Answered by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam
Question: Is cosmetic surgery allowed?
Answer: In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
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.
Sayyiduna Abd Allah 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 also cursed such women.” (Recorded by Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim in their respective Sahih collections)
In view of the above, the jurists (fuqaha) have declared all types of mutilation to one’s body to be unlawful (haram) unless when Shariah permits to do so, such as: circumcision, trimming the hair of 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 light of the above explanation) 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, one will be committing the sin of “changing the nature created by Allah” (taghyir khalq Allah).
However, if there is a genuine need, for example, a particular organ of the body is severely deformed, 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 Tirmidhi (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 (Allah bless him & give him peace).
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: Raddal-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 being abnormal or deformed, then there is a dispensation of permissibility.
And Allah Knows Best
Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK