Is Cosmetic Surgery Allowed in Islam?

Introduction

Being exposed to the ever-alluring representation of “A Perfect Body” in media through the picture of celebrities and actors, we inevitably grow more careful about our own body and try to compare ourselves with that unrealistic image that is made real for us. And the only remedy we find to get closer to that so-called norm is to change our appearances with the help of cosmetic surgeries. Some people see a perfect correspondence between their physical features and inner confidence and instead of working on their inner abilities to elevate their character, try to make a better look. But there may be cases in which one is forced to undergo this kind of surgery out of necessity. What is Islam’s view about this matter on the whole? Are we allowed to have cosmetic surgeries or not? What are the conditions?

In what follows we will try to find the answers to these questions.

beauty, cosmetics surgery, Islam, Muslims

Islam’s View of Beauty

Beauty is a very relative concept and can at least be divided into two kinds: the beauty of body vs. the beauty of the soul. In Islam, both of these aspects are given importance. However the latter is regarded as being superior to the former; Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says in a narration that, “Allah does not look at your faces but your hearts and deeds” [1]. The beauty of your character and the purity of your soul which is born with you and then can be elevated by following Allah’s guidance is far more valuable than your beautiful body. What gets you closer to Allah is your pious deeds, since: “…Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most Godwary among you” (49:13).

Nevertheless, Islam is a religion which pays careful attention to the matter of personal hygiene and appearance. We have many narrations which emphasize this issue.  For instance, Imam Sadeq (AS) always recommended his followers to “be neat and orderly, since Allah is beautiful and loves that which is beautiful provided that it is lawful (Halal)”[2]. As the best example of practicing Islamic teachings in its ideal form, prophet Muhammad (PBUH) always appeared in his best shape both in the society and at home and in this way showed Islam’s concern about the matter of appearance and outer beauty.

cosmetic surgery, beauty, Islam 

What Does Islam Say about Cosmetic Surgery?

Having said all of the above, the idea of beautifying yourself through cosmetic surgery remains unresolved. According to the most Islamic jurists, having this kind of operation is not forbidden (Haram) in itself, provided that it is done for medical treatment such as removing a burn mark or curing a deformed part of the body [3].

However, undergoing cosmetics surgery just for the sake of beauty and without any purpose of medical treatment is only allowed if it is done by a doctor of the same gender since it is not out of necessity. This is because in Islam patients can refer to a doctor of the opposite gender, only when no same-gender doctor is available, or his proficiency is lower than a doctor of the opposite gender[3]. To have a better view about “Islamic Etiquette of Looking” as well as the matter of Mahrams, you can refer to the related articles.

Conclusion

It has been proved by many psychologists that having a better life, more often, is not related to your outward appearance; in other words, being beautiful does not necessarily make you happy. Instead, working on the inner beauty and elevating your soul leads you to a beautiful perception. However, this does not mean that Islam gives no importance to personal appearance and physical beauty. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) always rejected the notion of abandoning worldly pleasures altogether in favor of a solitary and monastic lifestyle [i].

Notes:

[i] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “ There is no monasticism in Islam” [4].

References:

[1] Mustadrak al Wassail, Vol 11, p. 264

[2] Usul al Kafi , Vol 6 , p.442

[3] Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Islamic Rulings: Medical Issues, retrieved from https://www.al-islam.org/islamic-rulings-medical-issues-sayyid-ali-khamenei

[4] Na’aman Ibn Muhammad Tamimi Maqribi, Daaem Al-Islam, Egypt: Dar Almaaref ,Vol. 2, p.193