Is it permissible for women to pluck their eyebrows, to remove the hairs on their legs and faces, between their eyebrows and next to them?

Details of the Question

Is it not possible for a woman who plucks her eyebrows to be a good person? Is she damned?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Allah created everybody with a separate beauty. The beauty in which the seal of oneness is read on the face of human beings is the beauty that is inherent and natural. It is a sign of being a slave of Allah to keep it, to thank Allah for the characteristics and beauty he owns and be content with what Allah has granted.

If there is no vital or obligatory need, it is necessary not to try to change the things on the human body. For, such a random change can cause man to be held responsible.

The Prophet (pbuh) prohibited making changes on the human body when there was no obligation; he told the women who put postiches on their heads, tattooed, had tattoos done, thinned their teeth with the purpose of beautifying them, plucked her eyebrows and eyelashes that they would be away from divine mercy since they changed what Allah created and warned them.

By acting upon this hadith, fiqh scholars say it is permissible for a woman on whose face a beard or mustache grows to remove them; however, it is not permissible for a woman to make her eyebrows thin, to put them out of their natural state, to arrange the eyelashes or to use false eyelashes. Because, teeth, eyebrows and eyelashes are like organs. There is no drawback in removing the hairs by a woman on her face that grow later and that were not present in the beginning because they are not like eyebrows or eyelashes. Similarly, there is no drawback for women to remove the hairs on their legs. For, they are not regarded as an organ like eyebrows.

In the books of fiqh (Islamic Law), we see the following principle:

-The hairs on the face that make women look ugly are removed. If such hairs as beard and mustache, which are peculiar to men, grow on women's faces, it is permissible to remove them.

“Ibn Abidin stated that beard and mustache were not natural in women; therefore, (if they grow), it is good (mustahab) to remove them. Shaving is not the best way of removing those hairs; the best way is through such medical methods as epilating wax, powder, or the like.” (Kadın İlmihali, Mürşide Uysal, p. 370) 

As is understood, it is good (mustahab) for a religious woman to make herself attractive to her husband. There is also the wisdom of protecting her husband from other women's attraction in it.

As for the hairs between or next to the eyebrows:

“There is a normal form of a woman’s eyebrows. The extra hairs that exceed this form, and that seem ugly and make the woman look ugly and hence disturb her can be removed. It is not regarded permissible to make normal eyebrows thinner by following the fashion, or to change their position...” (Prof. Dr. Hayreddin Karaman)

Islamic scholars have thought for a long time about what the religious decree is for women's plucking the hairs on their faces, making their eyebrows thinner, and making their eyelashes longer. It has been a matter of much discussion among Islamic scholars what deeds the expression in the following hadith of the Prophet includes:

“May Allah damn the woman who plucks her facial hairs and who has them plucked!” (Bukhari, 'Libas', 84; Muslim, 'Libas', 120). 

According to the majority of scholars, if such hairs as beard and mustache, which are not peculiar to women, grow on her face, it is permissible for a woman, with the intention of seeming beautiful to her husband and with his permission, to remove them, to make up in order to be more beautiful, to remove the scattered hairs around her eyebrows (around and between the eyebrows); and the prohibition in the hadith is about women's plucking her facial hairs and her eyebrows in order to go out and to seem more beautiful to strangers.

Malikis and some scholars, though, view it as changing the creation and therefore do not regard it in any way as permissible; or, they regard it as abominable (makrooh). 

As a result, it is more appropriate to understand the prohibition in the hadith of plucking hairs as prohibition of removing hairs of eyebrows in order to make them thinner and change their place with the intention of seeming more beautiful to others rather than removing facial hairs (beard, mustache hairs) that grow later as a result of an illness or any other malady and that make a woman's face look ugly. 

It is a requisite of belief in Allah that humans should respect the blessing of the body that Allah has given them as trusts, and that they should reciprocate His blessings by offering Him thanks. It is an expression of the love that a Muslim woman feels for Allah that she protects the beauty Allah has given to her face without distorting it and thus respects His work of art, and adds beauty to her beauty by reflecting the gleams of peace of spirit and of heart onto her face. (Dr. Jale ŞİMŞEK)

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