Expressing Oneself Through Body Ink: Allowed for Muslims?

As a twenty-one year old female, I feel extremely blessed to be able to have the freedom to express myself in almost any way that I want-one way being able to get a tattoo. Today, I have two: one on my ribs and one on my foot; and I always find myself itching to get another one. Let’s be honest though, experiencing what I can only describe what feels like an electric pumpkin carver jabbing into one’s skin is not exactly the best feeling in the world-however, I still don’t regret the choices of my youth and I hope to feel the same way when I am older. Despite my parent’s disagreement of my tattoos, there is no other force that holds me back from expressing myself in this painful and permanent way.


This photo shows the process of what it is like to get a tattoo and how far the needle is inserted into the skin.

“Can Muslims have tattoos?”

                There are other forces besides a parent’s disagreement, however, when it comes to Muslims being able to get “tatted up”. Many questions arise when it comes to tattoos and if they are haram, or forbidden, for Muslims. Muslims follow the religion of Islam, in which ‘Abd-Allaah idn 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.” Now cursed seems harsh right? In fact, tattooing one’s body in Muslim is mainly frowned upon and those are not literally cursed. To Muslims, tattooing is a major sin, however, since tattooing is altering the original creation of one’s self by Allah. This “curse” is also not permanent, since like Christianity, Islam believe one can repent their sins for this mistake.

“Can one convert to Muslim with tattoos already existing on their body?”

                Many people converting to Muslim who already have tattoos that exist are concerned that they will not be able to convert; this simply should be no concern. When converting to Islam, it is believed that whatever came before the conversion should be wiped out and all sins are erased in order to have a fresh start with the religion. Besides, there is always tattoo removal as an option in case anyone is extremely concerned with this issue.

tattoo removal

This photo shows tattoo removal.

“What about ‘temporary tattoos’ or ‘henna’? Are these cursed or forbidden for Muslims?”

                Temporary tattoos and henna are all the rage for those who want to decorate their body without having to deal with the pain or permanence of an actual tattoo. So since this is technically a temporary altercation of one’s body, are Muslims allowed to have them? The answer is yes. Technically, since these bodily decoration techniques are not permanent, they are not forbidden and are allowed in Islam.


Example of a very detailed henna tattoo.

“What about tattoos symbolizing the Islam religion?”

                In America, it is extremely popular for people to decorate their bodies with tattoos of phrases from the Bible and religious figures. But what about tattoos that are based on the religion of Islam? For Islam, it can be considered offensive to have images of Allah and Mohammed as tattoos. It is not offensive, on the other hand, for Muslims to tattoo a verse from the Quran on their body in Arabic, or the crescent and star.


The crescent and star, an example of a non-offensive Islamic tattoo.

                Tattoos are a great way to express one’s self. Some religions are more lenient than others. I agree with the Islamic religion on tattooing religious figures as being offensive, since those religious figures to begin with believed it was sinful to alter one’s body. No matter what, a tattoo should be thought out carefully and not be a rushed decision. You are living with this mark on you for the rest of your life and it says something about you, so be cautious in your decisions and give this permanent altercation much thought before purposely changing your body.


“MUSLIMCONVERTS.COM.” Ruling of tattoos in Islam., n.d. Web. 7 Oct. 2014. <>.

            S, Beth. “Religions and Tattoos.” LoveToKnow. LoveToKnow Corp, n.d. Web. 6 Oct. 2014. <>.

20 thoughts on “Expressing Oneself Through Body Ink: Allowed for Muslims?

  1. I think this is extremely interesting. I would love to get a tattoo at some point and never thought of it as a big deal. In America it is a widely accepted thing to do, especially among young people. I never knew that it was offensive for Muslims to get tattoos and that it is a sin. I think that it would be interesting to know more about the origins of this.

