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Shaving the Head

From the prescribed manners of welcoming the new-born child is to shave the head on the seventh day after the birth - i.e. on the day when the 'Aqeeqah is sacrificed. This is due to the saying of the chosen Messenger Muhammad: <Every child is held in pledge for its 'Aqeeqah which is sacrificed for him on his seventh day, and he is named on it, and his head is shaved.>1

(A) Manners to be Observed when Shaving the Head

The following manners must be observed when shaving the child's head:

(1) The right side of the head should be shaved first - then the other side. This is the Sunnah for shaving the head in general due to the hadeeth of Anas ibn Maalik that Allah's Messenger said to the barbers who shaved his head in Minaa: "<Take/Shave> and he indicated the right side of his head and then the left." and in another wording after he had shave the right side, he said to him: <Shave the other side>.2

(2) The new-born child's hair is shaved when that is possible - but if the child is born without hair, or there is so little hair that it cannot really be shaved - then it is not shaved, and with regard to the first case, then there is no need to merely pass the razor over his head.

(3) One may not shave a part of the child's head and leave another part since this is 'al-Qaz' which was forbidden by the beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).3

(4) When the hair has been shaved and weighed it may be buried in the earth since it has been reported in some narrations4 - just as it is allowed to put it in any place without specification.

(B) Does Shaving Apply to both Males and Females?

*The Preferred View

Perhaps the second saying which holds that it applies to both males and females is more correct and stronger due to the following three points:

First: He said: <When it is the child's seventh day, then spill blood for him, remove the harm from him and name him>5 and in another hadeeth that he: "Ordered that the child be named on the seventh day, the harm removed and 'Aqeeqah be performed."6

So there two hadeeth are a proof that the shaving is general to both male and female children since the word (mawlood) - '(new-born) child' is a word used to refer to both males and females, and the harm mentioned in the hadeeth is the hair as has preceded.

So this is the meaning that is to be understood from the ahaadeeth which occur with the word: 'al-ghulaam' (boy/child) - such as the hadeeth of Samurah: <Every child (ghulaam) ... >, since some of the scholars mention that what is meant by 'ghulaam' is any child whether male or female .7

As San'aanee adds: "And what is apparent from it is that the shaving of the head applies to both boys and girls."8

Therefore, we say that the mention of the word for boy in the hadeeth was not meant to be restricted and particular to boys as is shown by the fact that both males and females share in the other matters mentioned in the same hadeeth, i.e. the naming and the 'Aqeeqah - so likewise both share in the shaving.

Secondly: From Ja'far ibn Muhammad: from his father ('Alee ibn alHusayn) who said: "Faatimah weighed the hair of Hasan, Husayn and Zaynab and Umm Kulthoom and gave its weight in silver in charity."9

And its chain of narration is broken (munqati). It is reported in another narration - which does not mention Zaynab or Umm Kulthoom - "that she weighed the hair of al-Hasan and al-Husayn and gave its weight in silver to charity."10

So the first narration contains an addition which is the mention of Zaynab and Umm Kulthoom, however, its meaning is witnessed to by what is established from the prescription of shaving the hair of the girl in the ahaadeeth of the first point. So this addition is to be accepted since it does not bring any new and extra ruling, and Allah knows best.

As is obvious Faatimah's - radiyallaahu'anhaa - weighing of the hair of her daughters was not possible except after shaving it, and a further indication that she did indeed shave their hair is what can be understood from the general word 'children' in the narration reported by Ibn Abee Shaibah: "That she used to perform 'Aqeeqah for her children on the seventh day, name them, circumcise them, shave their head, and give its weight in silver to charity."11

However, since we cannot definitely state that these narrations are strong with regard to their chains of narration - then we say that they are secondary evidences and that the primary proof is the first evidence where the general term applying to both males and females is used, i.e. (child: mawlood), along with what follows:

Second: In addition to this the Messenger (peace be upon him) ordered that harm be removed from the child and this harm - as has preceded - is the hair upon the head and the traces of birth upon it. The removal of this hair is due to the reason that it is harmful, so how can it be, this being the case that is to be removed from the male but not the female! The benefit is medical - as seen from the hadeeth, and social - as will follow - and this will be the same for both boys and girls.

