Modern Surgery & Islam Modern advancements in surgery have created many different methods of application in the field of medicine. Islamic law brings into question as to whether or not these methods are permissible.

It is quite evident that rules pertaining directly to this problem cannot be found in the Qur’aan and Hadith. However, due to the Shar’iah being a universal code and containing therein a flexibility in being able to solve questions of any nature, the early ulama of Islamic jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh) have laid down rules and principles derived from its divine texts, so that answers can be found to solve new arising problems. Although Allah has divinely secured Islam from terminal forms of decay, nonetheless providence has not neglected the ummah.

In order to protect the Shar’iah from the dangers of innovation and distortion, the great scholars of usul have laid down rigorous conditions for anyone deciding to solve current problems. These conditions include:

a) Mastery of the Arabic language, to minimise misinterpreting on linguistic grounds,

b) A profound knowledge of Qur’aan and Hadith obtained from learned scholars,

c) Knowledge of the views held by the companions, followers and great imams, and of the positions expounded in the textbooks of Fiqh,

d) Knowledge of the specialised discipline of Ahaadith, such as the assessment of narrators,

e) Knowledge of the science of juridical analogy (qiyas), its types and conditions,

f) Knowledge of ones own society and of public interest (maslihah),

g) A high degree of intelligence and piety combined with the Islamic virtues of compassion, courtesy and modesty.

The subject under review is that of altering the features created by Allah, whether by make-up, plastic surgery or any other means.

Before we approach this subject it should be noted that of all the magnificent creations in the heavens and earth, Man has been bestowed a special honour. Allah states in the Qur’aan:

"We have shaped Mankind in the best mould."

In another verse he says:

"We bestowed the progeny of Adam specific honour and sanctity."

Therefore, anything against the sanctity of Mankind will be considered impermissible (haraam) under the Islamic Shar’iah. In another verse, Allah quotes Satan saying:

"Verily I will mislead them, and surely I will arouse in them false desires; and certainly, I will order them to still the ears of cattle, and indeed I will order them to change the nature created by Allah."

From the foregoing Qur’aanic verse, it is explicitly clear that to alter the features created by Allah is unlawful (haraam). The following Ahaadith further elaborates this rule:

The Prophet sallallahu alaihe wasallam cursed those ladies who practise tattooing and those who get themselves tattooed and those ladies who get their hair removed and those who make artificial spaces between their teeth in order to look more beautiful whereby they change Allah’s creation.

(Ibn al-Maja)
 In a hadith narrated by al-Bukhari:

Ibn al-Abbas reported that the Prophet sallallahu alaihe wasallam cursed the males who took the forms of females and the females who take the form of males. He said "Drive them out of your houses."

Ibn al-Abbas reports that the Messenger of Allah sallallahu alaihe wasallam said, "Allah cursed the males who appear like females and the females who appear like males."

 Abu Hurairah reports that the Prophet sallallahu alaihe wasallam cursed the man who puts on the dress of a woman, and the woman who puts on the dress of a man.
(Abu Dawood)
 Ibn Umar reports that the Prophet sallallahu alaihe wasallam said, "Allah has cursed the female who wears false hairs and the woman who dresses others with false hairs and the who practises tattooing and the woman who gets others tattooed."
(al-Bukhari and al-Muslim)
 Abu Hurairah reports that the Prophet sallallahu alaihe wasallam said, "The evil eye is a reality and he forbade tattooing."
 The prohibition, which is expressed in the aforementioned Ahaadith, has been given an effective cause (‘illat). The Scholars have stated that any ruling or prohibition dispensed by Qur’aan or Sunnah and juridical analogy (qiyas) seeks its extension to a new case, then in order to constitute the valid basis of an analogy (qiyas), it must fulfil the following conditions:

a) It must not contradict the Quran and Hadith.

b) It must not change any of the commandments or prohibitions already established by the divine texts.

c) It must be rational in the sense that human intellect is capable of understanding the reason of its enactment or that the effective cause (‘illat) is clearly given in the text itself.

d) The ruling (hukm) must be operative, meaning it must not be abrogated (mansukh).

The effective cause (‘illat) for the above prohibition is found in the first hadith quoted above, in the text, "Whereby they change Allah’s creation." After having scrutinised the entire corpus of Ahaadith the Ahaadith quoted above have fulfilled the above conditions. Therefore, anything found altering the creation of Allah will be ruled as unlawful (haraam).

Another point to be taken into consideration is that Allah has commanded the body to be honoured and respected. The method of respect has been explained to us by the Shari’ah. All rules and acts of Shari’ah reflect abundantly the Islamic decree to honour and respect the human body.

Man does not own his body it has been given as a trust (amanah) and has to be employed in a way sanctioned by the Almighty himself. To utilise the human body in any way which conflicts with Allah’s commands will be unlawful (haraam) even if such use is based on noble and altruistic motives.

This view has been enunciated and articulated by the Islamic jurists. Ibn al-Humaam, the jurist says, "There is unanimity that the sanctity of the dead Muslim is the same as the sanctity of a living Muslim."

 It is stated in ‘Sharh al-Siyar al-Kabeer’ the Hanafi textbook, "The human being is sacred whether dead or alive."

In ‘Radd al-Mukhtar’ of Ibn-i-Abidin it is written, "The human being is sacred be he Muslim or non Muslim."

The great scholar Mufti Shafi states in his book ‘Islam on Grafting and Transplanting Of Human Organs’, "If Man’s skin, hair and organs are subjected to cutting and clipping for the use of another person this will be against human sanctity, honour and the divine intentions of his creator. This is the same reason why use of human organs through their trade, has been declared a severe crime and totally forbidden." He further states, "Islam has forbidden the use of human organs even with the consent of the owner, nor does Islam allow anyone to donate any part of his body with or without payment."

The great Hanafi jurist, Ibn-I-Abidin has stated that taking benefit from human hair is not lawful because a hadith states, "Allah curses the female who takes false hairs and the women who dress others with false hairs." (By false hair, human hair is meant.)

In the fatawa of ‘Alamgiriyah’ it is stated, "Taking benefit from human organs is not lawful due to dignity and sanctity.

In ‘Badai al-Sanai’ it occurs "That the replacement of someone’s tooth by a dead person’s is unlawful by unanimous verdict.

In ‘Sharh al- Hidayah’ it is stated, The skin of a man is not permitted for trade due to the sanctity of Man.

It is written in ‘Sharh al-Siyar Kabir’, "It is permissible to use a bone for treatment, this is because the bone does not become impure due to death of a person because it is lifeless, but it will be impermissible to use the bone of a human or that of a pig. It is impermissible to derive benefit from a pig because it is foul by essence, so it will be unlawful to gain any benefit under any circumstances, while a human being remains as honorific after death as he was in life. Just as treatment by means of any organ of a living person is forbidden due to sanctity, similarly will be the case of a dead person. The Prophet sallallahu alaihe wasallam stated, "Breaking the bone of a dead person is the same as the breaking that of a living person."

Taking into account the above quotes it will be unlawful (haraam) to alter the creation of Allah, whatever method applied. Thus, sex change, cosmetic surgery, organ transplants, giving and taking of donors and breast enlargement will all be ruled as prohibited. However, if prosthesis is used to improve functioning e.g. in the arms and legs it will be permissible.

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