Is it Islamically permitted for a woman to work at a beauty salon and offer services to Muslim and non-Muslim women such as hair removal, make-up, body waxing, etc? Would her income be halal even if she knows that the customer will expose her beauty in haram ways?
Services and treatments offered at a beauty salon/parlour can be divided into two categories:
(1) Those that are in of themselves impermissible, such as cutting hair very short such that it resembles the hair of men, full-body waxing and thus seeing/exposing the nakedness of the body (awra) which Islam instructs to cover, trimming eyebrows excessively into a very thin fine line, piercing body parts in a way that constitutes deformation (muthla), etc…
Offering such type of services is not permitted, since it constitutes assisting another in a sinful act (i’ana ala ‘l-ma’siya), which the Qur’an prohibits. Wages earned in this case will also be Islamically unlawful (haram).
2) Those that are in of themselves permitted, such as moustache/facial hair removal, make up, hair dye, applying Hena, and other halal forms of treatment and beautification.
The Islamic ruling on offering such type of services has three scenarios:
a) If the beautician is certain or feels relatively confident that the client will use her beatification in permissible ways; for example, revealing her dyed hair in the presence of other females or her husband, then it is completely permissible to offer such services to the client. In fact, if the intention is to beautify a woman for her husband and thus enhance her marriage, one will be rewarded In sha Allah.
b) If the beautician has no knowledge whatsoever how the client will use her beatification, then again it is permitted without dislike to offer such services, and wages earned will be lawful.
c) If the beautician is certain or feels relatively confident that the client will use her beatification in unlawful ways; for example, revealing her beautified hair to non-Mahram men as soon as she walks outside of the salon, then – in this case too – it seems it is permitted to offer such services to the client. The sin of using the beautification in unlawful ways will be on the client.
This issue goes back to the legal (fiqhi) ruling of indirectly assisting others in sinful acts. The Qur’an clearly prohibits carrying out actions that contribute to another person sinning; Allah Most High says, “Help each other in righteousness and piety, and do not help each other in sin and aggression.” (Qur’an 5: 2)
However, assisting others in sin can extend to several scenarios, actions and jobs; and not all of them are unlawful. In the Hanafi School, there are examples of jobs which would seemingly be ‘assisting in sin’ (such as building a church, hiring an animal/car to transport alcohol, and leasing a property to be used as a place of worship for non-Muslims), yet they have been allowed in the view of Imam Abu Hanifa (may Allah have mercy on him). He argues that the income received on such jobs is in exchange of the work and thus lawful (halal), and the sinful action carried out thereafter will be the responsibility of the one carrying it out. (See: Radd al-Muhtar 6/392 and Al-Hidaya with Fath al-Qadir 10/59)
Based on this, offering a service at a beauty salon which in of itself is halal would seemingly be permitted despite ‘knowing’ that the client may use it in unlawful ways – as long as one’s intention (qasd) is not for the unlawful act to take place. Since the income received is in exchange for the work undertaken, it would be halal, and the client exposing her beautification in unlawful ways will be responsible for her own sin.
Having said that, some jurists (fuqaha) have taken a stricter stance, and consider offering a service to be prohibitively disliked (makruh tahriman) when one knows that the client will use the service provided to commit a sin. As such, it is best to avoid offering one’s services in such scenarios, and one should seek an alternative means of income. However, if there is a need, then it will be acceptable to provide such a service, In sha Allah.
في الدر المختار: (وَ) جَازَ تَعْمِيرُ كَنِيسَةٍ وَ (حَمْلُ خَمْرِ ذِمِّيٍّ) بِنَفْسِهِ أَوْ دَابَّتِهِ (بِأَجْرٍ) (الدر المختار: 391-6)
وفي رد المحتار: قَالَ الزَّيْلَعِيُّ: وَهَذَا عِنْدَهُ وَقَالَا هُوَ مَكْرُوهٌ لِأَنَّهُ عَلَيْهِ الصَّلَاةُ وَالسَّلَامُ لَعَنَ فِي الْخَمْرِ عَشَرَةً وَعَدَّ مِنْهَا حَامِلَهَ، وَلَهُ أَنَّ الْإِجَارَةَ عَلَى الْحَمْلِ وَهُوَ لَيْسَ بِمَعْصِيَةٍ، وَلَا سَبَبَ لَهَا وَإِنَّمَا تَحْصُلُ الْمَعْصِيَةُ بِفِعْلِ فَاعِلٍ مُخْتَارٍ، وَلَيْسَ الشُّرْبُ مِنْ ضَرُورَاتِ الْحَمْلِ، لِأَنَّ حَمْلَهَا قَدْ يَكُونُ لِلْإِرَاقَةِ أَوْ لِلتَّخْلِيلِ، فَصَارَ كَمَا إذَا اسْتَأْجَرَهُ لِعَصْرِ الْعِنَبِ أَوْ قَطْعِهِ وَالْحَدِيثُ مَحْمُولٌ عَلَى الْحَمْلِ الْمَقْرُونِ بِقَصْدِ الْمَعْصِيَةِ..وعلى هذا الخلاف لو آجره دابته لينقل عليها الخمر أو آجره نفسه ليرعى له الخنازير يطيب له الأجر عنده وعندهما يكره
(وَمَنْ أَجَّرَ بَيْتًا لِيُتَّخَذَ فِيهِ بَيْتُ نَارٍ أَوْ كَنِيسَةٌ أَوْ بِيعَةٌ أَوْ يُبَاعُ فِيهِ الْخَمْرُ بِالسَّوَادِ فَلَا بَأْسَ بِهِ) وَهَذَا عِنْدَ أَبِي حَنِيفَةَ، وَقَالَا: لَا يَنْبَغِي أَنْ يُكْرِيَهُ لِشَيْءٍ مِنْ ذَلِكَ؛ لِأَنَّهُ إعَانَةٌ عَلَى الْمَعْصِيَةِ. وَلَهُ أَنَّ الْإِجَارَةَ تَرِدُ عَلَى مَنْفَعَةِ الْبَيْتِ، وَلِهَذَا تَجِبُ الْأُجْرَةُ بِمُجَرَّدِ التَّسْلِيمِ، وَلَا مَعْصِيَةَ فِيهِ، وَإِنَّمَا الْمَعْصِيَةُ بِفِعْلِ الْمُسْتَأْجِرِ، وَهُوَ مُخْتَارٌ فِيهِ فَقَطَعَ نِسْبَتَهُ عَنْهُ (الهداية مع فتح القدير:59-10)
And Allah Most High knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK