Is Cosmetic Surgery Permissible?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Bassem Itani


Is cosmetic surgery permissible?


Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and prayers and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family, and all his companions.

My brother, may Allah the Almighty preserve you.

Cosmetic surgeries are diverse and numerous and are not on the same level in terms of ruling. Some are permissible and some are forbidden by Islamic law.

Surgeries for removing a congenital defect, such as an unusually large or crooked nose, or an accidental defect, like deep burn scars, are permissible.

However, cosmetic surgeries for merely imitating others, following desires, involving deception, fraud, or lies, and lacking a legitimate Sharia consideration are forbidden.

Understanding Cosmetic Surgeries

“Cosmetic surgery” refers to the apparent human medical surgical procedure to remove a congenital defect or an accidental flaw, or to improve appearance.

Permissible Cases for Cosmetic Surgery

Cases where cosmetic surgery is permissible:

Birth defects: It is permissible according to Sharia to perform cosmetic surgery to correct congenital defects. These are deformities present since birth such as a cleft lip, an extra finger, a drooping eyelid, a disfigured eye, a deformed nose, and similar conditions.

Defects from accidents and diseases: According to Sharia, cosmetic surgery to correct accidental defects resulting from burns, accidents, diseases, etc., is permissible. This may include skin grafting and patching, total breast reconstruction in case of mastectomy (or partial if the size leads to a medical condition), and hair transplantation in case of hair loss.

Psychological complexes regarding appearance: Cosmetic surgery is permissible for those suffering from genuine psychological complexes about their appearance, causing depression and introversion. In such cases it is required for their psychiatrist to deem it necessary to advise them to undergo cosmetic surgery.

The Evidence for the Permissibility

The evidence for the permissibility of these cases and similar ones is the hadith of ‘Arfaja ibn As‘ad who narrates: “My nose was injured in the battle of Al-Kulab in Jahiliyya (a war in pre-Islamic times), so I got a nose made of silver. It developed a stench, so the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) ordered me to get a nose made of gold.” [Tirmidhi]

Impermissible Cases of Cosmetic Surgery

Cases where cosmetic surgery is not permissible:

Beautification: It is not permissible, according to Sharia, for those with natural, non-disfigured body features to perform cosmetic surgery to increase beauty. Such cases include reducing or enlarging the size of a moderate mouth, lips, or breasts, face-lifting, etc.

Imitation: It is not permissible, according to Sharia, to perform cosmetic surgery to imitate another person due to admiration. This may be for the purpose of imitating some singers, actors, athletes, or beauty queens.

Celebrity and Attention: It is not permissible, according to Sharia, to perform cosmetic surgery for fame, as some people change their appearance to look unique, attracting public and media attention.

Evading Criminal Cases: It is not permissible, according to Sharia, to perform cosmetic surgery to evade justice, as some criminals fleeing justice due to a sentence change their facial features to become unrecognizable.

The Evidence for the Impermissibility

The evidence for prohibiting these cases is the hadith: “Allah has cursed those who practice tattooing and those who get themselves tattooed, and those who remove hair from their faces, and those who create spaces between their teeth artificially to look beautiful, altering Allah’s creation.” [Bukhari]

The hadith prohibits altering the original creation for beauty. It forbids tattooing, which is pricking the skin with a needle to cause bleeding and then filling it with dye, plucking facial hair excessively, and creating gaps between the teeth. [Refer to: ‘Ayni, ‘Umdat al-Qari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari]


In summary, cosmetic surgical procedures fall under the ruling of surgical procedures in general. The basic rule is prohibition because causing harm to a human, involving pain, suffering, and clear bodily damage, is not permissible except in cases of necessity and need.

Cosmetic surgeries are restricted by Sharia guidelines, the most important of which are: realizing a legitimate benefit deemed valid by the Sharia, ensuring that no harm arises that equals or exceeds the intended benefit, and that the surgery is the only means of treatment to remove the congenital or accidental defect.

[Shaykh] Dr. Bassem Itani

Shaykh Dr. Bassem Hussayn Itani was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1965. He earned his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies in 2005. Among his mentors were Shaykh Muhammad Taha Sukkar, Shaykh Adib al-Kallas, Shaykh Mulla Abdul ‘Alim al-Zinki, Shaykh Abdul Rahman al-Shaghouri, Shaykh Abdul Razzaq al-Halabi, Shaykh Dr. Mustafa Dib al-Bugha, Shaykh Dr. Wahba al-Zuhayli, Dr. Muhammad al-Zuhayli, and others, may Allah have mercy on them all. 

Shaykh Itani has a rich background in both academic and administrative fields. He has held significant positions in many governmental and non-governmental institutions in Lebanon and abroad. This includes his role as a member of the Academic Committee at SeekersGuidance and a senior teacher with the free online global seminary.

From 2020 to 2021, he served as the Dean of the College of Da‘wa – University for Islamic Studies (Lebanon) – Postgraduate Studies. He was the Director of Dar Iqra for Islamic Sciences from 1998 to 2018. Shaykh Itani is a well-versed teacher in several academic subjects, including Fiqh, Usul, Aqida, and Tafsir. He has supervised and examined numerous Master’s and Doctoral theses at various universities and colleges in Lebanon.

His contributions to Islamic sciences are also evident in his writings and research. His notable works include “The Relied-upon Statements of Imam Zufar in the Hanafi School,” “Collective Ijtihad: The Sublimity of Thought in the 21st Century,” and “Custom and its Impact in Islamic Jurisprudence.” Shaykh Itani has actively participated in numerous scientific conferences and seminars, both in Lebanon and internationally. He is linguistically adept, excelling in Arabic, proficient in French, and comfortably conversant in English.