Someone wrote to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa that water did not reach the skin of the part of the body that had been tattooed. He then asked for guidance regarding the validity of wudu or ghusl of someone who had a tattoo on their body.
Huzooraa, in his letter dated 16 May 2021, provided the following guidance on this issue:
“Firstly, it is not permissible to tattoo someone or to get a tattoo anyway. This prohibition has also been mentioned in ahadith, where it states that Allah the Exalted had cursed those women who, for cosmetic or aesthetic purposes, practised tattooing, and those who got themselves tattooed … who altered Allah’s creation. (Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-Libas)
“When the Holy Prophetsa was commissioned as a prophet, on the one hand, the poison of various kinds of polytheism had spread everywhere in the world and especially in the Arabian Peninsula, and on the other hand, different kinds of misguided attitudes had also gripped humanity in their claws. Men and women were involved in various kinds of polytheistic rituals and social evils. They included polytheistic practices such as having the image of a goddess, idol or animal tattooed on the body, face, or arms to seek blessings or it was done for cosmetic or aesthetic purposes to then promote social misconduct and obscenity.
“It is not forbidden for a person to adopt any legitimate methods for their own beauty while remaining within the permissible limits. The attainment of beauty about which the Holy Prophetsa warned of God’s curse means something else and the wisdom behind the prohibition of some of those means appears to be that there is a fear that this kind of action may lead to an inclination towards shirk, which is the gravest of sins; or if these things are carried out in order to beguile the opposite sex in an impermissible manner, then all those means would also be considered unlawful and actionable.
“As far as getting a tattoo is concerned, whether it is a man or a woman, the only purpose behind it is to show it off or to beguile the opposite sex in an impermissible manner. That is why people usually get tattoos on body parts that they may then expose and exhibit to the public. However, if a person gets a tattoo on a body part which is commanded to be veiled [satr], then first of all, at the time of having that tattoo, the individual violates the commandment of purdah and commits obscenity which is against the teachings of Islam. Moreover, one idea behind getting tattoos on the veiled parts of the body is that they may be exposed in front of the opposite sex while committing evil deeds. All of these methods are prohibited because they contradict Islamic teachings.
“Furthermore, tattoos have also been linked to a host of physical and health issues. For instance, the sweat glands under the skin are badly affected in the areas of the body that have tattoos, that is having a tattoo reduces the sweating in the concerned parts of the body, which is harmful to one’s health. Similarly, since tattoos become permanent features on the skin, sometimes as the body grows or shrinks, so does the shape of the tattoo, which makes the tattoo look ugly instead of ‘beautiful’. Then such individuals begin to think of them as a plague that they cannot get rid of. Thus, for these reasons alone, it is futile and absurd to get a tattoo.
“Therefore, it is not permissible for a believing man or a believing woman to get a tattoo on their body. However, if a person has had a tattoo on their body before becoming an Ahmadi and now Allah the Exalted has given them the ability to accept Ahmadiyyat by showing them the true path of Islam, then this act would fall under the category of إِلَّا مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ i.e ‘except what has already passed’. [Surah al-Nisa, Ch.4: V.23]
“Moreover, such a tattoo from prior to accepting Islam would not affect the validity of one’s wudu or ghusl. Just as a woman’s applying nail polish does not affect her wudu and her wudu is valid even though she has applied nail polish, in the same manner, such a person’s wudu and ghusl with tattoos would be valid.”