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Health dangers of tattoos and its prohibition in Islam

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) cursed the one who does tattoos, and the one who has a tattoo done.”

By Amal Al-Sibai / 16 Feb 2013

Unhealthy practices, some even prohibited in Islam, are slowly creeping into our society; and it will take more awareness, education, and open dialogue to stay alert and stop these problems in their tracks before they spread.

Tattooing is viewed in the west as a harmless form of body art, an aesthetic procedure, a normal part of growing up for most adolescents.

Recently, tattooing has started appearing in Arab and Muslim societies as well. Apparently, it is extremely difficult but not impossible to find a place to get a tattoo done here in Saudi Arabia.

“It is not so rare and unusual anymore to get a tattoo, maybe not in Saudi Arabia but in other Arab countries.

“The most popular type of tattoo among some young Arab women is to get a permanent eyebrow tattoo to obtain the perfect eyebrow line without having to fret over bushy eyebrow hair,” said one young lady in Jeddah who preferred to withhold her name.

The wise person would look into why the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) explicitly rejected tattooing.

The following Hadith leaves no for debate or controversy.

Abu Juhayfah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) cursed the one who does tattoos, and the one who has a tattoo done.”

Narrated Ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him): “Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 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)

Ibn 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said:“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) cursed the maker and wearer of a wig and the tattooer and the one who is tattooed.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

There a number of reasons behind the prohibition of tattoos.

Technically, a tattoo is a series of puncture wounds, injecting ink into the dermis (the second layer of skin).

An electric device uses a sterilized needle and tubes to penetrate to a deeper layer of skin and inject ink into the opening it creates.

The tattoo machine moves the needle up and down between 50 and 3,000 times per minute.

A tattoo artist will use a flash or stencil of the design you select.

The whole process is extremely painful, and this is an unnecessary form of self-inflicted pain.

Consultant dermatologist from Adama Skincare Clinics in Jeddah said: “Among the health risks of getting a tattoo is the transmission of infectious diseases, such as hepatitis, which is a serious liver disorder.

“Any puncture wound is susceptible to a number of bacterial or viral infections.”

“Tattooing can also cause irritation, allergic reactions, scarring, sensitivity to sunlight, and other skin disorders. Some of the new types of tattoos are permanent and cannot be removed by laser treatment.”

“Any process that exposes blood and body fluids increases the risk of contracting blood borne infectious diseases.”

“The tattoo needle creates an open wound that invites infection and disease, and there is a possibility of transmitting HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, tetanus, and tuberculosis.”

That is not the only danger; consider what is found in the tattoo ink itself.

Common ingredients in tattoo ink include heavy metals, such as aluminum, barium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, and titanium.

In addition, the pigments used in tattoos have varying and still unknown degrees of toxicity.

One of the chemicals found in black tattoo inks, benzo a pyrene, is a carcinogen that causes skin cancer in animal tests.

The US Food and Drug Administration has launched new studies to investigate the long-term safety of the inks, including what happens when they break down in the body or interact with light.

Research has shown that tattoo inks migrate into people’s lymph nodes and some of the chemicals may be potential carcinogens and hormone disruptors in the body.

Also, the pigments in tattoo ink contain small metal fibers such as iron oxide.

These metal fibers can cause intense burning pain during the diagnostic MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) procedure.

Some medical institutions refuse to perform MRIs on people with tattoos.

The American Red Cross discourages donating blood after getting a tattoo. The Blood Donation Eligibility Guidelines states “Wait 12 months after a tattoo if the tattoo was applied in a state that does not regulate tattoo facilities. This requirement is related to concerns about hepatitis.”

An alarming research study published by Dr. Bob Haley and Dr. Paul Fischer at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School in Dallas uncovered that the “innocent commercial tattoo may be the number one distributor of hepatitis C.”

Looking at all the research and health risks involved, tattoos are not beautiful after all, and it makes perfect sense for its prohibition in Islam.


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