  2. I find this an extremely interesting topic because growing up I was raised Jewish and I was always told that getting tattoos were against my religion. I was told that tattoos were against Jewish law and that they were taboo because of the Holocaust, understandably so. However, as I got older I decided I wanted tattoos and I now have two. Interestingly enough, tattoos are popular in many Jewish areas such as Israel. I think that overtime the tattoo culture has become more accepted and viewed less as a sin for many religions.

  3. You know what’s funny? That in Christianity it is also forbidden to get tattoos yet many Christians do. It is a sin to have sex before marriage and be a Homosexual in Christianity yet many are. Why are Muslims paying attention to little things than to the bigger sins of life like hurting others. Not all but some Muslims would not punish someone for killing but will punish someone for their sexual orientation.

    1. That not true always I am a Muslim and I am not Pakistan I agreed with though but I am one and know killing someone at name of Islam is just a excuse to do a sin so don’t judge all Muslim because of few

      1. Well said 25 year old white Muslim convert American.and I agree Islam’s the only way….. For me. But my body was ibked before conversion

      2. Well said 25 year old white Muslim convert American.and I agree Islam’s the only way….. For me. But my body was inked before conversion I love islam

    2. The problem is that we People (of whatever religion) we give our-self the right to choose what sins are wrong or acceptable while in reality sins are sins! I agree with you that Some muslim would not punish someone for killing but will punish someone for their sexual orientation. Same as the majority muslims won’t see plucking eye brow as a sin but getting tattoo done as a terrible sin! Paying close attention to the fact that they are both mention in the same paragraph which means the curse apply for plucking eyebrows as well;
      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).
      I am a muslim and have done two tattoos in the past during time of ignorance. Believe me i so regret and I have been repenting since the day i knew it is really a sin. My heart aches so much each time a person(muslim) mentally punishes me. But In the end it’s God who will judge 🙂 May peace mercy and blessings of God be upon you all. Ameen.

      1. Hello my friend. I really need advice. my white friend converted to Muslim but he had a tattoo from the curan down his left arm, but he’s told me it’s offensive to Muslims, he wants me to tattoo over it in just black ink but they’re not allowed tattoos. can you give me advice please because I don’t want to abuse his religion, I have respect for all religions

  4. I love Arabic script and would love to have “Peace be upon you” on my forearm, but I don’t want to offend any of my Muslim students. What do you think?

    1. Ellen! Do it!!! I want to write this on my rib cage or my wrist…still not sure, but it is a beautiful phrase and used every single day in the Muslim world and with anyone who speaks Arabic. Peace be upon you, my friend 🙂 Defos get it. This should not offend anyone.

  5. I just wanted to say, in regards to the hadith you mentioned about being cursed, if the ruling was that harsh when it comes to tattoos, eyebrows, teeth, wouldn’t God say that in Quran? Also I’ve read up on what “altering Allah’s creation means” and it made more sense that it was more specific to transgenders, wouldn’t it?
    Hadiths were after all written many years after the passing of the prophet so there was no way of really authenticating them.
    Just food for thought 🙂

    1. I am a Muslim and I wish to have lots of tattoos, like full sleeves, hands, neck, but I guess my religion just forbids it, otherwise I would have gotten them done in a heartbeat. Aside from that, I want to become a teacher and I don’t think it’s acceptable for a teacher to have many tattoos. Too. Bad. But I like your idea. It certainly is food for thought!

  6. Im confused… a muslim and i know getting inked is a sin but all women pluck their eyebrows most arab women get plastic surgery isnt that also altering Allah’s creation. And i have also read that only Allah will judge us and what ever happens will be between Allah and u…so if ur a good person doing charity and all but have a tattoo or tattoos then what….like Allah will decide whether u go to heaven or hell right so the person that we as pure could go to hell cuz of some deed that Allah knows and the person who we see as punk could go to heaven cuz of their one good deed.

    1. Hi, I think from my knowledge no human is pure, I really love people’s religions and I respect them, but, we all abuse our beliefs, we just make excuses to justify them . that is what I’ve seen anyway, take care

  7. I have a question: what kinds of tattoos would be considered offensive? I know and people, but what about animals? And anything else?

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