Dyeing hair is a common practice for both men and women around the world, including in Muslim communities. However, there are debates within Islam on whether using black hair dye is allowed or prohibited (haram). In this article, we will analyze the evidence on both sides of this issue.
Hadith on Changing Allah’s Creation
One of the most frequently cited arguments against black hair dye comes from this hadith in Sahih Bukhari:
“Allah cursed the women who practice tattooing and those who seek to be tattooed, and those who remove their face hairs, and those who create gaps between their teeth to make them look beautiful, and such women as change the features created by Allah.”
Some scholars interpret this hadith to mean that dyeing hair black is haram because it changes Allah’s creation. The natural hair color that a person is born with is part of how Allah created them, so dyeing it would go against this.
However, one counterargument is that this hadith refers to permanent changes to one’s natural features, while hair dye is only temporary. Hair will grow back to its natural color after some time. So dyeing may not violate the impermissible changes mentioned in the hadith.
Dyeing to Deceive About Age
Another objection is that dyeing gray hair black is deceptive, done with the intention to look younger than one’s real age. But advocates argue that most people dye their hair simply to look nice, not necessarily to mislead anyone about their age.
Furthermore, gray hair can sometimes make people look significantly older than they really are. Dyeing hair black to avoid such misperceptions about one’s age may be permissible.
Impure Ingredients in Dyes
Some traditional black hair dyes contain impure ingredients like alcohol or pork products, which would make their use clearly haram. However, many modern chemical black dyes can be made with pure halal ingredients.
Using natural black dyes like henna is considered better by some scholars. But it may not always be feasible or preferred over chemical dyes for various reasons.
Hadith on Looking Nice for Your Spouse
There is this hadith in Sunan Abu Dawud that provides a counterperspective:
“The best things with which grey hair are changed are henna and katam (a plant like henna).”
This suggests that dying hair is allowed, at least using natural dyes like henna, in order to look nice for your spouse. However, some scholars argue this hadith only permits henna specifically, not chemical dyes.
Looking Youthful and Building Self-Confidence
Dyeing gray hairs black can help both men and women look more youthful. This can build self-confidence and satisfy the natural human desire to look young.
Of course, the concept of looking youthful is subjective and relative. But avoiding gray hair is a common practice across many cultures globally.
Positions of Islamic Schools of Law
The major schools of Islamic law have varying positions on hair dye:
- Hanafi: Most scholars permitted dyeing hair any color. But a minority said it is makruh (disliked).
- Maliki: Dyeing hair black is permitted, but black is better than other colors.
- Shafi’i: Dislikes dyeing hair black for men. But permits it for women to look nice for their spouse.
- Hanbali: Allows dyeing hair any color except pure black.
So the Hanafi and Maliki schools appear most lenient, while the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools are more strict. But differences exist within each school too.
Opinions of Contemporary Scholars
Among recent scholars, the majority opinion is that dyeing hair black is permissible. However, some conditions commonly stated are:
- Use pure black dyes without impure ingredients
- Do not intend to deceive people about your age
- Women should have permission from their spouse first
Some conservative scholars, like the late Ibn Baz, disliked the practice in general. But others permit it as long as done within Islamic guidelines.
There is evidence on both sides of the debate over black hair dye permissibility. At the end of the day, a person’s intention seems to matter most. Dyeing hair black with the right intention and conditions can be permitted according to many scholars.
The act of simply dyeing itself is not the main issue. Rather, it is the motivation behind it and whether it is done within the limits of Islamic law. If dyeing hair black boosts self-confidence and satisfies the human desire to look youthful in a permissible way, then it could be halal.
But if it is done to intentionally deceive people about one’s age or imitate non-believers, then that intention may make it haram. Consulting knowledgeable scholars and maintaining purity of intention is the best approach.
Sophia Rodriguez is the creative force behind IGXO Cosmetics, a popular beauty blog and brand. As a long-time makeup artist and beauty industry insider, Sophia realized there was a lack of authentic, relatable content for the everyday woman. This inspired her to launch IGXO Cosmetics in 2018 as a platform to share her passion for beauty.