with. The first six months to a year you may want to do this, but after that your hair should be on its way to matting and you can start to wash your hair with out any aids i.e. rubber bands.

One last thing comes to mind: oiling your hair. If you are of African decent your hair may naturally become so dry that you will need to find hair oil that will keep your locks from being dry, and to prevent your scalp from being dry and flaking up. In a few days I will post what I use in my hair as well as what you should look for in products. For now, I want to focus on starting the locking process.

I should also add that you can avoid this process, and just find a salon that does this for you. There are many talented men and women who are licensed lockticians that can get this entire process going for you. After finding someone to help with the process, you can do maintenance yourself. You can also skip doing it all together and have a loctician do it for you from start to finish. USD prices are generally $35 for each visit every two weeks, unless you go to an upscale salon like in Manhattan. You could then possibly expect to pay as much as $100 per visit.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Cultural Phenomena

The phenomena of locking ones hair can be seen in many cultures and civilization throughout history. Pictorially some of the ancient Egyptian paintings depict people wearing locks in one of two states. One of which was by locking their own hair and the other was by wearing wool wigs. In contrast to this pictorial evidence one of the oldest written recordings of locks can be seen in the Hindu holy writing the Vedic’s which date back to about 5000 BCE to 1500 BCE. In it is described the Hindu god Shiva who is depicted wearing dreadlocks called "jaTaa" in Hindi, meaning "wearing twisted locks of hair". According to the 'Hymn of the longhaired sage' in the ancient Vedas, long JaTaas express a spiritual significance which implies the wearer has special relations with spirits, is an immortal between two worlds and the master over fire:

The long-haired one endures fire, the long-haired one endures poison, the long-haired one endures both worlds. The long-haired one is said to gaze full on heaven, the long-haired one is said to be that light ... Of us, you mortals, only our bodies do you behold. ...For him has the Lord of life churned and pounded the unbendable, when the long-haired one, in Rudra’s company, drank from the poison cup (The Keshin Hymn, Rig-veda 10.136)


Another such group of interest is the early Jewish sect called Nazirites who took a vow as described in the bible to lock there hair:

All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. (Numbers 6:5, KJV)


Although it is beyond the scope of what I am attempting to convey here I would also like to draw attention to Asian mystics in China and Vietnam who also wear dreadlocks. In the middle ages of Europe there is a clearly documented phenomenon of wearing dreadlocks, however they referred to them as Polish Plait. The wearing of the Polish Plait had more of a superstitious connotation as it related to pre Christian beliefs i.e. curing illness and warding off evil. As a result of Christian fervor spreading through out Europe in the middle ages the tradition of the polish Plait fell out of favor.



Baye Fall

Baye Fall is a sub Sufi order from the Qadiriyya Sufi School. The Baye Fall Sufi movement was born in Senegal in the later 1800’s. The founder of the Baye Fall movement was Cheikh Ibrahima Fall. Cheikh Ibrahima taught his students that Islamic religious obligations were not enough to reform and sublimate ones soul. Instead one also needed to do work with in his community. It is from this tradition the Baye Fall have come to be known for their various communal endeavors such as groundnut and peanut cultivation as well as garment manufacturing. Generally the proceeds from these works go back into helping the community at large for which they serve. Another characteristic they are known for is their long Dread Locks which is called ndiange or 'strong hair' in the Wolof language. According to them ndiange symbolizes modesty and a conscious reservation from the material world.

It is important to note that while the Baye Fall have their roots in the later part of the 1800’s, the Rastafarian movement didn’t start to take shape until the 1930’s. This is significant in dispelling the myth that locks are not an “Islamic” phenomenon. I should also mention that dreadlocks are also found in various other Sufi brotherhoods through out Africa be it North, South, East or West.


Sufism

Sufism is an Islamic movement which dates back to the time of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Tradition holds that the Prophet of God (PBUH) taught his closest companions the inner dimensions of mans mind, heart and soul. The goal of every Sufi initiate is a state which is known in Arabic as fana or annihilation, where in the initiate destroys his base wants and desires after which his entire being is filled the remembrance of Allah. It is said that when a person reaches this state every atom of his being forms a mouth and each mouths sole purpose is in singing Allah’s praise.

