We have been receiving a lot of questions from our young readers asking if a tattoo is haram in Islam. When we take a look at matters concerning jurisprudence, many of our youth wonder whether they are halal or Haram.
Let us look at the ruling of having a tattoo in Islam and digest this idea of placing a tattoo onto the body whether it be for fashion or for any other reason.
Yes, Muslims can get tattoos and tattoos are halal in Islam but before you go getting one, there are certain rules in Islam that you have to get right before you have that tattoo. Continue reading for more.
In most cases, Muslims are encouraged to protect the body that which Allah gave to them. The body is a gift from Allah and you should not destroy the body intentionally.
However, the issue of tattoos is different and there have been debates whether Muslims should have them since some tattoos are considered to be beautification of the body just like the hina which has been a form of decoration for Muslims in their historic lives to date.
The idea of having tattoo is not really haram in its self especially if it does not harm anyone, cause anyone to sin or if the tattoo does not defame Islamic faith and Allah in general. However, there are maters that surround the issue of tattoo that makes it haram in some cases.
Islam classifies tattoos in two categories;
- Tattoo that goes inside or under the skin
- Tattoo that goes above the skin
Tattoos considered haram in Islam
If we look at the countries like Pakistan, Iraq or Afghanistan which are of Islamic background, you will find people with tattoos and the women there will tend to decorate their hands and feed using hinah. This is a traditional type of ink that is used to make the decorations.
Islam considers tattoos that go above the skin with ink that hinder the water used for purification before prayers from reaching the skin as haram.
This is because the water has to get to the skin when you are preparing for your prayers. This tattoo is haram in Islam as it is interfering with your Islamic path and act of faith.
Tattoos considered to be Halal in Islam
There are tattoos that are acceptable in Islam. Those are tattoos that go under the skin. Those tattoos are considered permissible because they do not block water from reaching the skin when you are preparing for prayers.
- Another factor that makes a tattoo acceptable in Islam is when the tattoo does not in any way;
- Pass bad message
- Promote unwanted sexual behaviors
- Undermine Islam in any way
- Tattoos that defame Islamic faith
- Tattoos that insult the Imam
- Tattoos with the sword of Imam Ali Alehissalaam or Imam Anna are also considered haram because his salaam is higher than us.
Where in the Quran does it say tattoos are haram?
“I answer you from coran sura an.nissa aya 118 to aya 119 : “And I will mislead them, and I will arouse in them [sinful] desires, and I will command them so they will slit the ears of cattle, and I will command them so they will change the creation of Allah .” And whoever takes Satan as an ally instead of Allah has certainly sustained a clear loss…”
This is the Quran verse about tattoos and a verse that is always used to say tattoos are haram in Islam since they can permanently change the creation of Allah.
The argument here is Allah is perfect with no mistakes, so why do you change his creation? Why do you make permanent tattoos that will change that which Allah created and saw that is good?
Well if you are a true Muslim, then you know how to interpret this verse. Cutting hair, removing eyelashes and painting it in your own way and even circumcision can all be classified under altering the body and changing the body from its original creation.
But the question is this, what is the intention of all this? You see shaving will make you look decent and it will not permanently change Allah’s creation. Circumcision o the other hand will change but the aim is different. All those changes are done with good intentions.
So before you get a tattoo as a Muslim, ask yourself, is that tattoo against Gods will in any way? What exactly do you want to have tattooed on your body?
What is the intention? What message do you want to pass? Will it affect others negatively or positively? Islam is Light, Peace, and Love so watch what you want to have as a tattoo in Islam.
Can I become a Muslim if I Have a Tattoo?
If a revert had tattoos on his body or her body and then accepted Islam would they be held accountable for that? The best and true answer to this is No. The Prophet said that may Allah curse those who have tattoos on them and those who make tattoos for them.
However, if a person has a tattoo and then he accepts Islam, all of his sins are forgiven.
All of his sins or her sins are all erased by embracing and accepting Islam. Every bad or evil activity done in the past it’s gone, it’s history, it has no traces at all and you have a white book of records.
Can you pray with tattoo in Islam?
Yes, you can pray with tattoos and there is no problem in that as long as you have the above rules in your mind. This in most cases, is also applicable to Muslims that reverted to Islam when they already had tattoos. If you can manage to remove a tattoo that goes against the Islamic rules you can do so.
