Brothers having plaited hair.

Q. I have noticed a few brothers in our community having plaited hair. Some of them have their hair similar to the rastafarian’s ‘dreadlocks’. I have also seen those brothers giving azaan and iqaamah.

1. Can you please give me a detailed response as to whether we are allowed to keep this hair style?

2. Is the wudhu and ghusl accepted if a muslim has that sort of hairstyle? If not, then what about his salaat and other ibaadat?

3. Should they be allowed to call azaan and iqaamat? If not, how should we inform them of this?

4. Are there any differences of opinions regarding this issue?

A. With respect to the manner of one’s dress, conduct, hairstyle etc, Muslims have been given specific guidelines that they should not imitate, follow or liken themselves to other people.

In this regard, the Messenger of Allah (SAW) is reported to have said, ‘Whosoever resembles (likens himself) to another people, then he is from among them’ (Abu Dawood from the tradition of Abdullah bin Umar R.A). In another tradition, the Prophet (SAW) has said, ‘whoever resembles (likens himself) to another group/people, he is not from us’ (Muslims, Tirmizi).

Based on these traditions, the scholars have stated that a Muslim is prohibited from imitating, following, resembling himself to those who are non Muslim. It is clearly seen that each religion has its own manner of dress, conduct, rituals, upkeep of oneself with respect to hairstyle, moustache, beard etc. etc. When these are connected to a certain religion, it would be naturally understood that anyone who practices any of these traits would be associated and connected to the respective religion. Hence, when a Muslim adopts the style of another religion, he will be immediately recognized as a follower of that religion. It is for this reason, scholars have mentioned that it is totally haram for a Muslim to adopt a practice/trend or style that has some sort of religious symbol, meaning or significance in another religion. This, they say is the worst type of imitation and following. At the time of the Prophet (SAW), when the Muslims were surrounded by the Jews, Christians and Polytheists, the Prophet (SAW) issued a clear command saying that they must oppose the ways and practices of the Jews, the Christians and the Polytheists (Mushrikeen). This opposition was necessary since Islam had given a perfect and complete way of life, dress and conduct to the believers.

With respect to the hairstyle you have asked about, it is generally known and understood that ‘Rastafarian’s dread locks is directly attributed and linked to the Rastafarian sect/cult. Rastafarianism is a religious cult that regards Haile Selasie I, former emperor of Ethiopia as the Messiah. The dread locks that are worn by people identifies them as Rastafarians who are connected to the cult that they follow.

Hence, from the above mentioned explanation given on the traditions of the Prophet (SAW), it becomes clear that it is haram (unlawful) for a Muslim to have such hairstyles called dread locks.

The Prophet (SAW) has also cursed those men who imitate women and has cursed those women who imitate men (Sahih Al Bukhari). Based on this tradition, the scholars have stated that it is totally haram for a Muslim male to imitate/adopt the styles of women with respect to their conduct, clothing, hairstyle, speech and beautification. As such, where it is an established custom and practice that plaiting the hair or tying it in a pony is associated and attributed to women, then it would not be allowed for men to do the same.

Answer Question No. 2
In wuzu, it is essential for a person to make masah by wiping the entire head from the front to the back. Once this is done in the manner prescribed in the Sunnah, wuzu would be valid.

In Ghusl, it is essential for a person to wash his entire body including the hair on his head and its roots. Once this is done, Ghusl will be valid. As for the person who has the dread locks hairstyle, once he performs his wuzu and Ghusl in the proper manner, ensuring that he does that which is required of him then both the wuzu and Ghusl will be valid. If they are not done in the prescribed manner, then they would not be valid, and in this case the Salaah would not be valid. This however, does not mean that keeping this style is permissible.

Answer Question No. 3
Those who keep the Rastafarian’s dread locks hairstyle are guilty of doing that which is haram in Islam, and hence, would be termed as transgressors. As such, they should not be allowed to call the azan and the Iqama since both of these fall under the heading of the Zikr of Allah. Those from among the Muslims who keep this hairstyle should be told that Allah Has ordered all Muslims to enter into Islam whole heartedly. He says in Surah Baqarah (chapter 2) verse 208, ‘O those who believe enter into Islam fully/whole heartedly and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. He is an open enemy to you’.

Here, the Muslims are ordered to give their full submission to Allah by following Islam in all aspects of their lives. When a person becomes a Muslim, he must allow every aspect of his life/living to be in accordance to the teachings of Islam. In fact, the above verse of the Holy Quran was revealed at a time when a new convert to Islam wanted to hold on to certain teachings of his former religion. The verse clearly identified to him and others that this cannot take place. If they behave in this manner, they would be following the footsteps of Satan. Instead, they must conform to the teachings of Islam, with respect to their beliefs, practices, values, dress, conduct, likes/dislikes, manners, hairstyle and speech etc .etc.

Keeping the dreadlocks hairstyle while being a Muslim, clearly indicates to one’s likeness of the custom and symbol of that cult. It shows that one is not willing to part with that which belongs to his former un-Islamic way, and he finds in himself an inclination to that which does not exist in Islam. This behavior therefore, tells of an individual who has not accepted Islam whole heartedly and still wants to liken himself to another community which is on misguidance.

I do not know of any differences among the rightly guided scholars on this issue. The Ahadith have spoken sufficiently on this issue, and all the early scholars have unanimously declared that it is Haram for a Muslim to liken himself to any form or fashion of another group/people, especially when the resemblance is in that which has a religious symbol, sign or significance. (See Al Halal Wal Haram- Allama Khalid Saifullah pg.194)

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan