Islamic Perspectives on Tattoos and Piercings
Muslims generally approach every commandment and prohibition in Islam with deep respect, diligently incorporating them into their daily lives. Islam provides comprehensive answers to questions related to our lives. However, in modern society, there is a proliferation of doubts and misconceptions among the public, especially concerning Mas'alah (Islamic jurisprudence) issues and their application in contemporary life.
Muslim scholars and organizations are increasingly facing misunderstandings and debates on topics such as 'Islamic Perspectives on Tattoos and Piercings,' which hold significant relevance in today's society. The prevalence of various types of tattoos and piercings in contemporary culture has sparked discussions about their compatibility with Islamic principles.
Tattoo in Modern Society
In contemporary society, tattoo art is gaining widespread acceptance. Over recent years, tattoos have surged in popularity, becoming mainstream in both Western and Eastern cultures. Tattoos are primarily associated with representing spirituality, ritual, and the cultural identity of various societies and traditions. Tattoo artists are gaining recognition for their craft, contributing to the proliferation of tattoos across diverse age groups, genders, and public spaces.
Consequently, tattoos have become more prevalent, distinguishing themselves from other art forms and cultural practices. Divergent viewpoints on this matter exist among different religions and religious leaders.
Islamic View on Tattooing
According to the general Islamic perspective, tattooing is strictly prohibited, with the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) categorizing it as one of the major sins. In a Hadith narrated by Ibn 'Umar, the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) cursed both the maker and wearer of wigs, as well as the tattooer and the one who is tattooed (Bukhari). This emphasizes the prohibition of practices such as fixing hair extensions and getting tattoos for beauty purposes.
عن عبد الله بن مسعود رضي الله عنه أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: "لعن الواشمات والمستوشمات، والنامصات والمتنمصات، والمتفلجات للحسن المغيرات خلق الله تعالى."
Abdullah ibn Mas'ud reported that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) cursed those women who engage in tattooing and those who have themselves tattooed, along with those who pluck hair from their faces and create spaces between their teeth for beautification, altering what Allah has created (Muslim). This underlines the severity of such actions and their contradiction to the natural order created by Allah.
In Islam, adhering to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) is paramount. Engaging in activities like tattooing is considered a violation of Allah's creation and is explicitly condemned, as it results in the alteration of the body without any valid benefit or necessity. Therefore, there is clear and compelling evidence within Islamic teachings that deems tattooing, in general, as prohibited.
Islamic View on Piercing
Scholars hold varying opinions regarding the permissibility of wearing body-piercing jewelry, such as earrings. The prevailing view is that women are allowed to wear earrings and jewelry, as accepting such ornaments is considered a part of female nature. Imam Ibn al-Qayyim (Rahimahullah) supported this perspective, stating: "It is sufficient proof that it is permissible for girls to wear, that the Prophet (S) did not forbid it even though he knew that people were doing it. Had it been forbidden, there would have been a prohibition in the Holy Qur'an or the Sunnah.".[i]
Scholars have debated whether wearing earrings is in accordance with the 'Urf' tradition or the tradition of adorning girls. The historical context reveals that earrings were worn by women during the time of the Prophet (S), as evident in a Hadith from Bukhari where women gave away their necklaces and earrings as charity on the day of Eid. This suggests that wearing such ornaments cannot be seen as prohibited.
However, 'Fathhul Mueen' indicates that nose piercing is universally considered haram for both men and women when adorned with ornaments made of gold, silver, etc. While there may be differing opinions, ear piercing is generally deemed decorative in every land (Tuhfa). Yet, if nose piercing is a cultural norm in a specific region, it is deemed permissible. It is crucial, however, that such adornments are not used to showcase beauty and attract attention, as this is strongly condemned by Islamic principles. All forms of jewelry and beauty products, if used for inappropriate purposes, are deemed unacceptable to display in front of unrelated men, and such actions may incur severe consequences from Allah.
Why does Islam prohibit tattooing?
Tattooing is considered a deviation from Allah's creation, tantamount to body torture, mutilation, and unnecessary embellishment. Islamic texts, including Surah Nisa, forbid altering God's creation, categorizing it as one of Satan's commands. However, piercing is allowed for girls, particularly ear piercing, as it causes minimal pain and complications. Some scholars support girls piercing their ears, especially at a young age when faster healing occurs, deeming it not prohibited due to the absence of obstacles.
In summary, tattoos are not permitted based on additional evidence, while wearing ornaments like earrings is allowed. Nose piercing is generally prohibited unless in specific circumstances, considering them unnecessary and akin to body torture.
Thuhfathul Moudood- Ibnu Qayyim
Majmoou Fatawa -Ibn Uthaimeen
Fathhul Mueen-Zainudhin Maqdoom
Riyalu Saliheen-Imam Navavi
About the author
Fathima Asala KT is a student specializing in Civilization Studies currently affiliated with IIUM Malaysia. She holds a Wafiyya Degree from Coordination Islamic Colleges. Email: email@example.com
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily mirror Islamonweb’s editorial stance.