Islam, woman and make-up

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Islam, as has been incessantly repeated, has come to perfect human life. It is the religion which includes all aspects of living. It is a complete way of life for men as well as woman. Woman is specially respected and privileged in Islam. In actual fact, she is noble and precious, so precious that she needs to be protected from the gaze of strangers. In order to preserve her nobility and her honour, it is imperative for her not to put herself on public display. She is as delicate and fragile as a fern. By nature, she is conceived in the shadow of the home and is hurt when exposed to the sun.

In truth, the public display of woman is an unfair exploitation of her innate qualities. She deserves to be preserved, covered and safeguarded as she is the dearest creation in the eyes of Allah Ta’ala.

The following hadith will certainly please many a woman:

Prophet Muhammad (saw) has described her as the best when he said: This world is temporary, the best thing that one can find in this temporary world is a pious woman.” (Sahih Muslim)

Piety is the quality that is most appreciated in a woman. But the question arises: Can a pious woman embellish herself and dress herself well and also doll herself with make-up? The answer is “Yes”, provided she does make-up only for her husband and not for other male strangers as Allah has decreed: “And they should not display their finery except for their husbands….” (Surah An-Noor: 31)

A wife should present herself to her husband while being seductive, beautiful and make-up, at the time of intimacy in the couple. The Shariah recommends the beautification of the wife for the husband’s pleasure. Indeed, it is a mutual obligation in a union.

In the time of Prophet Muhammad (saw), the women did also apply make-up. At that time, men were spending their time in the propagation of Islam. Their journeys during their expeditions were sometimes of long duration and could even last for some months. However, on the way back, the men used to camp at some distance from the sight of their wives before entering Madinah Munawwarah, in order to give them time to prepare and beautify themselves for their husbands.

The Prophet of Allah (saw) has advised us thus: “When you return from your journeys, do not enter your houses by surprise at night, in order to allow your wives to purify themselves (by removing pubic hair and hair under the armpits) and also to take good care of their hair.” (Sahih Muslim)

In another hadith, Hazrat Anas (ra) has told us about an act of bravery by his mother Umm-e-Sulaim. “The child whom Umm-e-Sulaim had borne for Abu Talha had died…. She told her children: Do not say anything to Abu Talha… then she put on make-up for him (her husband) in a way which was better than what she used to do.” (Sahih Muslim)

It is good to know that preparation of this kind should be mutual, that is both partners in a union should do it. The holy Prophet (saw) used to adopt a precautionary measure by cleaning his mouth while entering his house. Someone had asked our mother Hazrat Aisha (ra): “Which act was the first taken by the Prophet of Allah (saw) when entering the house?” She replied: ‘The use of miswaak.” That is, he used clean his teeth with a piece of wood. (Sahih Muslim)

Keeping oneself clean, observing hygiene and putting on perfume in order not to cause any discomfort to one’s wife when being intimate with her is a sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (saw).

But Islam is a moderate religion and one must therefore respect the ordained limits. This means that the make-up must be done within the limits ordained by the Prophet (saw).

The Prophet of Allah (saw) has prohibited women from using make-up or perfuming themselves for men who are strangers. He has qualified such an act as being more obscene than adultery: “When a woman uses perfume on herself and walks pass men so that they smell her perfume, then she is a fornicator (she has committed adultery). (Al Mustadrak Ala Sahihain)

Putting on make-up or perfuming oneself when going out in public to take part in functions or attending marriages is a great sin. May Allah protect us from it! (Ameen). In addition, the prophet of Allah (saw) has prohibited women form wearing men’s clothes or imitating men. It is also not allowed to change one’s natural physical appearance. There is total prohibition regarding the plucking of eyebrows, the tattooing of one’s body, undergoing cosmetic surgery or piercing one’s belly button.

On the other hand, one is allowed to remove hair on/under the arms or on the feet. One must know that nail varnish is prohibited whereas ‘mehendi’ is authorized and highly recommended.

It is important to know that one must not use make-up containing animal fat, especially lipstick.

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