The way we look is usually considered as an expression of our character. That’s why it concerns us very much –maybe just a little too much these days. As a Muslim who tries to lead an Islamic life, it might pop into our heads if we are allowed to wear makeup in Islam, use jewelry, perfume, etc. or not.
This question concerns both men and women, naturally a bit more women though. Here, we would like to address the issue in a more general sense; what Islam says about wearing makeup in different situations. And to give a general preliminary answer, as our opening, yes, Islam allows us to wear makeup and jewelry as long as modesty is preserved.
But let us now have a more detailed look at some specific places where the question has been specially brought up and talked of in Islamic traditions:
It might surprise you to find out that Islam particularly recommends us –though not as an obligation– to be in good shape, wear our best clothes, brush our teeth, wear perfume, and in short, to wear makeup when we stand to pray.
And so did Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) prepared himself for every prayer (Salat) since “God is beautiful and loves beauty,”  and conforming to this verse of the Quran:
“O Children of Adam! Put on your adornment on every occasion of prayer… Say, ‘Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants, and the good things of [His] provision?’…” (7:31,32)
Maybe this is where wearing makeup in Islam is most stressed on. Both men and women are time and again required to appear in the way that looks pleasantest to their better half, especially in their solitary moments.
It is considered a great merit for a woman to put on her make-up, wear jewelry and perfume to charm her husband , and as great a merit for a man always to look neat, well-groomed, perfumed, and dressed up in the way that gratifies his wife, even though it takes a little trouble, and even though it’s not the kind of outfit he likes best .
A man or a woman should never have the impression that their spouse is more concerned with how he or she looks to others than to them!
Here, actually, Islamic Interpretations are varied. On the one hand, all Muslims are repeatedly recommended to look neat and groomed in public . On the other hand, red lines have been drawn where an important Islamic principle is at risk: modesty.
Men are generally allowed to wear jewelry, such as rings or necklace (though necklaces are more commonly used by women in some Muslim countries), but they are forbidden from wearing any golden ornaments, maybe because Islam always wants there to be a certain line between men and women’s appearance, in the same way as Muslim men are required to wear a beard.
Women, too, are allowed to wear make-up, jewelry, or perfume in public as long as it doesn't make them appear sexually attractive. And of course, the bottom line for sexual attraction could be different from culture to culture. Several verses of the holy Quran ask women to keep a modest look in the public:
“… [tell the faithful women] not to display their charms, beyond what is [acceptably] visible… And let them not thump their feet to make known their hidden ornaments.” (24:31)
This verse mentions an example of immodesty at the time and culture of early Islam. But the rule applies to any kind of appearance or manner which is intended or is very likely, to provoke sexual interest in anybody other than one’s spouse.
According to what we said, therefore, Muslims are very much suggested to, so to say, wear makeup in Islam for praying and for one’s spouse. They are also advised to do so in the public sphere so far as one’s appearance is not in a way that could excite unlawful (Haram) sexual temptations.
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 83, p. 169
- Al-Kafi, vol. 11, p. 165 , Al-Kafi, vol. 11, p. 168
- Makarim al-Akhlaq, p. 80
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 16, p. 249
To answer this question about wearing Hijab, we should first understand why God has sent down religion to man and why He orders man what to do and what to avoid.
Imagine a person who invents an electronic device, for example, a computer; he knows how the computer should be used to give the best outcome. Therefore, there is always a manual coming with the computer that tells us how to use it for a better result. So the user uses the manual to keep the computer safe and productive.
God has created man, and He knows what is good and what is harmful to him/her. He sent the religion and the Quran as a guide for human beings. Following the instructions in the book will lead to the useful, peaceful and productive life of a human.
Some people say that being a Muslim is not merely to pray or fast or observe the Islamic clothing rules (Hijab), but it is the faith of a person that makes him/her a true Muslim, and obeying the Islamic rules is not as important as having pure faith in God. But the fact is that reaching such levels of faith is only possible by passing the phase of being in complete obedience to God.
Islam means submission and being a Muslim means that one accepts to submit to God’s orders. The father of all Muslims, Christians, and Jews according to the Quran is Prophet Abraham (PBUH): “the faith of your father, Abraham. He named you ‘Muslims’ before” (22: 78). Therefore, from the time of Prophet Abraham (PBUH) the followers of all monotheist religions are called Muslims.
Although some Islamic rules may look hard to obey, the fact is that “Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire hardship for you” (2: 185), and the rulings of Islam are to make our life easier, not harder. God has provided specific frameworks for us to reach a comfortable, peaceful and prosperous life, and to face fewer challenges in life. One of those rules is observing the Islamic dress code (wearing Hijab).
Our problem is that we can only see limited dimensions of an issue. For example, in case of the Islamic dress code (Hijab), we just see that it may be hard for women to cover up in a specific way. Or they may be unable to present their beauties in the society, while the Islamic dress code (Hijab) is there to make women protected in their social relations. Hijab is for women to be respected and recognized because of their character, beliefs and capabilities, NOT their appearance and physical beauty. It also helps them be less troubled by those men who have sick hearts [i].
