Question: I am Bilal. I’d like to know about hair coloring according to Qur’an and Hadith. I came to know that it is permissible. Is it right? Please explain providing evidence from authentic sources of Islam.

                                        -Bilal Ahmed -----  bilalgi@islamicvoice.com

Answer: It is permissible to change the colour of one’s greying hair, to a colour besides black, as long as the material used for coloring hair is pure and permissible.

Narrated Abu Dharr

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “The best things with which grey hair are changed are henna and katam (a plant from Yemen which produces reddish-black dye)”. [Sunan Abu Dawood Vol.3 Chapter 1567 Hadith No.4193]

During the days of the Prophet (pbuh), the Jews and the Christians used to refrain from dyeing greying hair because they considered such adornment as contrary to piety and devotion, and not befitting rabbis, priests and ascetics. The Prophet (pbuh) forbade Muslims from imitating them (the Jews and the Christians), in order that Muslims might develop their own distinctive and independent characteristics.

Narrated Abu Huraira

Allah's Messenger (pbuh) said, "The Jews and the Christians do not dye (their grey hair), so you shall do the opposite of what they do (i.e. dye your grey hair and beards)." [Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol.4 Hadith No.3462 & Sahih Muslim Vol.3 Chapter 831 Hadith No.5245]

However, it is not permitted for a Muslim man or a woman to dye his/her hair black because of the reports in which the Prophet (pbuh) instructed the Muslims to abstain from it.

Jabir bin Abdullah reported that Abu Quhaafah was led (to the audience of the Holy Prophet) on the day of the conquest of Makkah and his head and beard were white like thughamah (hyssop), whereupon Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said: “Change it with something but avoid black”. [Sahih Muslim Vol.3 Chapter 831 Hadith No.5244]

Ibn ‘Abbaas reported the Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) as saying: At the end of time there will be people who will use this black dye like the crops of birds; they will not experience the fragrance of Paradise.” [Sunan Abu Dawood Vol.3 Chapter 1569 Hadith No.4200]

Nevertheless, the use of black dye is specifically permitted during time of war, with the possibility of demoralizing the enemy when they see all Muslim soldiers looking ‘young’.

Moreover, dyeing the hair when there is no grey hair, though not forbidden, is not regarded as following the Prophet’s example, since it does not serve the same shar’i interests as achieved by dyeing grey hair. 

One must make sure that hair colouring should not be done as an imitation of immodest or immoral people, whom some people may mistakenly regard as examples to follow. This is prohibited because the Prophet (pbuh) said: “Whoever imitates any people is one of them.” [Sunan Abu Dawood Vol.3 Chapter 1506 Hadith No.4020].

And Allah Knows the Best.