Getting inked: The Islamic perspective on getting tattoos


Getting inked: The Islamic perspective on getting tattoos

Islamically, there’s a difference between the opinions on the permissibility of getting a tattoo.


Advertise on TMV

Islamically, there’s a difference between the opinions on the permissibility of getting a tattoo.

Following Fox News’ recent interest in the ‘deep love’ that is intrinsically hidden at the heart of Shias getting tattoos, it really begs the question, what is the Islamic and cultural perspective on getting one?

So what is the deal with tattoos anyway? Fox News suggests that for some people, it is a way that people respond to the pressures of war and daily issues. On a cultural level, many people get tattoos for very personal reasons, either to remember a loved one, showing their political and religious affiliations, and many other reasons that fall under such a wide spectrum.

For some, the idea is that “There’s something about the impermanence of life these days that makes it necessary to etch ink into our skins. It reminds us that we’ve been marked by the world, that we’re still alive. That we’ll never forget.” [Tahereh Mafi, Unravel Me]

Islamically, there’s a difference between the opinions on the permissibility of getting a tattoo.

The Sunni school of thought follows the belief mentioned in a hadith, suggesting that “the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) cursed the one who does tattoos, the one who has a tattoo done.” [Bukhari].

Conversely, scholars from the Shia school of thought are generally accepting of it and see no issue with both the one getting the tattoo and the one inking them. For example, Sayed Ali Sistani suggests that, “tattoos are permissible irrespective of whether they are permanent or temporary.” and Sayyid  Ali Khamenei, in Practical Laws of Islam, ruling 1220 answered a question about the permissibility of tattoos and said: “Tattooing is not haram.”

That being said, the main issue that stems from getting a tattoo is before all else, the permanence of obtaining one, and the belief that it causes you to alter the creation of Allah (swt). This begs the question, how does that then differ from dyeing ones hair, getting piercings, tanning, braces, amongst other things which all technically change the way in which a person looks? While these are not permanent when done, they can lead to the permanent alteration in pigmentation and the body in general.

Another issue is the said unnecessary infliction of pain, which is also considered to be prohibited by some.

To this, I would like to mention that a majority of tattoo artists would rub the area with numbing lotion that prevents you from feeling anything. It also differs based on the area in which you consider placing it, and your own pain threshold. With this, there are a good many things that people do which cause pain to the body such as waxing, threading and piercings, none of which are considered to be forbidden.

Further to this, the popular belief is that a tattoo prevents water from reaching the skin, thus preventing taharah, or ritual purity, necessary for wudhu. This is incorrect as when getting a tattoo, the ink is deposited below several layers of skin, and so it does not prevent water from reaching the skin.

With all this, what are your thoughts on the topic? Do you have a tattoo? Share your opinion in the comments below!


Now more than ever, we need your support…

The Muslim Vibe is a non-profit media platform aiming to inspire, inform and empower Muslims like you. Our goal is to provide a space for young Muslims to learn about their faith as well as news stories affecting them, so we can reclaim the Muslim narrative from the mainstream.

Your support will help us achieve this goal, and enable us to produce more original content. Your support can help us in the fight against Islamophobia, by building a powerful platform for young Muslims who can share their ideas, experiences and opinions for a better future.

Please consider supporting The Muslim Vibe, from as little as £1 – it will only take a minute. Thank you and Jazakallah.

Keep Reading

No results found.

25 Comments. Leave new

  • […] Download Image More @ themuslimvibe.com […]

  • I’m a young Muslim girl with a few tattoos. I’m struggling to distinguish what is right and wrong. Are my tattoos going to prevent me from being a good Muslim? And how are they any different from people doing their eyebrows or waxing their body, or even dying hair. I have began questioning this rule which is mentioned where tattooing and getting tattooed is forbidden and it’s causing me to become very curious because I suffer from a mental illness and I feel that every day is a chore and in times when I need a reminder of how far I’ve come from my battles I have tattoos that I can always look at and remind myself of how strong I’ve become and to me they are beautiful pieces of art but I’m just restless because does this mean I am a bad Muslim? Does this mean I can never be a good one?

    • Only you shall enter your grave alone, and shall be questioned alone! Stop asking for random people’s opinions dear… Flaunt your body and remind yourself of the strong warrior you are. You deserve to wear that medal on you ;)

      I myself rewarded myself of overcoming self harm and suicidal thoughts by a beautiful quote, that helped me in that phase.

      Good luck,
      And stay authentic!

    • Sister! According to Al Qur’an, your duty to your Lord are to pray regularly, fast, give charity. Everything else will fall into it’s rightful place. Forget about tattoos I have 7 and those don’t stop me from doing what Allah commanded me to do

  • Hello :)
    Dear all,

    God loves beauty- Inna Allah Yuhub Aljamal. God is the creator, and most talented artists and there is no doubt about that! Therefore do you think God will curse you if you wanted to get a tattoo that would boost your morals up and make you happier? Especially for people who are struggling with self image issues such as stretch marks, self harm scars etc..

