Moral Teachings of Islam- Beautification & Behavior

Summary of 6.18′ “Dress Code Continued”
In the last few programs we focused on the safeguarding of honor as one of the objectives of Islamic law and part of the moral teachings of Islam.’ More importantly we dealt with issues as to the prohibition of fornication and adultery.’ There are also preventative measures that Islam requires in order to prevent this from happening.’ This includes the purification of society from pornography and indecency and the prohibition of lusty looks to the opposite sex.’ The last few programs we also dealt with modesty and the dress code in Islam for both men and women.

Today’s series follows these programs because personal adornment and beautification is one aspect of the over all appearance that connects with the question of dress.’ Like dress beautification and adornment is not prohibited but Islam provides boundaries that protect and safeguard an individual’s social morality.

6.19” Beautification and Behavior

Host:’ Can you give us an outline of today’s topic in general?

Jamal Badawi:

This topic does not focus on women but involves the responsibility of males and females with some slight differences depending on the nature of the sexes.’ We also have a division of acts in Islam broken up into five parts: mandatory, commendable, permissible, detestable and forbidden.’ For each of these five categories we have various codes that deal with both males and females, others that are more suited for males and others that are more suited for females.

For this topic we have nothing under mandatory acts.’ Under commendable for the male it is commendable to grow a beard and trim the mustache.’ For females it is commendable to use Henna (a die used for beautification).’ Under the commendable both females and males are recommended to die grey hairs, clip nails, beautification of self for spouse in the privacy of ones home as well as other personal hygiene that is related to beautification.’ Permissible is anything that is not specified in the other categories.’ Also gold and silk are permissible for females but not for males.’ Under detestable we have the plucking of grey hairs, qasa’a which has to do with shaving of the head or excesses (which could also be forbidden if it is overly done).’ Under forbidden we have gold and silk for males, perfume and makeup when in public for females. Under the category of forbidden which applies to both males and females we have tattoos, wigs, plucking the eyebrows, filling the teeth and non corrective plastic surgery and tempting walk and talk (may apply more to females).

Host:’ Can we go back and examine these categories a little more closely beginning with the commendable acts?

Jamal Badawi:

First of all the category of mandatory is blank because it is different from dress in that dress has a certain minimum requirement that has to be covered or concealed.’ Of course for the question of beautification we can’t have something that is really mandatory where one is a sinner if they don’t do it.

Under commendable it is recommended according to the teaching of the Prophet (PBUH) to grow a beard.’ It should be kept up and trimmed and doesn’t have to be excessively long.’ In fact according to some jurists it is forbidden to shave the beard and others say that it is only a recommended act and if it is done that is good and if not it is only detestable that one shaves it.’ Second, it is commendable for males to trim the mustache.’ Some people misinterpret this to mean shaving the mustache whereas the saying of the Prophet (PBUH) that deals with this does not say shave it but shorten it so that the hair doesn’t come over the lips and interfere with meals.

For females it is commendable for them to use Henna (a die) that is used in the hands.’ The Prophet (PBUH) recommended women to die their hands, which was not regarded as display of to much beauty.’ Henna also softened the hands.

It is commendable for both males and females to die grey hairs.’ Again there is a saying of the Prophet (PBUH) that this is something that gives Muslims a unique identity because others in his time did not die grey hair.’ There is one case however where the person is old and his whole head is white he should die it but while avoiding black.’ Also Henna can be used to die hair.’ Clipping of the nails is also recommended.’ This shows that it is not appropriate for Muslim males or females to grow their nails which can begin to look like claws.’ It is also commendable in Islam to beautify one’s self for their spouse in the privacy of their homes.’ Some people get the wrong notion that because Islam emphasizes chastity and modesty for a woman in public that this means that she can not beautify herself.’ The truth is far from this as a woman is encouraged to do so in the privacy of her home.’ Indeed this is a mutual responsibility that some men are not aware of.’ Ibn Abass a companion of the Prophet (PBUH) once said ‘I beautify myself for my wife as she beautifies herself for me.” There are also other aspects of personal hygiene that are commendable.

Host:’ What are these other aspects of personal hygiene?

Jamal Badawi:

The best way to answer this question is to refer to a saying of the Prophet (PBUH) which is narrated in Muslim and Bukhari in which it says that the Prophet recommended five things for the Muslim as commendable acts: circumcision (for males), removal of pubic hair, removing arm pit hair, trimming the moustache (for males), and clipping the nails.’ In the collection of Hadith by Muslim the companions narrate the Prophet said that people should not leave hair in the above mentioned areas or nails without clipping for more than forty days.’ This is not only a matter of hygiene but is related to our topic because it is one aspect of beautification.

Host:’ Can we elaborate on the permissible and the detestable?

Jamal Badawi:

Permissible is defined as any other act which is otherwise defined as part of the other categories.’ But I like to point out that it is permissible for females to use gold and silk which is not permissible for males.

In the category of detestable are acts that are not totally and completely forbidden in a sense of being major mistakes but are hated acts.’ These include plucking of grey hairs.’ Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that when a believer has a grey hair it is his light.’ This means that it should not be plucked but dying is commendable.’ Another detestable act that was not only known in the days of the Prophet (PBUH) but is still practiced today and is called in Arabic qasa’a.’ Qasa’a means shaving part of the hair and leaving the rest.’ This is not trimming or cutting ones hair as one can shorten their hair but qasa’a is to shave one part of the hair while leaving the rest.’ One can shave their hair completely, trim it, cut it or leave it as it is.

