WHY WEARING PERFUME IS NOT HARAM FOR WOMEN IN ISLAM.
There are plenty of authentic hadiths proving that women can go out by wearing perfume. Unfortunately there are many people out there who are of the wrong view that it is haram to go out or to the mosque by putting on perfume. This view is not isolated among the lay Muslim community. There are various fatwas by scholars themselves prohibiting women going out by wearing perfume. Most of these fatwas are issued by those who have a harsh worldview on women and by those who have the very wrong notion that women cannot go out without a male chaperone. Among the arguments that re brought to stop women from putting perfume in public is the below verse in the Quran which is cherry picked and has nothing to do with perfumes at all.
“And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance”
The above verse is taken out of context and when all the verses are put together, this is what it means,
“O wives of the Prophet, you are not like anyone among women. If you fear Allah, then do not be soft in speech [to men], lest he in whose heart is disease should covet, but speak with appropriate speech and abide in your houses and do not display yourselves as [was] the display of the former times of ignorance”
It is clear after all of the verses are put in the right context, it is addressing only the wives of the prophet (sal) in other words, this verses were sent specially to the wives of the prophet (sal) and not all the other women in general. Even for the sake of argument if we agree that this verse was sent to all women, it has nothing to do with women putting perfume. In this article, I am inshaAllah hoping to answer the fallacies surrounding this important topic by pointing out four main hadiths supporting the argument on why women can wear perfume in public as well as the mosque.
Like all the other topics I have discussed in this website, wearing perfume for women is also another issue that has been controversial. Many scholars are of the view that perfume for a woman is totally haram. This view is wrong because there is authentic evidence to prove that women can wear perfume while in public and while in the mosque and such a practice was not forbidden by the prophet (sal).
Evidence to prove why women can wear perfume outside the house.
Hadith number-1- The wives too put on perfume
It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (rali) said:
We used to go out with the Prophet (sal) to Makkah, and we would apply perfume to our foreheads when Entering ihram, then if one of us sweated it would run down her face, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would see It but he would not rebuke her.
(Narrated by Abu Dawood-Classed Sahih by Imam Nawawi and Sheikh Albani)
The above hadith proves clearly that the wives of the prophet (sal) used to put perfume and was never forbidden by the prophet (sal). This hadith also proves that a woman can indeed enter a mosque while perfumed because the wives of the prophet (sal) entered Makkah while being in Ihram. Women can wear perfume without the intention of enticing males.
Hadith number-2-Wearing perfume is a Sunnah for both men and women
Abu Ayyub (rali) narrated that the prophet (sal) said,
“There are four traditions of the Messengers: Modesty, wearing fragrance, using the tooth stick, and marriage.”
(Tirmidhi-Graded hasan sahih by Imam Suyuti)
In the above hadith, the prophet (sal) said that wearing perfume is a sunnah of the messengers sent by Allah(swt) and this hadith does not differentiate between men and women and that itself proves that women wearing perfume is allowed in Islam.
Hadith-number-3-Prophet (sal) mentioned of a woman wearing the best of perfume which is musk
“Abu Sa'id Khudri reported that Allah's Messenger (sal) made a mention of a woman of Bani Isra'il who had filled her ring with musk and musk is the most fragrant of the scents.”
Abd Sa'id Khudri reported Allah's Apostle (sal) as saying:
“There was a woman from Bani Isra'il who was short-statured and she walked in the company of two tall women with wooden sandals in her feet and a ring of gold made of plates with musk filled in them and then looked up, and musk is the best of scents; then she walked between two women and they (the people) did not recognise her, and she made a gesture with her hand like this, and Shu'ba shook his hand in order to give an indication how she shook her hand.”
The above hadiths are clear evidence that the prophet (sal) did not forbid but rather was favourable in women wearing strong perfumes such as musk which has the most fragrance among scents..
Abu Hurayrah (rali) narrated Allah's Messenger (sal) as saying:
“He who is presented with a flower should not reject it, for it is light to carry and pleasant in odour.”
This hadith too does not differentiate between male or female.
Aisha (rali) narrated,
“I used to perfume the Messenger of Allah (sal) with a perfume containing musk before entering upon the state of Ihram and on the day of sacrifice (10th of Dhu'l-Hijja) and (at the conclusion of Ihram) before circumbulating the House (for Tawaf-I-Ifada).”
In the above hadith, the prophet (sal) used to put on musk which is has a strong fragrance and even women put on strong perfumes such as musk as proven from the above mentioned hadiths. Some scholars are of the view that women should not wear perfume which has a strong fragrance in public and they argue by mentioning the hadith, in which the prophet (sal) said,
"Perfume for men is that which has a strong fragrance and scant colour, and perfume for women is that which has a strong colour and scant fragrance.”
(Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi-graded sahih by Albani)
The above hadith is just one perspective in understanding fiqh and to get a clear understanding, you should have an open mind. There is nothing contradicting in this hadith and the hadiths which state that women used to wear strong fragrances like musk. The below hadith explains this misunderstanding,
Narrated by Ibn Umar (rali),
"None of you Muslims should offer the 'Asr prayer but at Banu Quraiza's place." The 'Asr prayer became due for some of them on the way. Some of those said, "We will not offer it till we reach it, the place of Banu Quraiza," while some others said, "No, we will pray at this spot, for the Prophet did not mean that for us." Later on it was mentioned to the Prophet and he did not berate any of the two groups”
In this hadith, two groups of companions differed in a matter and the prophet accepted both the opposing views because both had evidence from the Quran and the Sunnah. The same could be said on the issue of women wearing perfume because both are correct but Islam teaches its followers to take the easier path.
Aisha (rali) narrated,
“Whenever Allah's Messenger (sal) was given the choice of one of two matters, he would choose the easier of the two, as long as it was not sinful to do so”
When confronted with two options such as whether a woman should go out or to the mosque wearing fragrance, a Muslim should choose the easier option and in this case, wearing fragrance is the easier option. Given the above hadith, it is clear that musk is a strong fragrance for men and even so, women also used to put on musk as in the hadith of the Bani Isra’il woman. There is another hadith proving that women can wear strong fragrance such as musk in the below hadith,
“An Ansari woman asked the Prophet (sal) how to take a bath after finishing from the menses. He replied, "Take a piece a cloth perfumed with musk and clean the private parts with it thrice." The Prophet (sal) felt shy and turned his face. So I pulled her to me and told her what the Prophet (sal) meant.”
Musk is a strong odor obtained from a gland of the musk deer and that is why the prophet (sal) said,
'The example of a good pious companion and an evil one is that of a person carrying musk and another blowing a pair of bellows. The one who is carrying musk will either give you some perfume as a present, or you will buy some from him, or you will get a good smell from him, but the one who is blowing a pair of bellows will either burn your clothes or you will get a bad smell from him."
If strong odour perfumes are haram for women then the prophet (sal) would not have mentioned the woman of Bani Israil. Now, some might argue that this law applied only to the woman of the people of Israel and my answer to this is there is no hadith evidence differentiating between Bani Isra’il women and the women who came afterwards.
Now, let us analyse the hadiths which say that women cannot wear perfume in public.
Narrated by Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari-The prophet (sal) said:
“Any woman who puts on perfume then passes by the people so that they can smell its fragrance is a zaaniyah. (Adulteress)”
(Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi-Classed Hasan Sahih by Albani)
The above hadith is quoted to prove that women cannot use perfume. The above hadith talks only about a woman who puts on perfume to entice men. The hadith only mentions about wearing perfume with the intention of enticing men and other people. If the intention is good then there is nothing wrong with women wearing perfume.
There are several hadiths which say that women who put perfume cannot enter the mosque. One for an example is where the prophet (sal) said:
"When any one of you comes to the mosque, she should not apply perfume".
Wearing perfume for women while attending the mosque is the same as going out in public.
A woman passed by Abu Hurayrah (rali) and her scent was overpowering. He said, “O female slave of al-Jabbaar, are you going to the mosque?” She said, “Yes,” He said, “And have you put on perfume because of that?” She said, “Yes.” He said, “Go back and wash yourself, for I heard the Messenger of Allaah (sal) say: The prayer of a woman who wears perfume to go to the masjid is not accepted until she returns and takes a bath, like the bath of janabah ”
(Ahmed and Ibn Majah-graded sahih by Ibn Khuzaymah and Albani)
The above hadiths are only one perspective and after taking all the authentic hadiths in to account, it is clear that women can wear perfume while going out or to the mosque without any hindrance. There are many who try to argue that women cannot put wear perfumes which have a strong fragrance. This argument is not true because there is evidence that women used to put on perfume and the prophet (sal) would not have mentioned the woman who lived during the time of the children of Israel putting on musk as perfume if it was haram.
Hadith-number -4-Actions are according to intentions
If the women's intentions are not to entice men then there is nothing wrong in wearing any kind of perfume because the prophet (sal) said:
"Actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended.”
(Bukhari and Muslim)
The prophet (sal) said,
“I have not been ordered (by Allah) to search the hearts of the people or cut open their bellies.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
When Usama ibn Zayd (rali) killed a man though he had confessed that there is no deity worthy of being worshiped but Allah, claiming that the man had said so out of fear of weapon, the Prophet (sal) said to him:
“Did you tear his heart in order to find out whether it had professed that or not?”
Nowadays Muslim men are famous for oppressing women by using the word “fitna” as a blanket statement and this word is used to take away the human rights of women which Islam has guaranteed. What must be understood is that Muslims should not go in to extremes by saying that everything is haram. Islam is an easy religion and let us stick to the advice of the prophet (sal) who said:
"Make things easy for the people, and do not make it difficult for them, and make them calm (with glad tidings) and do not make them run away (from Islam)
(Sahih Al Bukhari)
In conclusion, it is clear that women can indeed wear perfumes even with strong fragrance while going out or in the mosque without having the intention to entice men.