Question # 183: Is it permissible in Islam to adopt hair styles that entail shaving part of the head and leaving the rest, such as the Mohican haircut, flattops, fades, etc.?

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: Shaving part of the head and leaving part of the hair is Qaza’ (tuft), which was forbidden by the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). It is considered changing the creation of Allah and spoiling people’s appearance, and it is an imitation of the non-believers. Qaza’ is makrooh (disliked), unless a person does it in imitation of the non-believers or evildoers, in which case it is haram, not just makrooh. Any hairstyle for men and women is allowed, as long as the following criteria are observed:

  1. Not to imitate the opposite gender;
  2. Not to shave or even trim a part of the head and leave the other part. The whole hair is to be trimmed; and
  3. Not to imitate the vicious, wicked, or immoral people in their hairstyle.

In conclusion, contemporary scholars hold two kinds of positions: some are stricter, in that they prohibit such stylist haircuts given the aspect of imitating the non-believers or evildoers; others are lenient in the matter given that these haircuts have become widespread and are not unique characteristics of the non-believers, although haircuts that entail shaving some part of the head and leaving the other unshaved is forbidden. Lastly, normal haircut like everyone else with little difference in length is permissible. 

Long Answer: Before answering the questions, the following ahadith are worth mentioning:

  • Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated from Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) forbade Qaza’. Naafi’ (one of the narrators of the hadith) said, explaining Qaza’: Shaving part of a boy’s head and leaving part.
  • Al-Nasa’i and Abu Dawood narrated from Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) saw a boy part of whose head had been shaved and part of it left. He told them not to do that and said: “Shave all of it or leave all of it.” (Al-Albani classed it as sahih in Sahih al-Nasa’i)
  • In Sunan Abi Dawood it is narrated that Anas ibn Malik (رضي الله عنه) saw a boy with his head shaved, leaving two braids or long locks, and he said, “Shave these or cut them, for this is the style of the Jews.”

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem was asked about that and he said:  “With regard to hair, the Prophet’s guidance is either to leave it all alone or to remove all of it. He did not shave part of it and leave part of it.  What some Muslims do, which is to shave part of the head and leave part, is the Qaza’ (tuft) which was forbidden by the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). This may take several forms:

  1. Shaving some parts of the head and leaving others
  2. Shaving the sides of the head and leaving the middle
  3. Shaving the middle and leaving the sides
  4. Shaving the front and leaving the back
  5. Shaving the back and leaving the front
  6. Shaving one side and leaving the other”

(Fataawa al-Mar’ah al-Muslimah)

It says in Sharh al-Iqnaa’: “Qaza’ includes shaving some places on the sides of the head, or shaving the middle and leaving the sides, as most of the Christians do, or shaving the sides and leaving the middle, as many of the foolish do, or shaving the front and leaving the back. Ahmad was asked about shaving the back of the head and he said: This is the action of the Magians, and whoever imitates a people is one of them. Thus it is known that it is not permissible to leave some parts of the hair longer than others.” (‘Abd-Allaah ibn Ghadyaan, ‘Abd al-Razzaaq ‘Afeefi, Ibraaheem ibn Muhammad Aal al-Shaykh) (Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah)

Shaykh Ibn Jibreen said: “There is no doubt that [shaving hair on the sides and back of the head completely, and leaving only the hair on the top of the head] …is wrong and is blind following of others, and it comes under the heading of Qaza’. It was narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) forbade Qaza’; he saw a boy who had part of his head shaved and he said: “Shave all of it or leave all of it.” Moreover, this style is not beautification for either men or women, rather it is changing the creation of Allah and spoiling people’s appearance, and it is an imitation of the West in which there is no benefit, in addition to the cost involved, as it involves a lot of effort and spending money on something that is harmful, as is well known. We advise men not to adopt this western style and we advise women to stick with that which their mothers and grandmothers did, of letting their hair grow and braiding it, as this is more beautiful…” (Fatawa al-Shaykh Ibn Jibreen)

