Is it permissible to dye one’s hair black?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is possible to determine the decree of dying hair for a person whose hair is fair or has turned grey according to Islam:

Before the advent of Islam, Jews and Christians avoided changing the color of hair by dying it thinking that trying to seem beautiful and adorning oneself would not comply with being a slave of Allah.

The Prophet (pbuh) told his Companions that they were allowed to dye their hair and beard with henna or other substances in order to make them gain independent personalities. The following is stated in a hadith reported by Abu Hurayra:

"Jews and Christians do not dye their hair. Act contrarily to them; dye your hair." (1)

However, the order in the hadith is not binding; it is recommendation. As a matter of fact, some Companions like Hz. Abu Bakr, Umar, Ali, Ka'b and Anas did not dye their hair.  

On the other hand, the color black should not be preferred to dye the hair. For, black dye is generally used by old men for their grey hair. Black dye will make an old person seem younger. This may deviate the practice of applying henna or dyeing.

As a matter of fact, when the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) saw that the hair of Hz. Abu Bakr’s father Abu Quhafa had turned white like flowers of trees, he said:

"Change this white hair but avoid black." (2)

However, if the hair of a young person turns grey, it is permissible for him to dye it black. As a matter of fact, it is reported that some Companions like Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas, Uqbq b. Amir, Hasan, Husayn and Jarir preferred this color. (3)

The Messenger of Allah advised henna as the dyeing substance:

"The best thing to use to eliminate the greyness of the hair is henna and linen." (4)

It is reported that Anas b. Malik and Hz. Abu Bakr dyed their hair using henna and linen and that Hz. Umar using pure henna. (al-Qardawi, ibid, p. 103)

In conclusion, it is regarded mustahab for a man or woman whose hair has turned grey to dye it yellow or red and it is not regarded permissible to dye it black according to the sound view. However, it is permissible for a young person to dye his hair black. On the other hand, henna and wasima, a plant used in dyeing industry, are advised. (5)

(1) see Bukhari, Anbiya, 50; Libas, 67; Muslim, Libas, 80; Abu Dawud, Tarajjul, 18; Nasai, Zina, 14
(2) see Abu Dawud, Tarajjul, 18; Nasai, Zina, 15; Ahmad b. Hanbal, I,165, 356, II, 261, 499, III,160, 322.
(3) see Yusuf al-Qardawi, al-Halal wal-Haram fil-Islam, Translated by Mustafa Varlı, Ankara 1970, p. 102, 103.
(4) see Abu Dawud, Tarajjul, 18; Tirmidhi, Libas, 20; Nasai, Zina, 16; Ibn Maja, Libas, 32; Ahmad b. Hanbal, W, 147, 150, 154.
(5) see Ibn Abidin, Raddul-Muhtar, Translated by Ahmed Davudoğlu, Istanbul 1982-1988, XV, 378, XVII, 314.

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