Ruling of Tattoos in Islam

Are Tattoos Haram in Islam

 Firstly  we must realize that in Islam tattooing means a permanent change in the colour of the skin which is often done by inserting a needle in the skin. This is Haram (forbidden) in Islam.

 

Decorating one's self with henna and similar material does not cause permanent change in the skin but rather the colours wash away and thus it does not come under the heading of tattoos and is permissible in Islam.

Prophet of Allah has cursed the person who has tattoos done on them and the one on whom tattoos are done.

It was narrated that Abu Juhayfah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) cursed the one who does tattoos, the one who has a tattoo done, the one who consumes riba (usury or interest) and the one who pays it, and he forbade the price of a dog and the earnings of a prostitute, and he cursed the image-makers.”  (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5032).

It is narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “May Allah curse the women who do tattoos and those for whom tattoos are done, those who pluck their eyebrows and those who file their teeth for the purpose of beautification and alter the creation of Allah.” (al-Bukhaari, al-Libaas, 5587; Muslim, al-Libaas, 5538). 

So having tattoos done and tattooing is a major sin. The reason for it being haram has not been given but some scholars believe that it may be because it is changing the creation of Allah.

The Prophet peace be upon him must be dearest person to a Muslim. he must be more dearer to us than our best friends, parents, our children, our spouses and even our own selves.

It was narrated that Anas said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “No one of you truly believes until I am dearer to him than his father, his son, his own self and all the people.”
Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 15; Muslim, 44.

It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Hishaam said: We were with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) when he was holding the hand of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab. ‘Umar said to him: “O Messenger of Allah, you are dearer to me than everything except my own self.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “No, by the One in Whose hand is my soul, not until I am dearer to you than your own self.” ‘Umar said to him: “Now, by Allah, you are dearer to me than my own self.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Now (you are a true believer), O ‘Umar.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6257.

And Allah says to His Messenger peace be upon him

Say (O Muhammad  to mankind): "If you (really) love Allah then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you of your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (3:31)

And Allah says:

But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you (O Muhammad ) judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission.(4:65)

In the next verse Allah again tells his Messenger

Say (O Muhammad ): "Obey Allah and the Messenger (Muhammad )." But if they turn away, then Allah does not like the disbeliever's(3:32)

It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Hishaam said: We were with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) when he was holding the hand of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab. ‘Umar said to him: “O Messenger of Allah, you are dearer to me than everything except my own self.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “No, by the One in Whose hand is my soul, not until I am dearer to you than your own self.” ‘Umar said to him: “Now, by Allah, you are dearer to me than my own self.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Now (you are a true believer), O ‘Umar.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6257.

 

After knowing this how can any Muslim think of disappointing our beloved Prophet peace be upon him and our creator?

If you have a strong desire for tattoos ask your self is fulfilling some haram desire worth having the Prophet peace be upon him make dua to Allah against you?

Secondly dear brothers and sisters  giving up something that you desire enormously for the sake of Allah has much greater rewards for you than someone who doesn't have as much  desire for it and gives it up.

It can also be a means of salvation and miracles have happened when those who gave up something they desired immensely out of fear of Allah or seeing Allah's pleasure

The secound story in this following beautiful hadith is related to this  situation.

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar:
The Prophet said, "While three men were walking, It started raining and they took shelter (refuge) in a cave in a mountain. A big rock rolled down from the mountain and closed the mouth of the cave. They said to each other, "Think of good deeds which you did for Allah's sake only, and invoke Allah by giving reference to those deeds so that He may remove this rock from you." One of them said, 'O Allah! I had old parents and small children and I used to graze the sheep for them. On my return to them in the evening, I used to milk (the sheep) and start providing my parents first of all before my children. One day I was delayed and came late at night and found my parents sleeping. I milked (the sheep) as usual and stood by their heads. I hated to wake them up and disliked to give milk to my children before them, although my children were weeping (because of hunger) at my feet till the day dawned. O Allah! If I did this for Your sake only, kindly remove the rock so that we could see the sky through it.' So, Allah removed the rock a little and they saw the sky. The second man said, 'O Allah! I was in love with a cousin of mine like the deepest love a man may have for a woman. I wanted to outrage her chastity but she refused unless I gave her one hundred Dinars. So, I struggled to collect that amount. And when I sat between her legs, she said, 'O Allah's slave! Be afraid of Allah and do not deflower me except rightfully (by marriage).' So, I got up. O Allah! If I did it for Your sake only, please remove the rock.' The rock shifted a little more. Then the third man said, 'O Allah! I employed a laborer for a Faraq of rice and when he finished his job and demanded his right, I presented it to him, but he refused to take it. So, I sowed the rice many time till I gathered cows and their shepherd (from the yield). (Then after some time) He came and said to me, 'Fear Allah (and give me my right)." I said, 'Go and take those cows and the shepherd.' He said, 'Be afraid of Allah! Don't mock at me.' I said, 'I am not mocking at you. Take (all that).' So, he took all that. O Allah! If I did that for Your sake only, please remove the rest of the rock.' So, Allah removed the rock." ( Bukhari Volume: 3, Book Number: 39, Hadith Number: 526)

(in another hadith it adds "Hard pressed in a year of famine, she approached me. I gave her one hundred and twenty dinars on condition that she would yield herself to me. She agreed and when we got together (for sexual intercourse), she said: Fear Allah and do not break the seal unlawfully. I moved away from her in spite of the fact that I loved her most passionately; and I let her keep the money I had given her. O Allah! If I did that to seek Your Pleasure, then, remove the distress in which we are.' The rock moved aside a bit further but they were still unable to get out.")

