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Is plucking the eyebrows permissible?

All praises be to Allaah, Lord and Sustainer of the worlds, and may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and upon his family and companions.

Plucking of eyebrows is not permissible. This is because of the text reported In al-Saheehayn, that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas'ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) cursed the women who do tattoos and those for whom tattoos are done, those who pluck their eyebrows and those who file their teeth for the purpose of beautification and alter the creation of Allaah.”

(al-Bukhaari, al-Libaas, 5587; Muslim, al-Libaas, 5538)

The word that is translated as "those who pluck their eyebrows" in this Hadeeth is "Mutanammisaat," which is the pleural of "Mutanammisah."

Hafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Fath-al-Bari, explaining this Hadeeth, that Mutanammisah is the one who does "Nimaas," which is removing the hair from the face. Some other scholars said that Nimaas is specific for removing the hair of eyebrows.

Abu-Dawood (may Allaah have mercy on him) said that Naamisah is the one who designs her eyebrows to make them thin.

An-Nawawee (may Allaah have mercy on him) considered removing any hair from the face prohibited, except if the woman grows a beard or moustache, or hair on her neck, in which case there is nothing wrong if she removes it.

At-Tabaree (may Allaah have mercy on him) had an even more strict view that no facial hair can be removed unless it is harmful.

Some latter scholars, however, especially in our time, have taken the view that this may be permissible if this is for their husband. What they miss out here, is that when there is a text of Qur'aan or Hadeeth about an issue, then exceptions can not be made on logic and reasoning, rather the text is to be obeyed. There is no disagreement among scholars that when the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) curses some action, then that action becomes haraam, and in such case, exception can only be made by Allaah or His Messenger.

Neither men nor women are therefore allowed to remove any hair from their eyebrows at all.

It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa'imah (17/133): “It is not permissible to remove the hair of the eyebrows because this is the namaas (plucking) for which the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) cursed those who do it, and it is a kind of changing the creation of Allaah, which is the action of the Shaytaan. If a woman's husband tells her to do it, she should not obey him, because it is a sin, and there is no obedience to any created being if it involves disobedience towards the Creator. Rather obedience should only be with regard to things that are good and proper.” 

The only situations where removing some hair from eyebrows can be allowed are, for example, if the hair becomes too long and interferes with the vision, or hairs are growing in areas adjacent to the eyebrows, or some other similar situation.

As far as the area between the eyebrows is concerned, the matter is a subject of discussion, and the difference of opinion is based on how one interprets some part of the text.

If "Nimaas" is understood as removing hair from the face, then removing hair from between the eyebrows will not be permissible, but if "Nimaas" is understood as removing the hair from the eyebrows only, then the matter depends on whether the hair between the eyebrows are considered as part of normal eyebrows or not. If not, then removing these hairs from between the eyebrows becomes permissible.

It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa'imah ( 5/197) that it is permissible to pluck the hair between the eyebrows, because it is not part of the eyebrows.

However, as this is an area of difference of opinion among scholars, taking a safer attitude in this by avoiding it is better, as the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

“What is permitted is clear and what is forbidden is clear, and between them are doubtful matters about which not many people know. The who avoids doubtful matters clears himself with regard to his religious commitment and his honour .”

(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 52; Muslim, 1599)

And Allah the Most Knowledgeable knows what is best and most correct.

We ask Allaah to help and guide us to do all that He is pleased with and his Peace and blessings be upon His last Prophet Muhammad.