Tattoos and scarification are almost as old as humanity.
Tattooing can be regarded as an art indulged in for aesthetic purposes, while in many cultures it has religious overtones.
We spoke to 16-year-old Claris (not real name) in Harare, about the very visible tattoo on her arm, which she referred to as a form of “self-expression”.
Her pastor is, however, not impressed with this and she was ex-communicated from the church.
“My pastor said what I did was satanic and I was ex-communicated. I am going to a new church where the congregants took me for who I am,” said Claris.
Madzibaba Prince Marezva of the Johane Masowe Mandresa apostolic sect believes tattoos are unChristian.
“Tattoos are an inspiration of the devil and they seek to fulfil the Mark of the Beast”, Madzibaba Marezva said without elaborating.
Ustaaz Jabulani Charlie explains permanent tattoos are prohibited in Islam.
“Non-permanent tattoos, such as henna stains or stick-on tattoos, are generally permitted by scholars in Islam, provided they do not contain inappropriate images.
“Permanent tattoos are haram (forbidden) and this is based on oral traditions (hadith) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
“What the prophet is quoted to have said provides guidance to Muslims on the question of tattoos and other forms of body art,” he said.
He added: “According to Islamic tradition, as recorded in one of the Prophet’s collections, the Sahih Bukhari, it was narrated that Abu Juhayfah (may Allah be pleased with him) said the Prophet cursed the one who does tattoos and the one who has a tattoo done.”
He also says tattooing is a form of body mutilation, and condemnable for its health risk.
Traditional medicine practitioner Sekuru Friday Chisanyu says tattoos are spiritual, adding tattooing is also practised in Zimbabwe and other parts of Africa as “kutemwa nyora” for the administration of herbal medicine.
Sekuru Chisanyu also says tattoos can be used to identify families and/or ethnic groups.
“In treating patients, there are times we need ‘kutemera nyora’, to inject herbs either for treating an ailment or protection, which is why we believe tattoos have everything to do with spirituality,” explained Sekuru Chisanyu.
In Hinduism, tattoos are not restricted, though the religion does not tolerate images or wording that is disrespectful to Hindu gods.
Online sources indicate that the Church of Body Modification (CoBM), a non-atheist religion founded in the United States, widely practices tattooing.
The church practices body modification to strengthen the spiritual bond between the mind, body and soul. To ensure strong connections, the church uses both ancient and modern modification rituals to show faith.
Such modifications vary from tattoos, piercings, scarification and cosmetic surgery, among other practices.
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