Are Tattoos Haram In Islam?

In Islam, the permissibility of certain practices is often subject to scholarly interpretation and cultural context. One such practice that has been debated extensively is the act of getting a tattoo. Are tattoos haram (forbidden) in Islam? This question delves into religious texts, scholarly opinions, and cultural considerations to provide a comprehensive understanding of Islam’s stance on tattoos.

Tattoos are haram in all forms, whether they cause pain or not. Tattooing involves changing the creation of Allah. Prophet Muhammad cursed the one who does tattoos and the one for whom that is done.


Understanding Haram and Halal


In Islam, actions and practices are categorized as halal (permissible) or haram (forbidden). This categorization is based on guidance from the Quran and Hadith, which provide the framework for a Muslim’s conduct.

The Role of Sharia in Daily Life

Sharia, Islamic law, governs all aspects of a Muslim’s life. It encompasses acts of worship, personal conduct, and interactions with others, ensuring that every action aligns with religious principles.

Distinguishing Cultural Practices from Religious Edicts

It’s essential to differentiate between cultural practices and religious edicts. Some actions deemed haram in one cultural context might not hold the same status in another, underscoring the importance of understanding the religious basis for such rulings.

Hadith On Tattoos

Narrated Abu Huraira:
A woman who used to practise tattooing was brought to `Umar. `Umar got up and said, “I beseech you by Allah, which of you heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying something about tattooing?” l got up and said, “0 chief of the Believers! l heard something.” He said, “What did you hear?” I said, “I heard the Prophet (addressing the ladies), saying, ‘Do not practise tattooing and do not get yourselves tattooed.'”

Sahih al-Bukhari 5946

Narrated ‘Abdullah:
that the Prophet (ﷺ) cursed the women who practice tattooing and those who seek to be tattooed, the women who remove hair from their faces seeking beautification by changing the creation of Allah.

Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2782

Abu Huraira told that God’s messenger said, “The influence of the evil eye is true,” and forbade tattooing. (It would seem from this tradition that tattooing was used as a protection agains; the evil eye.) Bukhari transmitted it.

Mishkat al-Masabih 4432

Narrated Ibn `Umar:
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Allah has cursed such a lady as lengthens (her or someone else’s) hair artificially or gets it lengthened, and also a lady who tattoos (herself or someone else) or gets herself tattooed.

Sahih al-Bukhari 5937

Narrated Abu Juhaifa:
The Prophet (ﷺ) forbade the use of the price of blood and the price of a dog, the one who takes (eats) usury the one who gives usury, the woman who practises tattooing and the woman who gets herself tattooed.

Sahih al-Bukhari 5945

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:
That the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Allah has cursed the woman who artificially lengthens and the woman who seeks to have her hair artificially lengthened, and the woman who tattoos and the woman who seeks tattooed.” Nafi’ (one of the narrators) said: “Tattooing was on the gums.”
[Abu ‘Eisa said:] This Hadith is Hasan Sahih.
He said: There are narrations on this topic from Ibn Mas’ud, ‘Aishah, Asma’ bint Abi Bakr, Ma’qil bin Yasar, Ibn ‘Abbas, and Mu’awiyah.

Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1759

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Islamic Teachings on Body Modification

Historical Context

Throughout Islamic history, body modification has been viewed with caution. The Prophet Muhammad’s teachings emphasized maintaining the natural form created by Allah, discouraging permanent alterations.

The Prophet’s Teachings

The Hadith literature, which records the sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad, contains references to body modification. The Prophet discouraged practices like tattooing and altering one’s physical appearance permanently.

Modern Interpretations

Contemporary scholars continue to debate body modifications, including tattoos. While traditional views prevail, some modern interpretations consider the evolving cultural contexts and advancements in tattooing practices.

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Why Are Tattoos Considered Haram?

Scriptural Evidence

Several Hadiths explicitly mention the prohibition of tattoos. One such Hadith states, “Allah has cursed those who practice tattooing and those who get themselves tattooed.”

Scholarly Opinions

Islamic scholars generally agree that tattoos are haram due to their permanent nature and the alteration of Allah’s creation. This consensus is derived from a combination of scriptural evidence and traditional interpretations.

