The Fiqh of Hair Dyes

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam

Question: Is it permissible to use hair dyes, and which ones?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

It is permissible, rather recommended (mandub) to dye the hair of the head (and beard for men) provided the ingredients used in the hair dye are Halal.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

“Change the old age (white/grey hair), and do not imitate the Jews” (Sunan Tirmidhi & Sunan Nasa’i).

He (Allah bless him & give him peace) also stated:

“The best dye to change your old age is Henna (a red plant dye) and Katm (type of grass)” (Narrated by many Hadith Imams).

There is a difference of opinion between the scholars on whether the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) himself dyed his hair. However Sayyiduna Abu Bakr and Sayyiduna Umar ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with them) did dye the hair of their head and beard, thus it will be classed as recommended (mandub), if not Sunnah.

The great Hanafi Imam, Ala’ al-Din al-Haskafi states in his Durr al-Mukhtar:

“It is recommended for men to dye their hair and beard, even outside war”. (Durr al-Mukhtar 5: 271)

It is stated in the famous Hanafi Fiqh Reference book al-Fatawa al-Hindiyyah:

“The scholars have all unanimously agreed that it is a Sunnah for men to dye the hair of their head and beard with red colour. It is also considered a sign for Muslims” (5/329).

Pure Black Dye

The foregoing explanation was regarding using dye other than the colour of pure black. The ruling on using pure black hair dye will defer according to the reason one uses it for.

a) If a warrior (mujahid) used black hair dye in order to create awe and fear into the heart and mind of the enemy, then all the scholars agree that it is permissible (al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 5/329).

b) To use pure black dye in order to deceive somebody, e.g. a prospective fiance or in order to get a job, then this (according to all) is impermissible.

The Companion Ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah said:

“Whosoever deceives us is not from us” (Sahih Ibn Hibban)

c) The third situation is when pure black dye is used for adornment, meaning the husbands or the wives use it in order to please the spouse. The scholars have differed with regards to its ruling.

Many Hanafi scholars have said that to use pure black dye is not permissible, even for the purpose of adornment and pleasing the spouse.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

“There will be people who will come later (in my Ummah) and apply black dye. They will not even smell the fragrance of paradise” (Sunan Abu Dawud, 2/578).

In another Hadith, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Abstain from using black dye” (Sahih Muslim).

However other scholars including the great Hanafi jurist and student of Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Abu Yusuf (Allah have mercy on him) permitted the use of black dye for adornment, especially the wife, to adorn herself for her husband. It has also been narrated from some of the companions such as: Sayyiduna Uthman, Sayyiduna Hasan, Sayyiduna Husain & others (Allah be pleased with them all) that they used black colour dye.

Imam Abu Yusuf also permitted it for men in order to adorn themselves for their wives. His words are:

“As I desire my wife to adorn herself for me, she also desires that I adorn my self for her” (Radd al-Muhtar).

Imam al-Haskafi states in Durr al-Mukhtar:

“It is recommended for men to dye their hair and beard, even outside war according to the sounder opinion. The sounder opinion is that the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) did not do it. It is disliked with black, though some said it is not”

My respected teacher, Shaykh Mufti Taqi Usmani (Allah preserve him) says:

“The final word regarding the using of black dye is that, it will not be considered unlawful (haram), although disliked (makruh). The prohibition in the Hadith will be understood to be confined in the situation when one uses it to deceive others”. (Taqrir Tirmizi, 2/354).

It should also be remembered here that the above discussion is when the dye is pure black. However, if it is not pure, rather it is dark and black-inclined; it would be permissible to apply it.

Also, the dying of hair will not affect the validity of ablutions (wudu) or obligatory bath (ghusl), because the coating is not considered a perceptible barrier.

In conclusion, it is recommended to dye the hair (for men and women) with other then pure black colour. To use pure black dye in order to deceive others is unlawful (haram), and totally permissible for a Mujahid engaged in Jihad. As far as using it for adornment purposes, it will be somewhat disliked (makruh tanzihan), although some have declared to be reprehensible.

And Allah Knows Best

Muhammad ibn Adam

Darul Iftaa

Leicester, UK