Dyeing the hands and legs of men with henna is either forbidden or undesirable, as it falls within the area of imitating women, which is not allowed in Islam. However, if the use of henna is for medication, then it is permissible.

For women, however, dyeing the hands and legs with henna is a form of adornment and beautification. It is generally permissible and recommended for women to beautify themselves for their husbands, whether on the wedding day or any other occasion. Dyeing the hands and legs with henna for women was a pre-Islamic practice that Islam accepted.

Elaborating on this, we cite for you the fatwa issued by the eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi: “Muslim scholars ruled on the use of henna by both men and women. They regarded it desirable and recommendable for women to use henna on their hands and legs, as this was a pre-Islamic practice that Islam accepted. This is highly recommended for a married woman if her husband likes it. But if the husband dislikes it, then it is not recommended. It is a mutual right for both husband and wife that they beautify themselves for one another. The use of cosmetics or makeup nowadays falls within this category, and a wife will be rewarded for using it if her intention is to please her husband by beautifying herself for him provided that it is not harmful and she does not use it extravagantly. As for dyeing the hands and legs with henna for men, Imam ash-Shafi`i views that this is forbidden unless there is a medical necessity for using it, as Islam forbids men from copying women. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Allah has cursed men who copy women as well as women who copy men.”

Imam An-Nawawi said that this ruling is supported by the authentic Hadith reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet forbade men to use saffron. It is prohibited because of its color, not its scent, as the scent of perfume is recommended, and hence henna is similar to saffron in respect to its color.

Some other scholars view that it is only disliked for men to use henna on their hands and legs stating that the prohibition here implies undesirability, and I prefer this opinion. In this respect, there is the Hadith reported by at-Tirmidhi on the authority of Ya`la ibn Yahya who said that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) saw a man applying or having the traces of khaluq (yellow scent) on his body, so he ordered him to go and wash it off and never do this again. An-Nawawi states that there are several other Hadiths that forbid the use of khaluq by men, but women are permitted to use it. At-Tirmidhi recorded this Hadith under the title, ‘It is undesirable for men to use saffron and khaluq’. Khaluq is disliked for men because it involves imitation of women and aspects of softness.”