Are Tattoos Haram or Halal? – All You Need to Know

Photo Credit: George M. Groutas

Muslim scholars unanimously agree that permanent tattoos are haram in Islam. It is therefore an obligation for Muslims to refrain from getting tattoos or tattooing other people.

Growing up as a Muslim, I’ve often heard my parents and society forbid tattooing my body. Tattoos are simply off-limits, both being haram and taboo. 

So, are tattoos haram? If you are a Muslim and interested in getting a tattoo, you might be wondering why tattoo is strictly forbidden in Islam. 

In this article, we will learn the rulings of tattoos and everything around this topic. We also cover similar bodily decorations, such as temporary and eyebrow tattoos. 

Table of Contents:
What are Tattoos?
Why Are Tattoos Haram in Islam?
Is Getting an ‘Allah’ tattoo still haram?
Muslim with Tattoos: What Should You Do?
Can You Pray with Tattoos?
Does Allah forgive tattoos?
Can Someone With Tattoos Go To Hajj or Umrah?
Do You Have to Remove Tattoos If You Got Them Before Accepting Islam?
Will My Janazah Be Accepted When I Have Tattoos?
Are Temporary Tattoos Haram?
Are Cosmetic Tattoos Permissible?
Is microblading eyebrow permissible?

What are Tattoos?

Tattoos (washm) are a type of body art created by inserting inks, dyes, or pigments into the skin layer known as dermis. The designs range broadly from simple initials, symbols, calligraphy, geometric art, or depictions of objects (animals, humans, flowers, etc.).

People throughout the world have been getting tattoos for centuries for various reasons, culturally or spiritually. Tattoos commonly served as religious symbols, marks of ranks or status, decorative purposes, and punishments. 

In the modern days, there are various reasons for someone to get a tattoo, from beautifying one’s body, a self-healing mechanism, covering up scars, etc. 

Why Are Tattoos Considered Haram in Islam?

Arm Tattoo
Photo Courtesy: Tonya Stinson

Tattoos are considered haram in Islam for the following reasons:

1. Unnecessary Infliction of Pain
2. Filthiness Caused by Mixing of Dye and Blood
3. Altering Allah’s Creation Without The Necessity

Nowadays, tattoos are getting more and more mainstream, worn by public figures such as actors, celebrities, athletes, etc. This permanent body art is much more mainstream than it ever was. Perhaps, you even have a friend or someone in your circle with tattoo(s). 

Islamic law provides guidance in every aspect of human life. It is our obligation to seek knowledge whether an action is permissible and what consequences it entails.

Muslim scholars agree that tattoo (as described above) is strictly forbidden and considered a major sin.

So, what do the Quran and Hadith Say About Tattoos?

There is no specific verse in the Quran that mentions the prohibition/permissibility of tattoos. However, there are numerous hadith supporting the prohibition of tattoos.

According to Shafi’i school, there are at least three reasons for strongly disapproving of tattoos and tattooing. Each reason is independent of the other, so the absence of another reason doesn’t necessarily change the ruling. (source)

1. Unnecessary Infliction of Pain

Tattooing is basically like repeatedly piercing your skin with one or more needles to insert the ink/ color pigment into the dermis skin layer. Despite the different levels of endurance between people, it is generally a painful procedure. Furthermore, it takes anywhere between 2 – 3 weeks to 6 months for the skin to fully heal. (source)

It is important to note that tattooing also carries serious health risks, such as allergic reactions, skin infection, and bloodborne diseases (including hepatitis and HIV). These risks are likely higher when safety procedures are not followed. (source)

Allah forbids oneself to hurt, destruct, or kill themselves, as mentioned in the Quran.

“And do not kill yourselves (or one another). Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.”

[Qur’an 4:29] (source)

“And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining]. And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.”

[Qur’an 2”125] (source)

2. Filthiness Caused by Mixing of Dye and Blood

This reasoning was based on the traditional practice of tattooing. A needle was pricked into the skin to draw blood, after which powder dye was sprinkled on it to leave a mark on the skin. In that case, the mixture of blood traces and the color pigment is considered filthy.

This is not likely the case anymore because modern tattooing doesn’t involve such a process. However, tattooing remains unlawful and impermissible because of other reasons.