The Concept of Mutilation

In Islam, altering the body permanently is seen as a form of mutilation. Tattoos are considered a violation of the body’s sanctity, which is to be preserved as Allah created it.

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Health and Hygiene Concerns

Risks Associated with Tattoos

Tattoos carry risks such as infections, allergic reactions, and complications from unsterile equipment. These health concerns align with Islamic teachings on preserving one’s health and avoiding harm.

Islamic Views on Health Preservation

Islam places a strong emphasis on maintaining health and hygiene. Any practice that poses a risk to one’s health, including tattooing, is generally discouraged or deemed haram.

Tattoo Aftercare and Islamic Hygiene Practices

Tattoo aftercare involves maintaining cleanliness to prevent infections. However, the need for regular washing and the possibility of complications can conflict with Islamic hygiene practices and the requirement for ritual purity.

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Cultural Variations in the Muslim World

Attitudes Towards Tattoos in Different Muslim Cultures

Attitudes towards tattoos vary across the Muslim world. In some cultures, tattoos are more culturally accepted, while in others, they are strictly prohibited.

Influence of Local Customs

Local customs and traditions significantly influence how Islamic teachings on tattoos are interpreted and practiced. For instance, in some African and Southeast Asian cultures, traditional tattooing practices persist despite religious prohibitions.

Examples from Various Countries

In countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, tattoos are generally frowned upon, reflecting a strict adherence to traditional Islamic teachings. In contrast, in some parts of Indonesia and Malaysia, cultural practices might allow for more lenient views on temporary body art.

Temporary Alternatives to Tattoos

Henna and Its Significance

Henna is a permissible and culturally significant alternative to permanent tattoos. It is used for beautification during special occasions and does not alter the body permanently.

Temporary Tattoos

Temporary tattoos offer another alternative that allows for self-expression without the permanence of traditional tattoos. These are generally more acceptable within Islamic guidelines.

Cultural Acceptance and Religious Permissibility

Temporary forms of body art like henna and temporary tattoos are widely accepted in many Muslim cultures. They provide a means of artistic expression that aligns with Islamic principles of maintaining the body’s natural state.

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The Role of Intention in Islamic Practices

Importance of Niyyah (Intention)

In Islam, the intention behind an action (niyyah) plays a crucial role in determining its permissibility. While tattoos are generally haram, understanding the intention behind the desire for body art can provide deeper insight into individual choices.

Differentiating Between Sin and Cultural Expression

While tattoos are seen as haram, the intent behind them—whether for cultural expression or personal reasons—can vary. It’s important to approach this issue with empathy and understanding.

Personal Reflections and Spirituality

Muslims are encouraged to reflect on their intentions and seek spiritual guidance in all aspects of life. Personal reflections on the desire for tattoos can help align one’s actions with their faith and values.


Are tattoos haram in Islam?

Yes, tattoos are generally considered haram due to their permanent nature and alteration of Allah’s creation.

Why are tattoos considered a form of mutilation?

Tattoos permanently alter the body, which is viewed as a form of mutilation and goes against the Islamic principle of preserving the natural form created by Allah.

Can I get a temporary tattoo instead?

Temporary tattoos are generally more acceptable as they do not permanently alter the body and can be seen as a form of artistic expression that does not conflict with Islamic teachings.

What if I got a tattoo before converting to Islam?

If you got a tattoo before converting to Islam, you are not required to remove it. The focus should be on future actions and maintaining purity from that point onward.

Are there any exceptions to the prohibition of tattoos?

Generally, tattoos are prohibited, but scholars might consider individual circumstances and intentions. Consulting with a knowledgeable Islamic scholar can provide personalized guidance.

Can I still be a good Muslim if I have a tattoo?

Having a tattoo does not prevent you from being a good Muslim. What matters is your intention, actions, and efforts to adhere to Islamic principles moving forward.

Final Thoughts

The Islamic perspective on tattoos is rooted in the principles of preserving the natural body and maintaining purity. While tattoos are generally considered haram, understanding the reasons behind this ruling can provide clarity and guidance for Muslims. Temporary alternatives like henna offer a permissible means of self-expression. Ultimately, individual intentions and personal reflections play a significant role in aligning one’s actions with their faith.

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