بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The Quest for Beauty

There seems no limit nowadays to the extent that women (and men!) are prepared to go to in order to achieve that 'perfect look'.  Forget false eyelashes and wigs, we are now talking scalpels, implants and liposuction!

 

If questioned whether cosmetic surgery was Islamically correct or not, then without doubt, most Muslims would instinctively respond by saying that it isn't, for the simple reason that it would be interfering with Allāh's creation. And certainly, this would be the correct response.  The Companion, Ibn Mas'ood, radiAllāhu 'anhu, once said (quoting what he had heard the Prophet, peace be upon him, say): "Allāh has cursed the tattooers and those who have themselves tattooed, and those women who have their teeth filed for beauty and those who have their facial hair plucked and thus alter Allāh's creation."[1] (Reflect how eyebrow plucking/threading has become a common practice even amongst Muslim women)

 

So the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, forbade women from performing these three practices which the women commonly did for the sake of beauty in those days - seemingly 'insignificant' practices for which they would incur the CURSE of Allāh. And this forbiddance isn't just restricted to the procedures mentioned in the hadeeth.  As Allāh says in more general terms in His Book: "So set your face truly to the faith, Allāh's handiwork according to the pattern (fitrah) on which He has made mankind, [Let there be] no change in the creation of Allāh." (Soorah ar-Room 30:30).[2]

 

Therefore, it is obligatory for us to accept the creation of Allāh as it is, not making any alterations to it.[3]  All of Allāh's creation is beautiful, because Allāh, the Khāliq (Creator) does not create anything except with beauty and perfection, which is why He says to mankind: "You can see no fault in the creation of ar-Rahmān [the Most Merciful]. Then look again: can you see any rifts? Then look again and yet again, your sight will return to you in a state of humiliation and worn out." (Soorah al-Mulk 67:3).

 

This may all sound quite strange when we consider how often we hear women complaining about their appearance.  In fact, it is estimated that over half of the Western women today actually perceive themselves to be ugly.  In addition, surveys show that nearly all women feel under pressure to "look good".  As a result, the quest for beauty has become a serious preoccupation for many women.

 

The fact is that Western women today may complain that they are not treated with equality and respect, but it is they themselves who have made it acceptable for society worldwide to see women merely as beauty-objects who are there to be ogled by the men who in turn are the impolite voyeurs.

 

In Islam, beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder; beauty is in the whole of creation, because Allāh - the One free of all imperfections - is the one responsible for it. And as Allāh says: "Your Lord creates whatsoever He wills and chooses: no choice have they. SubhānAllāh! And far removed is He from the partners they ascribe [to Him]." (Soorah al-Qasas 28:68).

 

So it is from the wisdom of Allāh that He has chosen to create some of us short, others tall, some fat, some thin, some dark-coloured, some light - all are beautiful and perfect in their own right. That is why we are taught from the Sunnah, the beautiful du'ā (supplication) that the Prophet, peace be upon him, would say: "O Allāh, as You have made my appearance beautiful, likewise make my character beautiful." (Allāhumma kamā hassanta khalaqee fa hassin khuluqee).

 

As Muslims, we must believe that evil and imperfection cannot be attributed to Allāh.  The desire to change any aspect of ourselves means, in effect, that we are dissatisfied with Allāh's choice and His handiwork, and that there is imperfection in what He has created.

 

All this is certainly not intended to discourage women to look after themselves and adorn themselves in lawful ways (e.g. wearing nice clothes, having nicely done hair, etc.). Indeed, adorning oneself is something that the wives are obliged to do for their husbands and Allāh rewards the woman who pleases the husband when he looks at her.[4]

 

But with these tremendous pressures on women to conform to the ideals set by the marketing media, it may be hard for Muslim women to resist feeling insecure or uncomfortable about their appearance.  Consequently, many Muslim women have shed their hijāb (Islamic dress code) for the sake of following fashion; Muslim women too develop inferiority complexes about themselves.  We must bear in mind that this search for the 'body beautiful' is, in reality, a deception from Shaitān (Satan). Shaitān has vowed that he will create such false desires in mankind.  He has said (as stated in the Qur'ān): "Surely I will arouse in them [mankind] false desires; and certainly I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and indeed I will order them to change the nature created by Allāh." (Soorah an-Nisā’ 4:119).  May Allāh always keep us safe from the false promises of Shaitān, for Verily Allāh is the One Who guides to the Truth.


[1] For full hadeeth text, see Saheeh Muslim (English trans, vo1. 3, p.1166, no.5301).

[2] Note that this forbiddance applies to the whole of creation, not just human beings. Therefore, defacing any part of Allāh’s creation is harām. By extension, this ruling also applies to all forms of genetic engineering, which are carried out on farm animals, for example, in order to procure more profitable meat from them.

[3] This is with the exception of those things which have been prescribed in the Sharee'ah, e.g. clipping the nails, shaving the underarms and around the private parts, etc.

[4] Ref. Musnad Ahmad, an-Nasā'ee and others.

[For full article, see source: www.beconvinced.com/archive/en/article.php?articleid=0118&catid=08&subcatname=Social Issues]