3. Altering Allah’s Creation Without the Necessity

If two previous reasons are no longer found in new tattooing methods, getting a tattoo remains unlawful because it changes Allah’s creation without necessity. In any hadith mentioning tattoo, it is evident that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) strictly forbade and cursed it. (source)

Narrated by ‘Abdullah and collected by Jami’ at-Tirmidhi: 

The Prophet (PBUH) 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.” 


Narrated Ibn `Umar:

Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) 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.”

(Reference:  Sahih al-Bukhari 5937) (source)

With that said, learn more about whether dying your hair is considered halal or haram.

Altering Allah’s creation is also one of the many ways Satan try to deceive human, as mentioned in Qur’an Surah An-Nisa verses 118 – 121:

‘(Satan) whom Allah has cursed. For he had said, “I will surely take from among Your servants a specific portion. And I will mislead them, and I will arouse in them (sinful) desires. And I will command them so they will slit the ears of cattle. And I will command them so they will change the creation of Allah (i.e., tattoo themselves).

And whoever takes Satan as an ally instead of Allah has certainly sustained a clear loss. Satan promises them and arouses desire in them. But Satan does not promise them except delusion. The refuge of those will be Hell, and they will not find from it an escape’.

[Quran 4:118-121] [source]

At this point, it is evident that as Muslims, we should avoid getting ourselves tattooed or tattooing other people.

Is Getting an ‘Allah’ Tattoo Still Haram?

Some Muslims might consider getting themselves tattoos with religious symbols, for example, crescent moon and star, some Qu’ran verses, Arabic words such as Insha Allah, or even Allah. However, it is clear that getting tattoos is strictly forbidden in Islam, regardless of the designs or texts. (source)

Muslim with Tattoos: What Should You Do?

This section addresses different situations when a Muslim already has tattoos and whether one should remove them.

Can You Pray with Tattoos?

Photo Credit: Michal Svec

Removing tattoos entirely or partially is possible with modern technology, such as laser treatment or surgical procedures.

Regarding the obligation for tattoos removal, scholars have different views, particularly between Shafi’i and Hanafi schools of jurisprudence.

Shafi’i scholars consider tattoos filthy and prevent the validity of prayers. Thus, tattoos must be removed accordingly. When such removal harms oneself (for example, causing excessive pain or sickness), then it is not obligatory. (source)

Meanwhile, Hanafi scholars agree that one should get tattoos removed whenever possible. But, when there is a reasonable excuse not to do it, one can leave them. For example, when there is a severe hardship (e.g., one can’t afford the treatment costs) or further complication from the treatment (excessive pain or sickness).

According to the Hanafi School of Thought, tattoos do not cancel the validity of wudu because the color pigments sit in the deeper layer of the skin(dermis), not on the outermost layer.

Therefore, the wudu (ablution), ghusl (ritual bath), and the prayers of a tattooed person are accepted. It is also not a problem for a person with tattoos to lead a prayer (imam). (source)

Does Allah Forgive Tattoos?

We are all human, and we make mistakes. In a case when Muslims got themselves tattooed and regretted it afterward, the first thing to do is repent immediately and ask for Allah’s forgiveness.

Next, remove the tattoos whenever possible. If that’s not feasible, try your best to cover them up.

Can Someone With Tattoos Go To Hajj or Umrah?

Tattoo removal takes a lot of time, costs a lot of money, and sometimes causes health complications. Muslim scholars agree that having tattoos on one’s body shouldn’t be an obstacle to perform Hajj or Umrah.

If the drawings are inappropriate or contain animate objects, one should cover them adequately with a bandage. (source)

Speaking of drawings, learn more about whether drawing is considered haram or halal.

Do You Have to Remove Tattoos If You Got Them Before Accepting Islam?

Muslim scholars generally agree that it is not obligatory for a Muslim convert to remove tattoos that were made before embracing Islam.

One’s past sins are forgiven before accepting Islam. Nevertheless, some scholars still suggest removing them whenever possible.

The same ruling also goes for someone who was tattooed during childhood or while insane. (source)

Will My Janazah Be Accepted When I Have Tattoos?

As mentioned above, tattoos are considered a major sin. However, a janazah (corpse) of a tattooed person will be accepted if one repents from such a sin and does not lose hope of Allah’s mercy. (source)

Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” 

[Quran 39:53] (source)

Are Temporary Tattoos Haram?

There are two types of tattoos: permanent and temporary. What we have discussed above are permanent ones that last a lifetime. A temporary one usually lasts for 1 – 3 weeks to 6 months, depending on the method.

So, what about the permissibility of temporary tattoos?

There is no general consensus in this matter with Muslim scholars have different views regarding this matter. Hanafi scholars agree that temporary/ removable tattoos are not permitted because they resemble the impermissible one. Likewise fake/ sticker tattoos. (source)

Other scholars agree that temporary tattoos are permitted, and the ruling is similar to dyeing with henna because they don’t permanently change the creation of Allah. (source)

Regardless the difference in application temporary tattoos, skin dyeing or henna in woman’s body is acceptable and a common practice in Muslim societies.

In another Hadith, Saaidah Aishah (RA) narrates that a woman behind a curtain presented a letter to the Prophet of Allah (SAW). He (SAW) withdrew his hand, saying: “I do not know if this is a male’s hand or a female hand.” The women then replied. The Prophet of Allah (SAW) said, “If you were a female, you would have changed your nails (by applying henna). 


The permissibility of temporary tattoos is subject to these conditions. (source) (source)

  1. The drawing lasts for a maximum of 2 – 3 weeks
  2. No drawing of animate creatures and beings – Body art that lasts longer than this suggested time is considered permanent and impermissible. Inappropriate drawings are, for example, humans, animals, angels, and mythical creatures (for example, unicorns, dragons). Instead, calligraphy, pictures of nature, and patterns are allowed.
  3. No profanity or obscenity. It is prohibited if the drawing contains swear words, insults, profanity, or vulgar language.
  4. No harm to the body.
  5. The ink must be permeable.

Make sure that the ingredients don’t contain harmful substances and the process follows safe practices. For example, The FDA warns that “black henna” is potentially toxic because it contains p-phenylenediamine (PPD). This chemical substance can cause severe reactions on the skin. (source)

It is crucial to choose breathable/ permeable ink. It shouldn’t form a layer or barrier on the skin. Otherwise, water can’t touch the skin while performing wudu (ablution).

Speaking of permeable substances, check out our latest post what halal nail polish is and what are the halal alternative nail polish options.

Are Cosmetic Tattoos Permissible?

These days, there are many beauty trends to ease a woman’s makeup routine, including cosmetic tattoos or permanent makeup. The procedure resembles the application of regular tattoos by injecting inks into the dermis skin layer. Permanent makeup up can last for many years to come, hence the name.

Some common types of cosmetic tattoos are:

  • Eyebrow tattoo 
  • Lip tattoos
  • Permanent eyeliner

Besides decorative purposes, cosmetic tattooing is also common to conceal scars and white spots on the skin (such as vitiligo).

According to Mufti Ebrahim Desai (source) In Islam, cosmetic tattooing is not permitted if performed for adornment or beautification purposes. It is only permissible for medical purposes, such as to disguise scars or defects. 

Check out our recent post to learn more about whether wearing make up is considered halal or haram.

Is Microblading Eyebrow Permissible?

Microblading is considered a semi-permanent makeup in which the result can last up to 6 – 12 months.

The ruling for microblading eyebrows for beautification is similar to that of eyebrow tattoo, which is prohibited. It is only permitted if performed for medical purposes. (source)

Final Note

According to Islamic scholars, getting tattoos and tattooing other people are strictly impermissible and considered major sins in Islam because such actions change the creation of Allah without necessity

Likewise cosmetic tattooing (lip, eyebrow tattoo, microblading), unless performed for medical purposes.

Rosa Safitri

Rosa is a freelance writer specializing in travel and food-related topics. Born and raised in Indonesia, she used to take halal foods for granted. During her study in the Netherlands, she realized that finding halal foods can be a challenge. She grew interested in this topic and wrote a thesis about Halal Certification in the Netherlands. Since then, she’s always been excited to write and share knowledge about halal foods.

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