I want to ask a question, is the hair of a woman that has been cut still considered as aurah?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Before we answer this issue, we feel that it is imperative for us to first explain the jurists’ opinion regarding women that shorten or cut their hair first.
The Ruling of Women Cutting Their Hair
Abu Salamah bin Abd al-Rahman RA narrated:
وَكَانَ أَزْوَاجُ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَأْخُذْنَ مِنْ رُءُوسِهِنَّ 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).
Sahih Muslim (320)
Imam al-Nawawi Rahimahullah comments on this hadith stating: “Al-wafrah is hair that is more than Al-Lammah. While Al-Lammah is hair which length reaches the shoulders. This is the opinion of Al-Asm’aie. While another opinion state that Al-Wafrah is hair that is less than Al-Lammah, which is hair that reaches the ears.”
Imam al-Nawawi further adds: “This hadith is an evidence of the permissibility of women to cut their hair.” See Al-Minhaj Syarah Sahih Muslim, Al-Nawawi (4/7).
The following we include the dhawabit (criteria) stated by scholars, that made it impermissible for a woman to cut her hair:
- With the intention of tabarruj (showcase) the hair to ajnabi men
- If she cuts her hair with the intention of tasyabbuh (imitating) disbelieving or fasiq women
- When her haircut resembles the haircut for men
- If she doesn’t have the permission of her husband
Thus, if it is not for the purpose or situation stated above, it is permissible for a woman to cut her hair, for the original ruling for it is permissible.
Is the hair of woman that have been cut still considered as aurah?
The early fuqaha’ have a differing opinion regarding this issue, and they are divided into two main opinions:
First Opinion: Woman’s hair that has been cut is still considered as aurah
In mazhab Imam al-Syafie, their great scholars hold the opinion of that a woman’s hair that has been cut is until considered as aurah after it has been separated from the woman and is prohibited for ajnabi men to look at it.
Imam Abu Bakr al-Dimyathi Rahimahullah said: “Whatever that is prohibited to be seen from a man’s or a woman’s body is still prohibited to be seen after it has been separated from the body. This includes hair for woman and pubic hair for a man. Thus, it is obligated to be hidden.” See I’anah Al-Thalibin, Al-Dimyathi (3/303).
Syeikh Dr Wahbah al-Zuhaili Rahimahullah said: “Everything that is prohibited to be seen from body parts, is prohibited to be seen even after it has separated from the body. Even after death. This includes pubic hair (aurah), even if it is a man’s, woman’s hair, and toenails, but hand nails are excluded according to Hanafi scholars, while according to mazhab Syafie, hand nails are also included, thus it is sunnah to be hidden, so that it will not be seen by anyone. There is an exception for hairs that naturally falls in bathrooms or combed for woman’s hair or man’s shaved pubic hair.” Refer Al-Fiqh Al-Islami Wa Adillatuh, Dr Wahbah Al-Zuhaili (3/568).
Second Opinion: Woman’s hair that has been cut is not considered as aurah anymore
This is the opinion of Hanbali scholars. Al Syeikh Abdul Qadir bin Umar Al-Syaibani Rahimahullah said: “A man is prohibited to look at a woman, even if it’s her hair extensions. Meanwhile, for woman’s hair that has been cut, it is permissible for him to look or touch it. The reason is, even if it was originally considered as aurah, the prohibition is no longer applicable since it has been separated from her.” Refer Nail Al-Maarib, Abdul Qadir Al-Syaibani (2/138).
Imam al-Nawawi states, this is also a dhaif opinion in mazhab as-Syafie.
Source of the Issue
The issue of a woman’s hair that has been cut is discussed by early Islamic scholars under the discussion of body parts that are separated from the human body, whether it is a man or a woman.
Scholars have agreed that if a man look at any parts of a woman that have been separated from her with lust is prohibited. Whether the part is separated from her while she was alive or after she has died.
The same applies if a man looks at woman’s body part that is separated from her without lust, it is permissible if the part is permissible for him to look at before it is separated from her.
However, scholars have differing opinions regarding the ruling for a man looking at parts of a woman that have been separated from her without lust, but it was prohibited for him to look at it before it was separated from her. Their opinions are divided as follows:
First: It is prohibited for a man to look at a woman’s body part that has been separated from her if the part is prohibited for him before it was separated from her. There is also no difference in ruling whatsoever if she is alive or after she dies. The scholars that hold this opinion states: Every part that is prohibited before it was separated is the same as after it was separated. Thus, it is prohibited for a man to look at the hand, arm, hair, calf of ajnabi woman that is separated from her body, when she was alive or after her death. This is the opinion of Hanafi scholars, and this is the strongest and sound (sahih) opinion in their mazhab. This is also the strongest opinion in mazhab Imam al-Syafie. Refer Al-Radd Al Mukhtar 'Ala Al-Durr Al-Muhtar, Ibn Abidin (9/534), Mughni Al-Muhtaj, Al-Syarbini (3/130). Raudhah Al-Thalibin, Al-Nawawi (7/26).
Imam al-Nawawi states: “Whatever that is prohibited to be seen when someone is alive, such as penis, an arm of a woman, her hair, pubic hair of man, and others, it is prohibited to be seen even after it is separated from the body. This is the strongest opinion, it is prohibited to look at the toenails of a woman, but not for her hand nails (not prohibited after it is separated).”
Hence, for anyone that shave their pubic hairs, he must hide them, so that it will not be seen by anyone. Refer Raudhah Al-Thalibin, Al-Nawawi (7/26-27).
Second: It is permissible for a man to look at a woman’s body part that is separated from her while she is still alive. The reason is, the body part has become ajnabi to its body. However, it is prohibited to be seen if it is separated after her death. This is the opinion of Malikiyyah scholars. Refer Bulghah Al-Saalik Li Aqrab Al-Masaalik, Ahmad Al-Sowi (1/194).
Third: It is permissible for a man to look at a woman’s body part that is separated from her, for the prohibition is no longer applicable due to the separation. This is the opinion of Syafieyyah scholars that contradicts the strongest opinion in mazhab al-Syafie and Hanabilah scholars. Whereas, Imam al-Juwaini from mazhab al-Syafie states: “It the part separated from a woman can no longer be differentiated from the parts of a man, such as hair, nails, and skin, then it is not prohibited to look at it. If it can be differentiated, then it is prohibited.” Imam al-NAwawi ruled this opinion as weak, for there are no effects whether it could be differentiated or not when we already know that it is prohibited to look at it. Refer Raudhah Al-Thalibin, Al-Nawawi (7/26).
Procedure to Manage Body Part that is Separated from Body
The jurists state that any part that is separated from a living human should be buried and it is not necessary to be washed or prayed, even if it is just hair and nails. Refer Hasyiah Ibn Aabidin (5/260), Hasyiah Al-Qalyubi (1/338), Nihaayah Al-Muhtaj (1/341).
After analysing scholars’ opinions, we are inclined towards the opinion of mazhab Hanbali that states the prohibition of looking at the aurah of a woman is no longer applicable when it has been separated from her. The reason is, it has been separated from her and it will be difficult to identify whether it is the hair of a man or a woman. It could also be hair from a little girl that hasn’t reached puberty. This is stated in a fatwa regarding hairs that are excluded from being prohibited by Syeikh Dr Wahbah al-Zuhaili, as stated above.
We would also like to highlight, the act of a woman purposely cutting her own hair to be shown to ajnabi men is prohibited (haram), as stated in mazhab Imam al-Syafie.