So perhaps these three matters together support each other and strengthen one another - so that the ruling is strengthened and shaving is seen to be a Sunnah applying to any new-born child whether male or female. And Allah knows best what is correct.

(C) The Place of Shaving in the Order of the Actions on the Seventh Day.

We know that shaving the hair is one of the actions of the seventh day and here we will mention that it is recommended that it be done after sacrificing the 'Aqeeqah on that day. There occurs in the hadeeth of 'Aa.ishah - radiyallaahu'anhaa -:"Allah's Messenger performed the 'Aqeeqah of al-Hasan and al-Husayn on the seventh day, and he named them, and ordered that the harm be removed from their heads."12

So this indicates that the sacrifice is to be done before the shaving of the head, since the shaving is attached to the 'Aqeeqah and was ordered to be done after the 'Aqeeqah was performed. This is also indicated by what is mentioned in some narrations of the hadeeth of Samurah: <Sacrifice is made for him on the seventh day, then his head is shaved.> It is reported by Abush-Shaikh13

This is the view held by al-Baghawee and declared to be correct by an-Nawawee in 'al-Majmoo'.

(D) The Time of Giving Charity

After shaving off the hair of the child it is Sunnah to give the value of the weight of the hair in silver, as charity. However, is this another action to be done on the seventh day., The time for giving the charity has been mentioned in the hadeeth of Anas: "That Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) ordered that the heads of al-Hasan and al-Husayn be shaved on their seventh day, then charity was given with its weight in silver, and he did not find a sacrifice."14

And there is also a report from Faatimah that she shaved the hair of her son on the seventh day and gave the charity on it.15

So this is what is recommended, but it is a matter in which there is allowance and ease - if Allah - the Most High - wills.

(E) Is Charity to be Given in Gold or Silver?

What is established in the authentic ahaadeeth is that it is to be silver. Ibn Hajr said: "All the narrations are agreed in mentioning giving charity with silver, and none of them contain a mention of gold."16

And giving charity in gold is not reported - as far as I know - except in the previous hadeeth of Ibn 'Abbaas in which there occurs: "And he should give its weight in charity - in either gold or silver." However, it is weak as has preceded. Therefore, what is better is to stick to what is confirmed in the authentic Sunnah - that charity be given with the weight of his hair in silver. But if he were to give the charity in gold, then it would not harm since it is reported from a group of the Salaf. But silver is better for two reasons:

(i) It is what is established in the many authentic ahaadeeth as has preceded.

(ii) That giving silver in charity is easily managed by any person - as opposed to gold which is more expensive, and this can be seen clearly in the following point:

(F) How can this Charity be Given at Present.

In the time of the Messenger (peace be upon him) and after him, silver used to be a common form of currency - like gold, when they shaved the hair they weighed it against silver - and then gave this weight in charity - as done by Faatimah - radiyallaahu'anhaa. However, today, people use paper money (riyals in Saudi Arabia) and other currencis which are prevalent today instead ofsilver.17

So we need to know the amount of charity to be given today, and this will be made clear in the following:

* What we should do is to work out the value of the appropriate amount of silver in modern currency. That is done by weighing the hair in grams then finding out the current value of that amount of silver.

The result will then be the amount of charity that is to be given.

* An example: For hair which weighs 2.5 grams, i.e. approximately one dirham. We multiply this by the price of a gram of silver - which is not fixed - let us say that it is two saudi riyals. Then the amount of charity to be given will be 2.5 x 2 = 5 riyals (approx. 85p sterling) and this is an amount of charity which will be easy for every Muslim - rich or poor.

However, if this were measured in gold, it would be harder since a gram of gold may cost about 50 riyals or more (approx. (8.50) - so upon our example the amount of charity to be given if it were given in gold would be 2.5 x 50 riyals = 125 riyals (approx. 22)

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