If you cannot manage to remove the tattoo, then it is good that you cover the tattoo when you are going to a mosque or you want to pray. This is because Allah forgives you of all your past sins when you revert to Islam. Allah will judge you by your heart and goodwill in this case.
So never think that you cannot become a Muslim if you have a tattoo in the past. Your past does not dictate your present life. Allah (SWT) is most merciful and is forgiving as long as you have the right will to change and give your life to Him.
So why are tattoos forbidden in Islam? – Hadith on Tattoos
so I have a question here why are tattoos forbidden in Islam and couple with that as a question at the bottom if someone converts to Islam and still has tattoos what should they do?
First of all, tattoos are forbidden because the Prophet SAW said that Allah curses the woman who seeks to have tattoos and also the woman who does the tattooing.
The Imam who is a great scholar in his book on “Makhasi” talks about the “tah Leal” the reasoning behind this prohibition.
So we look at the two aspects that someone’s changing the creation of Allah and that’s why men also fall into this prohibition and then secondly that tattoos were actually from the Shire of the Zen.
In the time of the Prophet, prostitutes used to have space between their teeth which they considered to be very attractive along with tattoos on their bodies.
Why some Muslims think tattoos are not haram
Mufti Abu Layth al-Maliki in his Monday series has an interesting view on tattoos. I think I like his argument about this. He says that during those days in the past, Tattoos were not used for fashion.
They were used to identify a certain tribe or click of people. And that is why they were considered to be Haram.
Certain communities used to tattoo their gods on their skins as a way to identify with them. Cows were tattooed to help in identifying them and mark them as someone’s property. Slaves were tattooed and branded so that they could be identified as someone’s property.
So when the Prophet (PBUH) said that people should not cut hair or have those tattoos, He definitely never wanted people to follow those traditions since they were not in line with what Allah (SWT) wanted of his people. Allah (SWT) never wanted any other God apart from Him to be worshiped and praised.
Definitely, in that context, tattoos were wrong and having a tattoo of any other god will definitely be offensive.
Look at it this way, whatever you do, if it does not Glorify Allah, then you should not do it. Having a tattoo that will go against Allah’s teachings and will is definitely haram.
Having that in mind, if a tattoo is considered as altering the body then why do people cut their hair or get circumcised?
You see we can also as well say that getting male circumcised is also altering the creation of Allah. Cutting hair or shaving is also altering the original creation of Allah.
However, altering the body depends on the intention. We shave our beards and other parts of the body every other day but with good intentions. We get circumcised but with good intentions. On the same note, some people get tattoos with good intentions.
For example, someone that is getting a tattoo for beauty like a tattoo of a nice flower or a beautiful pattern in this context, we cannot say that person is doing something Haram.
However, somebody that is getting a tattoo of demons or other gods is definitely doing something bad and that tattoo is considered to be haram. It does not please Allah in any way.
A good Muslim should always know that you should always do things that do not offend Allah. If you are going to get a tattoo that is sexually attractive or a tattoo that is praising other gods, then that definitely is haram and you should never at any point have that tattoo in Islam.
“However, in the modern-day, tattoos are for fashion. Most Modern Muslims in the west always argue that getting tattoos based on what has been discussed above is not bad. In fact, a study has it that there is a rise in what we call the Muslim Tattoo designs and young Muslims get their facts right before they get those Muslim tattoos”.
You have to understand that the whole backdrop to tattoos. Historically, tattoos were not a fashion statement.
In the time of the Prophet (PBUH) tattoos were things to brand people or cattle. The branding took place either with slaves to say he or she is my property or with animals to say that is my property.
It was done as a kind of a brand. The tattoo wasn’t done as a fashion statement. So it’s very important to understand the context in which the Prophet (PBUH) spoke when he said these things like tattoo were Haram.
It stayed like that throughout a huge part of human history. This is why all tattoos were done as a tribal thing or an act of tribal solidarity to declare that we are this tribe, we will have certain tattoos marks but those tattoos were not fashioned tattoos.
So somebody has a done a tattoo picture of a small rose or things like that is different to those people back in the days. Their intentions were different from our modern intentions when it comes to tattoos. I hope you do get this right with no misunderstandings.
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