Question # 129: Can you tell me if it is permissible for a woman to color her hair, I don’t mean golden etc. …I am referring to black or dark brown…i.e., not for fashion, it’s only to hide grey hair of a young female… I know that ghusl is not completed with colored hair, am I correct? Would it be allowed in such exceptional case or is it a strict “no”.

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: It is mustahabb (recommended) to change grey hairs to any color except black. As for changing them to black, most scholars are of the view that this is haram for men as well as women, because the prohibition to that effect is narrated in the Sunnah.  However, the changing of hair color should not lead to resembling kaafir men or women. Next, cosmetic items that do not insulate the skin and do not prevent water from reaching it (e.g., dying by henna or similar things which do not insulate the skin), then it is permissible to perform wudoo’ or ghusl over it.

Long Answer: The Sunnah enjoins dyeing white hairs. Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) narrated that Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “The Jews and Christians do not dye their hair, so be different from them.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari)

Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “If the hair is to be dyed black, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) forbade that when he told someone to change his white hair but to avoid black. He said: “Change this white hair but avoid black.” (Sahih Muslim). A stern warning was also narrated for the one who does that, which is when the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “There will be people at the end of time who will dye their hair black like the crops of pigeons; they will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood and al-Nasa’i; classed as sahih by al-Albani in Sahih al-Jaami’) This indicates that it is haram to change the hair color to black. As for changing it to other colors, the basic principle is that it is permissible unless it is done in the manner of kaafir women or immoral women, in which case it is haram for that reason, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood and classed as sahih by al-Albaani in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel)” (Majmoo’ Fataawa wa Rasaa’il Ibn ‘Uthaymeen)

Abu Dharr reported that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “The best things with which to change grey hair are henna and ‘katam’[1].” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi; he said: This is a sahih hasan hadith)

In al-Mawsoo‘ah al-Fiqhiyyah al-Kuwaitiyyah, it says: “The fuqaha’ are unanimously agreed that changing white hairs by dyeing them with henna and the like is mustahabb for women just as it is mustahabb for men… The fuqaha’ differed concerning the ruling on dyeing the hair black. The Hanbalis, Maalikis and Hanafis – apart from Abu Yoosuf – say that it is makrooh to dye the hair black, other than at times of war.”

Among contemporary scholars who are of the view that it is haram are: Shaykh Ibn Baaz, al-Albani and Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on them)

[Next,] some powders and cosmetics that are used as makeup form an insulating layer over the skin and prevent water from reaching it, while others do not prevent water from reaching the skin.  [Thus,] if a cosmetic item insulates the skin (e.g., nail polish) then it is not permissible to perform wudoo’ or ghusl over it, for any act of worship… Washing implies that water must actually reach the part of the body being washed. Based on this observation, anything that prevents water from reaching the skin must be removed, otherwise purification will not be achieved, resulting in the prayer being void.

[However,] if the cosmetic item does not insulate the skin and does not prevent water from reaching it (e.g., dying by henna or similar things which do not insulate the skin), then wudoo’ or ghusl may be performed with it.

(The above reply is based on various answers by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on the topic)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.


[1] Ibn Hajar said: “Katam is a plant from Yemen which produces a reddish-black dye. Henna produces a red dye, so when they are used together as a dye, they produce a color that is between black and red.” (Fath al-Bari)