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Is Taking off Hijab for Medical Reasons Justified?

05 January, 2024
Q For the past three-and-a-half years, I’ve been suffering from a condition called scalp folliculitis. This is an inflammation of the hair follicles caused by excessive heat and sweat, and at times this problem of mine becomes an infection because of the heat and bacteria triggered by the sweat. When I first discovered the problem, I began to wear cotton scarves and cut my hair very short, and thinned my hair, as well, to accommodate my hijab. This worked and gave me some relief at the time. I took the medications prescribed by my dermatologist and, al-hamdu lillah, my condition disappeared. However, the doctor told me that this condition is known to be chronic and that this would not be the last time I’d see it. Being optimistic, I didn’t believe him, and put my trust in Allah and believed I wouldn’t have this problem again. To my dismay, I continually had this problem and it reappeared time and time again over the past three years. Since then, I’ve ingested so many antibiotics that I’ve developed a resistance to the medication and now they don’t give me any relief. I sought the advice of two other dermatologists; each gave me the same diagnosis. Because I work full-time, I find it very difficult to wear my scarf now as it irritates my skin and worsens my problem. I don’t know what to do. I know I have to wear my hijab, but then it’s so itchy and intolerable. My dermatologist told me that if I take it off for a couple of months, I’d notice a difference in my scalp. I would like to take off my hijab to heal my scalp, and then return to it as soon as I’m healed, but I don’t know if this is the best decision. Please, advise.


In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. 

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

If your condition is unbearable for you and the dermatologist has advised you that you can only get relief by temporarily taking off your hijab, then I think you fall in the category of those who are excused.

In his response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

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If your condition is unbearable for you and the dermatologist has advised you that you can only get relief by temporarily taking off your hijab, then I think you fall in the category of those who are excused.

In Islam, there are exceptions allowed for people in similar cases. This can be proven by pointing to the concession the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) allowed to some of his Companions to wear silk because of their medical condition, even though wearing silk in general is haram (unlawful) and therefore considered sinful for men in ordinary circumstances.

Likewise, if your medical condition requires that you should take off your hijab, you may do so until such time that your condition improves, without incurring sin.

But I must caution you against resorting to this action purely on your own personal likes or dislikes. It can only be done if there is a genuine medical reason. For exceptions in the Shari`ah are simply exceptions and not general rules. They are bound by specific conditions and circumstances in such a way that the allowance is lifted as soon as the condition or circumstance changes.

Sheikh `Abdul-Majeed Subh, a prominent Azhari scholar, adds:

First of all, try to take a vacation at this period and to stay home in order to avoid displaying your hair in front of non-mahrams. If this is not possible and you are in need to work, then you can try to cover your hair only while working and when you come back home, uncover your hair.

Also, if, depending on your work, there are times at work when male non-mahrams are not present, you can uncover your hair.

But if we suppose that this is not enough, then this is an excuse for you to uncover your hair until your condition improves if you are in need to work.

For more, see these fatwas:

Is It Allowed to Take off Hijab Due to Hair Loss?

Parents Asked Me to Remove Hijab: Should I?

I Love Hijab, My Dad Forbids It: How to Handle?

Almighty Allah knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.