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The prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

“The Jews and the Christians do not dye (their hair) so do the opposite to them” as recorded by Al-Bukhaari, Muslim, Ahmad, Abu Daawood and An-Nasaa’i.

Yet no scholar ever stated that dying hair was obligatory.

Why was it so?

Any command from prophet (saw) is obligatory unless evidences suggest otherwise. So were there any evidence as to why dying hair is not obligatory, can you please quote them?

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  • 1
    "Yet no scholar ever stated that dying hair was obligatory" this is not 100% true. However even many prominent sahabah didn't do it and therefore it doesn't seem to be regarded as obligatory by default.
    – Medi1Saif
    Apr 9, 2021 at 18:04

3 Answers 3

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Assalam o allaikum.

Actually, there are these two hadiths that contradict each other;

Dawud :: Book 34 : Hadith 4210. Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas'ud:

The Prophet of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) disliked ten things: Yellow coloring, meaning khaluq, dyeing grey hair, trailing the lower garment, wearing a gold signet-ring, a woman decking herself before people who are not within the prohibited degrees, throwing dice, using spells except with the Mu'awwidhatan, wearing amulets, withdrawing the penis before the semen is discharged, in the case of a woman who is wife or not a wife, and having intercourse with a woman who is suckling a child; but he did not declare them to be prohibited.

The above one says the Prophet (SAWW) did not like dyeing hair. But according to the below one, this tells us to dye our hair.

Bukhari :: Book 7 :: Volume 72 :: Hadith 786. Narrated Abu Huraira :

The Prophet said, "Jews and Christians do not dye their hair so you should do the opposite of what they do".

By reading these you Hadiths, we may conclude there might be some other context on which the Prophet (SAWW) would be saying this. Rest ALLAH knows the best.

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The ahadith:

إن اليهود والنصارى لا يصبغون فخالفوهم

Jews and Christians do not dye their hair so you should do the opposite of what they do.

Bukhari

غيروا الشيب ولا تشبهوا باليهود

Change gray hair and do not imitate the Jews.

Nasai

Can be interpreted to mean either one of the following:

  • It is obligatory to dye hair
  • It is recommended to dye hair
  • It is permissible to dye hair

That is because depending on the context and other evidence, a grammatical command may also be used when the actual intended meaning is to convey a recommendation or a permission. For example the Quran says وإذا حللتم فاصطادوا (But when you come out of ihram then hunt) and the Prophet (ﷺ) said تسحروا (Eat Suhur). The first is a permission and the second one is a recommendation - it is virtually agreed upon that both are not obligatory despite the wording.

Some of the scholars actually have adopted the first position, that it is obligatory to dye hair, or that it is obligatory to dye hair at least once in a lifetime if the hair have turned white. This is one of the sayings attributed to Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal.

However most have adopted the latter two interpretations, that it is recommended or permissible. They have deduced this from the behavior of the Sahaba as they better understood what the Prophet ﷺ had meant. There were two groups among the Sahaba, one dyed their hair and the other did not. Neither group condemned the other for their action. This implies that they understood it to be recommend/permissible and not obligatory. If they had considered it obligatory then it was necessary for them to reprimand those who did not dye hair under الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر ('Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil').

Similarly, the Prophet was often seen in a state where he had not dyed his hair, which is also evidence that it is not obligatory:

لم يختضب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إنما كان البياض في عنفقته وفي الصدغين وفي الرأس نبذ

Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) did not dye his hair; and there was some whiteness in his hair at his chin, on his temples and very little on his head.

Muslim

رأيت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أبيض قد شاب

I saw the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) with a white complexion and some white hair.

Muslim


Ref:

الأمر والنهي في ذلك ليس للوجوب بالإجماع ولهذا لم ينكر بعضهم على بعض خلافه

Sharah Nawawi

قد اختلف في الخضب وتركه فخضب أبو بكر وعمر وغيرهما كما تقدم وترك الخضاب علي وأبي بن كعب وسلمة بن الأكوع وأنس وجماعة

Fath al-Bari

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dyeing hair or not dyeing, is a choice that you can make for your own. It is not mandatory.

Islam's goal is to make life easier for people, not harder.

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  • IMO this is not a satisfactory answer as it just repeats what the OP knows does not give the legal reasoning behind it. And if this is your reasoning then it is flawed: Islam imposes several other duties which make life harder, for example praying 5 times a day, fasting for a whole month, ghusl after sex and menses, cutting nails and pubic hair etc.
    – UmH
    Jan 30, 2023 at 13:00

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