Salam. If someone has a dreadlock hairstyle like Bob Marley, is his obligatory ghusl (obligatory bath) valid?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
The Background of Dreadlock Hairstyle
Dreadlock, locs or dreads according to Kamus Indonesia, is a hairstyle that was made famous by the Rastafarians from Jamaica. The structure and fashion of this hairstyle varies, but generally it can be defined as rope-like strands of hair. There are various methods to achieve this dreadlock hairstyle. There are some people that could get this hairstyle naturally while others use various techniques of hairstyling. According to our quick search, there are methods that inhibits water from washing the hair while others can be washed freely and even shampooed. 
Manners for Growing Hair
Islam prioritizes a clean and neat image. In one narration, Ata’ bin Yasar RA informs Zaid bin Aslam:
كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي الْمَسْجِدِ فَدَخَلَ رَجُلٌ ثَائِرَ الرَّأْسِ وَاللِّحْيَةِ فَأَشَارَ إِلَيْهِ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم بِيَدِهِ أَنِ اخْرُجْ كَأَنَّهُ يَعْنِي إِصْلاَحَ شَعَرِ رَأْسِهِ وَلِحْيَتِهِ فَفَعَلَ الرَّجُلُ ثُمَّ رَجَعَ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: " أَلَيْسَ هَذَا خَيْرًا مِنْ أَنْ يَأْتِيَ أَحَدُكُمْ ثَائِرَ الرَّأْسِ كَأَنَّهُ شَيْطَانٌ
The Prophet PBUH was in the mosque when a man came in with dishevelled hair and beard. The Prophet PBUH motioned with his hand that he should be sent out to groom his hair and beard. The man did so and then returned. The Prophet PBUH said, "Isn't this better than that one of you should come with his head dishevelled, as if he were a shaytan?"
Imam al-Baji al-Maliki (w.474H) Rahimahullah explains the hadith: “This shows that going out of the mosque to groom the hair is sanctioned (by Syara’). Grooming hair inside of mosque is prohibited for the mosque will be littered with anything that falls from the hair. It may disturb other people inside the mosque or causes harm to them from the lice that may be from someone who does not take care of his hair hygiene by combing or washing it. The ruling for beards is the same as hair but is more important for hair because it can be covered while beards are always visible.” Refer al-Muntaqa Syarh al-Muwatta’ (7/269)
Imam al-Suyuti (w.911H) Rahimahullah said: “Tha’ir al-ra’s means dishevelled hair, which means his hair stood upright.” Refer al-Dibaj `ala Sahih Muslim (1/12)
In al-Taqrirat al-Sadidah (pg. 78), the author said that among the things considered as sunnah fitrah is: “al-iddihan (oiling) of the body, and its nature is ghibban, which means from time to time, and the sunnah is stronger when the skin is dry due to hot weather.”
This statement encourages us to keep a good and clean image. Nowadays, oils or conditioners can be used as our hair, beard and skin care routine as recommended by syarak.
Muslims are also prohibited from having a bad image, as it will reflect on Islam itself, or from imitating the non-Muslims. This prohibition is in accordance to the hadith from the Prophet PBUH, where the Prophet PBUH prohibits Muslims from imitating non-Muslims. From Abdullah bin Umar R.Anhuma, the Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ تَشَبَّهَ بِقَوْمٍ فَهُوَ مِنْهُمْ
“He who copies any people is one of them.”
Sunan Abu Daud (4031)
Syeikh al-Azhim al-Abadi (w.1392H) Rahimahullah said in `Aun al-Ma`bud (11/51): “al-Munawi and al-‘Aqami said: Grooming one’s physical appearance like them, acts the way they act, or clothes the way they clothe themselves are among copying them. Intaha. Al-Qari’ said: Whoever copies the non-Muslims, such as in clothing, and others, or copying the people who are fasiq, or evil, or the people of tasawwuf or the pious and the obedient, (thus he is among them), which means he receives the same sins or rewards. Al-‘Aqami said: Whoever copies the pious will be honoured as the pious are honoured, whoever copies the people who are fasiq, he will not be honoured. And whoever copies the good deed of the righteous people, he will be honoured even if he is not as righteous as the person he copies.”
