Islam denounces excesses in personal beautification when they alter the physical features that Allah created one with. The Glorious Qur’an considers such alterations as inspired by Satan, who (will command them (his devotees) to change what Allah has created) (An-Nisaa’ 4:119).
Tattooing is one of those excesses. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have cursed the tattooer and the tattooed.
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: Tattooing, in all forms and stripes, is explicitly forbidden in Islam by the categorical statement of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who said, “Allah curses those who receive tattooing and practice it … thus seeking to distort Allah’s creation” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

We are reassured in the Qur’an that when Allah declares something as forbidden He does so only because of the ills associated with it, for Allah tells us in the Qur’an that He has permitted for us all the good things, while He has forbidden only that which is harmful and impure for us. In other words, things are forbidden only because of the harm, ills, and adverse effects associated with them. Allah says, (Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find described in their Torah and Gospel—he will enjoin on them good and forbid them evil, he will make lawful for them all good things and prohibit for them what is foul, and he will relieve them of their burden and the fetters that were upon them—those that believe in him, honour him, support him, and follow the light which has been sent down with him: they are the successful) (Al-A`raf 7:157).
Although in some societies, past and present, tattooing has often been touted as a hallmark of fashion, researches have disclosed a number of adverse health effects and infectious diseases associated with tattoos such as:
– Viral infections such as hepatitis, HIV, and cutaneous infections;
– Bacterial infections such as impetigo, toxic shock syndrome, tetanus, venereal ulcer, tuberculosis and leprosy;
– Fungal infections such as sporotrichosis and zygomycosis;
– Allergic reactions such as cutaneous irritation and urticaria;
– Granulomateus/lichenoid reactions;
– Pseudo-lymphomas;
– Lymphadenopathy;
– Sarcoidosis;
– Malignant lesions such as melanoma and skin cancer;
– Behavioural changes;
– Other skin diseases such as psoriasis, photosensitisation, phototoxicity and photogenotoxicity.
For details see the following Web sites:
All of the above is what we have been able to discover so far in light of our limited scientific knowledge; who knows what other adverse health effects associated with such practices are yet to be discovered. We certainly bear witness that Allah is Infinite in Wisdom and that His decree for us is good for us.
In light of the above, we can truly appreciate the wisdom inherent in the Islamic interdict against practices such as tattooing. May Allah grant us the humility to trust in God’s will and may He forgive us all our evil thoughts, words, and deeds, and guide us unto the straight path. Ameen.