Sufis say that the ultimate spiritual truth is hidden behind veils which man must remove in order to obtain his goal (fana).The most important and hardest veil to remove is egotism; one this has been subdued man can begin to reform his soul and in doing so reach his final objective. This attempt at renouncing the ego is a recurring theme in most mystic movements, which would explain the appearance of dreadlocks among many mystic groups through out history because the underlying theme among practitioners who wear dreadlocks for religious reason is the renunciation of outwardly beauty, by matting ones hair by means of neglect.
Sufistic moevements can be found among both Sunni and Shi’a Islam however the Shi’i strain is known as Irfan. Both Sufis and Irfanis claim to have a chain of teachers which are all linked back to Ali ibn Abi Talib (the son in law of Muhammad (PBUH)) and from him to the holy Prophet Muhammad.

The four main brotherhoods which were founded by promoninte Sufi Saints of their day include Chishtiyya, the Naqshbandiyya, the Qadiriyya and the Mujaddiyya. I should also mention that many off shoots of these four main schools. Another very important aspect of Sufism is that one MUST be Muslim to be Sufi. There are some groups mainly in the west who have perverted Sufi teachings and divorced themselves from Islam; however these groups are no more Sufi brotherhoods than a group who would call themselves Christians yet denounce the Prophet hood of the Prophet Jesus.

What does Islam say about men’s hair, specifically locks?

This is an interesting topic and depending on who you speak to the answer may differ from person to person. It should be noted that there are several hadith (traditions narrated by Muslims who lived during the time of the holy prophet) which state that the holy prophet wore his hair in braids or what is popular termed plats. The traditions state he often had his hair in two plats one on either side of the head. There are also other traditions (Hadith) which make mention of other Muslim men with this hair style. Among the Shi’a traditions we also see this mentioned as well as the tradition of some of the Imams (leaders) from the ahl al bayt (people of the house) who had their hair plated, specifically Imam Rida. While this is no clear indication that locking ones hair is Islamically permissible it is a clear indication that men did often in that time braid their hair and kept their hair rather long shoulder length or a bit past the shoulders.
So now with this in mind what does Islam have to say about Dreadlocks? First I will provide a ruling by a Shi’a scholar by the name of Ayatollah Khameini who is the present day waliyat al faqih (Juristic leader of the Islamic republic of Iran). The following question and answer was sent to Ayatollah Khameini’s office in Qom Iran:

As Salam Alaykom

I would like to ask the Sayyid (HA) the ruling on two types of hair styles.

1. Is dredlocks. This is a process of twisting the hair into cylindrical shapes and keeping the hair this way until the hair mats together. This hair style does not stop water from reaching the scalp at all.

2. The hairstyle called cornrow. This is a process of braiding the hair tightly along the scalp usually front to back. This also does not stop water from reaching the scalp.

Is there any ruling or any reason a Muslim couldn't have this hairstyle?

Thank you

As Salam A'laykom

Answer

Salamun `alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu.
The answer is as follows:

Bismihi Ta`ala

In itself, there is no objection to the hair styles.

With prayers for your success,

wassalam.

To add on to this the use of the term “In itself” refers to the fact that as long as the hair style does not prevent one from performing their religious obligations namely the ritual purification known as wudhu which requires the running of water over the scalp in preparation for praying. So the hairstyle must allow water to run freely over the scalp. This is not a problem what so ever with locks as the roots are not themselves locked but instead the ¼ of an inch of hair closest to the scalp is loose like normal free standing hair and water is not impeded from flowing over the scalp.

The next ruling was given by Dr. Yusuf Ziya Kavakci a Sunni Islamic lawyer who has practiced law in Turkiye, Libya and Saudi Arabia.

Question I am looking for a fatwa on women having dreadlocks. Dreadlocks can be neat and clean. They can be wet daily for wudu and lathered with shampoo for ghusl, the parts are neat so that water can reach the scalp at all times. The only difference is that each lock cannot be combed out although they can be washed like unlocked strands of hair, so in essence each lock functions as a strait of hair. I am asking what the Islamic ruling on having them is, is it okay since I can wash them with water and shampoo after my menses or janaba, and what about at the time of my janaza (funeral) they can be washed then also, even though each lock is taken out and the locks can be braided into three braids.

Answer In a situation of Wudu there is no need to unlock the dreads and blocks of hair. All that is required is that you wipe over the hairs of the dread locks. But in the case of Ghusul (process of purifying the entire body via a bath) from Janabah and Menses, the hairs need to be done and washed so that all of the hairs are completely wet and the water reached your skull. The same goes for Ghusl of Janaza (funeral). If these conditions can be met, then having dreadlocks is not Haram(a sin)

I have seen the ruling of one scholar from India which stated dreadlocks are not permissible as it is a hairstyle started by non Muslims namely Rastafarians and as such Muslims should not follow the traditions of other religions. However I would like to point out that the tradition of wearing dreadlocks was used by many Muslim groups in Africa. More specifically one example would be the Baye Fall mourids from Senegal. This is a Sufi offshoot of the Qadiryani Sufi brotherhood, which was founded by Amado Bamba, one of West Africa’s most famous and revered Sufi Shaykhs.

Later developments

These are all universally agreed upon points within the Islamic community however a historical split did occur which was based on the principle of succession or who should lead the Muslims in religious and governmental affairs upon the death of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The Ahl al Sunnat wa al Jumma’t (Or Sunnis) assert that the holy prophet left behind no clear designation while the Shi’a (partisans) believe that the prophet’s son in law and first cousin Ali Ibn Abi Talib was designated as the prophet’s Successor (khalif). The Shi’a believe that not only did the prophet designate Ali ibn Abi Talib but that he also stated 12 of the descendants which were direct descendents of Ali ibn Abi Talib and Fatima bint Muhammad (the Prophet’s daughter) would also rule over the Muslims one after the other. These descendants are known as the ahl al bayt or people of the house.


With this divergence came some small variations in practices but nothing which would lead one to the conclusion that the other group is apostate. However some elements with in Islam specifically groups like the Wahabis (Salafis) make it a point especially on various websites to denounce Shi’a as being apostates because of their rejection of the Sunni caliphs Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman as rightful leaders.

A brief look into the history of Islam

Muhammad Ibn Abdullah (PBUH) was born on the year 570 AD. He was born to Abdullah and Ameena in the holy city of Mecca in present day Saudi Arabia. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) found himself orphaned at the age of six when his mother Ameena died while traveling from Medina to Mecca. His father died previously, shortly after the holy prophet’s birth. Upon his mothers death the burden of raising the holy prophet fell upon his grandfather (Abdul Muttalib) and shortly after his death his uncle (Abu Talib).

Later in young adult hood the prophet became well known for his honesty and compassion for his fellow man and as such was given the name Mustapha (One who is trust worthy). As a result of this he was given the opportunity to run a caravan trading business for a widowed business woman by the name of Khadija bint al Khuwalid. After a brief period Khadija bint al khuwalid expressed an interest in marrying after witnessing his good moral character. It was not long after that Khadija and the holy Prophet were married. From the fruits of their marriage came two sons named Qasim and Tahir who passed away as infants in Mecca and four daughters named Ruqiyah, Zaynab, Umm Kulthum, and Fatima. After twenty five long and glorious years of marriage Khadija Bint al Khuwalid died at the age of 65.

