How to get about in those hairy situations

I RECEIVED several e-mails in regards to my column last week. Specifically, some readers wanted to know more about hair removal in the light of the Holy Quran and Sunnah. There are several things that both men and women can and cannot do when it comes to removing the hair.

By Sumayyah Meehan

Published: Fri 9 Nov 2007, 10:21 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:59 AM

For women, it is permissible to remove hair from the face with the exception of the eyebrows. However, if the eyebrows are so long and bushy that they interfere with the eyesight then they can be trimmed. In the case of women who have a “uni-brow”, which means that the two eyebrows are connected in the middle, the part of the eyebrow that is connected right above the nose can be removed since it is not considered to be part of the eyebrow. Also, hair that grows abnormally on women (like beards and moustaches) falls under the category of permissible hair to remove. In Islam, women are forbidden from looking like men and vice versa.

As for men, it is not acceptable to remove hair from any part of the face. However, the moustache can be trimmed. Men are also forbidden from trimming or plucking the eyebrows. And it is part of the Sunnah for men to grow the beard long and trim the moustache short.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“Cut the moustache and let the beard grow; be different from the mushrikeen.” (Bukhari,Muslim)

The mistake that many Muslim men make is to remove hair from their cheeks. It is a regular part of a haircut for men to ask the barber to use a method of hair removal called ‘threading’ to remove the hair from this area. It is forbidden to remove it because the hair on the cheeks is considered to be part of the beard.

Both men and women are instructed to remove the hair from the genitalia and armpit areas at least every 40 days The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Ten (actions) are part of the fitrah [natural inclinations of man]: trimming the moustache, letting the beard grow, using the miswak (tooth-stick), rinsing the nose with water, clipping the nails, washing the finger joints, plucking the armpit hairs, shaving the pubes and washing oneself with water after relieving one’s self.”

As for parts of the body that are not mentioned directly in the Quran or Sunnah, the majority of the scholars say that it is permissible for both men and women to decide whether to leave alone or remove this hair from places like the legs or the arms. But remember, men and women are forbidden from looking like each other in anyway. So, if a man were to shave his legs and a woman were to grow the hair on her legs long this would be considered as falling into a ‘gray area’ where we should use our best judgment to determine what is right. As for cutting the hair, it is permissible for both men and women. It is a misconception in Islam that women must grow their hair long. The Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) wives used to cut their hair up to the earlobes. However, there are certain things that are forbidden. The same rule of men and women not looking alike in any way applies. It is forbidden for men to grow their hair long like a woman and for a woman to cut her hair in a fashion that makes her look like a man. It is also forbidden for a woman to completely shave her head however if her intention is to strengthen the hair then the majority of scholars say that it is permissible.

In terms of hairstyles, they should be simple and not imitate the non-Muslims in any way. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” More specifically, abstract hairstyles that are popular among today’s youth, where a part of the hair is shaved and another part is not, are also forbidden.

Men and women with thin or balding hair often find the answers to their hair woes at the local barbershop or beauty parlor. Fake hair can actually be bought and braided right on top of your hair. A wig, or for men a toupee, can be used to cover up balding areas. However, fake hair is strictly forbidden in Islam. Once a woman came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and mentioned to him that her daughter’s hair was falling out on her wedding day. She said, "Her (my daughter's) husband suggested that I should let her wear false hair." The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "No, (don't do that) for Allah sends His curses upon such ladies who lengthen their hair artificially."

When it comes to hairy situations, Islam provides the answers, which are most beneficial to our lives and well-being. And Allah knows best.

Sumayyah Meehan is a Kuwait-based American writer who embraced Islam. She can be reached at

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