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July 2009

1. DEAR ABE:   I have been a Muslim for a couple of years and I have tattoos from earlier. I want to get more tattoos. Some say it is forbidden because it changes the creation of Allah and that prophet Mohammad would have condemned tattoos. Others say it is allowed. I don’t know whom to listen to. – T.I. ISMAEL, SWEDEN

DEAR ISMAEL: There is no mention of tattoos in the Quran.  The Quran is complete and fully detailed [1].  Thus, anything that is not addressed in the Quran is left to the person to decide on and is not essential to our salvation. I believe it is your intentions that matter here [2]. Tattoos can have many meanings to many people. If your tattoo is chosen for righteous reasons and is free of idol worship [3], then there is no religious reason to avoid it.  However, it is important to carefully examine your intentions and the meaning you would attach to additional tattoos.  Also, when considering the amount and size of tattoos, it is important, as Submitters to God (Muslims in Arabic), to observe moderation in our lives [4].

Relevant Verses: [1] 6:114-115;  [2] 5:87, 2:224-225;  [3] 23:61, 4:48; [4] 17:37, 31:18-19.


2. DEAR ABE: You stated more than once that Hijab headcover is not required. I was discussing this topic with a friend and we looked up some verses in sura 33, Al-Ahzab and sura 24, Al-Noor. Can you please explain what those verses mean in terms of hijab, zeenah and other words mentioned in those verses? – A READER FROM NEW YORK

DEAR NEW YORK READER:  Here is the Muslim dress code:  The best garment is righteousness [1]. Women are to cover their chests [2]. And lengthen their garments [3].  “Hijab” could mean veil, screen, cover, curtain, drapes, or divider [4], but that word is never used to describe the dress code in the Quran. "Khimar" means any cover [5].  Some Quran translations incorrectly label “khimar” in verse 24:31 as a headcover, when God is clearly asking the women to cover their chests. If God wanted to order women to cover their heads or their hair, He would have [6]. In the same verse, “Zeenatahunna” refers to the woman's parts (beauty) that can be exaggerated through certain body movements when walking.  Walking does not have this effect on the head, hair or face; thus they are not part of “zeena”.

Relevant Quran Verses: [1] 7:26; [2] 24:30-31; [3] 33:59; [4] 7:46, 33:53, 38:32, 41:5, 42:51, 17:45 , 19:17; [5] 2:219, 24:31;  [6] 18:109, 31:27.


3. DEAR ABE: I thought that the first verses, or Ayat, from Mohammad is the "Iqra.” The “Iqra,” in Chapter 96 is not the beginning of the Quran. So, does this mean that the Quran is arranged by a human?  Since we know humans are not perfect, then how can there be divine guidance to the Quran arrangement? – LAITH, FRANCE

DEAR LAITH:  You are correct that the first Quran revelation to Mohammad was Sura 96, verses 1 through 5 [1].  But, the “Iqra” being the first revelation does not prove that there is no divine guidance to the arrangement of the Quran. God informs us that the Quran is a revelation from the Lord of the Universe, and that it was released slowly in a format that was easy to memorize [2]. Thus, there was a different revelation order than what was collected into book format [3].  God also controlled the order that the Quran was arranged into. Thus, He recommends reading it cover to cover, beginning to end, in a specific order.  He knew what order it would be written in, and it is the best arrangement for us to read [4]. [5]  

Relevant Quran Verses: [1] 96:1-5; [2] 25:32, 17:105-106, 26:192-194; [3] 97:1, 53:1-18, 2:97-99;  [4] 75:17-19, 43:3-4, 85:21-22, 73:4; [5] Appendix 28 of the Quran translation by R. Khalifa.

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The answers provided by Abe and friends represent the understanding of the
writers, and should not be taken as the only acceptable approach. The reader is encouraged to research the topics further using the Quran.

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