Monday, February 11, 2008

islam and dreadlocks

I recently found an interesting blog called Islamically locked. which reminded me of how way back in the day, around the time I first became Muslim, I toyed with the idea of growing dreadlocks. At the time I thought that dreadlocks were "cool" but questionable for a couple of reasons:

1. Firstly (and this is probably the most nitpicky argument) If you go all out and take some version of the Nazrite vow, you would have to break it when you went on Hajj.

2. Even without dreads, when I would go out at night, random people would occasionally ask me for weed. (although I should probably add that I would sometimes wear a big poofy red, black, yellow and green "rasta" hat). In any case, I thought that if I went further and actually had dreads, the requests probably would have gotten ridiculous.

3. In Islam, there is a basic principle of not imitating the practices of non-Muslims and dreadlocks are pretty distinvely associated with Rastafarianism.

4. Dreads make it harder to do the ablutions for prayer (salat).

5. Dreads make it harder to wear a normal-sized kufi.

On the other hand, (to address 3) there are some indications that the prophet (saaws) may have had his hair in some sort of braid. And memebrs of the Baye Fall Sufi order are known to wear dreads. While the other considerations don't necessarily mean one shouldn't grow dreads, just that they come with certain burdens which one must be willing to accept if you want to grow them. (e.g. grow dreads but trim them after hajj, get a bigger kufi, take the extra effort to wash them, etc.)

I you really want to reflect more on the subject, I would suggest that you check out the above blog.

7 comments:

parallelsidewalk said...

I wouldn't get dreads because I work in a professional environment in which my beard already seems out of place, and frankly every white 20-something I know with dreads is a wasteoid. That said, I don't see anything intrinsically wrong with dreads, and as I understand it shaving one's head for hajj is not required, just recommended, a lot of Muslims just cut off one lock symbolically. As for point three, Muhammad didn't reject every cultural marker of the Meccan peoples even though they weren't Muslims, simply the parts that did not accord with the principles he brought with him. Point 5 would killed me, though, as it's already hard to find kufis big enough for my massive dreads.

Somewhat related, I met a guy with dreads, shalwar kamiz, and a kufi here and asked him if he's a Muslim, he said that no, he's just an African. He's actually a Juvenile Probation officer.

I answered your question at my blog, btw.

parallelsidewalk said...

*that should read "massive head", not massive dreads.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

ok that makes more sense.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

But regarding the earlier point about one lock, I agree with you but that's why I tried to phrase that point in the way I did. Shaving even one lock still breaks the Nazrite vow. Although if you are just "growing dreads" you can occasionally trim them and keep them neat.

I forget if I shared this story on the blog but one Friday many years ago I also met a Muslim-looking non-Muslim (African-American, kufi wearing, short beard, white shalwar kamiz) who returned my salaams and even asked some questions I had about the local masjid. But yeah, eventually he said he wasn't Muslim. Which was just kind of weird.

Anonymous said...

I am in a process of getting dreads and i got a big beard. However I am South Asian so its harder initially.

Anonymous said...

Il semble que vous soyez un expert dans ce domaine, vos remarques sont tres interessantes, merci.

- Daniel

Anonymous said...

As-Salaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatu Allah Wa Barakatuh. Rastas actually take the dreads from Nazirite vow and Samson who have seven "locks" on his head which they interpret to be dreads. As said here, some sects of Islam wear them. It's kinda like the hijab and the Catholic head veil. There's gonna be similar things among Ibrahimic faiths and there's certain things we can decide for ourselves on whether it is appropriate. Muhammad had from just below the ear hair or up until above the shoulders that was wavy. (Explained as neither curly nor straight) Considering that we should learn from Muhammad, this would be the best hair. (Logically) But we are told to keep clean. Water should be able to wet the scalp. Men should undo their braids to clean their hair while women do not have to. Dreads aren't a hairstyle you just do and undo and do again. =/ So if that helps, then awesome. =D