Is plastic surgery haram?
NB. By cosmetic surgery being mentioned, both cosmetic and plastic surgery is intended in this Fatwa.
The Fuqahaa’ (Jurists) have categorized cosmetic surgery into two types:
a) Cosmetic surgery that is permissible
b) Cosmetic surgery that is not permissible
Cosmetic surgery that is permissible
Plastic or cosmetic surgery for medical reasons is permissible. For example, in the case of a person losing a limb, being born with a physical defect or suffering from a type of deformity or ailment which disfigures a person’s features etc, it will be permissible to undergo cosmetic surgery to rectify or restore one’s limbs or appearance. This ruling is deduced from the incident of the Sahabi, Arfajah bin As’ad (Radiyallahu Anhu) whose nose was ripped off during one of the battles in the days of Jahiliyyah. He had reconstructed his nose with silver and after a while, it began to give off a foul odour. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) advised him to reconstruct it using gold (so that it does not go foul in the future) and he did so. (Abu Dawood, #: 4234, Sunan an-Nasai, #: 5161, Tirmizi, #: 1770)
عن عرفجة بن أسعد قال : أصيب أنفي يوم الكلاب في الجاهلية فاتخذت أنفا من ورق فأنتن علي فأمرني رسول الله صلى عليه وسلم أن أتخذ أنفا من ذهب
Imam Nawawi (Rahimahullah) states under the commentary of the Hadith:
لعن الله الواشمات ، والمستوشمات ، والمتنمصات والمتفلجات للحسن ، المغيرات خلق الله ، ما لى لا ألعن من لعنه رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – وهو فى كتاب الله
Allah has cursed those who tattoo, have (their bodies) tattooed, those who request their eyebrows to be plucked and those who create gaps between their teeth. They are changing what Allah has created. Why should I not curse those whom Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has cursed whilst it has been recorded in the Qur’aan?
وأما قوله المتفلجات للحسن فمعناه يفعلن ذلك طلبا للحسن وفيه اشارة إلى أن الحرام هو المفعول لطلب الحسن أما لواحتاجت إليه لعلاج أو عيب فى السن ونحوه فلابأس
“With regards to the words of the Hadith: “Those who create gaps between their teeth for beauty”, it refers to those who do it for beautification purposes. This indicates that to undergo cosmetic surgery merely for beautification purposes is prohibited. With regards to undergoing cosmetic surgery due to it being necessary, i.e.; for medical reasons or due to some fault in ones teeth etc, there is no sin in this”
(al-Minhaj, Commentary of Sahih Muslim, Vol: 14, Pg: 107, Turath)
Cosmetic surgery that is not permissible
Cosmetic surgery is not permissible when the purpose of this procedure is to take a normal body structure and improve it to make it look better and improve the person’s self-esteem. When Cosmetic surgery is not needed due to a deformity or health issue and the person simply wants to appear more attractive, then this falls under the category of Cosmetic surgery that is not permissible. For example, breast augmentation or altering the shape of one’s nose to improve one’s looks. Such surgery has been condemned in the Qur’an and Hadith as it entails interfering with the natural way Allah has created a person without a valid reason. In fact, the Qur’an condemns this and quotes this as part of the schemes of Shaitaan:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَنْ يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ وَمَنْ يُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَالًا بَعِيدًا (116) إِنْ يَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِهِ إِلَّا إِنَاثًا وَإِنْ يَدْعُونَ إِلَّا شَيْطَانًا مَرِيدًا (117) لَعَنَهُ اللَّهُ وَقَالَ لَأَتَّخِذَنَّ مِنْ عِبَادِكَ نَصِيبًا مَفْرُوضًا (118) وَلَأُضِلَّنَّهُمْ وَلَأُمَنِّيَنَّهُمْ وَلَآمُرَنَّهُمْ فَلَيُبَتِّكُنَّ آذَانَ الْأَنْعَامِ وَلَآمُرَنَّهُمْ فَلَيُغَيِّرُنَّ خَلْقَ اللَّهِ وَمَنْ يَتَّخِذِ الشَّيْطَانَ وَلِيًّا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ فَقَدْ خَسِرَ خُسْرَانًا مُبِينًا
Surely, Allah does not forgive that a partner is ascribed to Him, and forgives anything short of that for whomsoever He wills. Whoever ascribes a partner to Allah has indeed gone far astray. [4:117] They invoke none, besides Him, but feminine objects; and they invoke none but Satan, the rebel [4:118] whom Allah has cursed. He (the Satan) said, ―Surely I will take an appointed share from Your slaves, [4:119] and I will lead them astray, and I will tempt them with false hopes, and I will command them, whereby they shall slit the ears of cattle, and I will command them, whereby they shall alter the creation of Allah.‖ Whoever takes the Satan for friend, instead of Allah, incurs an obvious loss.
عن ابن مسعود – رضى الله عنه – قال لعن الله الواشمات ، والمستوشمات ، والمتنمصات والمتفلجات للحسن ، المغيرات خلق الله ، ما لى لا ألعن من لعنه رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – وهو فى كتاب الله
It is narrated on the authority of Ibn Mas’ood (Radiallahu Anhu) that he said, “Allah has cursed those who tattoo, have (their bodies) tattooed, those who request their eyebrows to be plucked and those who create gaps between their teeth. They are changing what Allah has created. Why should I not curse those whom Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has cursed whilst it has been recorded in the Qur’aan? (Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith #: 5943).
In conclusion, it is not permissible to undergo cosmetic surgery when the purpose is merely to beautify oneself or improve one’s appearance etc as it entails altering the creation of Allah without a valid reason. It will only be permissible to undergo cosmetic surgery when it is needed due to a health issue or some type of deformity on the body.
(Ahkamul Jirahah at Tibbiyya wal Aathaar al-Mutarattibah Alaiha, By Sheikh Muhammad Mukhtar ash-Shanqiti, Pg: 182 – 188, Maktabah as-Sahabah, Jeddah)
And Allah Knows Best
Suhail Tarmahomed (Mufti)
Checked and Approved:
Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Jamiatul Ulama (KZN) Fatwa Department