In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
In an article posted by Reuters at al-Arabiya news, they quoted an afghan woman who said, “I believe it’s not only men who can apply tattoos. Women can do it too.” “Some mullahs say tattoos are forbidden, but there are other mullahs who say the opposite”. [end of quote]
First, Abdullah reported that Allaah cursed those women who tattooed and who have themselves tattooed, those who pluck hair from their faces and those who make spaces between their teeth for beautification changing what God has created. This news reached a woman of the tribe of Asad who was called Umm Ya’qub and she used to recite the Holy Qur’an. She came to him and said: What is this news that has reached me from you that you curse those women who tattooed and those women who have themselves tattooed, the women who pluck hair from their faces and who make spaces between their teeth for beautification changing what God has created? Thereupon ‘Abdullah said: Should I not curse one upon whom Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) has invoked curse and that is in the Book also. Thereupon that woman said: I read the Qur’an from cover to cover, but I did not find that in it. whereupon he said: If you had read (thoroughly) you would have definitely found this in that (as) Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, has said:” What Allah’s Messenger brings for you accept that and what he has forbidden you, refrain from that.” That woman said: I find this thing in your wife even now. Thereupon he said: Go and see her. She reported: I went to the wife of ‘Abdullah but found nothing of this sort in her. She came back to him and said: I have not seen anything. whereupon he said: Had there been anything like it in her, I would have never slept with her in the bed. [Ref 1]
Imaam An-Nawawi [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said;
As for Al-Waashimah, it is the one who does tattoos and that is to insert a needle or what is similar in the back of the hand, the wrist, the lip or other places on a woman’s body until the blood flows, thereafter that part of the body is filled with kohl or a substance, so it becomes blue. It may be done in the image of circles and patterns- a lot of little. The woman who does this is called Waashimah and the one to whom it is done is called Mawshoomah, and if she referred to as Mustawshimah if she seeks after it. It is forbidden for both the one who does it and the one who makes the choice and seeks for it to be done on her. And it might be done on a girl whilst she is a child, so the one who did it on her has sinned, but the child has not sinned because she has not reached the age of responsibility [i.e. when a person is held accountable for his or her deeds]. [Ref 2]
Imaam Abdul Azeez Bin Baaz [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said:
The Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] cursed the one who does tattoos on others and the one who asked that it is done on her, whether on the face, the other or another place. Tattoos are not permissible because it is tantamount to altering what Allaah has created. It is neither permissible for male nor female believer, but as for what one did in the past due to ignorance, then repentance suffices and all praise and thanks be to Allaah. As for the future after one knows Allaah’s ruling , then it is obligated that one is cautious of that which Allaah made unlawful, and this applies to both men and women. [Ref 3]
Question to Imaa Muhammad Ibn Saalih Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him]:
Some people, especially women, use some chemical substances and natural herbs to change the colour of the skin, then after using these chemicals and natural herbs for some time, dark skin turns white etc . Are there any Sharee’ah objections regarding this? Please bear in mind that some husbands command their wives to use these chemicals or herbs based on the reason that a wife has to beautify herself for her husband.
Response: If this change is permanent, then it is unlawful and it is a major sin, because it is a greater alternation of what Allaah has created than tattooing. It has been established that the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] cursed the women who do hair extensions and the woman who does it for others, the woman who does tattoos and the woman who does it for them. In Bukhaari and Muslim, Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ood [may Allaah be pleased with him] said: May Allaah curse the women who do tattoos and the women who have them done, and the women who pluck eyebrows and the women who have that done, and the women who file their teeth for the purpose of beautification, those who change the creation of Allaah. And he said: Why should I not curse those whom the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) cursed?
The one who attaches hair extensions is the one whose hair is short so she adds something to it, whether hair or something similar. The woman who does tattoos is one who puts the tattoo on the skin by inserting a needle and what is similar, then she fills that place with kohl or something similar which alters the colour of the skin. The woman who seeks for tattoos to be done is the one who asks someone else to do a tattoo on her. The woman who plucks eyebrows is the one who plucks hair from the face- from her eyebrows or for others. The woman who seeks for that to be done is the one who asks that her eyebrows are plucked. The woman who files her teeth is the one who asks someone else to file her teeth in order to widen the gaps between them. All of these deeds are tantamount to changing what Allaah has created and what has been stated in the question is more severe – with regards to changing what Allaah has created – than what has been stated in the hadeeth. [Ref 4]
Finally, after one is acquainted with the command of Allaah and His Messenger, then indeed it is not permissible to follow the statement of any Mullah.
Allaah [The Exalted] said:
ٱتَّبِعُواْ مَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡكُم مِّن رَّبِّكُمۡ وَلَا تَتَّبِعُواْ مِن دُونِهِۦۤ أَوۡلِيَآءَۗ قَلِيلاً۬ مَّا تَذَكَّرُونَ
Follow what has been sent down unto you from your Lord (the Quran and Prophet Muhammad’s Sunnah), and follow not any Auliya’ (protectors and helpers, etc) besides Him (Allah). Little do you remember! [Surah Al-A’raaf. Aayah 3]
Narrated Abu Musa (radiyallaahu-anhu): The Prophet (sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam) said, ‘’My example, and the example of what I have been sent with is that of a man who came to some people and said, O people! I have seen the enemy’s army with my own eyes and I am a plain warner; so protect yourselves!’ Then a group of his people obeyed him and fled at night proceeding stealthily till they were safe, while another group of them disbelieved him and stayed at their places till morning when the army came upon them and killed and ruined them completely. So this is the example of that person who obeys me and follows that truth which I have brought (the Qur’aan and the Sunnah), and the example of the one who disobeys me and disbelieves the Truth I have brought. [Ref 5]
Allaah [The Most High] said:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَجِيبُوا لِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُمْ لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ ۖ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَحُولُ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَأَنَّهُ إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ
O you who believe! Answer Allaah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he calls you to that which will give you life, and know that Allaah comes in between a person and his heart (i.e. He prevents an evil person to decide anything). And verily to Him you shall (all) be gathered. [8:24]
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [rahimahullaah] said:
This Aayah comprises of some affairs: One of them is that a beneficial life is only attained through obedience to Allaah and His Messenger; so whoever does not submit to this call [of Allaah and His Messenger] will have no life [i.e. a rightly guided heart], even though he has life similar to that of the most despicable animals [i.e. only follows desires etc].
Therefore, real and good life is the life of that one who answers the call of Allaah and His Messenger- outwardly and inwardly. They are those who are alive [with Eemaan in this life], or even if they have passed away [i.e. died but their good deeds remain and others follow them]. As for others besides them, they are dead [i.e. heedless hearts], even if their bodies are alive.
And this is why the one with the most perfect life amongst the people is the one with the most perfect response to the call of the Messenger [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam] because there is life in everything he calls to [i.e. upright guidance]; therefore, whoever missed a portion of it, he will miss a portion of life [i.e. upright guidance] and there is life [i.e. upright guidance for the person] in accordance with his response to the (call) of the Messenger [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam].
Mujaahid [rahimahullaah] stated [regarding the statement of Allaah]: [لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ -To that which will give you life] – meaning, the truth.
Qataadah [rahimahullaah] stated [regarding the statement of Allaah]: [لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ -To that which will give you life]- meaning, this Qur’aan in which is life [i.e. upright guidance], safety and protection in the life of this world and the hereafter.
As-Sadee [rahimahullaah] stated [regarding the statement of Allaah]: [لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ -To that which will give you life]- meaning, Islaam, and they were given life [i.e. upright guidance] by way of it after been dead [i.e. completely misguided] by way of disbelief.
And regarding the statement of Allaah: [وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَحُولُ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَأَنَّهُ إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ – And know that Allaah comes in between a person and his heart (i.e. He prevents an evil person to decide anything). And verily to Him you shall (all) be gathered].
The First Explanation Regarding This Above Aayah: It is well known that Allaah is the one who intervenes between the believer and disbelief, and between the disbeliever and Eemaan, between the people of obedience and their disobedience to Him, and between the people of disobedience and their obedience to Him. This is the saying of Ibn Abbaas and that of the majority of the Mufassiroon.
The Second Explanation is that Allaah is close to the heart of the human [by His knowledge] and no secret is hidden from Him. This was mentioned by Al-Waahidiy from Qataadah. And it appears that this statement [reported from Qataadah] is more in conformity with the context [of the Ayah (i.e. ‘And know that Allaah comes in between a person and his heart]; because the basis of this Istijaabah [i.e. responding to the call of Allaah and His Messenger] is by way of the heart. A bodily response is of no benefit without the response of the heart; because Allaah comes between a person and his heart and knows whether the person has responded to Him with his heart or hides the opposite of that.
And concerning the first saying [i.e. the saying of Ibn Abbaas and the majority of the Mufassiroon], it is with regards to the fact that if you turn away from [responding to the call of Allaah and His Messenger], you will not be safe and thus Allaah comes between you and your hearts as a punishment for abandoning [this response] after the truth had been explained and made clear. So, you will be like what (has been mentioned) in the statement of Allaah: [ وَنُقَلِّبُ أَفْئِدَتَهُمْ وَأَبْصَارَهُمْ كَمَا لَمْ يُؤْمِنُوا بِهِ أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ – And We shall turn their hearts and their eyes away (from guidance), as they refused to believe therein for the first time]. [6:110]
And Allaah said: [فَلَمَّا زَاغُوا أَزَاغَ اللَّهُ قُلُوبَهُمْ – So when they turned away (from the Path of Allaah), Allaah turned their hearts away (from the Right Path)].[61:5] And Allaah said: [فَمَا كَانُوا لِيُؤْمِنُوا بِمَا كَذَّبُوا مِنْ قَبْلُ – But they were not such as to believe in that which they had rejected before].[7:101] This ayah is a warning against [failing to respond] with the heart even if response had been made by way of the limbs. [Ref 6]
Ref 1: Saheeh Muslim. Hadeeth Number 2125
Ref 2: Saheeh Muslim Bi-Sharh An-Nawawi. Vol 14. Page 89. Publisher: Daar Kotub Al-Ilmiyyah. 1st Edition 1421AH (2000)
Ref 4: Majmoo’ Fataawa Wa Rasaa’il Ash-Shaikh Muhammad Ibn Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen. 17/20-21. Daar Thurayyah 1423 AH (2003)
Ref 5: Saheeh Al-Bukhaari. Vol 9. Number: 7283
Ref 6: Al-Fawaa’id. Pages 140-144.slightly paraphrased