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What is the ruling on covering the head?

Question:

What do the scholars and experts of shari’ah say regarding the ruling of a man covering his head?

Answer:

The majority of the ‘ulama have mentioned the covering of the head for a male is a sunnah, not something obligatory. It is a sign of piety, nobility, and respect. This does not mean that if the head is uncovered one will be sinful. The ruling for a woman is the same unless she is in the presence of non-Mahram men. In this scenario, her head must be covered.

When a person is reciting the Holy Qur’an, then it is mustahab for the head to be covered. The ahadith of the Prophet ﷺ do not mention the covering of the head as a condition to be able to recite the Holy Qur’an. An example is the hadith narrated by Abullah ibn Mas’ud, that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever recites a letter from the Book of Allah, he will receive a good deed, equal to ten good deeds. I do not say that Alif Lam Mim is one letter, but rather ‘Alif’ is a letter, ‘Lam’ is a letter, and ‘Mim’ is a letter.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi)

The narrations encouraging the recitation of the Holy Qur’an are generic in their command and have not been restricted. A well-established maxim in the shari’ah is, “The generic ruling maintains its generality in the place, timing, people, and situations, unless a ruling which restricts these things comes.” (Al-Bahr al-Muhit/Al-Talwih ‘ala al-Tawdih)

It is for this reason, the generical ruling of reciting the Qur’an cannot be restricted except with that which has been mentioned in the shari’ah, such as the impermissibility to recite the Holy Qur’an whilst in a state of major ritual impurity. Similarly, covering the head whilst reciting the Qur’an is also a mustahab and not an obligation, as there is no such evidence which has commanded us to do so.

And Allah ﷻ knows the best

This Fatwa is written by Dr. Hafiz Muhammad Munir Al-Azhari