Is Scalp Micro-Pigmentation Permissible for a Bald Man?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan

Question

Is scalp micro-pigmentation permissible for a bald man?

Answer

Micropigmentation is a form of tattooing. The only difference between the two is that a standard tattoo penetrates five layers of skin, while micro-pigmentation penetrates two. Nonetheless, according to our scholars, both are considered tattooing and thus impermissible. The Messenger, peace be upon him, supplicated,

“May Allah curse the one who adds artificial hair (Wasila) and the who requests it; the tattooist and the one being tattooed” [Bukhari]

That said, given the circumstance, impermissible practices may become permissible. For this reason, in another narration, the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), prohibited the plucking of eyebrows [see here for the ruling on plucking eyebrows], adding artificial hair to one’s head, and tattooing. He, peace be upon him, then said, “unless for medical purposes.” [Ahmad] Consequently, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) alluded to the principle that given the circumstance, the impermissible may become permissible.

The most common circumstance is that of necessity. The scholars agreed that “necessity makes the impermissible, permissible.” Another possibility is when someone suffers from a deficiency or defect. (Examples of this latter category may be seen here Are Breast Implants Permissible?) Defects are determined by the custom of a people. The famous maxim mentioned by Imam Subki and others reads, “Whatever does not have a legal or linguistic definition will be defined by custom.”

Accordingly, if the community one lives in considers baldness a defect, micro pigmentation will be permissible as a treatment for removing the defect and not as a medium of beautification. In this current era, it would seem that baldness, especially among the youth, is almost globally seen as a defect. This, however, may not be the case for seniors.

A Concern and Response

Some may raise the traditional criticism of tattooing that it covers the skin and thus does not allow water to reach the skin when performing the ritual bath. However, in modern tattooing, the blood and ink mix beneath the epidermis and not above it and thus does not pose a problem to the validity or invalidity of one’s ritual cleansing.

And Allah knows best.
[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan received ijazah’ ammah from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib’ Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib’ Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi’i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.