Patheos answers the question:

Can Muslims Get Tattoos?

Man getting a tattoo
While many Muslims do get tattoos, there are many Muslims who believe that permanent tattoos are not permissible under Islamic law. There are a few objections that come up for devout Muslims when it comes to considering getting a tattoo. One is that the Quran, the divine scripture at the center of the Muslim faith, instructs that one should not cause themselves pain, or harm their body, especially for no needed reason. Tattoos are almost always painful to receive, and even when relatively safe, come with the risk of infection. Some Muslims therefore see tattoos as going against the injunction not to cause pain to one’s body. Permanent tattoos are also seen as problematic because they permanently alter one’s body, which Islam understands to be a divine creation. Changing God’s design permanently is seen as almost disrespectful, and another reason that many Muslims might decide not to get a tattoo, for religious reasons. There is even a Hadith, a teaching from the collection of oral religious texts that inform Muslim scholars when deciding religious matters, which quotes the Prophet Muhammed as saying that anyone who tattoos someone else, or gets a tattoo, is cursed. Some also believe that tattoos have historically been associated with non-Muslims, and as a result getting a tattoo is seen as a way to follow the ways of people outside the faith, and not a particularly Islamic choice. 

These hesitations all apply exclusively to permanent tattoos. The question of temporary tattoos is a different question for many Muslims, since temporary tattoos are usually not painful, and do not permanently alter the body. In fact, many Muslim women in communities around the world use henna dye as a decorative form of adornment, through skin coloration, for special occasions. Henna temporarily dyes—or ‘tattoos’—the skin, but it is not considered a religious concern for almost all Muslims, especially since such practices date to the times of the Prophet Muhammed. There are some strict interpretations of Muslim law which understand the Prophet Muhammed’s Hadith statement to mean that any coloration of the skin, whether permanent or temporary, should not be allowed. But this is very much a minority opinion. 

Some questions raised related to whether or not Muslims can get tattoos come up concerning prayer. One of the five pillars of Islam is prayer, which occurs five times a day, and are preceded by a ritual washing of one’s limbs and face. This washing is to ensure one is ritually clean, and there are some concerns that a permanent tattoo might mark the individual as ritually unclean, and therefore prevent him or her from offering prayers in an ideal state. This is a debated issue, and there are even some Muslim scholars who believe an individual who has gotten a tattoo should have it removed with a laser. Most Muslim scholars, however, believe that a person who has a tattoo should sincerely repent for the act, and this repentance is sufficient. Of course, Muslims who do not believe that permanent tattoos are a religious prohibition do not see any issue with praying while tattooed. 

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11/15/2023 12:09:19 AM