It is detestable to have accesses, even in things that are permissible, if it stimulates desire and lust in the opposite sex.’ Depending on the degree of access it could fall under the category of the forbidden acts.

Host:’ Can you clarify the last category of forbidden?

Jamal Badawi:

First of all there are things that are forbidden specifically to males.’ Gold and silk are permissible for females they are forbidden for Muslim males.’ It is also a forbidden for females, in regard to the natural differences of the sexes, to wear perfume and makeup when in public.’ A woman can wear perfume and makeup freely in their own home without being exposed to people who are not supposed to see this display of beauty.’ This rule doesn’t apply to males because when a female wears a fragrant perfume definitely adds a great deal of attraction to herself and by nature it becomes very tempting for males.’ I am not saying that perfume for males is not attractive but in a comparative degree it is much more damaging morally if women go around with lots of perfume or makeup.

A forbidden act for both males and females is tattooing (using a needle to place die under the skin) which fools around with the nature of Allah’s creation and is something permanent that can not be easily undone.’ Wearing wigs whether they are made of natural hair or of synthetic hair is also forbidden for both.’ Indeed the Prophet (PBUH) called wigs or extensions as falsification which gives the wrong impression of what a person has.

Another point that is emphasized in the sayings of the Prophet is the plucking of the eye brows.’ The term used in the sayings is tarqique which means thinning of the eye brows or as was the practice in some cases shaving/plucking the whole eyebrow and drawing in an eyebrow instead.’ I should indicate here however that there is a reference which is found in Tirmithi that a woman came to Aisha (may God be pleased with her) the wife of the Prophet (PBUH) and she asked her if she could remove hair that is on her face in order to beautify herself for her husband and Aisha replied ‘Remove those things that are embarrassing as much as you can.” Some interpret this as being a few hairs here and there which are unusual for women to grow and might be embarrassing can be removed.

A third forbidden act is filling of the teeth.’ This used to be a custom of some women who wanted to look younger and would file their teeth so as to make them look smaller which is called washr in Arabic.’ The other thing is that some used to widen the gap between the teeth which was regarded by some women as a sign of beauty so they would file between the teeth.’ This is also forbidden by the Prophet (PBUH).’ This act is called tafleej in Arabic.’ In addition to the fact that it is forbidden in Islam I am sure that form a medical stand point filling the teeth may not be very healthy.

One more item that is forbidden for both males and females is non-corrective plastic surgery.’ There is nothing wrong with a person getting corrective surgery when they are involved in an accident and there is some kind of disfiguration.’ In this case one is only trying to correct the damage that has occurred as a result of the accident.’ Some jurists indicated that if a person is born with a deformity which causes embarrassment that there is nothing wrong with having plastic surgery.’ What is meant by non-corrective or unnecessary plastic surgery is when someone who has a fine face but feels like their nose was a little smaller they would look more beautiful.’ People now have face lifts to make themselves look younger or have unnecessary surgery and this is not permitted.’ To be overly obsessed with one’s material/physical appearance unnecessarily has been forbidden in Islam and is regarded as a rebellion against the creation of God.

Host:’ What are some references on some of the forbidden acts?

Jamal Badawi:

There are numerous documentations found in the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet (PBUH).’ Some are general and some are more specific and relate to these particular categories.’ Among the general ones is a verse in (4:119) which indicates that these kinds of desires are a satanic inspiration.’ The verse says that Satan says ‘I will mislead them, and I will create in them false desires; I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and to deface the (fair) nature created by Allah.” There is a saying of the Prophet (PBUH) in the collection of Muslim it says that the Prophet cursed a woman who does the tattoo and the woman who gets it done and the woman who files the teeth and the woman who gets her teeth filed.’ In Bukhari and Muslim there is also a prohibition for those who make gaps between their teeth in order to look more beautiful.’ In another saying which is narrated in Bukhari, Tirmithi and Abut Dawood the Prophet again cursed the women who joined their hair with other hair (wigs and extensions natural or otherwise) and those who pluck or thin their eyebrows.

Many of the sayings of the Prophet may use the female gender only because they are more likely to do this but not because it is not forbidden for males.’ One jurist, Yusuf Al Qaradawiy, says that if these acts are forbidden for women they are even more forbidden for a man.’ If a woman is not supposed to falsify her appearance by wearing a wig then it is more logical that a man should abstain from committing these type of acts.

Host:’ Could you expand on the prohibition of tempting walk and talk?

Jamal Badawi:

This was included largely under codes for females because it is sickening to imagine a man walking and talking in a tempting manner.’ There are reference to this in the 21st and the 33rd chapter and it refers most of all to women.’ First, it shows that walking while stamping the feet or shaking the body in order to attract attention would be contrary to the whole concept of chastity which is not just an outwardly display of piety but the movement be stimulating.

As for talking there is no problem for a Muslim male to hear a female talk.’ In chapter 33 of the Quran it instructs women not to speak in a way that is seductive or would be interpreted as such.

I would like to briefly mention two things.’ One is the aspect of privacy.’ It is forbidden for a male and female who are not lawfully together through marriage or family to be alone in a park, apartment or any other place.

Finally, an aspect that relates to Penal Law in Islam is called alqasf which refers to a person who accuses a chaste woman in the matter of her honor.’ This is regarded as a criminal act which is very punishable in Islamic Law.

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