Response: In one of your answers you have stated that there is nothing wrong with women plucking their facial hairs. I have some reservations about your deduction as I have contrary evidence:

`Abdullah Ibn Mas`udhas 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 Bani Asad called Ummi Yaqub who came (to `Abdullah) and said: I have come to know that you have cursed such-and-such (ladies)? He replied: Why should I not curse these whom Allah's Apostle has cursed and who are (cursed) in Allah's Book! Ummi Yaqub said: I have read the whole Qur'an, but I did not find in it what you say. He said: Verily, if you have read it (i.e. the Qur'an), you have found it. Didn't you read: And whatsoever the Apostle gives you take it and whatsoever he forbids you, you abstain (from it). (59.7) She replied: Yes, I did. He said: Verily, Allah's Apostle 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.(Bukhari, Kitabu'l Libas)

The opinion here in Saudia is that the word plucking/removing is used and with special reference to face; therefore any form of removal of hair from face is cursed according to this hadith. Now as my wife practices Hairdressing, Electrolysis and Beauty Therapy she is a bit confused at your reply. She has been studying Islam at her college for the past four years. She has been taught that such a practice is strictly forbidden. She has since then stopped doing so, but when we read your view, the subject has come up again. We would like to know the proof of your deduction.

Comment: In my opinion, one must always keep in consideration two fundamental principles while studying and interpreting Ahadith:

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

Secondly, they must be related to the Qur'an 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 hadith you have referred to shows that there were a number of practices (only some of which have been mentioned in this hadith) 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 hadith mention the various texts in which these practices have been is narrated. The initial part of the hadith you have alluded to `... whereby change Allah's creation' itself suggests the relationship of this hadith with the Qur'an:. Verse 31 of Surah Rum, reads thus:

Follow the nature upon which Allah has created mankind. It is not proper to change this nature. (31:31)

It is in accordance with this principle mentioned in the Qur'an 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 quench one's aesthetic sense and alteration, the former being a permissible thing.

These Ahadith also mention a practice called "Tannamus" which means removing the hair which extends on to the forehead in a particular style. This again was forbidden by the Prophet (sws). The hadithyou have mentioned 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 did forbid.