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Is Cauterization Haram?

19 November, 2023
Q As-salamu `alaykum. Sheikh, could you kindly clarify the issue of cauterization, particularly what it is as referred to in hadiths? Are today's permanent hair removal practices such as laser techniques and, more specifically, electrolysis considered forms of the cauterization mentioned in the hadith wherein the Prophet states that 70,000 persons of his nation will enter Paradise without questioning? One of the conditions is that they do not get cauterized. In electrolysis, there are two modes by which hair is removed: 1. Galvanization — as I understand it, can be termed as chemical cauterization. Basically, an electric current is produceي into the hair follicle via a fine probe to create a chemical (sodium hydroxide), which disables the hair. 2. Thermolysis or Diathermy — in which an RF current is produced into hair so as to cause overheating to disable it. Are these appropriately categorized as cauterization practices?


Wa `alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

Cauterization and other surgical interventions are to be deferred until other measures have been tried and found useless. However, they should be used when told.

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Regarding your question, we consulted Dr. Hatem Al-Hajj, Dean of Shari`ah Academy of America, who is also a medical doctor, who stated,                 

The answer to your question is twofold:

First: the ruling of cauterization, and

Second: the ruling on hair removal via a surgical procedure.

Is cauterization haram in Islam

As for the ruling on cauterization, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said about the 70,000 persons of his Ummah who will be admitted to Paradise without reckoning, “They are those who do not ask for ruqyah, believe in omens, or use cauterization.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Many Arabs of that time used cauterization on a preventative basis. That was not sanctioned, because of the amount of pain suffered during the procedure and the lack of a solid proof on its benefit for such cases. There are also the following hadiths regarding cauterization:

  • Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Healing is to be found in three: the instrument of the cupper, drinking honey, and cauterization with fire, but I forbid my Ummah to use cauterization.” (Al-Bukhari)
  • Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “I heard the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) saying, ‘If there is anything good in your medicines, it is in the instrument of the cupper or drinking honey or cauterization with fire that suits the ailment, but I would not like to be cauterized.'” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
  • Jabir also said, “Ubayy was struck by an arrow in his medial arm vein on the Day of Al-Ahzab, and the Prophet cauterized it.” (Muslim)

You may notice that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) recognized the benefits of cauterization; however, to reconcile between all the reports, we deduce that he simply disliked beginning with such invasive interventions.

In summary, cauterization and other surgical interventions are to be deferred until other measures have been tried and found useless. However, they should be used when told.

Ruling on hair removal via a surgical procedure

With regard to permanent or semi-permanent hair removal, the concern would be the change of Allah’s creation, which is prohibited.

In the following hadith, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “May Allah curse the woman who does tattoos and the one who has a tattoo done, the woman who plucks eyebrows and the one who has her eyebrows plucked, and the women who file teeth for the purpose of beautification, thus changing the creation of Allah.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

These examples show us that the persons mentioned did something to noticeably change Allah’s creation, not simply to enhance their appearance and seek beautification. So, the changes here are unlike removing the body hair by a female, which is not prohibited.

The nams, mentioned in the hadith, is to remove the hair of the eyebrows, not the body hair. If a female has hair in the face, it is not haram (unlawful) to remove it; it may even be recommended.

Of the procedures you mentioned above, the second seems closer to cauterization, though they are somewhat different.

You need to verify the safety of the procedure you may undertake by consulting with one or more credible physicians. If an intervention is harmful and that harm is greater than that of the condition being treated, then it is disliked or haram, based on the degree of harm and the need for the intervention.

For more, see these fatwas:

Does Islam Encourage Cupping?

Allah Almighty knows best.

About Dr. Hatem Al-Haj
Dean of the College of Islamic Studies at Mishkah University and a member of the Permanent Fatwa Committee for the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA)