Assalaamu alaikum my respected Mufti,
Q:More and more Muslim women are wearing their hair in dread locks. I thought this was not permissble but have no proof why. Please explain why it is or is not permissible to wear one’s hair this way. If it is not permissible and one becomes aware a Muslim female or male has dreadlocks what should one say or do?
Wa Alaikum Assalaam,
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.
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. 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.
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.