Is there a Hadith permitting women to wear Henna (Mehndi) on their hands?

ⓘ Supported by Al Medina 313.



Islamic Text

There are numerous Hadith narrations that not only permit women to wear Henna (Mehndi) of their hands, rather, they encourage it. These narrations are weak. Despite that, such narrations strengthen each other since they are addressing the same issue.

عَنْ ابن ضَمْرَةَ بْنِ سَعِيدٍ، عَنْ جَدَّتِهِ، عَنِ امْرَأَةٍ مِنْ نِسَائِهِمْ قَالَ: وَقَدْ كَانَتْ صَلَّتِ الْقِبْلَتَيْنِ مَعَ رَسُولِ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَتْ: دَخَلَ عَلَيَّ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ لِي: اخْتَضِبِي، تَتْرُكُ إِحْدَاكُنَّ الْخِضَابَ حَتَّى تَكُونَ يَدُهَا كَيَدِ الرَّجُلِ

Ibn Damrah bin Saeed narrated from his grandmother, from a woman from amongst them. He said; Indeed she had prayed facing both prayer directions (Qiblatayn) with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. She said, The Messenger of Allah ﷺ entered and said to me, ‘Use dye (Henna). One of you neglects dye (Henna) until her hand becomes like that of a man.’ (Musnad Ahmad, 16650).

رَوَاهُ أَحْمَدُ، وَفِيهِ مَنْ لَمْ أَعْرِفْهُمْ، وَابْنُ إِسْحَاقَ وَهُوَ مُدَلِّسٌ. (مجمع الزوائد ومنبع الفوائد)

It was narrated by Ahmad. In it (the chain) is someone I do not recognise. Also, Ibn Ishaq is a Mudalis. (Imam Noorud-deen al-Haythami, Majma al-Zawaid).  

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهَا، قَالَتْ: أَوْمَتْ امْرَأَةٌ مِنْ وَرَاءِ سِتْرٍ بِيَدِهَا، كِتَابٌ إِلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، فَقَبَضَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَدَهُ، فَقَالَ: مَا أَدْرِي أَيَدُ رَجُلٍ، أَمْ يَدُ امْرَأَةٍ؟ قَالَتْ: بَلِ امْرَأَةٌ، قَالَ: لَوْ كُنْتِ امْرَأَةً لَغَيَّرْتِ أَظْفَارَكِ. يَعْنِي بِالْحِنَّاءِ

(Sayidah) Aishah (May Allah Most High be pleased with her) said, A woman signalled from behind a curtain to indicate that she had a letter for the Messenger of Allah . The Prophet ﷺ drew back his hand, saying: ‘I do not know if this is a man’s hand or a woman’s hand.’ She said: Rather, a woman. He ﷺ said: ‘If you were a woman, you would have changed (the colour of) your nails.’ Meaning with henna. (Abu Dawood, 4166).

In the chain of this narration there are two concerning narrators. Imam Ibn Adi mentioned weakness regarding the first narrator: Mutee bin Maymoon al-Anbari. The other narrator is Safiyyah bint Ismah; she is not well known according to Imams al-Dhahabi and Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani.

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهَا، أَنَّ هِنْدَ بِنْتَ عُتْبَةَ، قَالَتْ: يَا نَبِيَّ اللَّهِ، بَايِعْنِي، قَالَ: لَا أُبَايِعُكِ حَتَّى تُغَيِّرِي كَفَّيْكِ، كَأَنَّهُمَا كَفَّا سَبُعٍ

(Sayidah) Aishah (May Allah Most High be pleased with her) narrated that Hind, daughter of Utbah, said: O Prophet ﷺ of Allah, accept my allegiance (Bay’ah). He ﷺ replied, ‘I shall not accept your allegiance till you change the palms of your hands. It is as if they are the paws of a predator.’ (Abu Dawud, 4165).

وَفِي إسْنَادِهِ مَجْهُولَاتٌ ثَلَاثٌ. (التلخيص الحبير)

In the chain are three unknown people. (Imam Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani, al-Talkhees al-Habeer).

As we can see from the analysis above, all of these narrations contain weakness. Nevertheless, they contain the potential to strengthen one another since the chains of narration are significantly different. See the answer on weak Hadith strengthening each other for more details.

وَمَتَى تُوبِعَ سَيِّئُ الحِفْظِ بِمُعْتَبَرٍ، وَكَذَا المَسْتُورُ، والمُرْسَلُ، وَالمُدَلَّسُ؛ صَارَ حَدِيثُهُمْ حَسَنًا لاَ لِذَاتِهِ؛ بَلْ بِالمَجْمُوعِ. (نخبة الفكر)

And when a narrator with weakness in his memory is supported by another narration, likewise an unknown narrator, a Mursal narration, or the inconclusive narration, the narration becomes Hasan. Although it is not Hasan in itself, rather it is due to the convergence of the narrations. (Imam Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani, Nukhbatu al-Fikr).

And Allah (Most High) Knows Best.

Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (08.04.23)

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