Answered by Shaykh Amjad Rasheed
The relied-upon position in our school is that it is forbidden for a man to apply henna to his hands or feet unless there is a medical need for doing so. This is because dyeing these [h: parts of the body with henna] comprises imitating women. Imam al-Nawawi said in al-Majmu': "Among the proofs of its prohibition are his (Allah bless him and give him peace) saying in a rigorously authenticated hadith, "Allah has cursed men who imitate women." The rigorously authenticated hadith related via Anas who said that "The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) forbade men from applying saffron." (transmitted by Bukhari and Muslim) is also proof [h: of its prohibition, since] that [h: prohibition] was only because of its colour, not its smell, for pleasant smells are recommended for men. Henna is just like saffron in this regard."
It is permissible for men to apply henna to the hair of their head or beard. In fact, this is recommended in order to conceal white hair. Imam al-Nawawi said in al-Majmu': "It is sunna to dye white hair with something yellow or red. Our [h: Shafi'i] companions have concurred on this. Among those who have explicitly stated this are al-Saymari, al-Baghawi, and others because of well-known rigorously authenticated hadiths in this regard. Among them is the hadith of Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, "Verily, the Jews and Christians don't dye, so be different from them." (narrated by Bukhari and Muslim)."
However, the colour black is prohibited. al-Imam Nawawi said: "The proof of its prohibition is the hadith of Jabir (Allah be pleased with him), who said, "Abu Quhafa, the father of Abu Bakr, was brought on the day of the conquest of Makkah, and his head and beard were white like the thaghama. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, "Change this, and avoid black."" (narrated by Muslim in his Sahih) Thaghama is a plant that has white fruit. Then [h: al-Nawawi] said, "There is no difference between men and women concerning the prohibition of dyeing [h: their hair] black."
(Translated by Sidi Hamza Karamali)
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