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Using Perfumes or Itr in Islam

Updated on January 26, 2011

Perfume otherwise known as Itr/Attar is permitted in Islam. There are times when the Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) specifically asked Muslims to apply perfume, like when going to Jummah prayers (Friday prayers) and Eid prayers. Wearing perfumes is a Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) and we should make an effort to bring as many Sunnahs as possible into our life. Some Hadith on following the Sunnah or Sunnats:

Abu Hurayrah (RA) reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said: "All of my Ummah will enter Paradise except those that refuse. Those who were with him (the Sahaabah) said, "And who will refuse?" He (SAW) said: Whoever obeys me will enter Paradise and whoever disobeys me will have refused." (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

Al-Tirmidhi reported from Abu Raafi’ and others that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “I do not want to see any one of you reclining on his couch and, when he hears of my instructions or prohibitions, saying ‘I don’t accept it; we didn’t find any such thing in the Book of Allaah.

In todays society there are many perfumes available on the market for both men and women, the majority contain a substance called 'Alcohol Denat' which some people claim is just a chemical used in order to preserve the perfume and isn't proper alcohol.

The alcohol that features in many of high-street perfumes has divided the opinion of the scholars. Some argue that alcohol is forbidden in all of its forms, regardless of whether it is in a drink or in a perfume. Others say that the alcohol found in perfumes is nothing like the alcohol found in drinks; it is not consumable and does not intoxicate, which is why alcohol is forbidden in the first place.

The best option is try to avoid them if possible. Nowadays, there is a vast array of non-alcoholic perfumes available from Islamic shops on the internet and normal high street stores. Most modern scholars from all schools of thought (Madhab) do agree however that alcohol in perfume does not come under the prohibition of alcohol, simply because this cannot intoxicate a person.

A recommended perfume is Oudh or Oud Perfume. This has many health benefits and is even said to keep cancer away if one drop is consumed daily. Beware though, because there are many retailers out there that may sell Oudh as pure when it is diluted with other oils to make more profits. Oud is extremely expensive and is much loved throughout the Middle East. It is an acquired taste, most people hate the smell at first, but come to love it eventually, women usually hate the smell as it is so strong and powerful.

There are many Musk perfume oils out there, but some like the deer musk is extremely rare and expensive and should be avoided as usually sourced illegally where the Musk deer is killed for its musk sac, this is a whole new topic.

Women should not wear perfumes in public, but it is recommended to do so for their husbands, this is not because Islam doesn't like women to smell nice or because Islam oppresses women, but simply because it causes provocation of desires in men:

Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari said: the Messenger of Allaah (PBUH) said: “Any woman who puts on perfume then passes by people so that they can smell her fragrance, is an adulteress.”

Moosa ibn Yassaar said that a woman passed by Abu Hurayrah 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 (Peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: ‘If a woman comes out to the mosque and her fragrance is overpowering, Allaah will not accept any prayer from her until she goes home and washes herself.’”

Recently biologists have discovered a sexual gland in the nose, i.e., there is a direct connection between the sense of smell and the provocation of desire. If this is true, then it is one of the signs that prove even to the non-Muslims how precise are the rulings of Islam which came to preserve chastity and to block the ways that lead to immorality.

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