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Do Tattoos Invalidate Prayers?

Adil Salahi

Arab News, 11/23/04

Q.1. Having had a tattoo on his hand early in life, a man learned lately that it is not permissible in Islam. He wonders whether his prayers and the pilgrimage he has offered are valid.

Q.2. An unmarried man suffers from being distracted by a variety of thoughts when he offers his prayers. Sometimes, sexual thoughts occur to him as he is praying. Is his prayer valid?

M. Rafi, India

A.1. Having a tattoo on ones body is forbidden. The Prophet (peace be upon him) has cursed this action and spoke in clear terms of its prohibition. However, we see some Muslims with tattoos on their hands or other parts of their bodies. It may be that such a person had his tattoo done without being aware of its prohibition, or that at the time when he had it he paid little heed to Islamic rules.

The problem is that a tattoo is permanent. Once it is done, removing it requires a lengthy operation of skin grafting. Such a person does not need to go through this in order to remove the tattoo. What he is required to do is to genuinely repent of having had it, resolving not to have anything of the sort in future. He should seek Gods forgiveness.

His prayer and pilgrimage are certainly valid. It has to be remembered that genuine repentance of any sin erases it completely. Although in the case of the tattoo, the effect remains on ones body, the fact that the person concerned has repented means that no further action is required.

A.2. Everyone is often distracted during prayer by thoughts of different types. Some of us think of their immediate concerns, while others entertain thoughts of past experience and events. We should always try to concentrate on prayer. The best thing is to concentrate on what one is reading. But this is not always possible. This is why sometimes we forget how many rakahs we have prayed. This happened to Gods messenger himself. The prayer remains valid and need not be repeated.

In the particular case cited by the reader, what troubles this person is that thoughts of sex come into his mind as he is praying. When this occurs, the man should try hard to drive such thoughts away, reminding himself of God, or the meaning of the verses he is reading, or anything related to prayer and faith. He need not interrupt his prayer or repeat it.

Earth, a planet hungry for peace

 Apartheid Wall

The Israeli Land-Grab Apartheid Wall built inside the Palestinian territories, here separating Abu Dis from occupied East Jerusalem. (IPC, 7/4/04).


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, like a Python. (Alquds,10/25/03).

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