Can I Cut My Hair and Trim My Nails in Dhul Hijjah?
I have received this question at the beginning of this month and I wanted to write briefly on it to give everyone an overview of this issue. The issue arises from the hadith of the prophet (saw):
“When the 10 days of Dhul Hijjah have begun and any of you intended to slaughter, then he should not touch (take away) anything from his hair or skin (and nails).” (Narrated by Muslim)
The different schools of Islamic law have understood the ruling differently. The Hanafis and Malikis did not consider this to be a sunnah. The Shafiees considered it to be Makrooh (disliked) which means if one abides by the hadith they are rewarded but if they don’t abide by it are not necessarily sinful since it doesn’t translate into an obligation. The Hanbalis considered it haram (prohibited) to do so while considering the ruling on slaughtering to be a Sunnah (preferred but not required). Even within the Hanbali school, however, some scholars took the view that it was Makrooh and not haram.
Ibn Qudama, the great Hanbali jurist, said, “The apparent (ruling) is prohibition (haram) of cutting the hair and it is the view of some of our scholars… and a group of our scholars said it is disliked (makrooh), not prohibited (haram).” (Al-Mughni)
Even with the ruling of the Hanbalis, that it is haram to do so for one who intends to slaughter, the slaughtering will still be acceptable while the person would incur sin for disobeying the ruling of cutting hair and trimming nails. The logic of the Hanbali scholars is not at all strange. There are acts that are entirely optional but in order for them to be fulfilled certain things are mandatory. If one offers extra prayers (nafl), they must do wudu (ablution) for those prayers to be accepted. They also take the apparent meaning of the hadith to be a command and not an encouraged action, something which is very common in legal theory. The other schools, for other reasons and supporting evidences, do not take that apparent meaning.
In my personal opinion, I find it difficult to adopt the ruling that cutting hair and trimming nails is prohibited because the majority opinion, including the dissenting opinion within the Hanbali school, sees it otherwise. Rulings regarding obligations, for me personally, should at least be supported by a wide range of scholars over the different schools or across the board on at least one madhhab. I agree with the position that it is Makrooh (disliked). Meaning, it should not be avoided but it does not amount to something that is haram.
I encourage those that will be financing the slaughter to abide by the hadith, however, for there will be reward in intending to follow the teaching of the prophet (saw).
Anything correct in what I have said is from Allah and any mistakes are but my own.