Changing God's Creation
By: A. Muhammad

Opinion has varied regarding the Quranic legality of making changes to the human body. The changes more often referred to are plastic surgery and other appearance modifications to the human body. However, since the subject of this article is the legality of the concept itself, then all deliberate changes to the human body, be they minor or major, must be included.
1- Opinion differed as to whether such acts are permissible according to Quranic law or not.
2- Opinion also differed among those who allow changes as to which changes are permissible and which are not.
The article aims at examining the claims that make such alterations haram (unlawful). This will be conducted in the light of the Holy Quran.
As a rule, those who believe that changes are unlawful base their claims on 3 sets of Quranic verses. Each of these verses will be analysed separately in this article.

: Verse 4:119
I will misguide them, and I will entice them, and I will command them so they would slit the ears of livestock, and I will command them so they would alter God's creation." Anyone who takes the devil for an ally instead of God has indeed lost; a clear loss. 4:119

In this verse, the devil says that he will command people to alter God's creation. Following from that, some interpreters made it unlawful to make any alterations in our bodies. They explained that if we do such alterations, we would be obeying the devil when God commanded us never to obey him.
On first impression, this may sound like a rational argument. This we need to verify more closely.
If the devil inspires us to do something, whether it is to alter God's creation or anything else and as a result, we forbid such acts because they came from the devil, we would have, without realising it, made the devil a lawmaker besides God!

Unless there is a clear Quranic verse prohibiting changes to the human body, if we forbid such acts, we would have fallen into the devil's trap and made him a lawmaker. In fact, we would have allowed the devil to trick us into prohibiting what God never prohibited!
If we are not aware of this ploy, the devil would indeed be able to impose any prohibitions he wishes on us. All he needs to do is tell us to do a certain act, then we, thinking we are obeying God, would turn what the devil inspired to us into a prohibition! However, such a prohibition was never authorised by God in the first place! We simply made the devil a law maker besides God!

At all times, we must be aware of what God means when He instructs us not to obey the devil. If the devil urges to do something that violates God's law, or that would lead us to disobey God in any shape or form, it is then that we must never obey him. In contrast, if the devil tells us to do something that was never prohibited by God, such as the example in 4:119, then we must ignore the devil's words and not fall into his trap.

The clear evidence that assures us that this is a trick by the devil is that the devil will never forbid us from something that is forbidden by God. For example, the devil will never forbid from eating pig meat. Equally, the devil will never urge us to do something that is encouraged by God. For example, the devil will never urge us to observe our Salat or pay our Zakat.

The conclusion is that the words in 4:119 do not constitute any laws for us to follow or to reject. No prohibitions should be derived from the words of the devil in 4:119 nor from any other words of the devil. The only prohibitions we are subject to obey are those that come directly from God and no one else.

: Verse 30:30
So direct your face towards the religion as a monotheist. Such is the natural instinct that God instilled in the people. There is no changing the creation of God. Such is the correct religion but most people do not know.30:30

Contrary to the words in 4:119, which were spoken by the devil, the words in 30:30 are God's own words, and indeed, God's commands must be obeyed. As a result, some interpreters quote this verse to state that the words
"no changing the creation of God" compels us not to make any changes in God's creation, one of which is our physical body.
To determine the truth in this claim, we need to analyse this verse just as we analysed 4:119. When we read this verse, we find it contains 2 sections that differ in the mode of their wording and also in their implications.

Section 1:
Direct your face towards the religion as a monotheist.

Section 2:
- Such (monotheism) is the natural instinct that God instilled in the people.
- There is no changing the creation of God.
- Such (monotheism) is the correct religion but most people do not know.

We note an immediate difference between the two sections.
The words in section 1 contain a clear command from God. The command applies to all people and the words are:
- Direct your face towards the religion as a monotheist.

In contrast, the 3 sentences in section 2 do not contain commands, they contain statements of truth:

Such (monotheism) is the natural instinct which God instilled in the people.
God instilled monotheism as an instinct in the human being. This is demonstrated at the times when the human being is faced with sudden grave danger to his life. Picture a situation where a person is driving then his car veers off the road and he is about to crash. In those brief seconds, there is no time for the mind to think, panic sets in and it is then that instinct takes over. People in such brief moments call on God "Oh God!" to save them, they never call on their idols in such brief moments. Yet, when they are out of danger they revert to their old ways. God tells us about this phenomenon in the Quran:

When they sail onboard a ship, they implore God devoting the religion purely to Him. Yet when He delivers them safely to the shore, they revert to associating partners with Him.

