#493: Woman’s Hair That’s Cut

Question:

Assalamualaikum w.b.t. What is the ruling for woman’s hair that has been cut? Is the cut hair still considered a part of her awrah? Hope for an explanation.

 

Answer:

Waalaikumussalam w.b.t.

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those who follow his footsteps until the Last Day.

We begin with a hadith from Abu Salamah bin ‘Abd al-Rahman RA, where he said:

وَكَانَ أَزْوَاجُ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَأْخُذْنَ مِنْ رؤوسهن حَتَّى تَكُونَ كَالْوَفْرَةِ

“The wives of the Apostle (ﷺ) collected hair on their heads and these lopped up to ears (and did not go beyond that).” [1]

Imam Nawawi when commenting on this hadith said that it is permissible to cut or trim a woman’s hair however, it must not go beyond her ears. [2]

He further said: Al-wafrah is hair longer or more than Al-Lammah. While Al-Lammah is moderate long hair up to one’s shoulders. This is the opinion stated by Al-Asm’aie. Whereas in another opinion, Al-Wafrah is less than Al-Lammah, that is hair that doesn’t go beyond both ears. While Abu Hatim said Al-Wafrah is hair at the ears. [3]

The nature of a woman is to let her hair grow and it is only permissible for her to cut it not too short so that she will look like a man, that is not beyond her ears.

Is the cut hair of a woman still considered her awrah?

In this issue, it is undeniable that previous jurists don’t agree on an opinion on this matter. Rather their opinions are divided into two main opinions.

First opinion: The cut hair of a woman is awrah

In madhhab Imam al-Syafie, the great scholars of the madhhab mostly agreed that the hair of a woman that is cut or separated from her body is still considered awrah and is prohibited from being seen by any ajnabi man. This can be seen from the statements made by scholars of this madhhab.

Imam Abu Bakr al-Dimyathi Rahimahullah said: Anything that is prohibited to be seen by a man or woman when it is a part of one’s body is also haram when it is separated from one’s body. Examples of it are a woman’s hair or the pubic hair of a man. Hence, it is obligatory to cover them. [4]

Syeikh Dr Wahbah al-Zuhaili said: Everything that is haram to be seen when it is connected to one’s body, is also prohibited when it is separated from the body. Even after death. Some examples are the pubic hair (private parts) of a man, the hair of a woman, including her toenails and it doesn’t include her hand nails according to the scholars of madhhab Hanafi, whilst according to al-Syafieyyah scholars, even her hand nails are included, then it is sunnah to cover and hide them so that none can see them. And there are some exceptions for hair that naturally falls in the bathroom when a woman combs her hair or a man shaved his pubic area. [5]

Second opinion: Cut hair of a woman that is separated from her is no longer awrah

This is the opinion stated by scholars of madhhab Hanbali. Al-Syeikh Abdul Qadir bin Umar Al-Syaibani Rahimahullah said: Hence, no man can see or look at even a little of her (a woman) even if it is her hair that is connected to her. As for hair that is separated or cut an ajnabi her, then it is permissible for a man to touch and look at it. Although it was her awrah, the prohibition is abrogated when it is separated from her body. [6]

This is also one of a dhaif (weak) opinions in madhhab al-Syafie. This is as stated by Imam al-Nawawi.

The source of the issue discussion

The issue of woman’s hair that has been cut, previous scholars discussed it in the chapter on the ruling of separated or cut body parts from man or woman. Included in this discussion is the small issue regarding the ruling of the cut woman’s hair from her body.

Scholars didn’t differ in their opinion that if a man looks at any separated (cut) part of a woman with desires, it is prohibited. Regardless of whether the body part is separated when she is alive or after her death.

Likewise, they agreed that it is permissible for a man to look without any desire at any body parts that are separated/cut from a woman if the body part is permissible for him to look at before it is separated from her body.