Before one realizes that Islam is the real truth and as long as people are in search of the truth, there is no blame on them for not being a Muslim and not following the Islamic rules. But, as soon as one understands that Islam is the true religion from God and the most perfect one, then he/she should logically become a Muslim.
After accepting the main principles of Islam (the Islamic axioms), if you have only a few misconceptions about some of the Islamic rulings such as the Islamic dress code (Hijab), it is suggested that you embrace and try to observe all the Islamic rules, especially the Islamic dress code (Hijab).
This is just like taking a prescription from our GP when feel obliged to take all the medicine for a better result without knowing the reason for using some of it. As you start acting according to some of those rules that do not make sense to you, you can begin to study and to understand the reason for some details that may be unknown to you right now.
When we believe in Islam, we should believe in it as a whole. It is not correct to accept some parts of it and reject the other parts because in that case, the peaceful life that is promised to Muslims by obeying all religious rules will not be reachable. This uncompleted obedience is like a machine that has lost some of its components and does not work properly. A Muslim who does not obey all the rulings still counts as a Muslim but does not gain the entire benefits that Islam can bring to a person with complete obedience.
Remember again that Islam means being submissive to God’s orders. We always aim to be the best at something that we start. For example, we may strive to be the best in our education or our career. The same should be with our religion so that one day we may enjoy being as friendly to God as Abraham (PBUH).
“Who has a better religion than him who submits his will to Allah, being virtuous, and follows the creed of Abraham, a Hanif? And Allah took Abraham for a dedicated friend.” (4: 125)
Becoming a Muslim and obeying the Islamic rules has its own adversities, but at the same time, it has many advantages. A real Muslim who does not only stick to apparent rules of Islam and uses the spiritual tips and hints for his/her spiritual growth can reach the most peaceful life; “Look! The friends of Allah will indeed have no fear, nor will they grieve” (10: 62)
The word "Hijab"—which literally means screening or, better said, protecting something from the view of others—refers, in the Islamic context, to a kind of attire or a piece of clothing that covers a woman's body and hair.
Not long before the advent of Islam were women regarded as objects of men's lust; female children were buried alive. To be brief, women were subject to physical exploitation and degradation. Islam, however, elevated women's status in society and granted them equitable treatment.
This idea is underscored many times in the Quran: “And whoever does righteous deeds, whether male or female, should he be faithful such shall enter paradise and they will not be wronged] so much as [the speck on a date-stone” (4: 124); or, “Whoever commits a misdeed shall not be requited except with its like, but whoever acts righteously, whether male or female, should he be faithful such shall enter paradise, provided therein without any reckoning” (40: 40). There are copious other examples in this regard.
The fact that Hijab (in Islam) is not exclusively for women is equally important and worthy of attention; men also should be heedful of their clothing and their behavior. As a matter of fact, the Holy Quran first speaks of the word 'Hijab' about men and then women: “[Prophet], Tell the faithful men to cast down their looks and to guard their private parts. That is more decent for them. Allah is indeed well aware of what they do. And tell the faithful women to cast down their looks and to guard their private parts, and not to display their charms, except for what is outward, and let them draw their scarfs over their bosoms, and not display their charms except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband's fathers, or their sons, or their husband's sons, or their brothers, or their brothers" sons, or their sisters" sons, or their women, or their slave girls, or male dependants lacking [sexual] desire, or children uninitiated to women's parts. And let them not thump their feet to make known their hidden ornaments. Rally to Allah in repentance, O faithful, so that you may be felicitous” (24: 30-31).
One out of the many benefits of the Hijab is to preserve and secure the stability of marriage, but how? Dressing modestly reduces extramarital sexual tensions between men and women.
Hijab, in essence, obliterates the ill thoughts of sick minds. In social interactions also Hijab does urges men and women to focus on the personality of each other, to build their relationship upon respect, virtue, and decency. In this way, they protect and propagate chastity and morality in society.
There are many great examples of chaste and pious women in the history of Islam who have tremendously contributed to the advancement of Islam and humanity in general.
As a key Islamic value, Hijab is consistent with human nature. Men and women are by nature in favor of maintaining their dignity and self-esteem, and Hijab paves this way; it gives them an inner strength and empowers them to tell the world their decency and virtue cannot be compromised. The result is inner peace.
Therefore, from the teachings of the Quran, we come to realize that Hijab is the best principle (or code of conduct, if you will) that guarantees a better condition for male-female interactions in society because it keeps rampant desires on a tight leash. On a larger scale, observation of the Hijab prevents the society from falling into corruption and degeneracy.
We also realized that Hijab is not merely limited to the physical covering of the head and body; in fact, the physical Hijab must be accompanied by the Hijab of the heart and the mind.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life—with its common pitfalls and concealed traps—Hijab is truly a liberation beyond measure; it frees us from the slavish imitation of pseudo-liberal fashions that appear by day and vanish by night. It is a shield that protects our honor and helps us focus more and more on our superior goals.