During the early years of the holy prophets marriage to Khadija he would go to mount Hirat to contemplate on life when one day he was visited by the Arch Angel Gabriel (Jibreel in Arabic) who said to him `Recite!' to which the holy prophet replied, `What shall I recite?' Again the divine voice very clearly and openly called out, `Recite, O Muhammad!'
And a third time Gabriel repeated, `Recite in the Name of Your Lord Who created. He created the human being from a clot. Recite and your Lord is Most Honorable, Who taught (to write) with the pen, taught the human being what he knew not' (Al Quran 95:1-5).
This marked the beginning of Mohammad’s (pbuh) prophetic mission. The Holy Prophet Muhammad taught that Islam is an Abrahamic faith. To understand this one must understand that Islam follows the traditions of the prophet Abraham. This may be a bit confusing to some but it must be remembered that contrary to popular belief, The Prophet Abraham was not Jewish as the term Jewish did not come about until the time of the kingdom founded by the son of the prophet Jacob (Ya’qob) whose name was Yahudah. To be more precise the word Jew or Jewish is an English mistranslation of the word Yahudah which is the Hebrew word for the son of the prophet Jacob and later attributed to those people from his kingdom. The prophet Abraham in fact was a monotheist and he and his followers were referred to as Hebrews. According to Jewish sources the word "Hebrew" (in Hebrew, "Ivri") is first used in the Torah to describe the prophet Abraham (Gen. 14:13). According to the same Jewish source the term Hebrew may also be derived from the name Eber, one of Abraham's ancestors. Another Jewish tradition teaches that the word comes from the word "eyver," which means "the other side," referring to the fact that Abraham (pbuh) came from the other side of the Euphrates, or referring to the fact Abraham was separated from the other nations morally and spiritually.

On a side note, I would also like to mention that in English bibles the term Jew does appear however as stated above the term does not appear in the Jewish bible, and instead is a mistranslation.

Whatever the case may be the prophet Abraham is attributed with being the world’s first monotheist and is the fore father of a long line of prophets and the father of Ishmael and Isaac who are attributed to being the fore bearers of the two Semitic groups Arabs and Jews a like. From the line of prophets descending from the prophet Abraham we have the present day three major religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam as well as smaller lesser known group’s one being the Sabeans (the followers of John the Baptist). It should also be mentioned that Islam accepts all of the biblical as well as thousands of other prophets who were sent to the different nations and tribes on the earth, all of which were sent by Allah to reform the nations to which they were sent. Muslims also believe that Muhammad (pbuh) was the last and final prophet and is the seal of the prophets.
The Islamic creed which serves as the foundation of Islamic teachings is the five pillars of Islam which are as follows:

1. There is no god but Allah and Muhammad Ibn Abdullah is his last and final messenger.
2. The establishment of the five daily prayers (Morning, Afternoon, Early Evening, Late evening and Night)
3. The giving of Alms (which is equal to about 2% of a persons savings) which is to be distributed to the needy
4. Fasting during the month of Ramadan (This is the month it is said the Quran was revealed to the holy Prophet)
5. The pilgrimage to Mecca (which is only to be undertaken by those who have the financial and physical means to undertake the journey)



As Salaam A’laykom (Peace be on you)

Lately a lot of people have been locking their hair, by locking I mean growing dreadlocks. I begin the process around 2004 as a result of personal events which compelled me to start the process. Some may see this as a very trivial subject, however anyone who has worn dreadlocks or who wears them presently can tell you, with this hair style preferences comes a lot of social issues namely a lack of acceptance from peers especially in the business world. So I decided to start this blog cataloging the process of locking the hair as well as the history of locks. More importantly I am concerned with the Islamic perspective being a Muslim male and as such this initiative will focus heavily on locks as they pertain to me as a Muslim. I hope that others regardless of religious background learn from my knowledge and experiences. If this helps to remove the stigma that people with locks face from the mind of at least one person who reads this blog then I feel my efforts were not in vein. So please feel free to drop by, comment or share this blog with others.

As Muslims every aspect of our lives is governed by our religion (deen in Arabic). As such certain precautions must be taken into consideration before under taking a particular endeavor and that would include locking the hair. For a non Muslim this may seem odd or restricting however upon closer inspection if one were to analyze their own lives they would come to the realization that everything a person does is governed by either a law be it religious or secular, or by a belief system be that a personal belief system which one develops over time via observing life and different aspects of life or a religious belief system be it Islam, Christianity or Hinduism for that matter.

My point in stating the above is to stress the fact that although there are many methods which can be under taken when it comes to locking ones hair, the methods entailed on this site will only entail the Islamic aspect of this process. If the reader is not Muslim but is interested in locking by all means please continue to view this site as this will also contain very valuable information as well as a glimpse into the Islamic faith.