The opinion of the church has always had a major impact on almost every issue. Ever since time immemorial, religion played a very important role in shaping society as it is today. While it is true that the church position is almost always at odds with practices that are not traditional, it is important to bear in mind that religion has withstood time and therefore her stance carry significant weight to society.
Christianity has been in recent times the most liberal of modern religions. With regards to tattoo, the Christian church does not seem to have a consistent stand for or against tattooing. In fact, you will find many tattoo designs that are Christian of origin like the cross and images of the saints. However, a silent minority holds a negative stand on the practice of tattooing.
Islam on the other hand, frowns on the practice of tattoo and considers it forbidden. The Prophet Mohammad, Peace be Upon Him, forbids any form of mutilation of the body including but not limited to tattooing because tattooing involves changing the original nature of creation. The Sunni book of traditions shows strongly worded prohibitions on the one who wants to be tattooed and the one doing the tattooing. The Muslims of North Africa, on the other hand, practices the art of tattoo using Henna. The Shi’a faction of Islam allows tattooing.
Judaism forbids tattooing based on Torah. As with Islam, the prohibition is based on anything that changes the original state of creation. The exception on body modification is if the modification serves a medical purpose to heal the body or to correct a disability or deformity. A scholar on Jewish law explains that the prohibition is meant to disassociate Judaism from other pagan religion which uses tattoo in their faith.
The religions of the east like Shintoism and Buddhism does not expressly prohibit tattoos. In fact, one will find many members of these faith and even the priests have tattoos in their body some even on shaved heads. The accepting and passive nature of these religions seems to be a thriving ground for the art and practice of tattoo.
Indeed, religion has influenced so much of the world’s culture. The church proves to be a deterring force in the emergence and growth of social and cultural phenomenon when she is against it or a patron when she supports it. In the case of tattoos, all of the world’s religion seems to have differing opinions but it seems that tattoo is here to stay whether or not the world’s religion give its stamp of approval.
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