Islamic Customs and Etiquette
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

What does Islam say about a Muslim in his twenties who has a lot of tattoos? I feel that it is incorrect and want to confirm my perception. Please advise.


If all narratives regarding the prohibition of tattooing are collated and analyzed, it becomes clear that tattoos per se are not forbidden in these narratives. It is only tattoos of polytheistic nature which are forbidden in them because obviously polytheism cannot be tolerated in any way by Islam, the religion of monotheism. This inference is evident by the words “changing the nature on which God has created mankind” (al-mughayyirat khalq Allah)* in some Hadith narratives. These words must be understood in the light of the following verse of the Qur’an:

Follow the nature upon which God has created mankind. It is not proper to change this nature. (30:30)

If context of the above verse is taken into consideration, it becomes evident that the words “the nature upon which God has created mankind” refer to monotheism on which every person on this earth is born.

Needless to say that tattoos which are vulgar in nature should also be avoided because vulgarity is also prohibited by the Qur’an (16:90).




*. See, for example: Abu ‘Abdullah Muh@ammad ibn Isma‘il al-Bukhari, Al-Jami‘ al-s@ahih@, 3rd ed., vol. 5 (Beirut: Dar Ibn Kathir, 1987), 2219, (no. 5604)




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