Answered by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
In the name of Allah Most Merciful, Most Compassionate,
Mutilation of one’s body has been clearly prohibited in Islam. Allah Almighty mentions in Surah al-Nisa the words of Shaytan, when he said:
“I will mislead them and I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and to deface the (fair) natural creation of Allah.” (4: 119).
To deface the fair nature created by Allah, both physically and spiritually, is what Shaytan likes and orders to practise.
In a Hadith it is stated:
“Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (Allah be pleased with him) said: “Allah’s curse is on those women who practise tattooing and get themselves tattooed, and those who remove hair from their faces, and those who make space between their teeth artificially to beautify themselves. They are such that they change the nature and features created by Allah. Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) also cursed such women” [Recorded by Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim in their respective Sahih collections]
In view of the above, the Fuqaha have declared that all types of mutilation to one’s body is unlawful (haram) unless when Shari’ah permits to do so, such as: circumcision, trimming the hair from the body, cutting the nails, etc… or that which is considered an adornment for the body, such as: piercing the ears or the nose, etc.
Cosmetic surgery for the purpose of beautifying oneself is also (in the light of the above) impermissible. The body given to us by our creator is a trust (amanah), thus it is unlawful to tamper with it in any way. If one does so, then he will be committing the sin of ‘changing the nature created by Allah (taghyeer khalq Allah).
However, if there is a genuine need, as in a particular organ of the body is severely deformed, e.g. the nose is damaged or a child is born with six fingers, etc…, then to perform cosmetic surgery will become permissible.
Imam Abu Dawud, Imam Nasa’i and Imam Tirmizi (Allah have mercy on them) relate in their respective Sunan collections, that a Companion (sahabi) by the name of Arfajah ibn Aswad (Allah be pleased with him) had his nose damaged in the battle of kulab. He replaced it first with silver, and then with a nose made of gold, with the order and consent of the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).
It is stated in al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya:
“If one intends to cut off an extra finger, it will be permissible as long as there is no fear of perishing. (4 /114).
It should be also remarked here, that if cosmetic surgery was carried out due to a genuine reason, then the ablution (wudu) and obligatory bath (ghusl) will be valid by letting the water flow on the surgical area, even though the water does not reach the actual body (See: Radd al-Muhtar, 1/104).
In conclusion, cosmetic and plastic surgery for the purpose of beautifying and adornment is impermissible. However, if there is a genuine need due to something abnormal, then there is a dispensation of permissibility.
And Allah knows best
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