Imam al-San’ani (w.1182H) Rahimahullah said, this hadith states that whoever copies the people who are fasiq, or disbelievers, specifically in their clothing, rides or actions, then he is among them. See Subul al-Salam (2/647).
It’s clear that copying or imitating the non-Muslims is restricted in Islam. However, the restriction sometimes is considered as prohibition and sometimes is undesirable (makruh). Imam Ibn Salah (w.643H) Rahimahullah said: “And whoever copies a group of people then he is among them. The copying of disbelievers sometimes is makruh, and sometimes prohibited. This depends on the copying act, whether it is copied a lot or a little. Wallahua’lam”
Examples of copying that is prohibited is copying the belief and worship of the Christians or the Jews. Allah SWT states in the Quran:
وَلَن تَرْضَىٰ عَنكَ الْيَهُودُ وَلَا النَّصَارَىٰ حَتَّىٰ تَتَّبِعَ مِلَّتَهُمْ قُلْ إِنَّ هُدَى اللَّـهِ هُوَ الْهُدَىٰ وَلَئِنِ اتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَاءَهُم بَعْدَ الَّذِي جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ مَا لَكَ مِنَ اللَّـهِ مِن وَلِيٍّ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ
“And never will the Jews or the Christians approve of you until you follow their religion. Say, "Indeed, the guidance of Allah is the [only] guidance." If you were to follow their desires after what has come to you of knowledge, you would have against Allah no protector or helper.”
Surah al-Baqarah (120)
Syeikh al-Saidi said: “Allah SWT told His Messenger PBUH that the Jews and Christians will never approve of him until he follows their religion, for they invite to their religion thinking that their religion is guidance.” Refer Tafsir al-Karim (pg. 64).
The same applies to copying the actions and clothing of musicians that are synonymous with sins such as the alcoholic singers. Refer Asna’ al-Matalib (4/344) by Syeikh al-Islam Zakariyya al-Ansari (w.926H) Rahimahullah. The ruling is, it is prohibited.
However, if the copying is just a little, then it is ruled as undesirable. Some examples are:
- Doing qaza’ (cutting or shaving a part of the hair and leaving the rest). Refer al-Minhaj Syarh Muslim (10/101).
- Smearing blood on the shaven head of a baby, following the customs done by the Jahiliyyah. Refer al-Majmu` Syarh al-Muhazzab(8/427).
- Sole fasting on a Friday for the Christians and Jews specifies worship on Thursdays and Fridays. Refer al-Iqna`(1/245).
The exception of this prohibition is when the clothing does not symbolize the people who are fasiq or disbelievers anymore. Consequently, the symbol can be permissible due to the contextual changing. Imam al-Bujairimi (w.1221H) Rahimahullah said in Tuhfah al-Habib (4/366), answering about an issue regarding the payment of kaffarah by giving tailasan / tiyalisah cloth: “Due to the fact that wearing the cloth of al-tiyalisah is no longer a symbol for them (the Jews and Christians), furthermore, in our time, it has become a general practise that is permitted. This has been said by Ibn Abd al-Salam in bid’ah-bid’ah that are permitted. Ibn Hajar said: If it has been a symbol for a group of people (which are among the obedient such as ulama), then leaving the practice may affect their stature.”
History has recorded that the wearing of tiyalisah, or cloth to cover the head is a representation for the Jews and the Christians. Hence, the original ruling is undesirable, as stated by Syeikh al-Samhudi al-Syafie. However, most of them have left the practise of wearing it as a symbol of their religion, and it has changed into a general clothing, and in turn changed into a clothing of those who can teach and issue fatwa and are not considered as a prohibition of copying other people. An example from our time would be the wearing of shirts, coats and ties, they are not considered as religious copying or a type of fasiq. The ruling for wearing them is permissible.
The Ruling of Water Permeability of Dreadlock Hairstyle
From Islamic perspective, someone who has dreadlock hairstyle is obligated to ensure that water reaches the hair and the scalp when performing obligatory bath. If he fails to do so, the obligatory bath is invalid, and so is the prayers performed after the bath, for he is still in a state of impurity (hadas).
We include a reference from al-Fiqh al-Manhaji (1/89), regarding the second prerequisite of obligatory bath, which is distributing the water on the body evenly:
“Second: Washing of all body parts, skin and hair and distributing water evenly on hair and scalp.
