Convert Removing Tattoo


Question:

As-salaam `alaykum (Peace be upon you) Suhaib, I recently converted and I read a hadith (report of the words of the Prophet ﷺ, peace be upon him) that says cursed is the woman who gets a tattoo. I know shahada (declaration of faith) takes care of past sins but someone told me that I should get it removed. Does it matter whether I remove it or not?

Answer:

Wa `alaykum al-salaam (And upon you peace),

Hope you are well. A few things:

1) You do not have to remove your tattoo. What’s done is done and you are not held accountable for that, masha’Allah.

2) Don’t take this the wrong way; folks don’t need to know your pre-Islam business. Feel me? Keep these kind of things private – your family, folks who have converted that you trust and Imams that you know can keep things quiet (I’m more than happy to help anytime.) I’m not saying you posted this in your local masjid’s newsletter, I’m just saying don’t share things with others unless you really know them.

3) If you decide to marry a person, as the relationship moves forward, not in the beginning, you will need to tell him about your tattoo.

Hope you are well and feel free to ask anytime,

Suhaib

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18 Comments

  1. Misty says:

    Asalaamu Alaikum, could you please send me private message where an what book they are obtaining this information in? I also wanted to add that a spread of oneness would accompolish the worlds chaos an disorder:)I, too, am going through this too:( I also need information on how to discuss your tatoo with a potential husband..

    Alaikum Asalaamu

  2. Question says:

    I close family member of mine was born Muslim and got a tattoo in his youth before he matured and really delved into the deen. Should he remove his tattoo?

  3. Danish Hasan says:

    Walaykum as salam wa rahmatullah,

    JazakAllahu Khayran Imam Suhaib,

    2 related issues I had questions about:

    1) what about visible tattoos, like on the face, hands, even face & feet? And when they are inappropriate?

    2) in regards to point #3, when you say ‘when the relationship moves forward’, I’m assuming we should understand that as the pre-marriage getting to know the person part?

    JazakAllahu Khayran

  4. Jacki says:

    Mashallah, I so appreciate the level-headed and down-to-earth advice that Imam Suhaib provides. No need to over-complicate things. Thank you, Imam!

  5. Shkeela says:

    As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

    Just would like to say very well said Imam Suhaib, jazakallah khairan :-)

  6. SeekerofKnowledge says:

    As’salaamolaikum Imam Suhaib and to all…in regards to point 3.) of your post about disclosing of the tattoo and making it aware…what else has to be/should be disclosed to a potential suitor for marriage?

    Clarification on the topic of the basis of the revelation of past mistakes and/or sins and how it DOES, how it SHOULD, and how it HAS to be relayed to the other in a marriage suitor process will be greatly helpful.

    Thank you.

  7. Mum says:

    I would like to add/elaborate what Imam wrote, if very painful & difficult to remove the tatoo, let it be. But to avoid fitna & maybe u might not be able to handle the fitna, pl wear clothes that will cover it. As for ur next to be spouse, make her/him understand as what Imam said, so that she/he will know that Islam is beautiful & Allah is Most Understanding & Forgiven.
    (sory for my English)

  8. Abu Adam says:

    I have heard that the Orang Asli of Malaysia sometimes have their tatoos removed with fire when they convert to Islam.

  9. Mum says:

    This is khilaf. If they willing to remove whatever ways, go ahead. But to those who’re not ready, there’re other way. Islam is toleratable & ‘mudah’ (not difficult).

  10. Mercy says:

    also are there not Ethnic groups within Islam itself that have and use tattooing as a for of identification? i’ve read articles in book about some of the beautiful facial tattoos on berber women, which represent what clan and family they belong to? are these not allowed as well?

    i ask out of curiousity, as one who is wanting to convert at some point.

  11. charnel says:

    I am going to convert soon, but everyone that I have spoken to says tht I have to remove my tattoos and I don’t feel its neccessary as I feel it was a part of my life and it won’t affect my acceptance of the religion. Having my tattoos removed will defnitly make me feel that I am erasing a part of my life and that is wrong because having gone through the good and the bad choices has made me the person I am today so I don’t see why I should erase my past

    • Ali says:

      It is better that you become a Muslim first—simply by saying the Declaration of Faith: “Nothing is worthy of worship except Allah. Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

      The matter of the tattoo is that yes, a person must recognize that it is forbidden, but having a tattoo has nothing to do with the validity of one embracing Islam.

  12. SeekerofKnowledge says:

    As’salaamolaikum Charnel. The mistakes, and you say bad choices; that a person made prior to conversion…those mistakes/bad choices transfer to the reward of good deeds because had it probably not been for those very choices…the guidance and light of the value of Islam probably would not have been recognized by you.

  13. Ahad Shafqat says:

    Is removal on a tattoo compulsory in Islam? I wouldn’t think so since it’s just a Hadith. Based on the methodology and science of Hadith collection, we can’t say with 100% certainty that it is the word of our Prophet. I guess what I’m trying to say is that while the Quran is the word of God which cannot be denied in any way or form, Hadith may not be compulsory in the full sense of the word. Please shed light on this. Thanks.

    P.S. Please don’t presume and pigeonhole me with a certain sect as I don’t really subscribe to any one sect.

  14. confused says:

    I have a question….do male converts have to get circumcised?

    Please if someone could give me an answer I greatly appreciate it.

    • Ali says:

      Circumcision is not a condition for one to embrace Islam. A person may become Muslim and never get circumcised—this does not effect the validity of one’s Islam. In some schools circumcision is an obligation (that is, not a condition to be a Muslim, but if one left it out, one would be sinful). This is the position i learned about the Shaf`iyy schol. There are other positions among the Sunni scholars which say that it is disliked not to get circumcised. Again, this point should NOT be seen as a deterrent for one embracing Islam. It is far less harmful for one to be engrossed in non-blasphemous sins than it is to be in a state of disbelief while living an apparently wholesome lifestyle.

  15. Fatema says:

    Can you please go back to the question regarding Muslims who have gotten tattoos but are trying to practice Islam better, do they need to remove the tattoo?

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