    Second of all- Tattoos are way deep in the skin layers for the water to enter in first place. Thus wuduu justification falls invalid.

    Thirdly- If it were for changing God’s creation why do y’all pierce, cut and colour your hair? The permanency of a tattoo doesn’t make it any different because in both cases there is a change of one’s appearance!

    Fourthly- The only hadith that states that tattoo’s are disliked in Islam was referring to women, and did not refer to men (not saying only men can get it :) bear with me ladies). And in that context not only tattoos were mentioned, but also the thin plucking of the eyebrows and the gapping of the front teeth as they were all signs of prostitutes at the time. One should look at the context, and time frames of several Hadiths as they are quiet irrelevant to today.

    Lastly- The risk of you getting a tattoo infection is really minor. So before going on about health risks think about smoking.. why is it less attacked? Social stigmas..

    After having a thorough research about tattoos and Islam, I have decided to put my soul in ease and get the tattoos I want.
    I am not a mufitya, but I am only talking from what I know and am sharing though this platform as many of you are still confused and not convinced.

    As long as your tattoos don’t promote hate, or any form of negativity you can go ahead! Hating of tattoos is nothing but a social stigma.

  • Id love for someone to copy and paste the exact verse in the Quran that says tattoos are Haram. Tatoos have been around since earliest human civilization so if God wanted us not o have them he would’ve clearly commanded against it in the quran.

    • Okay, I’m struggling with getting a tattoo or not. I’m on the side that a tattoo is strongly disliked. The saying of the prophet mentions changing Allah’s creation and the reference in the Qur’an would be Surah 4, A:119. So the question is, what does changing Allah’s creation mean? There are a lot of things we do that can alter our bodies, as the above article suggest. So I’m not totally convinced that tattoos are haram – I’m not saying it’s Halal either! I would ask you first look into your intentions of getting a tattoo and then read the sayings of our prophet and read the verse from Surat 4 A:119

  • I am 25 years old and I have serious issue with stretch marks on my arm. It is like no one else’s and I drag others attention when I wear half hand shirt or lift my sleeves. I feel very insecure. I would like to get tattoo to get rid of my insecurities. Can I go for tattoo. Please let me know your opinions. Thanks in advance.

  • You can still convert, when someone converts, all their sins are washed away. Also tattoos are allowed in Shi’a Islam

  • It’s not necessary coz wen u convert all ur sins are washed away….ul be pure like a just born baby…so it’s not mandatory to get it removed

  • I am thinking about converting and I have tattoos and would love to get more I have them as a way to express myself. I hear it is haram but I don’t know. It is hard for me to not get anymore but I will do it for allah if it’s haram.

  • I’m Muslim and I had tattooed before I knew they were haram I have one that is a name that I will get covered with something else. I’m hoping Allah will forgive me. None are perfect except Allah.

  • Generally, scarred tissue doesn’t take ink very well, but i’ve seen tattoos that turned out perfect on badly scarred tissue. as for putting a bumper sticker on a ferrari…my body is my journal. every one of my tattoos tells a piece of my story. i am now engaged to be married to a muslim man. i am struggling with tattooing. he is Sunni and in his opinion, tattooing is forbidden. he accepts the tattoos i have now, but will not stand for any further tattoos. and i’m kind of broken about it. tattoos and tattoo culture is a large part of who i am.

  • peace seeker
    May 6, 2017 3:47 pm

    Can i do a smallest tattoo? It wont bother anyone..

  • I am a Muslim and I have a tattoo and I want to say thank u for reminding me that there worse sinners out there but 1 day 1 time we have to pay for what we’ve done!

  • Nicole Mccurry
    March 12, 2017 3:18 am

    Allah forgives “EVERYTHING” but shirk….

  • Im A Muslims and I have 10 tattoos on my body. And I believe God wouldnt hate me for having tattoos. There’s are much worse sinners on earth.

  • Some say that the ink will take a week to reach​ down ur skin,so for a week how would you do wudu or gusul !

  • The sunni scholars are right about these because once our Prophet (S.A.W) has cursed them then tha talk is over at that point and the shia people doesnt count as they are khwarijis

    • Your moms one as well

    • Since you know so much about what our prophet has said, I’d just like to remind you of something else he’s said (or maybe you only care for the hadeiths that suit you), it is forbidden to call anyone that calls himself Muslim a non-Muslim, no matter how far they stray from Islam. and unless you are Allah you do not decide who are khawarij 3an el dein and who are not. I can know for a fact you are no where near perfect and have your own sins, who is to say there isn’t shia man that is much better and closer to Allah than you?

      -a muslim that refuses to allow the West’s influence infiltrate our religion and their attempts to divide us. There are better Muslims than others and also monafeqein who claim to be Muslim but are worse than Kufar, however that is for Allah to judge not us! Allah yehde w yonsor el Islam

  • Would you put a bumper stick on a Ferrari?

  • Yea the water doesn’t reach the skin argument is stupid. But leaving socks on to do wudu is fine 😂

  • Is It ok to use tatto to cover up something in the body. As an example a scar in a hand?