This is in accordance with a hadith from Jabir RA, where he said:
وَقَدْ سُئِلَ عَنِ الغَسْلِ فَقُلْتُ كَانَ النَّبِىُّ صلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَأْخُذُ ثَلاَثَةَ أَكُفٍّ وَيُفِيضُهَا عَلَى رَأْسِهِ، ثُمَّ يُفِيضُ عَلَى سَائِرِ جَسَدِهِ
“When asked about the way to perform the bath, he answered, the Prophet PBUH take three handfuls of water and pour it over his head. Then, he pours water over himself.”
Sahih al-Bukhari (253)
Another hadith from Ummu Salamah R.Anha, when she asked the Prophet PBUH on how to perform the bath. He said:
إِنَّمَا يَكْفِيكِ أَنْ تَحْثِى عَلَى رَأْسِكِ ثَلاَثَ حَثَيَاتٍ ثُمَّ تُفِيضِينَ عَلَيْكِ الْمَاءَ فَتَطْهُرِينَ
“It is enough for you to throw three handfuls of water on your head and then pour water over yourself, and you shall be purified.”
Sahih Muslim (330)
The next hadith is from Ali RA, when he heard the Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ تَرَكَ مَوْضِعَ شَعْرَةٍ مِنْ جَنَابَةٍ لَمْ يَغْسِلْهَا فُعِلَ بِهِ كَذَا وَكَذَا مِنَ النَّارِ. قَالَ عَلِىٌّ فَمِنْ ثَمَّ عَادَيْتُ شَعْرِي
"Whoever leaves an area the size of a hair on his body and does not cleanse it from sexual impurity, such and such will be done to him in the Fire." 'Ali said: "Because of that I am hostile towards my hair," and he used to shave his head.”
Sunan Abu Daud (249) and others
Regarding the hadith by Umm Salamah stated above, Imam al-Syirazi wrote in al-Muhazzab: “If a woman has braids in her hair and water can reach it, then it is not obligatory for her to undo it. This is according to the hadith from Ummu Salamah R.Anha when she asked the Prophet: Messenger of Allah, I am a woman who has closely plaited hair on my head; should I undo it for taking a bath, because of sexual intercourse? He (the Holy Prophet) said: No, it is enough for you to throw three handfuls of water on your head and then pour water over yourself, and you shall be purified.” If water could not reach the hair and the scalp, then the braid must be undone, for water permeability to the hair and scalp is obligatory.
Imam al-Nawawi (w.676HHHH) Rahimahullah said that this is what has been agreed by scholars from mazhab Syafie and the majority of the scholars. Refer al-Majmu` Syarh al-Muhazzab (2/186-187).
Hence, according to these statements, merely having dreadlock hairstyle is not a reason for the invalidity of the obligatory bath. Obligatory bath is only invalid when water is not distributed evenly to hair and scalp.
Based on the above statements, we conclude the following:
- Dreadlock hairstyle is prohibited if is prevents water from being evenly distributed to the hair and scalp.
- It is prohibited to lengthen the hair using artificial dreadlock hair, may it be from other people’s hair or soft synthetic hair according to the general prohibition of a hadith from Ibn Umar Anhuma:
لَعَنَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم الْوَاصِلَةَ وَالْمُسْتَوْصِلَةَ، وَالْوَاشِمَةَ وَالْمُسْتَوْشِمَةَ
“The Prophet PBUH has cursed the lady who lengthens her hair artificially and the one who gets her hair lengthened,”
Sahih al-Bukhari (5940)
- Dreadlock is also prohibited if by styling one’s hair with dreadlock hairstyle, it would give a perception to other people that he is a Rastafarian follower, which is a belief that contradicts the belief in Islam, or an impression that he is involves with drugs, alcohol and music that is not in line with Islamic teachings.
- Dreadlock is undesirable if it falls under imitating a practise by a group of people, provided that the copying is not too obvious, and water could be distributed evenly to hair and scalp.
- Dreadlock hairstyle is permitted, even if the physical characteristics of the hair resembles dreadlock hairstyle, but it is his natural hair form, where he inherits it genetically due to his race, or the society he lives in.
May this explanation give benefits to us all in performing the obligation of prayer as has been taught to us by the Prophet PBUH. Amin.