Why are woman not allowed to cut their hair if it is covered fully?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by

As a kid, we were told that woman need to grow their hair because on the day of judgment, it will be used to shield their bossom. On using a similar reply, i was questioned about Black woman with curly hair, which cannot grow to the extent that it covers the bossom. Please assist Jazakallah


Kindly find below our standard reply to similar queries.

Allah Ta’ala does not hold one responsible for something beyond their
ability. Since black women’s hair naturally does not gro long, they are not
responsible for their short hair.

and Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

Respected Sister-in-Islam

Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullaahi Wa Barakaatuhu

Jazaakumullah for having placed your confidence in me and affording me the opportunity to endeavour answering your query.

The Fuqahaa had sound knowledge of the different branches of Deen, Qur’aan, Hadith, Fiqh, syntax, etymology, semantics, rhetoric, derivatives, lughaat, ilmul bayaan, ilmul Qira?ah, ilmul Aqaaid, Asbaabun nuzool, naasikh wa mansookh, etc. They were well versed with ilm riwaayatul hadeeth and ilm diraayatul hadeeth which included mu’allaq, mu?dhal, munqati, tadlees-shuyookh, tadlees-taswiya, mursal khafi together with mudraj, musahhaf, mudtarib, maqloob not forgetting munaawala, wijaada, mu?talif, mukhtalif, jarh mubham and ta?deel mufassar. They knew the implications of a Dha?eef Hadith which had shawaahid and mutaaba?aat. They knew how to recognize mudabbaj, muttafiq, muftariq and mazid fee muttasil asaaneed. They were well-versed with haqeeqat muta?azzara, haqeeqat-mahjoora, haqeeqat musta?mal, majaaz lughawi, majaaz aqli, bayaan taghyeer, bayaan daroora, bayaan tadbeel, istihsaan, istishaab haal, takhfeef isqaat, takhfef tanqees, takhfeef ibdaal and takhfeef tarkhees. The mujtahideen deduced innumerable principles from which many denominations were derived.

I confess my ignorance and inability in answering you and I turn my gaze to Allah Ta’ala and seek His assistance through the guidance of our learned Fuqahaa.

For purposes of convenience, we hereby summarise your letter in three points, a, b and c:
a) You have mentioned that women experience difficulty in maintaining long hair due to the following reasons.
? Long hair takes extremely long to dry.
? Difficulty in drying the hair leads women to sleep with wet hair which results in neckaches, backaches and terrible headaches.
? Reluctance of marital relations due to difficulty in keeping long hair.
? Excessive hair loss.
? Maintaining long hair is cumbersome and one feels extremely hot.
b) Substantiations for permissibility of cutting hair.
? There is no Hadith or any other Naas Qat?ee which prohibits women from cutting their hair.
? Two Ahaadith in which one says that some of the wives of Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) cut their hair upon his demise. The other Hadith states that a Sahaabi saw Hadhrat Aaisha (Radhiallaahu Anha) whilst her hair was up till her ears.
? Everything is Halaal until declared Haraam.
c) The ruling of Shaykh Zuhayli (RA) and the Fatwa of Shaykh ibn Baaz (RA)

In principle, in order to establish anything Haraam in Shari?ah, it must be supported by an express Nass. It is for this reason that Imaam Muhammad (RA) always issued the ruling of Karaahat unless there was a clear Nass. (Hidaaya vol.4 pg.452; Kitaabul Karaahiyyah). Furthermore, some laws in Shari?ah are express and some are indicative, i.e. ibaaratunnaas and ishaaratunnaas, as explained in the books of Usool Fiqh.

After understanding the above, our humble opinion is that it is not permissible for women to cut, trim, clip or shave their hair.

This view is supported not only by indo-pak Ulama but also by many Syrian Ulama., for example, Allaamah ibn Aabideen from Damascus, an expert in almost every branch of knowledge including Fiqh and Hadith, has supported this in his famous book, Shaami vol.6 pg.408.

Assuming it is permissible for women to cut their hair not imitating men, then where do we draw the line? To what extent will this permissibility be effective. Every woman will now use her own discretion as to how long or how short her hair be in order to prevent Tashbeeh. Which males hair do we use as criteria to say that up till this length is Tashbeeh? In order to prevent this abuse and many other possible abuses, the Fuqahaa on numerous occasions apply the Usool of ?Saddan lil baab?

We would now like to remove the misconceptions and objections that you have raised. Please refer to the above mentioned summarized version of your letter. Under section (b), you had mentioned two Ahaadith.

The first Hadith you have stated is, ?some of the wives of Rasulullah cut their hair upon the death of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam).? This Hadith is in Muslim vol.1 pg.148 under the chapter of Ghusl.

Abu Salma ibn Abdurrahmaan says that, ?the foster brother of Hadhrat Aaisha (Radhiallaahu Anha) and the narrator himself (Abu Salma), both went to Aaisha. The foster brother asked Aaisha about how Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to take Ghusl. Aaisha (Radhiallaahu Anhu) asked for a large container which was approximately one Saa?. She then arranged for a curtain and thereafter performed Ghusl. She poured water three times over her head and thereafter said the wives of Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to ? their hair until it reached till just above the shoulders.?

