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                                  Reflections on the Bahai teachings


This question came up on Yahoo Answers on 23 August 2010. Kawai_Neko asked:

Is the Baha’i Faith against tattoos and other body modifications?

My dad is Baha’i and when I brought up the idea of me getting a tattoo, he was adamantly against it. He was also extremely mad when my mom got my ears pierced when I was younger. Is it part of his faith or is it just him?

Tatoos were not uncommon in Qajar Iran, you can sometimes see it in portraits of the time. According to EG Browne’s summary of the Persian Bayan,

Wahid VIII, Chapter 6.
Concerning personal cleanliness. Every four days everyone is to enter the Cleansing House; and remove the hair of the body …. and using henna all over the body; the men writing therewith Ar-Rahman on their breasts, and the women Bism; and looking in a mirror every day and every night. …. henna may be used either for all or a portion of the body. Men may write on their breasts, which is the place of the love of God, in most excellent writing: ‘Allahumma’ for the people of the circles (women) and ‘Ar-Rahman’ for people of the forms (men). More than this may be written if they like. … And when he looks in the mirror he should thank his beloved for the beauty of his form. ….

The point of this I think is that for the Bab, human beauty did not mean that the body should not be altered – but if you use this one, are you ready to have a prayer written on your chest?

The Bab himself had some sort of a mark on his forehead:

On the next day the Báb was brought out from his prison into the public square. His green turban was taken off, so that He should not be recognized as a descendant of Muhammad; the people would not have permitted the sacrilege of putting a Siyyid to death. As to the mark on His forehead, the sacred sign, only the learned would be likely to see that, knowing its significance, and it was these very learned ones who had encompassed His death, in spite of this sign.
(Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway, p. 29)

You might also point out that the age of maturity in the Bahai Faith is quite young.

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2 Responses to “Tattoos”

  1. Reza said

    There is a fundamental difference in marking the body with henna and tattooing: henna marks are not permanent, but tattoos are. Tattoos are forbidden in Judaism (based on (Leviticus 19:28) as well as in Sunni Islam. However, use of henna is not uncommon among Muslims. Male Muslims who have performed the Hajj to Mecca often use henna to dye their beard.

    The mark on the Bab’s forehead seems to refer to a zebiba (prayer bump). This is a callous that is caused by repeated prostrations of the forehead onto the prayer mat or prayer brick during the Muslim ritual prayers (salat). Among Muslims, it is viewed as a sign of piety.

  2. Faruq said

    Your email letter of 17 August 2003 regarding tattoos has been received at the Bahá’í World Centre and referred to our Department for response. In reply to your enquiry, nothing at all has been found in the Holy Texts on the matter of tattooing. There is, of course, the following general counsel given by Bahá’u’lláh: “Let there be naught in your demeanour of which sound and upright minds would disapprove, and make not yourselves the playthings of the ignorant. Well is it with him who hath adorned himself with the vesture of seemly conduct and a praiseworthy character. (The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, paragraph 159)” Generally, what is appropriate in such matters will clearly vary from culture to culture.

    Universal House of Justice to an individual, 19 August 2003

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