I have been asked this question profusely over the past couple of years, and so I have written these few points to provide some clarity to the confusion caused by laymen who have taken it upon themselves to circulate uncontextualised/mistranslated hadith, and anonymous rudimentary responses (fatwas). It is offensive to God and such responses consistently demonstrate an absence of competency in the law. Even beyond this issue, I advise believers to take their faith consistently from those they trust and pay no attention to what floats about on the internet, irrespective of whether a verse or hadith is quoted, or an ancient scholar cited. If it was that easy, there would be no need for anyone to actually study.

The issue:

Fade haircuts are not prohibited in the shariah and simply reflect a fashion choice. They are neither associated with anything particularly offensive, nor is the hadith on qaz’ relevant to this issue. And even if it was, this one-ayah-hadith approach to deriving ahkam is vulgar and a desecration of the shariah.


1. Fade haircuts are not qaz’. Ibn Umar relates that the Prophet forbade qaz’ (al-Bukhari and Muslim). Nafi’ was asked: What is qaz’? He replied: to shave a part of a child’s head and leave a part. The term qaz’ refers to shaving patches off the head; it is either to shave an entire part and leave an entire part, or shave off random bits of hair from a full head of hair. Thus we find Imam Ahmad in his Musnad narrating from Ibn Umar that the Prophet saw a child who had some of his hair shaved off and some left, so he said: “Either shave it all, or leave it all.” All of the ahadith on this issue reflect the practice of completely shaving a patch of a child’s head, and leaving a patch of growth. Inherently, the disapproving sentiment was taken by most early and later scholars as social etiquette and put the Prophet’s directives down to the extremely strange (and in the context of the Prophet’s time, absurd) nature of the haircut and the idea of inflicting such a choice on a child; a patchwork of skin and hair on his head – even now such a style would invite mockery. The ordered nature of a fade, even a skin fade, does not resemble this. Neither does society recoil at the sight of faded haircuts, nor is it associated with foolery. Those who insist on its prohibition do not cite these concerns, but tend to look at it as a purely ritualistic matter, or as outlined in the next point.

2. It has little to do with the theological notion of ‘tashabbuh’ or ‘resembling’ (the disbelievers). There is much to clarify on this wider topic, but to keep it very simple: some scholars abroad look to certain faded haircuts, incorrectly define them as qaz’, and then speak of their prohibition because they resemble the stylistic choices of the disbelievers. The issue they therefore have is actually ‘resemblance’. The problem with western Muslims adopting their view is that the type of ‘tashabbuh’ that is prohibited in the shariah is not related to stylistic fashion choices that Britons (or westerners) all culturally share despite differences in faith. To clarify, the Prophet wore the clothing of Quraish and dressed just as Abu Lahab and Abu Jahl did. In fact, those in Britain who include stylistic fashion choices in prohibited ‘tashabbuh’ should also abandon the trainers, cardigans, jeans and jackets they wear, even if its with a thobe. Additionally, those foreign scholars who prohibit the “haircuts of the disbelievers” cannot possibly mean any haircut a disbeliever has because many disbelievers have exactly the same haircuts as Muslims. So which haircuts exactly? They simply pick on those THEY find alien, usually cultures or emerging trends they’re not used to. These scholars also tend to live in foreign states and within homogenous and insular cultures, and erroneously identifying their culture as Islam and the other as kufr they make very simplistic and binary statements about cultural products or acts that have little to do with theology.

3. Is qaz’ even haram? Even when it comes to the act of random bits of shaving, however strange, the vast majority of scholars over a millennium, across the four schools of sunni law, have not held qaz’ to be forbidden. In fact, in his commentary on Sahih Muslim, al-Nawawi infers a juristic consensus saying that the most that has been said is that it is better not to do so (makruh) i.e. that one does not sin by doing so, but might be rewarded for abstaining. This then shows how some groups of scholars are clearly happy to ignore ijma or scholarly majoritarianism when it suits them.

So how is it that jurists haven’t held it to be prohibited despite the clear words of prohibition in the hadith of Ibn Umar? This question speaks to assumptions made by the laity on methods of interpretation, assuming that a grammatical negation (nah’y) automatically qualifies as a prohibition (tahrim). This is not the case, and many usulis hold, as demonstrated with this mas’alah, that in matters of etiquettes and social behaviour, a grammatical negation operates as a disincentive (karahah) unless there are clear prohibiting variables, such as hell being mentioned. And even then, the disincentive will often be subject to social customs which tend to differ depending on place and time. So in many cases the issue is really about going against social customs and standing out as culturally strange, and not the particular cultural product being discussed.

Clearly, there are some scholars abroad who might be used by the laity as precedence to assume qaz’ or fade haircuts to be haram, but if you prefer that view please keep it to yourself instead of forming an anti-faded haircut brigade. One principle of “enjoying good and forbidding evil” is to be fully educated on the issues you address, otherwise it is impermissible since you then simply spread ignorance. If an individual prefers to avoid fades then that is completely their prerogative and I pray God reward them for their intentions. However, to pontificate to others or rudimentarily spread the hadith of Ibn Umar in order to insincerely infer a prohibition is juvenile and offensive to anyone who holds the shariah in high regard.

And God alone has all knowledge, of all things.