Q. I would like some clarification on the tying of one’s hair during salaat. If I remember, there is a hadith that states that one should not bend / plait one’s hair during salaat. Is this applicable only to men? Why I am asking this, is because when I go to make salaat, and the place is extremely hot, it is very uncomfortable while the hair is loose (especially around the neck where one tends to sweat more) which can be distracting during salaat. Is it therefore permissible for a woman to tie up her hair?
A. The tradition regarding not tying or tucking up the hair has been recorded by Imam Bukhari and other compilers of Ahadith. The tradition has been narrated by Abdullah bin Abbas (RA) who said that the Prophet (SAS) was ordered to prostrate on seven bones and not to tuck up his clothes or hair. (Sahih Al Bukhari vol. 1 pg. 434)
Based on this tradition, the majority of scholars have stated that it is Makrooh (disliked) for the one who is performing Salaah to ‘tuck up’ or ‘tie up’ his hair in Salaah or before Salaah. This however, does not invalidate one’s Salaah. (Umdatul Qaari vol. 6 pg 91)
The Scholars are also unanimous on the point that it is disliked and discouraged for one to perform Salaah in a state where his hair is braided/plaited or with his hair thrusted under his turban or anything of this nature. However, if one does any of the above, his salaah will still be valid. (Umdatul Qaari vol 6 pg 91)
Imam Abu Dawood has narrated with a (sound chain of narrators) that Abu Rafe saw Hasan bin Ali (RA) performing Salaah and he had thrusted and inserted his hair at the back of his head on the nape. He then loosened it and said, ‘I heard the Prophet (SAS) saying, ‘This (manner of tying or bundling the hair) is the rear of Satan’. (Abu Dawood). In another tradition, it is recorded that Abdullah bin Abbas (RA) saw Abdullah bin Harith performing Salaah and his head was braided from behind. He (Abdullah bin Abbas) then stood behind him and loosened the braids. He then said, ‘I heard the Prophet of Allah (SAS) likening this person to one who performs Salaah and he is shackled and tied up’. (Umdatul Qaari vol. 6 pg. 91)
According to many Scholars, the wisdom in not tying the hair (or tucking up the hair) in Salaah is due to the fact that the hair also prostrates with a person. As such, it must be opened and loose so that it may also fall loosely when one goes in Sajda. It is for this reason that the Prophet (SAS) likened a person who tied up (plait/braided) his hair to the one who performs Salaah and he is tied up (as mentioned in the above narration of Abdullah bin Abbas RA).
This fact of the ‘hair prostrating in Sajda’ is clearly borne out from the narration which states that once Abdullah bin Umar (RA) saw a person performing Salaah who had his head (hair) braided, he turned to him and said loose the braids, your hair prostrates with you’. (Umdatul Qaari vol 6 pg 91)
As mentioned above, the ruling which is established from the hadith which prohibits one from tying/tucking up his hair is one of ‘dislike’ (Makrooh) and not of ‘total prohibition’, and this is the opinion of the majority of Scholars. (See Umdatul Qaari (Commentary of Sahih Al Bukhari) vol. 6 pg. 91 and Fathul Baari (Commentary of Sahih Al Bukhari vol. 2 pg. 377-380).
Further to this, the Scholars have also mentioned that the ruling of not tying or tucking up the hair is specific for males, since they must allow it to fall loosely (if it is long) while performing the Sajdah. This however, cannot apply to women, since they are required to cover their head/hair properly and the hair cannot be allowed to fall loosely on the ground from under the hijab/niqab or head-cover. As such, women will be allowed to tie their hair while in Salaah since it is more convenient for them (seeing that it is their nature to have long hair against males whose habit is not to have such long hair). This allowance and permission for women is without any dislike or reprehensibility.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan