6 Examples of Baha’i-Inspired Tattoos

I’ve always thought tattoos were amazing. How do you choose a symbol or message when it’s going to be permanently with you? While I’ve never been brave enough to get one, I often think that my faith is one thing that is sufficiently timeless to be permanently inscribed. But do Baha’is get tattoos? Is it allowed, and what do they choose? I set out to find some guidance and examples!

Guidance on Tattooing

As you might imagine, I’m not the first person to wonder about the Baha’i view on tattoos. In response to a letter in 2003, the Baha’i World Centre issued this guidance:

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 BahA’u’llAh:

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. Source: Baha’i Library

As something which is left to the discretion and judgement of individual Baha’is, I thought it was also helpful to reflect on another quote from Baha’u’llah asserting that:

In all matters moderation is desirable. Baha’u’llah

In this light, if you are considering a tattoo, you might like to carefully consider the subject matter and placement. For Baha’i related tattoos, it’s worth also remembering that some symbols, particularly the Greatest Name, have special significance and should be treated appropriately:

“While the House of Justice is reluctant to issue a list of the specific uses of the Greatest Name which should be avoided, the principal thing is for the friends to realize the great sacredness of this symbol, and to use it in ways which are dignified and appropriate….” (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Hawaiian Islands, June 3, 1987

Examples of Baha’i related and inspired tattoos

With all that in mind, here are a few great examples of tattoos that are inspired by or related to the Baha’i Faith:

Shown Above: Nine pointed star and Baha’i ID number in Farsi by Saaghi Yazdani Source: Instagram

Shown Above: Bird tattoo by shininglamp, inspired by the quote: “Praise be to God, those two faithful birds have sought shelter in one nest.” Source: Flickr

Shown Above: Assorted temporary tattoos by Laurel Source: Instagram

Shown Above: Nine Pointed Star by julesville Source: Checkoutmyink

Shown Above: Delia Olam’s nine pointed star Source: Interview with Delia

Shown Above: Rainn Wilson’s nine pointed star Source: Instagram

You can find more examples of tattoos on our Pinterest board for Baha’i Tattoos.

Share Yours!

Add a comment with a link to a photo of your Baha’i-related/inspired tattoo on Instagram/Flickr/etc. We’d love to see them and to include them in our Pinterest board!

And if you’re considering a tattoo and want something a little less permanent, you might like to consider getting a custom temporary tattoo!

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About the Author

Collis is a designer, entrepreneur, writer and Baha’i. He is the CEO of Australian tech company Envato, and cofounder of Baha’i Blog / Half Light Media.

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Discussion 21 Comments

    1. Being old school, I’m not at all keen on tattoos, unless temporary. Scientifically, adding extra frills to the skin carries a certain amount of unnecessary risk and hard work to stay clean through process. I am not that keen to put the effort, even if it is one off.Also something you might like at a certain point in time may not be what you like later on, even if the symbol is good, we have physical colours and design.So I would go for temporary, moderation and respect of human temple. Vain imaginings comes to mind if we are not moderate about this. Also some cultures and tastes don’t like use of tattoos, so to have the opportunity to reach a wider audience for teaching, temporary would be better. We can then change it according to audience.
      In terms of science and reason, permanent is too much hassle for me, for something superficial, even though looking good gives hope to us all, and particularly for cultures who like tattoos. All said and done, this is my personal view point and its good that our beloved faith allows freedom for the friends to decide how they adorn themselves and have individual interpretation of writings. However just because one scientist says tattooing is ok, we have to independently investigate science and reason, to find other research and also our own motivations. Is it to fit in with trend/fashion or is it something else? Also Bahaullah tells us to be moderate in our lives and not make ourselves a plaything of the ignorant. Its best to follow one’s conscience as friends have different and diverse views and capacities, at the same time follow reason and scientific guidelines.

  1. I think we are not here to just emerse ourselves in somewhat superficial popular culture by getting tattooed. That is a thing of the past (getting popular again). Even though I like the idea, I’m not a sailor.

    And our bodies are a representation of our soulful being in this world. ‘The Throne of the Inner Temple…’

    Should we just draw on our bodies, God’s creation, His highest form of existence on this planet ? Unfortunately, there are also some studies revealing how tattooed people often times are more troubled individuals, to put it mildly. Just a thought…

  2. Wow. Bahai Blog has certainly taken a turn. What with this post and ’10 Ways to Know Your a Baha’i’ – didn’t know superficiality was a topic covered here.

  3. I really enjoyed the read, and article. I too always wanted a tattoo, I did my year of service at the temple in Western Samoa, and there it was very common to have a tattoo. I never got round to doing it as it was done by the traditional way, hammer and chisel method (much more painful) but then I thought this… Isn’t the body the temple to the soul? and that we treat it that way till the day we die? How is painting our body with permanent ink different from graffiti on actual houses of worship?

  4. I’m so happy that you guys covered this topic because I’ve been wanting to get a Baha’I tattoo for years! Right now I’m deciding between a passage from the Hidden Words/or the nine pointed star………I don’t know I’ll probably end up getting both! Lol

  5. As interesting as tattooing on the body sounds one should contemplating on perfect creation of God. If it was necessery to have a pattern or different advertising motto on the surface of skin He would have done it!

    As a Baha’is we should not identified by what is the trend and follow it but stand out as different and be content with what we inherited from our faith. We should embrace the wholeness from within and not from outside of our body! Buildings don’t have a soul we do and we are its caustodian! So yes we bring more life into a building by decorating it. But we decorate our bodies with the beauty of our soul!

  6. I am not one to be a slave to fashion. So no tattoo here. Mind you I do have 2 ear piercings no rings. I got mine first while in high school and the second while in Tech. school. This was in the 70’s and was radical for the time. No meanings behind that….just felt like it.
    But what I do have is a necklace with The Greatest Name symbol. I never take it off. Whenever I fondle it I am reminded of my deepest love for this Faith.

  7. I was also surprised to see that tattoos were approved within the limits you mentioned. I just wanted to draw attention to the point that as a scientist I think tattoos are not healthy unless they are washable.

  8. When it is left to the individuals to decide, meaning both who are pro and those who are against, are right whatever it maybe the reason. Someone with a nice Tatoo may have more opportunity to proclaim his/her faith because of the Tatoo in a most natural way.

  9. Hey guys
    My cousin just did one, he did the star and inside it the bahai symbole that shows two stars representing the Bab and Baha’u’llah and in the middle the relation between God world, prophet world and the mankind (hope you get what I am referrin to cause I forget the symbole name), so is it allowed?
    Thank you

  10. I’m too chicken to get inked, but I think that if someone wants to express himself/herself that way — dignified, and according to the guidance of what is appropriate — then they should go for it. It’s not for the rest of us to criticize or judge others’ decisions, or cause them heartache or shame.

  11. It’s great to see some general guidance on tattoos. It’s not uncommon for people to ornament their bodies, and there is a huge variety of ways in which to do it, with cosmetics, piercings, hairstyles, and more. While some may believe this topic to be superficial, I think it is wonderful that someone looking for material on the topic can find it here.

  12. I humbly suggest before anyone decides to have a tattoo should think first about the reason, purpose, motivation, symbolism, and what one wants to achieve, demonstrate, declare, announce, or exhibit through one’s tattoo. We might be aware and conscious of some of these factors but we should try also to discover some of the less clear, or hidden subconscious motivations of which we might not be aware and which might be totally different from our justification and rationalisation for having a tattoo. Once we have done this exercise and have hopefully become more aware of some of these motivational factors then we can make a decision to have or not to have a tattoo. In that case our decision would be based on some real self awareness and self knowledge.

  13. Personally, I have no tattoos. However, I do not think there is anything against it specifically. And of course, the significance of tattoos vary from culture to culture. On the argument that tattooing is pop-culture and thus we should not give into it, then I would feel that dying hair, styling hair, clothing style, and a number of other things would be ruled out as well. It has grown in popularity in western culture these past few decades, but I see no reason for this to be considered harmful and/or disdainful unless the subject of course is disrespectful and/or classless.
    As for treating our body as a temple or comparison to graffiti on a temple, an argument could be made that one might simply be adorning or painting their temple. Treating our body as a temple is emphasized on the need to refrain from abusing our bodies. If one eats well, exercises, and prays/meditates daily, but has a tattoo, does this make them an abuser of their temple? In comparison, one could be abusing with substances, or carrying on poor diet that results in poor health issues but has NO tattoos. I don’t think permanent ink art is equivalent to the ruins of a temple.
    Regardless, I have no tattoos simply because I don’t want to. People get tattoos because they want to. I believe the topic is to be regarded in moderation, with an open mind.

  14. This is a wonderful blog! I found my tattoo on your Pinterest link 🙂 I chose a 9 pointed flower with people holding hands. This was my first tattoo and I to did a lot of research to make sure it was allowed before hand. To anyone questioning my motives… This tattoo was placed on me more than 14 years ago and has given me endless opportunities to share my faith with others! I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a nurse. I am a Baha’i

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