There is no changing the creation of God.
This second statement of truth, which follows the mention that monotheism is instilled in the human being as an instinct, confirms that the instinct of monotheism is instilled in all human beings and that nothing and nobody can change it. It is important here to note that this second sentence is a continuation of the sentence that precedes it. It is also important to note that the wording of this second sentence is also in the form or a statement of fact, rather than a command to be obeyed.

Such (monotheism) is the correct religion but most people do not know.
The third statement of truth is that monotheism is the correct religion, but most people are unaware of this matter. Most people are disbelievers (see 12:103) in their minds, but not by instinct.
None of the 3 sentences in section 2 is worded in the form of a command but are all statements of truth. They are not any different from other statements of truth given in the Quran, such as:

- God is the One who created the heavens and the earth. 14:32 -
- He is the One who created you from clay. 6:2
- He created the two mates, the male and the female. 53:45
- He is the One who created for you everything in the earth. 2:29

All the above are statements of facts and not commands to be obeyed.
The same goes for "there is no changing the creation of God."

: The Human body
He designed you, and He designed you well. 64:3
We created the human being in the best design. 95:4

Various interpreters have interpreted the above words to mean that the human being is created perfect by God. As a result, they claim that making any changes in our bodies would be an attempt to alter the perfection of God's creation as well as constituting a rejection of the way God created us.
Once again, we need to examine the truth of this interpretation.

Initially, we are able to see evidence in front of our eyes that this is a mistaken interpretation. If the human body is created perfect and without blemish,
then how can we explain those born blind, physically handicapped or with genetic defects? This visible evidence refutes the interpretation of the perfectly created human body.
More important, God tells us in the Quran that the human being is not created perfect but in fact, he is created weak:

The human being was created weak.

What can be derived from the above is that the claim that changes in the human body violate the concept of the perfectly created human body is unfounded and is based on incorrect interpretations of God's words.

FOURTH: When does what the devil advocate become prohibited?
It is necessary after the presentation above to determine when does an act advocated by the devil become prohibited for us. The answer is when the act advocated by the devil is already prohibited by God. The following is an example:

The devil advocates immorality and evil
O you who believe, do not follow the footsteps of the devil. Whoever follows the footsteps of the devil then, indeed, he advocates immorality and evil. 24:21

God has clearly prohibited all and evil/sin
[7:33] Say, "My Lord has only prohibited immoralities, what is apparent of them and what is concealed, and the sins, and unjustified aggression, and that you associate with God that for which He has not brought down any authorisation, and to say about God what you know not."

From the above two verses we can conclude that immorality and sin are prohibited, not because they are advocated by the devil, but because they are prohibited by God.

From the analysis of the above verses, it can be ascertained that there are no Quranic prohibitions against making changes to the human body, nor to nature around us, as long as these changes do not promote or contribute to any other prohibitions or immoralities that displease God.

People all over the world make changes to their bodies on a daily basis without ever raising any concern. Changes to the human body can be minor or major, however, they are all changes. It would thus make no sense to claim that minor changes are permissible while major changes are haram when they are all changes to the way God created the human body.

God created the human body with tonsils, appendix, teeth and other parts that go wrong, rot or become dangerous to the body. If we remove these, we are changing the body which God gave us. If we transplant body parts or repair body parts, we would also be altering the way God created us.
Since God never prohibited us in the Quran from making changes to our bodies, then all man-made restrictions against alterations are indeed lies against God:

Do not utter lies that are portrayed by your tongues: "This is lawful and that is unlawful," to fabricate lies and attribute them to God. Those who fabricate lies and attribute them to God will not succeed.

God provided us with science, technology and medical knowledge to improve our life and mend our ailing bodies when the need arises. Much wrong befalls the human bodies throughout our lives. Much needs changing and repairing, and to use the God-given knowledge for such purposes is not wrong or unlawful.

Summary of the above:

1- God is the only lawmaker (6:114, 16:116).
2- God did not prohibit changing God's creation.
3- If we prohibit the changing of God's creation, because it is advocated by the devil, then we would have allowed ourselves to be tricked by the devil into making him a lawmaker besides God, and that is an act of shirk.
4- The phrase "God's creation" in 4:119 should not be restricted in meaning to the human body. Everything around us is God's creation. Therefore, if we were to prohibit the changing of God's creation, it would necessarily mean that we should also prohibit any changes in nature such as cultivating lands that are naturally barren, or the cutting of trees to make wood, and so on.
5- What the devil inspires to the human being becomes prohibited only if the act advocated by the devil is already prohibited by God.