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The Fiqh of Body-Piercing

Answered by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari

Question:

Is having one’s nose or ear pierced allowed in Islam? What is the ruling regarding piercings in Wudu and Ghusl? Does the water have to enter the hole of the nose ring? Do I have to remove my nose ring (stud) every time I have a Ghusl or do Wudu?

Answer:

In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

As explained in a previous answer, classical Muslim scholars and jurists (fuqaha) have allowed piercing the ear and nose for women, considering this as an exception to the general impermissibility of piercing body-parts, because piercing involves mutilation and deforming of the appearance as we see it (muthla) and tampering with one’s body given as a trust from Allah Most High, both clearly forbidden in the Qur’an and Sunna. The exception of piercing the ear to wear an earring is on the premise that it was a customary practice of adornment during the time of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) and he (Allah bless him & give him peace) did not prohibit it; whilst the exception of piercing the nose to wear a nose ring/stud is based on the fact that it has been considered a form of adornment in many Muslim communities throughout history.

In terms of ear-piercing, Sayyiduna AbdAllah ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) relates that “the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) performed two Rak’ats on the day of Eid al-Fitr and did not pray before or after it. Then he went to the womenfolk with Bilal (Allah be pleased with him) and commanded them to give charity (sadaqa). So they began to throw things [into the cloth], each woman throwing in her earring and necklace.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, no: 921)

In another version of this Hadith, Sayyiduna AbdAllah ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) relates that “the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) came out with Bilal (Allah be pleased with him) thinking that the women had not heard [his sermon]. He advised them and commanded them to give charity (sadaqa). So a woman began to give her earring and finger ring, and Bilal (Allah be pleased with him) was collecting them in a corner of his garment.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, no: 98)

The great Hadith master (hafidh), Imam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (Allah have mercy on him) explains in his commentary on Imam Bukhari’s Sahih that some scholars have derived from this Hadith the permissibility of piercing a woman’s ear to wear an earring or some other permissible jewellery in it…. He then states that other scholars like Imam Ghazali do not allow piercing a woman’s ear…. He concludes his discussion by saying, “There is a Hadith of Ibn Abbas recorded by Tabarani in his Al-Awsat that seven things are considered Sunna in a girl, the seventh is to pierce her ears…” (See: Fath al-Bari 10/407-408)

It is stated in the renowned Hanafi Fiqh reference work, Al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya:

“There is nothing wrong (la ba’s) with women piercing their ears… And there is [also] nothing wrong with having the ears of young girls pierced, because this was done in the time of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) without any condemnation.” (Al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya, 5/357)

As such, piercing one or both ears of a woman is permitted in order to wear earrings or other permissible jewellery. Moreover, the pain of this procedure is light, and it also heals quickly.

As for nose-piercing, there seems to be no clear proof for its permissibility other than the fact that it has been considered an acceptable form of adornment in many righteous Muslim societies, and as such, some scholars do not allow it due to the general impermissibility of deforming one’s appearance.

Others, however, do allow it. The renowned classical Hanafi jurist, Imam Ibn Abidin (Allah have mercy on him), expounding on Imam Haskafi’s statement: “Is it permitted to wear a nose ring? I have not seen it [being discussed by the scholars]”, says in his Radd al-Muhtar:

“I say, if it [i.e. piercing the nose to wear a nose ring] is considered an adornment for women like in some [Muslim] communities, then its ruling will be similar to the ruling of piercing the ear to wear an earring [i.e. permitted].” (Radd al-Muhtar ala ‘l-Durr al-Mukhtar, 6/420, kitab al-hazr wa ‘l-ibaha)

Based on this, I personally feel (and Allah knows best) that Muslim women, considering piercing, should restrict themselves to the piercing of their ears since this has been clearly established from the Hadiths cited above. However, in light of Imam Ibn Abidin’s (Allah have mercy on him) statement, there is a dispensation in piercing the nose too. Besides these two exceptions, it is unlawful and sinful to pierce any other body-part such as the navel, lip, tongue, and eyebrows, since piercing them is not considered a form of adornment in decent Muslim communities. As for males, body-piercing is not permissible at all including the ears and nose.

Washing the piercing holes in Ghusl and Wudu

During an obligatory ritual bath (ghusl,) one must ensure that water flows through the piercing of both the nose and ears; in fact, any hole in the body that has not closed, in order for the Ghusl to be complete. If the nose ring or the earring is so tight that water doesn’t reach under the ring except by moving or removing it, then doing so is obligatory. However, if the ring is such that water is able to reach the hole without having to move or remove it, then one need not remove the ring. It is stated in Maraqi al-Falah:

“It is obligatory to wash [in Ghusl] any hole that has not closed due to the nonexistence of hardship [in doing so].” (See: Maraqi al-Falah with Tahtawi, P: 102)

Imam Ibn Nujaym (Allah have mercy on him) states in his Al-Bahr al-Ra’iq:

“It is necessary to move [during Ghusl] an earring and finger ring that is tight. If one is not wearing the earring, and hence, water is able to reach the piercing by merely allowing to flow over it, then this is sufficient, otherwise it is necessary to make water enter the piercing. However, there is no need to inconvenience one’s self by pushing something besides water into the piercing, such as a needle and the like.” (Al-Bahr al-Ra’iq, 1/47)

As for when performing a ritual ablution (wudu), water needs to flow only through the piercing of the nose in the manner explained above.

And Allah knows best
Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester , UK

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