May 18, 2024

Q. Is covering the head while offering Salah Sunnah?

All praise is due to Allah Almighty and His blessings and peace be upon the Prophet Muhammad and his family. Here is the answer:

It was a general norm in pre-Islamic Arabia to wear an Imamah (turban) or cap as a part of their dress code. After the advent of Islam, the Prophet (peace be upon him) continued this norm but recommended it to some extent. That is why he has to pass the following order for a Mohrim (pilgrim):

Ibn ‘Umar (Allah be pleased with them) reported that a person asked the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) what a Muhrim should put on as dress. Thereupon the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

Do not put on a shirt or a turban, or trousers or a cap, or leather stockings except one who does not find shoes; he may put on stockings but he should trim them below the ankles. And do not wear clothes to which saffron or wars are applied.

[Sahih Muslim: H#1177 a]

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) prohibits the wearing of specific garments while in the state of Ihram. These include:

  • Shirt: A stitched garment covering the upper body.
  • Turban: A head covering.
  • Trousers: Lower-body stitched garments covering the legs.
  • Cap: Another type of head covering.
  • Leather stockings: Footwear made of leather.

The aforementioned hadith specifically refers to the clothing that a person in the state of Ihram should avoid wearing during the pilgrimage (Hajj) or Umrah. Ihram is a sacred state entered into by pilgrims during these rituals, and certain clothing restrictions are observed during this time as part of the pilgrimage rites. Outside of the context of Ihram, wearing shirts, turbans, trousers, caps, or leather stockings was a common tradition in Arabia.

Narrated Ja`far bin Amr:

My father said, “I saw the Prophet (ﷺ) passing wet hands over his turban and Khuffs (leather-socks).

[Sahih al-Bukhari: H#205]

Ibn Mughira narrated it from his father:

The Apostle of Allah (ﷺ) wiped over his socks, over his forehead, and his turban.

[Sahih Muslim: H#274i]

Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami said that he witnessed ‘Abd al-Rahman bin Awf (May Allah be pleased with him) asking Bilal (May Allah be pleased with him) about the ablution of the Prophet (ﷺ). Bilal said:

He (ﷺ) went out to relieve himself. Then I brought water for him and he performed ablution and wiped over his turban and leathersocks.

[Sunan Abu Dawood: H#153]

It was narrated that Anas bin Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) said:

“I saw the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) performing ablution, wearing a Qatari turban. He put his hand beneath the turban and wiped the front part of his head, and he did not take the turban off.”

[Sunan ibn Majah: H#564]

While the hadith doesn’t explicitly mention Salah, it illustrates that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not always remove his turban during acts of worship. It was common for him to pray while wearing a turban, as head coverings were customary attire for men during that time.

These hadiths also deny the claim of some scholars who say “There is no authentic hadith to prove that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to cover his head while offering Salah.”

Narrated Malik (May Allah be pleased with him):

We came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and stayed with him for twenty days and nights. We were all young and of about the same age. The Prophet (ﷺ) was very kind and merciful. When he realized our longing for our families, he asked about our homes and the people there and we told him. Then he asked us to go back to our families and stay with them and teach them (the religion) and to order them to do good things. He also mentioned some other things which I have (remembered or [??] ) forgotten. The Prophet (ﷺ) then added, “Pray as you have seen me praying and when it is the time for the prayer one of you should pronounce the Adhan and the oldest of you should lead the prayer.

[Sahih al-Bukhari: H#631]

The Prophet’s saying: “Pray as you have seen me praying” implies that because it was common for him to pray while wearing a turban, so it is also recommended for the Muslim men to cover their heads while offering Salah. It is mandatory for MusIim women to cover their entire body except face and hands while offering prayers. Allah knows the best.

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