Tattoos are considered to be a major sin in Islam. And this is because it involves changing a natural creation of God.
But as is always the case, not all things deemed haram are eluded by all Muslims.
Firstly, many Muslims in North Africa proudly don their Bedouin and Berber tattoos, which has long-been a tribal practice dating back centuries.
For today’s generation, tattoos are less rooted in tradition and moreso in trends. Although tattoos have become generally very accepted across the world, they still haven’t gone mainstream in Muslim-majority countries in the Arab world.
To get a better idea of what it’s like to go against the grain, we asked five Muslims why they decided to get tattoos, and what that means for their faith.
“I never thought of myself as a tattoo kind of person, not I am Muslim. I just didn’t think it was something I would do. It was very impulsive. It’s small, and cute, and I got it in a place where it’s not super obvious, so I can hide it. I used to think that it was me going against my religion and beliefs, but honestly, it’s not something I think about. I think there are worst things you can do, as a Muslim, than get a tattoo.”
“I got tattoos to be rebellious. I didn’t think that I was rebelling at the time, but that’s what it was. I was 18, living away from home for the first time and I wanted to assert my freedom. Tattoos were my way of doing that. I knew I was going against Islam by getting them, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t religious like my parents. I hid it from them as long as I could, which ended up being two years. There was a lot of disappointment and tears. They thought no one would marry me because of them. I’m still unmarried, but it’s probably just because of my fear of commitment.”
“I got a tattoo very spontaneously. At 16, one of my closest friends got one and I thought “why not me?”. It seems crazy now, because I knew my parents would be totally against it but I still did it! I think I wanted to prove something to myself. Also, I had a blasé persona at the time. So, getting a tattoo was the epitome of that version of me. To this day I hide it, and I’m currently getting rid of it actually. I’m much wiser now and can’t be bothered to handle family drama. There were no religious obstacles, it was more of a family thing. My parents just find tattoos ugly and vulgar.”
“It was for fun. I just wanted to try it. I don’t love it. Sometimes I regret getting it. But it’s not because of religion, it’s mostly because of society not accepting tattoos and the stereotypes they attach to it. They think that if you have a tattoo, it means you’re not a good person.”
“I’m a religious person. But I wasn’t always this way. I had a phase during my teenage years when I was partying a lot and just doing things I shouldn’t have been doing. One of them was me getting a tattoo. I regret it, and I feel bad that I have this permanent thing on my body, but I also know that God is forgiving.”