Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah
Question: Assalamu alaykum
I’ve been growing my hair long and I’m going to Umra soon and I don’t want to shave my head all off. What can I do?
Answer: Assalam ‘alaykum. I pray you’re well insha’Allah.
Trimming just a small length from the hair suffices for the act of the pilgrimage, though one should be aware that the reward is commensurate to the amount of hair cut.
Shaving the Hair during the Pilgrimage
For men, the optimal and sunnah is to shave the entire head with a razor. The minimal sunnah of shaving is to shave three strands of hairs.
One could even pluck or burn all the three hairs to fulfil the basic sunnah, as the word used in the ruling is simply to ‘remove’ the hair, though shaving is preferable.
Trimming the Hair during the Pilgrimage
If one does not shave the head then it is permissible to trim the hair, ideally over the entire head evenly. However, the reward is greater in shaving than trimming.
When trimming, the minimum obligatory amount of hair to be trimmed, for both men and women, is also three hairs.
In the Shafi’i school, the absolute minimum length to trim can be just a tiny amount of the hair and from any part of the head, while it is preferred to trim the length of a fingertip (anmula), which is a little less than 2cm (these rulings apply to trimming the whole hair or just three hairs). In the Hanafi school, the minimum amount that needs to be trimmed is the extent of a fingertip from a quarter of the whole head hair. (Refer to this answer for more details on the Hanafi position).
As a side note, women do not shave their hair. The optimal for a woman is to evenly trim the ends of the whole head of hair the length of a fingertip.
These rulings apply to Hajj and Umrah.
[Tuhfa al Muhtaj, Mughni al Muhtaj]
In conclusion, you may keep your hair long by performing the absolute minimum of shaving/plucking or trimming a very small amount from 3 hairs, in order to exit from the state of ihram, however, the reward will also be the minimum. If trimming, it would be religiously more precautionary, if possible, to trim a fingertip length from a quarter of the head hair, in order for it to be valid in both the Shafi’i and Hanafi schools. And Allah knows best.
I hope this clarifies the matter for you. Please keep us in your duas during your pilgrimage, and if visiting the blessed Prophet ﷺ in Medina. May Allah accept it from you insha’Allah.
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah
Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.