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Halq and Taqsir

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Pilgrims shave each other's heads after completion of their hajj.

Halq (Arabic: الحلق, shaving the head) and Taqsir (Arabic: التقصير, cutting hair or nails) are compulsory acts done in hajj or 'umra. In different cases one of them becomes compulsory. Like other acts in hajj and 'umra, halq and taqsir are acts of worship and hence need to be done by the intention of proximity to God.

Meaning

Al-Raghib al-Isfahani says in al-Mufradat: "the original meaning of halq is throat; it is also used for cutting [shaving] hair. There are only two word from this root in the Qur'an and both are about hajj", "Taqsir is derived from qasr which means to shorten or to imprison."

In jurisprudential terminology, halq means to shave the head by razor and taqsir is cutting some of head hair or clipping the nails in hajj or 'umra.

According to some exegetes of the Qur'an the phrase "then let them do away with their untidiness"[1] in the 29th verse of Sura al-Hajj refers to halq and taqsir.

Rulings

The ruling of halq and taqsir varies in different cases:

  • Al-'Umra al-mufrada: halq and taqsir are al-Wajib al-Takhyiri (elective compulsory) i.e. the performer of 'umra can choose one of them, although halq is superior to taqsir. In 'umra after galq or taqsir, which is done after sa'y between Safa and Marwa, all prohibited acts during ihram become permissible for muhrim except for sexual activities with one's spouse, which become permissible after tawaf al-nisa'.
  • 'Umra al-tamattu': According to majority of faqihs, Halq is not permissible in 'umrat al-tamattu' and one must perform taqsir. After taqsir in this 'umra all prohibitions of Ihram are lifted.
  • Hajj al-tamattu': According to majority of faqihs, halq is compulsory in hajj al-tamatu' and taqsir is not sufficient. Almost all faqihs believe that the one who performs hajj for the first time (who is called sarura) must perform halq. Halq in hajj al-tamatu' must be performed in Mina after sacrificing and - according to majority's viewpoint - in the day of Eid al-Adha. After halq, all prohibitions of ihram are lifted except for hunting, sexual activities, and using perfumes.

Defining taqsir, some marja's (religious authorities) say that cutting nails is not sufficient and one must also cut some hair. Halq is only for men, and women must perform taqsir in all aforementioned cases. Like other rites of hajj and 'umra, halq and taqsir are acts of worship and must be done by the intention of proximity to God.

Plucking or shaving body hair or clipping nails in the state of ihram -before completion of pilgrimage- is haram (prohibited) and brings kaffara (atonement).

Philosophy

Head hair is an adornment of one's appearance, and people have attachment to it. In hajj, the person tries to remove all these attachments that in most cases are obstacles to spiritual development. By abandoning these personal interests, abandoning the negative habits that a person has accustomed to becomes easier. Imam al-Sadiq (a) said, "By shaving your hair, shave all of your apparent and hidden faults."

Describing the spiritual etiquette of hajj, Imam al-Sajjad (a) asked al-Shibli, "While shaving your head, have you made this intention to clean yourself from the filth of sins, and to go out of all sins like the day you were born from your mother?"

Notes

  1. Qur'an 22:29

References