Shaykh Muhammad al-Mukhtaar al-Shanqeeti (may Allah preserve him) said: “The one who cut the hair on the sides of his head and makes the hair thick in the middle of the head is included in this, because this is imitating immoral people. Some of the scholars (may Allah have mercy on them) referred to that…The Sunnah with regard to hair is to shave all of it or cut all of it, not to cut some of it and leave some of it, because this is an imitation of corrupt people” (Sharh Zaad al-Mustaqni’)

Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said in al-Majmoo’: “Qaza’, which means shaving part of the head, is makrooh because of the hadith of Ibn ‘Umar in al-Saheehayn…” The author of Mataalib Ooli al-Nuha (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Qaza’, which means shaving part of the head and leaving some, is makrooh.” Based on this, Qaza’ is makrooh, unless a person does it in imitation of the kuffaar or evildoers, in which case it is haram, not makrooh.

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said:  “Qaza’ is makrooh; [however,] …if it is done in imitation of the kuffaar it is haram, because imitating the kuffaar is haram. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” (Al-Sharh al-Mumti’)

(The above reply is based on various answers by Islamqa.info on the topic)

Imam al-Nawawi (Allah have mercy on him) states in his commentary of Sahih Muslim: “Qaza’ means to shave some part of the head and leave the other. Others have said, to shave different parts from the head, although the first opinion is correct…The scholars (ulama) have unanimously agreed that it is disliked to shave parts of the head except if it is for a medical reason, and this is somewhat disliked (karaha tanzihiyya)….The scholars have said: The wisdom behind it being disliked is because it is distorting the fair nature on which one is created. Others said that this is the appearance of Shaytan, and it was said that, this is the fashion of the Jews.” (Sharh Muslim li al-Nawawi. Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari) (Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam, Darul Iftaa)

Any hairstyle for men and women is allowed, as long as certain criteria are observed:

  1. Not to imitate the other gender, meaning, men hairstyle should not be a women style one, and vice versa.
  2. Not to shave or even trim a part of the head and leave the other part. The whole hair is to be trimmed.
  3. Not to imitate the vicious, wicked, or immoral people in their hairstyle. So, Mohawk style for both men and women is prohibited as it is a sign of viciousness and wickedness, especially in the western society.

(Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah, Member of the Fatwa Committee of Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America)

Many contemporary scholars (especially in the Indo/Pak) have prohibited [adopting hair styles that entail shaving part of the head and leaving the rest,] given that they result in unlawful imitation. Others, however, are somewhat lenient with the issue. If one was to really look at the various haircuts prevalent today, it would be evident that the styles normally appear and come into the market due to some celebrity, icon, pop star, actor, sports player adopting that hair style… This shows that the different hair styles prevalent are generally adopted with the intention of imitating someone and wanting to be like him. As such, it would be impermissible to adopt them. However, if one does not intend to imitate them and the style is not unique with them, then it will not be totally unlawful, although disliked.

As far as the other hair styles, where some hair is cut short and the other remains long is concerned, many contemporary scholars have included them also in the above category in that it will not be permissible. This, however, will be based (merely) on the prohibition of imitating the Kuffar, and not the prohibition of Qaz’a mentioned in the hadith, for that exclusively relates to the situation where some part of the head is shaved and the other left unshaven. Styles such as short back & sides, step (without shaving part of the head), curtains, etc. will be impermissible if practiced with the intention of imitating the Kuffar (which is generally the case).

In conclusion, contemporary scholars hold two kinds of positions in this issue. Some are stricter, in that they prohibit such haircuts given the aspect of imitating the Kuffar. Others are lenient in the matter given that these haircuts have become widespread and are not unique characteristics of the Kuffar, although haircuts that entail shaving some part of the head and leaving the other unshaved will be disliked, for that is clearly mentioned in the hadith. (Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam, Darul Iftaa)

According to Shaykh Assim Al-Hakeem, in Islam Prophet (saw) forbade hair cut like Jews and Christians where they shave the sides and keep the line of hair in between… Normal haircut like everyone else with little difference in length is permissible in Sha Allah.

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.

Wassalaam