Since this article is about giving up haram desire i will concentrate on the story of the young man who had a great desire for his cousin. This story has many beautiful lessons.

 Firstly we have to appreciate that the young man wanted to have sex with her but she didn't want to have sex with him and thus refused on previous occasions.

 Then a famine came and she became desperate for food and started to compromise on her values which a Muslimah shouldn't do. But in any case she accepted and all the mans dreams and fantasies came true and now he had power over her. We learn that he was very passionately in love with her and wanted to sleep with her desperately.

 Now he was siting in a position in which many men would find it very difficult and almost impossible (not impossible) not to have sex with a women whom they very only mildly attracted too.  For him it would have been even harder to refrain form sex with her.  Yet when she reminds him to Fear Allah his emaan increases so much that gives up this this chance to fulfill a desire he longed for many years.   There was nothing stopping him from enjoying her, except the fear of Allah and seeking Allah's pleasure is. And look at what happens when he is in a tight situation. Locked in a cave unable to move the huge rock, with maybe very little food and maybe death.  So he turns to Allah saying O Allah! If I did it for Your sake only, please remove the rock.' and Allah made the rock shift.

 

 Over the years i have received emails from Muslims who were born in Muslim families saying that they were foolish and astray make the mistake of getting tattoos done and they feel very guilty and asking what should they do.

Also from converts who had tattoos done when they were not Muslims.

They wish they had never had tattoos done so if you are thinking of having a tattoo be wise and do not do it.

 

What should a person do if he or she has tattoos when they were astray or were not Muslims.

 

 The curse is not permanent but it is lifted when a person sincerely repents to Allah for this mistake. So one should not feel doomed because they committed this mistake when they were in days of Jahilia (ignorance). But this should not cause a person to think that they will get a tattoo done and repent latter. Firstly would any Muslim  with any intelligence want to the Prophet peace be upon him make such a dua against him and secoundly how do you know you will live to repent?

 

Many times I received e-mails from non Muslims who want to embrace Islam   and from New Muslims who had tattoos done when they were not Muslim asking if they can become Muslim even though they have tattoos or do they have to get their tattoos removed before they can become Muslim or before they can pray.

 

Let me assure you that when a non Muslim converts to Islam all their previous sins are erased and you start on a blank slate. a

Allah says

“Except those who repent and believe (in Islamic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds; for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”

[al-Furqaan 25:70]

It was narrated that ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas said: When Allah put Islam in my heart, I went to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said: “Give me your right hand so that I may give you my oath of allegiance.” So he held out his hand, but I held my hand back. He said, “What is the matter, O ‘Amr?” I said, “I want to make a condition.” He said, “What is your condition?” I said, “That I be forgiven.” He said, “Do you not know that Islam wipes out whatever came before it, and that hijrah (migration for the sake of Allaa) wipes out whatever came before it, and that Hajj wipes out whatever came before it?”

(Narrated by Muslim, 121).

 

So you can convert to Islam,  do wudhu. pray and perform all your Islamic duties even if you have tattoos. So do not worry.

 

As i said before decorating one's self with henna and similar material does not cause permanent change in the skin but rather the colours wash away and thus it does not come under the heading of tattoos and is permissible in Islam.

 Dyeing the hands and feet with henna is something mustahabb (encouraged) for women but not for  men. A number of hadiths indicate that it is mustahabb, such as that narrated by Abu Dawood (4166) from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) who said: A woman gestured from behind a screen, with a letter to the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) in her hand. The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) withdrew his hand and said: “I do not know whether it is the hand of a man or a woman.” She said: It is a woman. He said: “If you were a woman, you would have changed your nails,” meaning, with henna.

Classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood

 Abu Dawood (4928) narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that an effeminate man who had dyed his hands and feet with henna was brought to the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him). The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him ) said: “What is the matter with him?” They said: O Messenger of Allah, he imitates women. He ordered that he be banished to al-Naqee‘.

Classed as Saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood

 

 Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked:

Is it obligatory for a woman to put henna on her hands, because some people say that a woman is imitating men if she does not put henna on her hands?

He replied:

Undoubtedly dyeing her hands with henna is mustahabb. There are some hadeeths concerning that which are somewhat da‘eef (weak), but it is better for her to dye them with henna. As to whether that is obligatory or it is haraam for her to leave her hands white, I do not know of any basis for saying that. But it is better and preferable for her to dye them with henna, so that they will not resemble the hands of a man. This is what is better and is preferable, because there are hadeeths which speak of this, and because it is part of the Sunnah that is well-known among women and it was customary at the time of the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and afterwards to dye the hands with henna, and it is preferable for women. End quote

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