Skin Color Modification

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil is asked about being forced by parents to use skin-lightening cream.

I am a brown-skinned girl from South Asia. My parents lately have been really forcing me to apply skin-lightening cream on my face. I really do not want to put it as I’m content and thankful with how Allah have beautified me. Their perception is that I won’t be getting marriage proposals from nice families if my skin color is brown.

Would it be considered disobeying my parents if I refuse to their demand? Also, would it be considered displeasing in the sight of Allah if I really get into changing how He has made me?

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Skin Color

Abu Hurayra, Allah be pleased with him, narrated: “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, ‘Allah does not look at your figures, nor at your attire but He looks at your hearts and accomplishments.’” (Muslim)

Dear sister, I am sorry about your dilemma. Please know that it is the contents of your heart, and not the color of your skin, that matters to Allah Most High. Alhamdulillah, I am so happy to hear that you are content with the looks Allah has given you. May He beautify you inwardly, as He has beautified you outwardly.

Parental concern

Your parents love you, and want you to get married. Unfortunately, they have a problematic belief that only light-skinned women will get proposals from “good families.” I would argue that only superficial families would insist on light skin in a daughter-in-law. A God-fearing family would look at your character. When you are tested with difficult matters in your marriage, the color of your skin will not matter, but the strength of your character will.

It would not be considered disobeying your parents if you politely decline their strong request. Please do not be rude to them, under any circumstances, and address the root of their fear – reassure them that insha Allah one day, you will get married to a good man, from a good family, and the most useful thing they could do for you is to make dua, and send the word out to their social networks.

I suggest that you read this useful link: When May Parents Be Disobeyed, and How?

Harmful Ingredients in Cream

On another note, skin-lightening creams often contain harmful ingredients that can hurt your skin. It would then be impermissible for you to harm yourself through applying it, as harming yourself is forbidden, and displeasing to Allah.

Changing What Allah Has Given

It is praiseworthy for you to look after your physical, emotional and spiritual health. Consuming healthy food, exercising and applying moisturizing creams to nourish yourself, for example, is something you would be rewarded for, insha Allah. However, deliberately changing your appearance through something like cosmetic surgery would be impermissible. See: Is Cosmetic Surgery Allowed?

Preparation for Marriage

I suggest that you prepare yourself for marriage not with skin-lightening creams, but with knowledge of the rights and responsibilities that come with marriage. Please complete the course Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriages. The book Before You Tie The Knot: A Guide For Couples is also very educational.

I recommend that you perform the Prayer of Need in the last third of the night, for as long as you need to, and ask Allah for a loving and husband who has both din and good character.

The greatest gift you can bring your future husband, in-laws and children is your own excellent character. I pray that Allah grants you the blessing of a kind husband who comes from a good family.

Please see Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered.