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:
1- Islam generally encourages Muslims to appear neat, tidy and well groomed. This applies equally to males and females.
2- Any practice that alters or tampers with Allah’s creation is forbidden. This includes face-lift, breast enlargement, changing the natural color of the hair, bleaching, (plucking the eyebrows), etc.
3- All other forms of beautification are considered permissible such as shaving the arms and legs, facial hair, and underarms.
Answering your question about women shaving, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
Islam generally encourages Muslims to appear neat, tidy and well groomed. This applies equally to males and females.
Greater emphasis in this matter, however, has been placed on married couples more than others. Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them) said, “I prepare myself for my wife even as she prepares herself for me!”
The reason for this is not hard to comprehend, as such appearance may go a long away in contributing towards marital stability and fulfillment as the spouses are supposed to serve as garments of protection for one another.
In keeping with the above spirit, we find the Islamic sources laying greater stress in recommending wives to appear attractive before their spouses.
The only limitation applicable here is resorting to practices that may amount to direct altering and tampering with Allah’s creation, for such practices are considered as clearly forbidden in Islam. Such forbidden practices include face-lift, breast enlargement, changing the natural color of the hair, bleaching, (plucking the eyebrows), etc.
All other forms of beautification, however, are considered permissible for females, especially married women. Such is the case with shaving their arms and legs, facial hair, and underarms, et cetera.
Since there is nothing in the sources to prohibit such practices, they are considered permissible.
In fact, shaving the armpits and pubic hair is considered highly recommended, while shaving other parts is permissible. When asked about such beautification by a married woman, Aishah, the Mother of the Faithful, replied, “Do whatever you can to appear attractive to your spouse!
One must, however, add a word of caution here: Aishah was referring only to permissible forms of beautification that do not involve tampering with Allah’s creation.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.