Saturday, April 16, 2016

Saudi Arabia - Common pitfalls for women

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We strive to be good Muslims, making sure not to miss any of the five daily prayers.

Come Ramadan, and we are fasting by day, praying and reading Qur’an by night. As Muslims, we should strive to have self-discipline and a gentle character, observing our duties towards others in society and avoiding what is forbidden.

However, there are some pitfalls that have become very common, either due to lack of knowledge or simply overlooking these mistakes because we falsely believe that they are minor or that we will not gain bad deeds by doing these simple things. We may take these matters lightly. Everyone else is doing these things so it probably isn’t so bad, right?
Not quite.

A sin is still a sin even if it is not a major one, and over time and repetition, a small sin can add up.

Here is a list of some of the common pitfalls that women may be falling into these days.

Plucking the eyebrows

In authentic sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), he has said that Allah has cursed the woman who plucks her eyebrows, or asks someone to pluck them for her, and the woman who plucks the eyebrows for others, for the purpose of beauty and to make the eyebrows thin. Although different scholars have different opinions on the ruling, the consensus is that if it is solely for the purpose of beautification, eyebrow hair should not be plucked or bleached or shaved. Only if there is an abhorrent defect, such as if the two eyebrows are linked with no space in between or the growth is excessive that it causes distress to the eye, the excess or abnormal hair growth can be removed.

Today, even in the Muslim world, when you watch a show or the news on TV, it looks like all the women have the exact same eyebrows: thin, arched, and long. The fashion industry dictates that women should have perfectly thin, photocopied eyebrows and we all follow suit? You may say that there is a difference of opinion and some schools of thought may have allowed it, but I say why risk the curse of Allah? It is no small matter for the curse of Allah to be upon someone.

Hair extensions and wigs

In our modern times, go to any hair salon, and you find women getting a hair extension attached to their hair to make it look fuller or longer. Some people may be unaware that it is prohibited in Islam.

In the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), he said that Allah curses the women who tattoo others and who get a tattoo, the women who connect their hair with false hair, the women who pluck eyebrows or ask someone to pluck the eyebrows for them, and the women who ask for a gap to be made between their teeth for beauty; those women change Allah’s creation.


Tattooing is strictly forbidden in Islam. By understanding the risks involved in getting a tattoo and how the tattoo is done, Muslims can appreciate that it has been prohibited for our own benefit and health.

A tattoo is created by injecting ink into a person’s skin. An electrically powered tattoo machine that resembles a dentist’s drill is used. The machine moves a solid needle up and down to puncture the skin between 50 and 3,000 times per minute. The needle penetrates the skin by about a millimeter and deposits a drop of insoluble ink into the skin with each puncture.

According to a report published by the Mayo Clinic some risks involved in getting a tattoo include allergic reactions. Tattoo dyes can cause allergic skin reactions. A skin infection is another likely possibility. Bumps called granulomas can form around tattoo ink, and scarring can also occur. There is also the risk of contracting blood borne diseases such as tetanus, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. In some cases, tattoo ink can cause complications if the person ever needed to get an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging exam).

Nose jobs and other plastic surgery

Plastic surgery has become alarmingly popular in the Arab world.One begins to ponder if people understand that it is a sin, unless the plastic surgery is a necessity, such as for burn victims or for people who have been in an accident and they want to restore normal looking skin tissue, or for birth defects.

According to a study conducted by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, a total of 46,962 plastic surgery procedures were performed in Saudi Arabia in the year 2011.

When asked his opinion on plastic surgery, Shaykh Saalih Al-Munajjid replied, “When surgery is done for the purpose of beautification, it is cosmetic surgery. These are operations that are done to improve the appearance in the eye of the beholder, such as making the nose look more beautiful by making it smaller, or making the breasts look more beautiful by making them smaller or larger, or facelifts, and so on. This kind of surgery is not for any necessary reason, rather the purpose is to change the creation of Allah and tinker with it according to people’s whims and desires. So this is not permissible, because it is changing the creation of Allah.”

Dying the hair black

There are not many restrictions for Muslim women who would like to color their hair, dying it red or chocolate brown for example or applying henna or getting golden highlights. The only prohibition in dying the hair is getting it dyed black, and scholars have reached this ruling from the Hadith mentioned below.

Jabir bin Abdullah reported that Abu Quhaafah was led to the Prophet (peace be upon him) on the day of the conquest of Makkah and his head and beard were white like thughamah (white hyssop plant), whereupon Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

“Change it with something but avoid black”. [Sahih Muslim, Hadith No.5244]

Wearing perfume in public

Have you ever been at the mall, and a woman walks by and her strong, floral perfume is trailing a mile behind her? The code of dress for a Muslim woman in public is to be modest and not draw attention to her beauty, so wearing a beautiful scent does attract people’s attention and it negates the whole objective of the hijab. In psychology, we studied that the sense of smell is strongest in arousing emotions. And smell plays an extremely strong role in sexual attraction. Even if a woman had no intention of tempting or seducing anyone, it is still impermissible for her to wear perfume when she is in the presence of any non-mahram men, or men who she can legally marry.

When in the home or after arriving to a women’s only gathering, she can wear perfume. A woman of course can wear perfume for her husband.

Does that mean Muslim women smell like sweat and cooking when they are out? No, a nice sudsy, cool shower or warm bath will wash away unpleasant body odors.

Note to readers; please add on other common pitfalls for women, and check out next week’s list of common pitfalls for men.

Amal Al-Sibai

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