The word in the Hadith is ?akhz? which is incorrectly translated as ?cutting?. Imam Muslim quoted this Hadith together with other Ahaadith of Ghusl under the chapter of Ghusl. This indicates that this Hadith has nothing to do with the cutting of hair. Instead, the word akhz has another meaning: The hair of the wives of Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) was long. Instead of allowing the hair to hang down whilst performing Ghusl, they used to take their hair and plait it up into a bun in order to reach just above their shoulders. Their long hair was made into a bun to sit on top of the neck. This was done so that it becomes easy for them to wash their back whilst performing Ghusl. Whilst the hair is hanging down, it was difficult for water to reach all parts of the back thoroughly , therefore, this method was adopted. This is the meaning of ?akhz? in the Hadith.

The second Hadith, ?a young Sahaabi saw Hadhrat Aaisha (Radhiallaahu Anha) and her hair was up till her ears.? We have not been able to locate this Hadith in Bukhari. Kindly provide us with the specific reference of this Hadith.

Nevertheless, it is also far fetched that Hadhrat Aaisha (Radhiallaahu Anha) had her hair only uptill her ears. A Hadith in Bukhari indicates that Hadhrat Aaisha (Radhiallaahu Anhu) herself had long hair. When Aaisha (Radhiallaahu Anhu) was performing Hajj, her menses began on the day of Arafaat. Being the narrator of this Hadith, she says, ?I found myself to be in my menses on the day of Arafaat so I explained my condition to Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam). Thereupon, he replied, ?Leave out your Umra, undo your head and comb your hair?? (Bukhari). Ibn Hajar has mentioned that the meaning of ?undo your head? is ?open up the plaits of your hair.? (Fathul Baari vol.1 pg.331). The fact that Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) commanded her to do this clearly indicates to this fact that Hadhrat Aaisha had long hair. If her hair was up till her ears, then how was she then going to open up her plaits?

In another Hadith in Muslim, Hadhrat Umm Salma (Radhiallaahu Anhu) enquired from Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam), ?O Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam). I most certainly have thick plaited her. Should I undo and open it up whilst I am performing a Ghusl for Janaabat?…? (Muslim vol.1 pg.149; HM Saeed). This clearly indicates that Umme Salma (Radhiallaahu Anha) also had long hair.

The third principle, ?everything is Halaal until declared Haraam?. This principle is not unanimously accepted by everyone. Some Fuqahaa state the direct opposite. Nevertheless, this principle is not general. Everything is Halaal until declared Haraam. If there is a proof of karaahat or Hurmat, then this principle will not apply.

In the third aspect you quoted Shaykh Zuhayli and a Fatwa of ibn Baaz. Probably, they did not come across the Ahaadith of prohibition or probably they interpreted it differently. We, however, humbly disagree with their view.

Reverting to the first aspect of your letter, you have mentioned five difficulties experienced by women keeping long hair.

?Hair takes extremely long to dry?. We do not understand what you mean by ?extremely long? ? how long? One hour, two hours or ten hours? During the time of Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam), the Arab women had long hair with tough plaits. In those days, there was no electricity and neither was there hot water. The solution was never ever to ?cut the hair?. Nowadays with technology advancing almost every second, we have highly advanced ?hair dryers?.

?Reluctance of marital relations (due to difficulty of long hair)?. Surely, women of the past also experienced this difficulty? The solution was never to cut the hair. If this was a serious issue, then why didn?t Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) explicitly issue a directive that women should cut their hair?

?Excessive hair loss?. This problem could easily be overcome by consulting one’s physician who will prescribe appropriate medication.

?Maintaining long hair is cumbersome and one feels extremely hot?. Again, the argument is baseless. Today, long hair is cumbersome and one feels hot, tomorrow, another woman will say that Hijaab is cumbersome and one feels extremely hot in it. Another woman will claim that to wear normal clothes on a hot summer’s day is cumbersome ? It is the natural Fitrat of a woman to maintain long hair. The intensity of the heat in Arab countries needs no explanation. Despite that, Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) never made cutting the hair the solution to this problem. There are so many women with long hair who do not complain or feel cumbersome and hot on account of their hair. Rather than squandering wealth at hair beauty salons, save they very same wealth and utilize it to purchase a few fans or an air conditioner.

?Maintaining long hair is Takleef maa laa yutaaq?. Allah Ta’ala is Hakeem and He never makes one mukallaf of something beyond his/her capability. If maintaining long hair was takleef maa laa yutaaq, then Allah Ta’ala would have clearly and explicitly said, ?O women, cut your hair, keep it short, its cumbersome, don’t grow it.?

?How long should a woman grow her hair?. The Fuqahaa have granted permission that if the hair of a woman grows beyond her back/hips then it will be permissible to trim the excess hair.

and Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Moulana Asad Haffejee

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