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The Ruling of Shaving a Newborn’s Head in the Hanafi School?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org
Question: What is the ruling of shaving a newborn’s head in the Hanafi school? Why is it not considered a sunna?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
The act of shaving the head of the child is established from the Hadith of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace), however, the scholars differed over the exact meaning of the Hadith and its legal ruling.
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “With the child, there is an ‘Aqiqa, so spill forth blood on their behalf and remove from them harm” [Bukhari].
In this narration, some scholars understood the statement ‘remove from them harm’ to mean the hair that the child was born with. Others took it to mean circumcision and yet others took it to have a general meaning [Mulla ‘Ali Qari, ‘Umda al-Qari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari].
However, the Hanafi school has not considered the shaving of the newborn’s hair to be intrinsically a Sunna, rather recommended.
The Term ‘Recommended’
The text that you quoted indicates the ruling of shaving the head, which is recommended or mustahabb in Arabic.
Recommended actions are such actions that one is rewarded for doing. However, one is not sinful nor blamed for not doing them [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah].
In the terminology of Islamic Jurisprudence, there is a difference between what is deemed a Sunna and what is deemed to be of a lower category.
The word sunna and the word recommended can sometimes be used interchangeably. In legal jargon, the word sunna when mentioned without any descriptor generally means an emphasized sunna or a sunna of guidance.
The word ‘recommended’ may be used instead of sunna because certain actions or commands of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) fall unto one of the following example categories:
Examples of Recommended Acts
(1) The command is merely a command of recommendation, not an obligation. Generally, these types of commands are not directly related to the Prophet’s mission of conveying guidance, rather relate to general advice.
For example, the Prophet’s command to wear white.
He (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Wear of your garments that which is white, for it is the best of your garments…” [Tirmidhi].
(2) The particular practice of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) being a practice of habit or form not directly related to His mission of conveying guidance.
An example of this would be the method by which the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) drank water or the clothing He wore.
These are just examples to shed some light on the issue; this is not an exhaustive list.
Thus, even though one can say that wearing white or drinking sitting down are Sunna, Scholars would make a distinction between the sunna of wearing white and the sunna of praying the two units of prayer before Fajr.
The former is thus called by the scholars ‘recommended’ and the latter an emphasized sunna. Note, recommended is sometimes referred to as non-emphasized sunna [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah].
With that being said, the shaving of the newborn is recommended in the Hanafi school. In other words, it is a non-emphasized sunna.
Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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