What is the hair that it is permissible to remove and the hair that it is not permissible to remove?
With regard to removing hair or not removing it, the scholars divide hair into three categories:
1 – Hair which we are commanded to remove or shorten. This is known as Sunan al-Fitrah, such as removing the pubic hairs, trimming the moustache and plucking the armpit hairs. That also includes shaving or cutting the hair of the head during Hajj or ‘Umrah.
The evidence for that is the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) who said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Ten (actions) are part of the fitrah [natural inclinations of man]: trimming the moustache, letting the beard grow, using the siwaak (tooth-stick), rinsing the nose with water, clipping the nails, washing the finger joints, plucking the armpit hairs, shaving the pubes and washing oneself with water after relieving oneself.”
Zakariyya said: Mus’ab said: And I forgot the tenth but it may have been rinsing the mouth with water.
Narrated by Muslim, 261
2 – Hair which we are forbidden to remove, which includes the eyebrows. The action of removing the hair of the eyebrows is called al-namas. It is also forbidden to remove the hair of the beard.
The evidence for that is the hadeeth of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “Allaah has cursed the woman who does tattoos and the one who has them done, the woman who plucks eyebrows (al-naamisah) and the one who has it done (al-mutanammisah), and the one who files her teeth for the purpose of beauty, altering the creation of Allaah.”
(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5931; Muslim, 2125)
And it was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “Be different from the mushrikeen: let your beards grow and trim your moustaches.”
(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5892; Muslim, 259)
al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
The naamisah is the woman who removes hair from the face and the mutanammisah is the one who asks to have that done. This action is haraam, unless a woman develops a beard or moustache, in which case it is not haraam to remove it, rather that is mustahabb in our view.
Sharh al-Nawawi li Saheeh Muslim, 14/106
3 – Hair concerning which the texts are silent and do not say whether it is to be removed or left as it is, such as hair on the legs, hands, cheeks or forehead.
There is some difference of scholarly opinion concerning this.
Some said that it is not permissible to remove it, because removing it implies changing the creation of Allaah, as Allaah tells us that the Shaytaan said:
“ ‘and indeed I will order them to change the nature created by Allaah’”[al-Nisa’ 4:119 – interpretation of the meaning]
Some said that this is one of the things concerning which nothing was said, so the ruling is that it is allowed. It is permissible to leave it or to remove it, because whatever is not mentioned in the Qur’aan or Sunnah is permissible.
This was the view favoured by the scholars of the Standing Committee and by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen. See Fataawa al-Mar’ah al-Muslimah, 3/879
It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah:
(a) There is no sin on a woman if she removes hair on her upper lip, thighs, calves and arms. This is not part of the tanammus (plucking) that is forbidden.
(Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 5/194, 195)
(b)The Committee was asked:
What is the Islamic ruling on plucking the hair between the eyebrows?
It is permissible to pluck it, because it is not part of the eyebrows.
(Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 5/197)
The Standing Committee was asked:
What is the ruling on a woman removing hair from her body?
It is permissible for her to do that, apart from the hair of the eyebrows and head. It is not permissible for her to remove the hair of her head or to remove any part of the eyebrows, whether by shaving or any other means.
Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 5/194
We should comment on the questioner’s words “I know that plucking the eyebrows is haraam and removing facial hair is also.”
As for plucking the eyebrows, this is haraam and is a major sin, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) cursed those who do it.
But as for removing facial hair, there is a difference of opinion among the scholars as to whether it is permissible to remove it. This is based on their various understandings of the word al-namas.
Some scholars said that al-namas means removing any facial hair, and they did not limit it to the eyebrows. Others were of the view that al-namas refers to removing the hair of the eyebrows only. This was the view favoured by the Standing Committee as is clear from the fatwas quoted above.
It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah:
Al-namas means plucking the hair of the eyebrows, which is not permissible because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) cursed the woman who plucks eyebrows (al-naamisah) and the one who has it done (al-mutanammisah).
Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 5/195
And Allaah knows best.