Many times here in Saudi Arabia I have seen men with obviously colored hair or beards. The colors vary and can be anywhere from black to brown, but by far the most commonly seen shades are clearly those unsubtle and unnatural shades of reds and bright oranges. Henna is always used. According to Islam, Mohammed used henna himself and said that it was okay/good for men to use it. There are a number of health benefits associated with the use of henna, however the primary reason is for “beautification.” This man’s henna has started to fade and the new natural colored growth shows. I am baffled by the fact that men who use bright orange henna on their hair and beards think that it makes them look better! My preference would be a more natural look, even if their hair is gray or white. And to me, this gesture of vanity seems to actually go against the teachings of Islam in that men and women are not supposed to draw attention to themselves or make themselves “attractive” to the opposite sex when in public. This is just another confusing thing about Islam that I don’t get. Can anybody out there try to explain?
Sometimes Henna is used to mark celebrations such as weddings or births, and women apply it in gel form in intricate designs on their hands. Initially the results are quite beautiful. The effects last for several weeks, in the beginning appearing black and then gradually fading through shades of brown. I got my hands hennaed at a wedding party, and after a couple of weeks, I kept thinking that my hands were dirty, so I kept washing them!

About SusieOfArabia

American woman now living in hubby's homeland of Saudi Arabia
This entry was posted in Celebrations, Culture, Life, Religion, Tradition and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Henna

  1. Pingback: learn photography in jeddah « Learn photography

  2. Pingback: Henna Man « JEDDAH DAILY PHOTO JOURNAL

  3. hey nice and wonderful designs and patterns must wanted to see more designs

  4. Aaishah says:

    Interesting blog.
    First off henna is a sunnah in Islam. It was something that the Prophet did therefore it is something that is praiseworthy to do.
    It is not allowed to dye the hair black so therefore to use black hair dye is not allowed. I have never seen hennah that has turned hair black. Only on the skin and thats with the mahalabiyah that is mixed in the hennah and on the skin as a type of fixative.
    The Prophet was the best of Mankind. Susie. If you have some doubt in that then you have some problems in your Islamic understanding.
    Im assuming you do pray and you pray because the Prophet showed us how to pray so please respect him. No hes not infalliable but when it came to revelation ..its from Allah.
    Take Care

  5. Hbiba says:

    Hi Susie,

    God Almighty praises Mohammad(upon whom be peace)in the Quran as someone of a high standard of character.

    If I were told that about myself by someone else, I’d be flattered. Imagine being told that by God.

    The prophet’s wife, Aisha said that Mohammad lived his life according to the quran. The quran is a perfect book,the word of God as revealed to the prophet(It’s not a compilation of many author’s writings)

    Anyhow, if you’re interested in knowing about Islam, isn’t it best that you learn about it from the source(the quran and the sunnah)?


  6. Beloved says:

    Well, I had henna art on my hands and really enjoyed it. The way henna fades however does not look as good. I think it is a fun and great alternative for young people like my grandaughter who wants to get a perm. Tattoo but her Mother will not allow it.

  7. Pingback: Henna Bearded Old Man « JEDDAH DAILY PHOTO JOURNAL

  8. Sheila says:

    In response to Aafke,

    A small addition about black henna-paintings.
    If you see hands or feet painted in black henna, it doesn’t necessarily mean the henna contains additives. In Sudan for example (where my husband comes from), or countries like Eritria and Somalia it is common to have black henna. And it is pure henna. It becomes black after a long process, of different layers and a lot of patience. They rub it with oil, and I was told that the more you rub it with oil, the darker it results.
    I’m also familiar with the instant -quick- henna, where indeed something is added like ink, and which is very bad health wise. Can be toxic if something of it comes in the bloodstream.

  9. duchessberry says:

    hi susie,
    As far as i know, Men and women both can dye their hair but for women, only allow if ur intention is for ur husband to see, and husband only. What it means by sunnah, it means its good to follow it but its not a sin if u dont follow it. While why in certain Islam countries, black dyes is been selling, its because these days, its a fine thin line between cultures, traditions and religion teachings and people get confused. And it doesn’t mean when they sell black dyes, they sell it to the muslim only, the non muslim also buy the same thing.

  10. islamicarticles says:


    Women usually use black henna for designs on hands and feet. To my knowledge, nobody uses it for the hair. Using henna in the hair is just a sunnah, you aren’t sinning if you don’t do it.

  11. FANTASTIC profile of the man, Susie!

  12. Aafke says:

    Abid, apparently. But then Mohammed was taught a lesson when he got too much over himself by Allah. And in Islam one worships only Allah, so to worship Mohammed as infallible would be serious bidah.

  13. Abid says:

    “Well, Mohammed wasn’t perfect, he was only human”

    A lot of people would disagree with this statement.

    • Fatima says:

      they would of course, but theyd be wrong. the prophet (s) himself said that we shouldnt waste our time arguing over such a trivial matter. Mohammed (s) wasnt perfect, he is a human like all of us. But the thing about him is that he is the last prophet and the messenger of Allah. this means that by far, hes the most perfect amongst us all. of course he had his flaws, but they were little and therefore not mentioned. this doesnt mean that we shouldnt doubt him, because Allah said that if we were to believe in Him, we have to believe in the Prophet (s).

