Shaykh Muhammad Salim Ghisa is a prominent young scholar in the UK. He has studied Islam in India, UK and Jordan.
The problem of living in the West is to try and keep up with the Western phenomena and this is done whether it means its Haram or Halal. We find sisters with perfectly formed eyebrows wanting to reshape them so that they will be part of the picture.
According to the Shariah (Islamic Law) it is not permissible for a Muslim girl to pluck, trim or shape her eyebrows as this is against the natural beauty that Allah(swt) has given to her.
This has been clarified in the following Hadith: “The Prophet (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: Allah has cursed those women who modify their eyebrows or ask others to do it for them. (Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim).
As we can see the warning from the Prophet (pbuh) is a very strong one. This is why great scholars like Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani, Tabari, Nawawi, among others have actually prohibited (forbidden) any kind of modification to the eyebrows, even removing hair from in between linked eye-brows.
Tabari has considered it to be changing the creation of Allah. However, they have permitted the removal of hair for women from the chin and above the upper lip (if a beard or a moustache develops), since this is to avoid resembling men.
We learn from this that it is not permissible for women to remove any hair from the eyebrows for the sake of just beautifying themselves. However, it would be permissible for a woman to remove the hair from above the nose (if the eyebrows have become linked) as this is considered to be not-normal.
It may also be considered permissible to clip off one or two stray hairs from around the eyebrows or for very bushy eyebrows to be reduced to normal size and moderation. This type of concession (i.e. to remove hair for the sake of eliminating a defective appearance) can be found in the following:
Ibn 'Abidin al-Shami(1) writes in his commentary on the al-Durr al-Mukhtar(2) concerning the prohibition of plucking hair from the face:
It is possible that the prohibition mentioned [in the hadith] is if this is done for the sake of beautifying oneself for the sake of strangers, otherwise, if she has some hair on her face which her husband dislikes, then the prohibition of removing such hair seems to be far-fetched.
This is because [self-] beautification for women is recommended for the sake of chastity… It states in the Tabyin al-Maharim(3) that removing facial hair is unlawful, unless a beard or moustache grows on a women, in which case it will not be unlawful to remove it, but would actually be recommended.
It is related in the Tatarkhaniyya(4) from al-Mudmarat that there is no objection in removing the hair from eyebrows and face so long as it does not cause one to resemble a man. The same is mentioned in the Mujtaba (Radd al-Muhtar 5:239).
Taking the hadith and the various statements of the Hanafi jurists into consideration the following could be concluded:
1. It would be permitted for a woman to remove a beard or a moustache that appears on her face. Even though it is facial hair, but since it is to stop women from resembling men, it is permitted. This is the opinion of the majority of scholars, in fact they have said that it is recommended, not just permitted. The same will be to bleach this hair instead.
2. If the eyebrows are linked in between, it would be permissible to remove the excess hair from in between to separate them [i.e. the hair above the nose], this can be done by clipping them off, plucking, trimming or shaving. The reason for this is that linked eyebrows are looked upon as a defect, hence it would be permissible to remove it.
3. A 'few' stray hairs around the eyebrows would be permissible to remove by clipping them off, plucking, trimming or shaving is acceptable if it looks defective, or for married women creates abhorrence in their husband. This does not mean it is permitted to remove a whole line or two of fine hair from around the eyebrows [as is the case nowadays].
4. Dense bushy eyebrows may be trimmed down to a more normal size. However, one must exercise great caution in this regard, since one does not want it to fall under the warning of the hadith. If one is not sure how to determine the normal size they should not act on the benefit of the doubt, but rather follow the more cautionary approach and trim less. What so-called 'regular' [especially non-Muslim] people consider nowadays as the norm i.e. eyebrows that are shaped in particular unnatural or reduced to thin lines can not be considered as acceptable in Islamic law due to the severity of the hadith.
5. Great caution has to be exercised in this regard, since the hadith is very strict and there are some Hanafi scholars who have taken more strict position. For instance, Mullah Ali al-Qari (Allah be pleased with him) comments [relating from Imam Nawawi] that plucking of the facial hair is haram (unlawful) for a woman with the exception of moustache or beard hairs (Mirqat al-Mafatih 8:218). The concessions mentioned above are for the removal of a defective appearance and not for purely beautification purpose, hence, caution in this matters is the way.
Of course Allah knows best.
- Shaykh Ibn Abidin is one of the highest Authorities of the Hanafi Fiqh. He was known for his brilliance in Hanafi Fiqh and Hadith. His most famous works are used as the complete authority of the Hanafi school of thought which is Raddul Mukhtar the explanation documentary for the great Hanafi scholar Imam Haskafi's Durr-e-Mukhtar. He lived in Syria (8th century Islam) and hence his title As-Shami.
- Durr-al-Muktar was written in 1070 (6th century Islam) by Imam Haskafi who was the main Mufti and complete authority of Syria. His works are regarded as the masterpiece of Hanafi Fiqh by all.
- Tabyin Al Maharim was written in the 8th century by Sinan Ad Din Yusuf Al Hanafi an Egyptian scholar. The works are on Islamic Ethical and Moral codes and law. Again accepted by Hanafis throughout.
- Tatarkhaniyyah is a very important work of Fatwas released in the 7th century. All Hanafi jurist regard it as authentic and use it in their works.