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Is it true that praying without wearing kopiah, songkok or turban [headdress/head covers worn in South East Asia] is makruh (undesirable) for men? Hope for an explanation from SS Mufti.



Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

According to the original ruling, the prayer of a man without covering his head is valid as stated by scholars such as Imam al-Nawawi. (Refer: Al-Majmu’ Syarh al-Muhazzab 2/51)

However, it is undeniable that there are scholars who ruled it makruh (undesirable) for man to pray without covering his head. According to Syeikh Abu Bakar al-Dimyathi, a scholar of madhab Syafi’e stated – not covering one’s head and shoulders for men while praying is makruh (undesirable), for it contradicts the sunnah of beautifying one’s clothing while praying by covering one’s head and shoulder. (Refer: I’anatu al-Tolibin 1/194)

The same is stated by al-Imam Ibn Nujaim al-Hanafi and al-Imam Burhanuddin ibn Mazzah who ruled it makruh to pray without covering one’s head if he has a head cover but decided to not wear it due to his laziness. (Refer: Al-Bahr al-Ra’iq 2/27, Al-Muhith al-Burhani 5/137)

However, his opinion should be further considered, taking into account of the context of time and place.

According to the Jordan National Fatwa Committee, there is no single authentic hadith that supported the ruling that it is sunnah to cover one’s head while praying or going out of one’s head for men. However, in certain countries, covering one’s head is a custom that is considered as good and encouraged, then it can be considered as sunnah according to syara’, according to the generality of the statement of Allah SWT:

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ خُذُوا زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا وَلَا تُسْرِفُوا ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ

“O children of Adam, take your adornment at every masjid, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess.”

Surah al-A’raf (31)

Then, the ruling for this particular issue depends on the difference of the custom of the society and style of their clothing. If they consider covering one’s head as a form of adornment, then it is considered as sunnah. (Refer the official website of Jordan’s National Fatwa Committee through the link:

Al-Imam Abu Ishaq al-Syatibi also stated that the practise of covering one’s head is considered differently according to the place. In some countries, not covering one’s head is a form of degradation towards one’s dignity and compromise one’s ‘adalah (credibility of a pious believer), while in other countries, this is not so. (Refer: Al-Muwafaqat 2/489)


To conclude, we state that kopiah, turban and songkok are the examples of beautiful and good clothing which have been worn by Muslims and is considered as sunnah.

In a famous Islamic legal maxim, it is stated:

العادَةُ مُحَكَّمَةٌ

“The custom and practise is considered as the ruling of it (on matters of which there is no evidence for it),”

There are numerous hadiths that mentioned that the Prophet PBUH wear turban, where in a famous narration, the Prophet PBUH wears a black turban during the opening of Mecca. Turban of the Prophet PBUH is showcased in Topkapi museum in Turkey. Hence, we state that wearing turban is sunnah al-‘adah without difference of opinions by scholars, but in the issue of worship, even if there is a hadith that supports it, it is very weak. Among the hadiths is a hadith from Ibn ‘Umar R.Anhuma, the Prophet PBUH said:

عَلَيْكُمْ بِالْعَمَائِمِ ، فَإِنَّهَا سِيمَا الْمَلَائِكَةِ ، وَأَرْخُوهَا خَلْفَ ظُهْورِكُمْ

“You should wear imamah (turban) for it is a sign of the angels and lengthen it on your backs.”

Narrated by al-Tabarani in al-Mu’jam al-Kabir (13248)

Here, we state according to the custom of the place, praying without covering one’s head with songkok, turban or kopiah is considered as khilaf al-aula (contradicting the prioritized matter) and not ruled as prohibited (haram) or makruh.

Hopefully, this explanation will give us understanding in religion especially in the issues of clothing in our daily lives. We end this discussion with the following supplication:

اللَّهُمَّ أَرِنَا الْحَقَّ حَقًّا، وَارْزُقْنَا اتِّبَاعَهُ، وَأَرِنَا الْبَاطِلَ بَاطِلًا، وَارْزُقْنَا اجْتنِاَبَهُ، وَلَا تَجْعَلْهُ مُلْتَبِسًا عَلَيْنَا فَنَضِلَّ، وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا

“O Allah! show us the truth as true, and inspire us to follow it. Show us falsehood as falsehood, and inspire us to abstain from it. And make us and make us an example for the righteous.”