What Is the Reason for Different Rulings between Men and Women Wearing Perfume?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch


Can I wear perfume to smell normally pleasant? Not to attract anyone. Also, if women are not allowed to use scents because it attracts the opposite gender, why not the same for men? There are sexual tv ads for men’s fragrances and deodorants showing it with the intention of attracting women; how is it right for men to wear perfume?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

The rulings of Islam are, for the most part, the same for men and women.

In certain specific situations where the nature of interactions and attractions between males and females is involved, there may be distinct rulings for one gender and not the other.

Regardless of the ruling, it is essential to keep in mind the source of these rulings, not just its specific details. Allah Most High, the Creator of humankind, who knows what is best for men and what’s best for women – is the one from whom these rulings come forth.

And the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace), who is the greatest example of human perfection, empathy, justice, and upliftment of women’s rights, articulated the rulings regarding gender interactions.

The Ruling and Its Wisdom

Women are prohibited from doing, wearing, or applying anything to their bodies – that would draw undue attention to themselves, especially sexual attraction.

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Every eye is (that looks at the prohibited) a fornicator and a woman who applies perfume and passes by an assembly (where men are present) she is also like that and like that. (i.e., a fornicator).” [Tirmidhi]

Yahya bin J’ada (Allah have mercy on him) narrated, “A woman came out of her home wearing perfume during the caliphate of Umar bin al-Khattab. He smelled her scent and reprimanded her. He said, ‘You (women) come out wearing perfume, and men smell your scents. The hearts of men are in their noses. Only come out without wearing perfume.’” [Suyuti, Jam‘u al-Jawami’]

The Underlying Principle

First, if one does something intending to sexually attract the opposite sex, this is prohibited – even if the initial action is permissible in itself. [‘Ala’ al-Din ibn ‘Abidin, al-Hadiyya al-‘Ala’iyya]

For example, suppose a man wears perfume/cologne, intending to sexually attract the opposite gender. In that case, it is prohibited for him to do so – even though in other circumstances, it is permissible for him to wear perfume in public.

Second, if one does an action that is reasonably likely to sexually attract the opposite gender, it is prohibited regardless of the intention. [Ibid.]

For example, if a woman wears perfume in the presence of men, there is a reasonable likelihood that she will draw their attention to her, regardless of her intention.

Foundational Equality Despite Outward Differences

With this framework in place, it is clear that the ruling of not sexually attracting the opposite gender does not only apply to women.

The act of applying perfume where the opposite gender may smell it differs in its ruling based on gender, but the underlying principles are the same for both males and females.

Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch teaches Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York, where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences.

He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he studied for three years in Dar al-Mustafa under some of the most outstanding scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib.

In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Quran and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Quranic exegesis, Islamic history, and several texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.