In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
1- Islam has a solution for every problem, and the scope of the Shari`ah is not that stern as some may claim.
2- Although tattoos are unlawful or haram to apply at first place, there is nothing wrong for new Muslim converts, who have no means to remove them, in leaving them. The tolerant teachings of Islam and its peaceful spirit make it easy for new converts to become easily adapted to its unique environment, and matchless life style.
3- In short, a new Muslim convert cannot be casted out of Islam, after recently embracing it, for having no means to remove tattoos applied during his pre-Islamic life.
In his response to the question, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, [ormer president of the Islamic Society of North America, states:
It is really a chance to congratulate you and your husband for becoming Muslims, and we hope you understand the tolerant teachings of Islam, whom Allah chooses to guide the baffled humanity to the safe shore.
It is haram to have tattoos on the body. However, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “Islam takes away the sins done before it.” (Muslim)
Thus, if these tattoos cannot be removed easily or if you have to spend a lot of money to remove them, then you should not worry about them.
When Hajj becomes obligatory on you, you should perform it and do not neglect it because of tattoos on your body. No one should stop you from going to Hajj because of tattoos. I have seen hundreds of pilgrims, men and women, who come from some countries and they have all kinds of tattoos on their faces and bodies.
Having tattoos is forbidden in Islam, but among some tribes in Africa, unfortunately, it is still practiced, even among Muslims.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.