My 20 years old son wants to know what is the Islamic ruling on body piercing, like ears, eyebrows, lips, etc., in case of both males and females?
According to the teachings of Islam, our body--including all of our physical faculties-- is a trust from God in our hands which we are required to protect and preserve according to the best of our ability. Consequently, we are not allowed to alter or tamper with them unnecessarily; we are only permitted to interfere with them in order to correct a natural deformity or repair or remedy an ailment. Any other form of interference or tampering with our body is akin to altering Allah’s creation which has been condemned in the Qur’an.
We read in the Qur’an that Satan, the accursed one, has pledged to Allah that he will be tirelessly working to lead humans unto ways of perdition and self-destruction: “And I will surely lead them astray, and arouse desires in them, and command them and they will cut the cattle’s ears, and I will surely command them and they will change Allah’s creation.” Whoever chooses the Devil for a friend instead of Allah is assuredly a loser, and his loss is manifest.” (Q.4: 119). While reflecting on the above verse, we must also read the following statements of Allah in the Qur’an: “There is no altering Allah’s creation.” (Q. 30:30); “And do not cast yourselves into destruction by your own hands.” (Q. 2: 195).
In light of the above, body piercing, tattooing, branding, etc. all fall in the category of unnecessary interference, alteration and mutilation of Allah’s creation. Therefore, no Muslim, who is conscious of his religion, should ever contemplate such activities.
Neither are such procedures harmless physical refinements as they are often imagined to be. Rather the truth is that these procedures have often been associated with numerous health hazards. For sensitive parts of body such as tongues, lips, eyelids, etc. are more prone to be easily infected, and thus become carriers of diseases, some of which may even be fatal. There is nothing at all surprising about all of these, for every unnecessary tampering with Allah’s creation is bound to produce adverse repercussions.
In Islam, all such acts that entail possible health hazards are considered totally forbidden even if they may contain some imagined or presumed benefits; such presumed benefits are considered as being outweighed by the hazards. This fact alone warrants declaring body piercing as forbidden.
The only exception some scholars and jurists have made in this context is the case of ear piercing specifically for females. This is so because of the specific need of women to wear jewelry. Men, however, according to Islam, have no such need. In fact, Islam forbids men from copying styles that are distinctively feminine. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “Allah has cursed men who copy women as well as women who copy men.” It should be remembered here both men and women have different roles in Islam.
It is also worthy of mentioning in this respect that ear piercing is somewhat different; for there are fewer hazards in ear piercing as compared to piercing of tongues, lips and eye-lids, etc.
Still another consideration strengthening the case for declaring body piercing as forbidden for males: Islam forbids us from copying other people in their specific customs and life-style without any tangible benefits. Such copying has been condemned by the Prophet, peace be upon him.
In conclusion: Body piercing for males is not at all permissible in Islam. Ear piercing has been permitted for females, according to some scholars. Such an exception, however, does not apply to males.