Hymen restoration surgery
We have received a request inquiring whether hymen restoration surgery is permissible in Islam.
It is well known that Islam encourages chastity, regards fornication as an enormous sin, and forbids anything leading to it such as flirtatious glances and private meetings [between males and females]. God the Almighty says, "And do not approach fornication: it is an outrage and an evil path" (Quran 17:32). Indeed, Islam calls for the administration of a punishment for fornication if it reaches the authorities. God says, "Flog the female and male fornicator one hundred times" (Quran 24:2).
However, the basic principle in the Shari‘ah is to cover up sins to protect people's reputations as is stated in the hadith related by ‘Abd Allah bin ‘Omar (may God be pleased with them both) that the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Muslims are brothers to one another. A Muslim does not oppress a fellow Muslim, nor does he hand him over to an oppressor. God fulfills the needs of whoever fulfills the needs of a fellow Muslim. Whoever relieves a burden from a fellow Muslim, God will relieve him of one of the discomforts of the Day of Judgment. And whoever covers [a fault] for a Muslim, God will cover for him on the Day of Judgment."
We have also been forbidden from spreading [fornication] by publicizing it, and by divulging our sins which God has covered up. God says, "A painful punishment waits in this world and the next for those who like indecency to spread among the believers: God knows and you do not" (Quran 24:19).
It has been related through Abu Hurayrah, who heard the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) say, "All members of my community are pardoned except those who announce their sins. Among those who announce sins is someone who commits a sin at night; God has concealed it, yet when morning comes he says: 'O, so-and-so! Yesterday I did such-and-such.' He spent the night with his sins covered by his Lord, and when he wakes, he exposes what God has covered." 1
The Hanafis have stated explicitly that a virgin who loses her virginity by fornicating in secret (meaning that it has not been made known to the court and resulted in punishment), or does not do it repeatedly so it becomes a habit, is legally a virgin, even though she is not truly a virgin. She is married as a virgin; she is even not asked to verbally consent to marriage since she is given the same status as that of a virgin. The Prophet said, “Consent is sought from virgins. Their consent is in remaining silent.” The Hanafis state that the rational cause here is that asking for her verbal consent would expose her shameful deed, while the Shari‘ah recommends concealment. In the Hanafi text Nasb al-Rayah it says, "Abu Hanifah, may God grant him mercy, holds that if people know her as a virgin, they will chastise her if she consents verbally. Thus, she refrains; silence suffices so she is not cut off from her interests." 2
Based on the above, it is permissible to medically reconstruct this membrane in order to prevent scandal which would otherwise occur. It is also permissible for a physician to perform such a surgery, even for payment. If the woman is known for promiscuity3 or has been punished for such acts, then it is not permissible to undergo such an operation due to the absence of the rational cause.
And God the Almighty knows best.
1. Sahih al-Bukhari, it in the chapter on manners.
2. Nasb al-Rayah, in the chapter of marriage, in the section on guardians and suitable matches.
3. "Known" here does not refer to mere rumors, but of some sort of confirmation such as admission of guilt, etc.