Shaving the Head : Permissible and Impermissible Types – Shaykh AbdurRazzaq al-Badr

Chapter 11: Shaving the Head
Lessons of Creed Acquired From The Hajj
By  Shaykh AbdurRazzaq bin ‘Abdul-Muhsin
Translated by Abbas Abu Yahya

The actions of the day of an-Nahr, the tenth day of the month of Dhul-Hijjah, are indeed four well-known actions which are the stoning, the slaughter, shaving the head and then the Tawaaf. The discussion here will be about shaving the head or shortening the hair as worship for Allaah in obedience to Him and seeking closeness to Him on this great day.

Shaving is completely removing the hair of the head while shortening is lessening the hair of the head all over. Shaving or shortening the hair is one of the obligations of Hajj and Umrah, it is not permissible to leave it, and the evidence is the saying of Allaah Ta’ala:

<< Certainly, you shall enter masjid al-Haram; if Allaah wills, secure, (some) having your heads shaved, and (some) having your head hair cut short, having no fear>> [Fath : 27]

Ibn Qadaamah –Rahimullaah- said:

‘If it was not from the rites of Hajj, Allaah would not have described them this way.’ [1]

It is narrated by Bukhari and Muslim from the hadeeth of Ibn Abbas –RadhiAllaahu anhu- who said:

‘When the Prophet -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- came to Makkah he ordered his Companions to make Tawaaf of the House and of Safa and Marwa, then to come out of Ihraam and shave or shorten their hair.’ [2]

Hence, it is one of the obligations of Hajj and Umrah. So whoever does not shave or shorten their hair, then it is necessary to atone for this by slaughtering a sacrificial animal. It (i.e. shaving/shortening) is a sign that the time period for Ihraam has ended and it imitates the actions of the Messenger – alayhi as-sallat wa sallam- where he shaved his head and ordered his Companions to shave their heads, casting aside their impurities and removing dishevelled hair. Shaving the head is the act of humbly placing the forehead in front of its Lord, due to His greatness, and in submission due to His Honour and it is from the most intense forms of Uboodiyah (worship) for Allaah Azza Wa Jal.

So when the Muslims performs this great act of obedience and important worship in reverence of Allaah and in imitation of the Messenger of Allaah – sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- it is obligatory upon him to know that shaving the head or shortening the hair is done to worship and seek closeness to Allaah and that it is not permissible to perform it for anyone other than Allaah –subhanahu wa Ta’ala.

The great Imaam, Shaykh-ul-Islaam ibn Taymeeyah -Rahimullaah– was asked about a people who shave their heads at the command of their shaykhs at such graves as they glorify while regarding it as a means seeking closeness to Allaah and worship: is all of this a Sunnah or a Bida? Is shaving the head, generally, a Sunnah or Bida?

He –Rahimullaah- replied: ‘Shaving the head is of four types:

One of them is shaving the head in Hajj and Umrah and this is from what Allaah and His Messenger -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- have ordered. It is legislated and ordered in the Book, the Sunnah and the consensus of the Ummah.

Allaah Ta’ala said:

<< Certainly, you shall enter masjid al-Haram; if Allaah wills, secure, (some) having your heads shaved, and (some) having your head hair cut short, having no fear>> [Fath : 27]

There are multiple narrations on the authority of the Prophet -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallamthat he shaved his head in his Hajj and Umrah as did his Companions. From them were those who shaved their heads and some who shortened their hair. Shaving is better than shortening because the Prophet said: ‘O Allaah forgive those who shave their heads.’ The people said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- and those who shorten their hair?’ He said ‘O Allaah forgive those who shave their heads.’ The people said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- and those who shorten their hair?’ He said ‘O Allaah forgive those who shave their heads.’ The people said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- and those who shorten their hair?’ He said: ‘And those who shorten their hair.’ [3]

In the farewell Hajj he -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- commanded the Companions who had brought a sacrificial animal with them to shorten their hair if they had performed Tawaaf of the House and had walked between Safa and Marwa for Umrah and then to shave their heads once they had completed the Hajj. So (in this way) he combined for them, firstly, shortening their hair and, secondly, shaving their heads.

The second type of shaving the head is for a need, such as shaving the head for treatment. This is also permissible according to the Book, the Sunnah and the consensus of the scholars. Indeed Allaah has permitted the Muhrim (pilgrim), for whom it is not usually allowed to have his head shaved until completion of the Hajj rites, to shave his head if he is suffering as Allaah Ta’ala mentions:

<<and do not shave your heads until the Hady (sacrificial animal) reaches the place of sacrifice. And whosoever of you is ill or has an ailment in his scalp (necessitating shaving), he must pay a Fidyah (ransom) of either observing Saum (fasts) (three days) or giving Sadaqah (charity – feeding six poor persons) or offering sacrifice (one sheep) >> [Baqarah :196]

What has been established by agreement of the Muslims is the hadeeth of Ka’b bin Ujraah that when the Prophet -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- passed by him in the Umrah of Al-Hudaybiyah lice were falling from his head, so the Prophet said to him: ‘Are your lice harming you?’ K’ab replied: ‘Yes.’ So the Prophet said: ‘Shave your head and sacrifice a sheep, or fast three days or feed a group of six needy people.’[4]

The authenticity of this Hadeeth is agreed upon and has been received with acceptance by all the Muslims.

The third type of shaving the head is that which is done for worship, religion and Zuhd (abstention from loving worldly things) in other than Hajj or Umrah.

For example, some of the people command the one who repents, once he has repented to shave his head. Similar is the one who shaves the head as a sign of being from the people of rituals and religion or as a sign of the perfection of Zuhd and worship or as a sign that the one who shaves is better, more religious or has more Zuhd than the one who does not.

Then there are those who adhere to certain shaykhs such that if they repent, they shave their heads or they cut some of his hair. So the shaykh specifies who should have the scissors and prayer rug so he can pray on that rug (and not with the Muslims). His cutting hair from the heads of the people is from the complete authority befitting him and someone who is imitated in order to make the people repent.

So all of this is Bida’ which has neither been commanded by Allaah, nor by His Messenger -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam. It is not obligatory nor has it been recommended by any one scholar of the Deen. Not one of the Companions did this, nor did any of those who followed the companions in goodness, neither the scholars of the Muslims who were well known for Zuhd and worship nor the Companions, the successors or those who came after them.

There were those who accepted Islam at the time of the Prophet -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- but he never used to order them to shave their heads if they entered Islaam nor did he cut anyone’s hair. He didn’t pray on a rug but, rather, he used to pray as an Imaam with all the Muslims. He used to pray on what they used to pray, sit where they used to sit and he never used to make himself distinct from them by sitting on something special, whether a prayer rug or anything else.

Whoever takes this Bida’ -which is not obligatory or even recommended- as a means of seeking closeness and obedience or as a path to Allaah making it a completion of the Deen or orders the repentant to do it, both the Zahid (the one who abstains from loving worldly things) and the worshipper, then he is a misguided person outside the path of ar-Rahmaan (Allaah the Most Merciful), following the footsteps of the Shayateen.’

Then Shaykh ul-Islaam –Rahimullaah- mentioned the fourth type of shaving the head which is shaving the head as other than a ritual or for other than a need, neither seeking closeness to Allaah nor seeking to be religious. He mentions that the people of knowledge have two opinions regarding this, which are two narrations attributed to Imaam Ahmad.

The first is that it is disliked and this is the Madhab of Maalik and others. The second is that it is permissible and this is well known amongst the companions of Abu Haneefa and ash-Shafi’ee.

Then Imaam Ahmad mentions the evidence that the scholars use for each of these sayings. [5]

Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim mentions a similar division to what has preceded in his book ‘Zaad al-Ma’ad’. He mentions that from the different types of shaving the head there is one that is Shirk and one that is Bida’. Shirk being the one shaving his head for other than Allaah –Subhaanhu- such as those who follow shaykhs and who shave their heads for their shaykhs.

One of them will say:

‘I have shaved my head for so-and-so and you have shaved your head for soand-so.’ This is the same as saying: ‘I have done Sadjah (prostration) for so- and-so,’ because shaving the head is done with humility, in worship and with submissiveness and it is done for the completion of Hajj.

Then he mentions that the misguided shaykhs deceive their followers by causing them to shave their heads for them, just as they mislead them into prostrating to them. [6]

All of this is clear Shirk and a great lie, we ask Allaah for security.


[1] Al-Mughni (5/305)
[2] Saheeh al-Bukharee
[3] Saheeh al-Bukharee & Saheeh Muslim
[4] Saheeh al-Bukharee & Saheeh Muslim
[5] Majmoo’al-Fatwa (21/116-119)
[6] Za’d al-Ma’ad (4/159-160)

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