On the basis of the following Hadīth, it is believed that women are not allowed to pluck their facial hair:

 

عن عبد اللَّهِ قال لَعَنَ الله الْوَاشِمَاتِ وَالْمُوتَشِمَاتِ وَالْمُتَنَمِّصَاتِ وَالْمُتَفَلِّجَاتِ لِلْحُسْنِ الْمُغَيِّرَاتِ خَلْقَ اللَّهِ فَبَلَغَ ذلك امْرَأَةً من بَنِي أَسَدٍ يُقَالُ لها أُمُّ يَعْقُوبَ فَجَاءَتْ فقالت إنه بَلَغَنِي أَنَّكَ لَعَنْتَ كَيْتَ وَكَيْتَ فقال ومالي لا أَلْعَنُ من لَعَنَ رسول اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَمَنْ هو في كِتَابِ اللَّهِ فقالت لقد قرأت ما بين اللَّوْحَيْنِ فما وَجَدْتُ فيه ما تَقُولُ قال لَئِنْ كُنْتِ قَرَأْتِيهِ لقد وَجَدْتِيهِ أَمَا قَرَأْتِ :وما آتَاكُمْ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وما نَهَاكُمْ عنه فَانْتَهُوا قالت بَلَى قال فإنه قد نهى عنه قالت فَإِنِّي أَرَى أَهْلَكَ يَفْعَلُونَهُ قال فَاذْهَبِي فَانْظُرِي فَذَهَبَتْ فَنَظَرَتْ فلم تَرَ من حَاجَتِهَا شيئا فقال لو كانت كَذَلِكَ ما جامعتنا

Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd has reported: “Allah curses those ladies who practice tattooing and those who get themselves tattooed, and those ladies who remove the hair from their eyebrows and faces and those who make artificial spaces between their teeth in order to look more beautiful whereby they change Allah’s creation.” His saying reached a lady from Banī Asad called Umm-i Ya‘qūb who came [to ‘Abdullāh] and said: “I have come to know that you have cursed such-and-such [ladies]?” He replied: “Why should I not curse those whom Allah’s Prophet has cursed and who are [cursed] in Allah’s Book!” Umm-i Ya‘qūb said: “I have read the whole Qur’ān, but I did not find in it what you say.” He said: “Verily, if you have read it [ie. the Qur’ān], you have found it. Didn’t you read: ‘And whatsoever the Prophet gave you take it and whatsoever he forbade you, you abstain [from it], (59:7)’. She replied: “Yes, I did.” He said: “Verily, Allah’s Prophet forbade such things.” She said: “But I see your wife doing these things?” He said: “Go and watch her.” She went and watched her but could not see anything in support of her statement. On that, he said: “If my wife was as you thought, I would not keep her in my company.”[1]

 

One must always keep in mind two fundamental principles while studying and interpreting Ahādīth:

Firstly, to determine, as far as possible, the context and the background, all Ahādīth on a particular subject should be collected and then analyzed to ascertain the overall picture.

Secondly, they must be related to the Qur’ān and Sunnah. This means that they must have a base in these two primary sources of Islam. They cannot and must not be taken independently.

Applying these principles to the above quoted Hadīth shows that there were a number of practices (only some of which have been mentioned in this Hadīth) which the Arab ladies used to undertake which entirely changed their natural physical appearance and some of which actually gave a false impression of their outward looks.

Almost all the major books of Hadīth mention the various texts in which these practices have been narrated. The initial part of the Hadīth mentioned above “... whereby change Allah’s creation” itself suggests the relationship of this Hadīth with the Qur’ān: Verse 31 of Sūrah Rūm, reads thus:

 

فِطْرَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ (30:30)

Follow the nature upon which Allah has created mankind. It is not proper to change this nature. (30:30)

 

It is in accordance with this principle mentioned in the Qur’ān that the Prophet (sws) forbade a number of such practices. In other words, the nature – physical as well as spiritual – of a human being must be preserved in the shape Allah has created. Consequently, anything which may become a means of changing or modifying this nature is undesirable. However, a fine distinction exists between beautification to satisfy one’s aesthetic sense and alteration, the former being a permissible thing.

These Ahādīth also mention a practice called tanammus@, which means removing the hair which extends on to the forehead in a particular style. This again was forbidden by the Prophet (sws). The Hadīth quoted above contains this word; however it has been erroneously translated as “to remove hair from the face.”

In the light of this analysis, it is evident that removing hair from the face is something which the Prophet (sws) never forbade.