      Yeah, it’s confusing… But think of it this way – the prophet isnt perfect, but everything we actually know about him is. Which is why we should believe in his sayings and doings. He is the messenger of Allah.

  14. Great photos today and interesting narrative. I actually liked my henna tattoos that I had done on my entire arm and hand when I went to India, but as they wear off, they are not so pretty and you end up trying to scrub off the remains. Because I have light skin, I think the wearing off looks worse but might not be so noticeable if I had darker skin color. The henna paintings are fascinating to look at and true works of art. Interesting information and commentary on the men using henna to color their beards. I never knew. Thanks for stopping by my site and I am glad to know you like Mexican Food. I cannot live without it. Every time I come back from an out-of-country trip, the first thing I do from the airport is stop for Mexican food!

  15. Hi Babooshka – When I got my hand hennaed, I was encouraged to do so by the other women there. Many of them, by the way, opted NOT to have theirs done, saying they really didn’t like it. I was fascinated with it at first, but once it started wearing off, I didn’t like it either.

  16. Hi BritGal – I guess I like seeing henna tattoos on other people but not on myself!

    Hi Sonia – I have had the same experience – especially when it starts wearing off, I just don’t like the look of it.

    Hi Abid – I understand what you are saying and have been told this same thing before, but I am just the kind of person who wants real answers that make sense and I have a hard time just accepting things when I’m given an answer such as this.

    Hi IslamicArticles – Thanks for trying to answer this area that I still don’t understand. Advising Muslims to be different – ok. But on something as trivial as coloring the hair? Especially when it has nothing to do with good actions, behaviors, or intentions (maybe it does, but in my eyes, it doesn’t), which I think is a much more noble way of making yourself different from non-M’s. I know of many non-M’s who dye their hair, and of course, many who have gray hair as well, so I don’t see/understand this point. If they can use any color except black, why, then, is black henna sold and used here in this strictly Muslim country? Is an instruction like this mandatory? If so, why don’t all Muslims use Henna? There are just so many questions… Thanks for your patience with me!

    Hi Aafke – I agree with your first paragraph so I don’t understand those Muslims who deny that Mohammed wasn’t perfect. I find it very difficult to blindly accept things without question, and it seems that so many Muslims have this blind faith – this is not an insult either. I find it very admirable – I just don’t possess this quality nor do I understand it. This society is just very black and white and I’ve always seen the gray and colors! Thanks for the info about the black henna being bad – that makes sense for the “why not black” question, but then I still don’t understand why it’s sold and used here.

  17. babooshka says:

    I understand your confusion. I am also curious how the tattooing of westerners of henna like this are viewed.

  18. Aafke says:

    Well, Mohammed wasn’t perfect, he was only human. Although a very special one.
    I read once that henna colouring is allright, but black is not. And who knows? Arabs and bedouins used to be very colourful, and wear colourfull clothes, until the wahabbis forced all women to wear black abaya’s . Aïscha was known to love colourful dresses. Perhaps the wifes did love the colourfull hair!

    You shouldn’t have your hands decorated with black henne, it contains an extra ingredient to make it black and it’s not healthy.

  19. islamicarticles says:


    The Prophet (peace be upon him) advised Muslims to be different than the non-Muslims in certain things. For example, non-Muslims usually don’t dye their hair and let it go all gray. The Prophet (peace be upon him) instructed Muslims to dye their hair with henna. Or they can dye it any color except black. I hope this helps insha’Allah.

  20. Abid says:

    The explanation really is as simple as Sonia’s husband said it is: ‘its sunnah so you can’t argue it’.

    According to Muslims, the religion is from God and so can’t be argued against. Anything that Muhammad said or did is from God and so is perfect.

  21. Sonia says:

    I have to agree with you about the hennah on the hands. A while back ago there was a Pakistani lady working in one of the coffee shops I used to manage. She used to love getting henna tattoos on the entire hand (at least once a month). Ones on the inner surface looked very tacky by the third day, so I had to give her some task that would require no food handling. I got a very light design on one hand once in my life and I vowed not to do it again.

  22. I love henna tatoo’s and have had many in the past. I even bought a kit to diy it, but haven;t been brave enough yet!

  23. Hi Sonia – I really wish I could understand so many things around here… I shake my head an awful lot!!!

    Hi JM – I don’t know that I’ve seen any paintings yet – but now that you told me, I’ll be on the lookout for them – they MUST have them around here. Henna is SO popular. Thanks, JM!

  24. JM says:

    They make wonderful paintings with henna! I’ve seen the most amazing patterns in some of the countries I’ve visited.

  25. Sonia says:


    I was laughing while reading this post. Every word that you have said was in my discussion with my husband last week. After 2 hours of discussing, he still didn’t had an answer, then he said “Its a sunnah. Now be quite” I think they want to look good to their wives.

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