On the authority of ʿAbdullāh Ibn Mas’ūd – Allāh be pleased with him, who said:

May Allāh curse those women who tattoo or seek to be tattooed, those women who remove facial hair or seek it to be removed and those women who put gaps between their teeth for beautification; those who seek to change Allāh’s creation.

This reached a woman from Banī Asad who was called Umm Ya’qūb and who used to read the Qur`ān. She came to [Ibn Mas’ūd] and said, “What is this I hear from you, that you curse women who tattoo or seek to get tattooed, and those who remove facial hair and those who put gaps between their teeth for beauty, those who change Allāh’s creation?” ʿAbdullāh [Ibn Mas’ūd] replied, “And why should I not curse those whom Allāh’s Messenger has cursed and those who are mentioned in Allāh’s Book?” She said, “I have read [the Qur`ān] from cover to cover and I have not seen it mentioned.” He replied, “If you had really read it [carefully] you would have found it; Allāh the Mighty and Sublime said:

And whatever the Messenger gives you, take it; and whatever he forbids you, shun it. [Al-Ḥashr (59):7]

The woman then said, “Well I have just seen some of this on your own wife.” He said, “Go and see her.” So she went to the wife of ʿAbdullāh but didn’t see anything. She returned to him and said, “I don’t see anything.” He said, “Well, if any of those practices had been done I would not be with her any more.”

Al-Bukhārī and Muslim. This translation is from the version in Muslim.

Points to note

  • The teachings of Allāh’s Messenger have the same legal weight as teachings in the Qur`ān because the Qur`ān commands us to take everything the Messenger teaches us, even if it is not specifically mentioned in the Qur`ān. This refutes the claim of heretics who say we only need to follow the Qur`ān
  • It can even be said that a ruling given by Allāh’s Messenger is in the Qur`ān based on the verse quoted
  • Tattooing, removal of facial hair – including the plucking of eyebrows – and making gaps between the teeth for beautification are strictly forbidden in Islām and are regarded as major sins. In another narration, hair extensions have also been mentioned
  • Exceptions have been made by scholars in cases where a woman suffers a condition that causes her to grow a full beard, or where filing of teeth and widening spaces are needed for medical reasons
  • Being cursed (al-la’nah) means to be removed from Allāh’s mercy; this goes to prove that these practices are major sins
  • People should ask Allāh to curse those whom Allāh’s Messenger has asked to be cursed
  • Women can ask male scholars about matters of religion and can converse with them for the purpose of understanding knowledge and legal rulings
  • Wives who remain disobedient to Allāh should be divorced
  • A person who helps another to sin is regarded as a participant in that sin

These points have been summarized from Ibn Ḥajr, Fatḥ Al-Bārī and Al-Nawawī, Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim.