Is Cosmetic Surgery Permitted in the Shafi’i School?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

I am a lady who ,after lot of effort lost weight. The thing is I now have sagging skin on my face and wrinkles on my cheeks. Someone ,while talking to my husband ,was referring to me as his mother!! I really felt sorry for him and myself. Is it permissible to do a cosmetic surgery to have the face that I had before weight loss?

Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam. Jazakum Allah khayr for your question. May Allah make things easy for you and your family, and reward you for seeking to do the right thing, especially when your situation is one that causes a lot of angst.

The general ruling in the Shafi’i school is that any cosmetic surgery done for the sake of beauty alone is impermissible, as it falls under the general rubric of changing the natural creation of Allah, which is prohibited in Islam. Cosmetic surgery done for other than beatification is permitted.

Imam Nawawi, speaking of filing the teeth, states ‘This is impermissible for both the one who is doing it and the one it is done for because of the hadith and because it changing the creation of Allah Most High … What is impermissible is doing that for the purpose of beautification. As for when there is a need, such as medical treatment or disfigurement … or the like, then there is nothing wrong with that.’ [Sharh Muslim].

While these reference specifically discusses filing the teeth, the underlying principle holds for all forms of cosmetic surgery.

Cosmetic surgery for beauty alone

Ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) said, ‘Allah’s curse is on those women who practise tattooing and get themselves tattooed, and those who remove hair from their faces, and those who make space between their teeth artificially to beautify themselves. They are such that they change the nature and features created by Allah. Allah’s Messenger also cursed such women.’ [al Bukhari, Muslim]

For this reason, the scholars of sacred law have stated that any cosmetic surgery undertaken for the sake of beautification alone is prohibited.

Cosmetic surgery other than for beauty alone

While cosmetic surgery done for the sake of beautification alone is prohibited, as we cited from Imam Nawawi, when there is a genuine need for cosmetic surgery, then it becomes permissible. This is even the case when the genuine need is accompanied by the end result of beautification.

The scholars have described ‘genuine needs’ to include:

1. When one has an extra part or limb, such as an extra finger.

2. When there is something on the body that is not usually found in most people, and its presence causes physical or psychological discomfort and anxiety, such as prominent birthmarks, moles, congenital defects, or abnormal features which may cause persistent and unwanted attention.

3. When there is a need to return a body part to its previous form, such as disfigurements from accidents etc., or excess flaps of skin after sudden weight loss.

In such cases, cosmetic surgery is permitted. Generally speaking, it is advisable that one first speaks to both a scholar and a doctor before proceeding with any such surgery.


In your specific case, cosmetic surgery would be permissible for you to undertake, as it falls under both points 2 and 3 above.

May Allah grant you ease in every matter and bring you peace. Please do remember us in your du’as, especially if and when you proceed with surgery.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.