Whereas, scholars have differing opinions on the ruling of a man to look at a cut or separated body part of a woman without desires where it is prohibited for him to look at before it is cut into several opinions as the following:

First: It is impermissible for a man to look at the separated body part of a woman if the body part is a part of the impermissible body part for him to see before it is separated from her body. There is no difference whether when she is alive and after her death. The maxim implemented by scholars who hold onto this opinion is: Every body part that is prohibited to be seen before it is cut is also impermissible to be seen after it is cut or separated. Hence, it is impermissible for a man to look at the hands or arms of a woman, her hair, or her thigh if they are cut from the body of the woman regardless of whether when the woman is alive or dead. This opinion is held by Hanafi scholars and they state that this is the most sahih (asah) for them. This is also the most sahih opinion in madhhab Imam al-Syafie. [7]

Imam al-Nawawi said: Whatever is impermissible to be seen when it is still a part of the body such as the penis, arm of a woman, her hair, man’s pubic hair and others are also prohibited to be seen after they are separated from the body. The same is stated in the most sahih opinion, it is prohibited to look at the toenails of a woman after it is cut from the body, however, it is not prohibited for her hand nails (not prohibited to be seen after they are cut).

Thus, for anyone trimming their pubic hair, they should hide or throw or put it away in a way that no one can see it. [8]

Second: It is permissible for a man to look at the body parts of a woman that is separated from her when she is still alive. The reason is the body part has become ajnabi (separated) from the matter (body of the woman). While it is impermissible to look at it if it is cut or separated after her death. This is the opinion of Malikiyyah scholars.[9]

Third: It is permissible for a man to look at the body part that is separated from a woman because the prohibition is abrogated due to it being cut or separated from her body. This is the opinion of al-Syafieyyah scholars the opposite of the asah opinion and the al-Hanabilah. Whereas, Imam al- Juwaini from al-Syafieyyah said: If it cannot be differentiated from the cut body part whether it is a woman’s or man’s, from its physical attribute, for instance, nails, hair and skin, then it is not prohibited to look at them. If it can be differentiated, then it is prohibited. Al-Nawawi stated this opinion is dhaif because it wouldn’t have any effect on whether or not it can be differentiated when we already know that it is a prohibited body part to look at. [10]

Methodology of managing a separated body part from a person

In the following, we share several methodologies jurists have detailed related to the way to manage separated body parts of a person.

Jurists stated that the separated body parts should be buried without washing or praying upon, even if it is just one’s nails and hair. [11]

Conclusion

After analyzing several of the above-presented opinions, we are inclined toward one of the opinions from madhhab Hanbali which states that the prohibition to look at the separated body part of a woman is abrogated. The reason is there is difficult to differentiate the hair of a man or a woman or that it is also possible that the hair is not from an adult man or woman. It is possible that the hair is the hair of a female child who hasn’t reached puberty. This is the same with the fatwa issued by Syeikh Dr Wahbah Al-Zuhaili regarding the hairs that are exempted from being prohibited as we have previously stated.

We’d also like to state that the act of cutting one’s own hair and purposely showing it to an ajnabi man is impermissible and prohibited as stated in madhhab al-Imam al-Syafie.

Wallahu a’lam.

[1] Narrated by Muslim (320)

[2] See Syarh al-Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim, 4/4

[3] See Syarh al-Nawawi ‘ala Sahih Muslim, 4/7

[4] See I’anah al-Thalibin, 3/303

[5] See al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuh, 3/568

[6] See Nail al-Maarib, by Abdul Qadir al-Syaibani, 2/138

[7] See al-Radd al-Mukhtar ‘ala Al-Durr al-Muhtar by Ibn Abidin, 9/534; Mughni al-Muhtaj, 3/130 and Raudhah al-Thalibin, 7/26

[8] See Raudhah al-Thalibin, 7/26-27

[9] See Bulghah al-Saalik li Aqrab al-Masaalik, by Ahmad al-Sowi, 1/194

[10] See Raudhah al-Thalibin, 7/26

[11] See Hasyiah Ibn ‘Abidin, 5/260; Hasyiah al-Qalyubi, 1/338; Nihayah al-Muhtaj, 1/341

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