Prohibition of some acts in Islam

Javed Ahmad


Increasing sight of tattooing of men, women and children in Bangladesh on different festivals and occasion prompted me to look into the matter from an Islamic perspective. Lo and behold! Look what I found!


Narrated Aun bin Abu Juhaifa: I saw my father buying a slave whose profession was cupping, and ordered that his instruments (of cupping) be broken. I asked him the reason for doing so. He replied, "Allah's Apostle prohibited taking money for blood, the price of a dog, and the earnings of a slave-girl by prostitution; he cursed her who tattoos and her who gets tattooed, the eater of Riba (usury), and the maker of pictures." (Bukhari, Book #34, Hadith #440)


The search revealed other prohibitions along with tattoo. According to the hadith quoted above, following practices are prohibited for Muslims –


  1. Cupping (deforming body artificially).
  2. Selling blood for money.
  3. Selling dogs for money.
  4. Making a living on or from prostitution.
  5. Painting and or receiving tattoos (skin paintings).
  6. Accepting, offering or any dealing with usury (interests).
  7. Picture making (probably meant drawing portraits or pictures of living creatures).


Although the hadith does not give any reasons for the prohibitions, but we do find some clues on some other related hadiths as well as some other prohibitions -


Narrated Alqama: 'Abdullah (bin Masud) said. "Allah curses those ladies who practice tattooing and those who get themselves tattooed, and those ladies who remove the hair from their faces and those who make artificial spaces between their teeth in order to look more beautiful whereby they change Allah's creation." His saying reached a lady from Bani Asd called Um Yaqub who came (to Abdullah) and said, "I have come to know that you have cursed such-and-such (ladies)?" He replied, "Why should I not curse these whom Allah's Apostle has cursed and who are (cursed) in Allah's Book!" Um Yaqub said, "I have read the whole Quran, but I did not find in it what you say." He said, "Verily, if you have read it (i.e. the Quran), you have found it. Didn't you read: 'And whatsoever the Apostle gives you take it and whatsoever he forbids you, you abstain (from it). (59.7) she replied, "Yes, I did," He said, "Verily, Allah's Apostle forbade such things." "She said, "But I see your wife doing these things?" He said, "Go and watch her." She went and watched her but could not see anything in support of her statement. On that he said, "If my wife was as you thought, I would not keep her in my company."  (Bukhari, Book #60, Hadith #408)


  1. Removal or plucking of hair from face for beautification.
  2. Artificially making a gap in between teeth.


And the reason given here is that all these acts tamper with Allah’s given form, which is considered an offence against the creator’s choice and liking. A true believer would simply comply with the prohibitions without any opposition when the matter becomes known.


We however find another reason for prohibition of tattooing that points us to a matter as a “fact” citing the effect of an “evil eye”, which is probably pointing to curse or magic or witchcraft related matters by drawing unwanted attention through the tattoos -


Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "The effect of an evil eye is a fact." And he prohibited tattooing (Bukhari, Book #71, Hadith #636)


Now we discover the 10th point to add to our list of prohibitions -


Narrated Ibn Umar Allah's Apostle said, "Allah has cursed such a lady as lengthens (her or someone else's) hair artificially or gets it lengthened, and also a lady who tattoos (herself or someone else) or gets herself tattooed.  (Bukhari, Book #72, Hadith #820)


Therefore, the 10th point is,


  1. Lengthening of hair artificially this may include using false hairs or wigs.


It was not necessary that all the hadiths would be known to all the companions of the Prophet (s). The following hadith reveals that the matter was not known to Umar (ra) and he sought opinion on this matter to draw a conclusion –


Narrated Abu Huraira : A woman who used to practice tattooing was brought to 'Umar. 'Umar got up and said, "I beseech you by Allah, which of you heard the Prophet saying something about tattooing?" I got up and said, "O’ chief of the Believers! l heard something." He said, "What did you hear?" I said, "I heard the Prophet (addressing the ladies), saying, 'Do not practice tattooing and do not get yourselves tattooed.'"  (Bukhari, Book #72, Hadith #830)


In Islamic judiciary, most of the problems were resolved almost instantly on the basis of guidance from the Qur’an and Sunnah on case to case basis by the Caliphs or the chief of the believers, which is very unlike of the judiciary system we have and practice today in our secular societies where a group of professionally trained lawyers, barristers and judges formally deals with cases for a fee on the basis of logic, evidence and recorded similar earlier cases. In other words, the divine law and guidance is totally absent in today’s judicial practices in almost every country including the Muslim majority ones.


In Bangladesh, we do not see cupping practices anywhere, but we do see a lot of tattooing now-a-days. Putting mehendi’s on palms, hands and feet by women is common in our country, but according to the hadiths we have found it seems like it is not permitted.


Many poor folks in Bangladesh sell their blood for money to survive. There are some organizations like the Red Cross Society that regularly buys blood from willing donors. Majority of those poor donors are probably Muslims who do not even know that they are being cursed for their actions. Our secular society does not offer them any better alternative to sustain and survive.


Buying and selling of dogs is relatively a new business in Bangladesh where we find the affluent of the society are engaged. They buy fancy looking dogs as pets to spend time with while the opportunist sellers are making some money out of their whims not knowing that they are engaged in a cursed act.


Pretty much all nations are proud of practicing one the ancient businesses in the world which is prostitution, Bangladesh is no different. There are many commercial hubs for prostitution as well as high class especially chosen prostitutes to cater the elites and privileged few of the society on hire or call or contract basis just like it is done in non-Muslim societies. But most of those “Muslim” prostitutes probably do not know that they are into a cursed profession and living on haram income.


With emergence of public and private banking systems almost all of the citizens in the Muslim majority country are either directly or indirectly engaged in dealing with bank interests or usury, which is another serious offense to our creator who strictly prohibited it.


In most of our houses we find our drawing and living rooms decorated with paintings and photographs of living beings including the photos of family members (deal or alive) defying the warning of act of an curse by allowing picture making and harboring either hand painted of digital. Ideally, a Muslim home should be free from any paints and photographs of anything living matter.


We are now witnessing a trend of using beauticians plucking and removing eyebrows and facial hairs to make their female clients look like Indian actresses during their wedding and other occasions. And our poor clients do into even know that they are into a cursed act by doing or allowing so.


I am not sure how a woman would look better with gapped teeth but from the hadith we can be certain that some men in the past did prefer women with gapped teeth as a result it was a practice at that time. In our time I do not see anyone other than Madonna with gap tooth.


Wearing wigs or false hair is common among the folks with less hair who would like to hide their baldness. Even among the women with head full of hair are seen using false hair to make them look even more stunning thus indulging in a cursed act by appearing falsely in public with fake hairs.


Therefore, we could conclude that any attempt to project oneself falsely is prohibited in Islam. Islam encourages one to live with God gifted appearance without any shy feelings. None of the points discussed above are anything serious that we would not be able to leave without. Since they are specifically mentioned by our Prophet (s) we should try to avoid such engagements to avoid any curses.


What is a curse? It is a prayer or invocation for harm or injury to come upon one which could be an evil or misfortune that comes as if in response to imprecation or as retribution. As Muslims we should just abstain from such activities.