Friday, January 27, 2006

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


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,


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.


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