Bahai Faith and Tattoos

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atlangel512
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Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 1:57 am

Bahai Faith and Tattoos

Postby atlangel512 » Sun Jan 18, 2009 2:48 am

I am a new Baha'i (at heart not officially yet) and recently got 2 new tattoos that I'm a little worried about now. I got a small ring-stone symbol and the Greatest Name on each of my wrist. My purpose in getting those particular symbols was because I love the meaning and thought that getting them was in a way honoring the faith. But after getting them, a friend of mine brought some concerns to my attention. I made the decision based only on my own beliefs and feelings, rather than considering others within the faith. And I don't mean that I would be concerned if someone doesn't like something about me or judges me, but I am concerned if by getting what I got (the Greatest name especially) is a disrespect to the faith. My intention was never to disrespect the faith, so does it seem that I did that??

BritishBahai
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Re: Bahai Faith and Tattoos

Postby BritishBahai » Sun Jan 18, 2009 4:37 pm

Well... in reality, what is done is done. You cant get it removed - its permanent. Actually you can, but its expensive.
I know someone who also has a tatoo of the Bahai sign (the one where there are two stars) and he's got it tattooed across the left of his chest (so that it's across his heart). Its a matter of opinion. For example, an old person could look at that and say "pssht..." whereas another person could look at it and say "how unique!" But the point is that he didnt do it so that later on he can get a reaction out of people. He got it done because HE chose to. He's actually a family friend and I dont think he even discussed it with his wife. He just went straight ahead and got it done. This is my take on it: You got it done for yourself, right? Its not like its some kind of statement. Other people get "I love mum" tattooes on their arms or pictures of snakes across their their necks or whatever. This was your personal choice. It feels like im rambling but im sure you know what i'm getting at. Personally, I dont think it is disrespectful. Your intentions were pure.
"I have desired only what Thou didst desire, and love only what Thou dost love"

AdibM
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Re: Bahai Faith and Tattoos

Postby AdibM » Sun Jan 18, 2009 6:30 pm

BritishBahai wrote:Well... in reality, what is done is done. You cant get it removed - its permanent. Actually you can, but its expensive.
I know someone who also has a tatoo of the Bahai sign (the one where there are two stars) and he's got it tattooed across the left of his chest (so that it's across his heart). Its a matter of opinion. For example, an old person could look at that and say "pssht..." whereas another person could look at it and say "how unique!" But the point is that he didnt do it so that later on he can get a reaction out of people. He got it done because HE chose to. He's actually a family friend and I dont think he even discussed it with his wife. He just went straight ahead and got it done. This is my take on it: You got it done for yourself, right? Its not like its some kind of statement. Other people get "I love mum" tattooes on their arms or pictures of snakes across their their necks or whatever. This was your personal choice. It feels like im rambling but im sure you know what i'm getting at. Personally, I dont think it is disrespectful. Your intentions were pure.


I agree with this.

I do recall reading about irreverence towards Baha'i images/concepts in the late Daniel Jordan's The Dynamic Force of Example (out of print), and one example that he gave which I remember was putting the Greatest Name atop a wedding cake. But as BritishBahai said, I believe your intentions were totally pure and that God and Baha'u'llah are loving, forgiving, and most importantly understanding of your situation. Thus, I think you're fine. :)
"To be a Bahá'í simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood." -- `Abdu'l-Bahá

brettz9
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Re: Bahai Faith and Tattoos

Postby brettz9 » Sun Jan 18, 2009 8:55 pm

Hello atlangel512 and welcome!

There is no question God looks at the intention, so in this case, there is nothing to be forgiven--only the love is to be praised!

'Abdu'l-Baha relates a story at http://bahai-library.com/writings/abdul ... b/063.html about how a Western woman sheared off her hair to raise money for building the Temple. He then says:

And though this was uncalled for, and `Abdu'l-Bahá would not have consented to such a deed, yet as it doth reveal so high and noble a spirit of devotion, He was deeply touched thereby.

(Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, 63)


Now it is true, that the Greatest Name is indeed to be used with proper dignity and only for items "not normally put to common use". At http://bahai-library.com/?file=hornby_l ... est%20Name , the Greatest Name is discussed, and starting with number 896, its usage is discussed. I think you can come to your own conclusion by reading them.

There are also plenty of Writings about reverence in general. One which may be particularly relevant is this one:

"Problems arise when there are disagreements among the friends as to what is dignified and reverent. The Universal House of Justice is reluctant to specify such matters in detail and urges the believers not to make an issue of them. If a believer is seriously worried about a particular case, he may refer it to his National Spiritual Assembly and should abide by the Assembly's decision."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, March 12, 1980 no. 1832)


Of course the fact that reverence is encouraged in our Writings and also explicitly dealt with in such areas as plates, etc., should indicate that admitting some degree of cultural relativity does not mean absolutely "anything goes".

But again, there is nothing explicit in the Writings about tattoos (see http://bahai-library.com/file.php?file=uhj_tattoos ), and although a believer's National Spiritual Assembly could make its own judgment on whether it were appropriate to use the Greatest Name on a tattoo, in the absence of such a decision, it is a personal call--and no one else but you has the right to tell you what is reverent or not; we have no clergy in our Faith. And most importantly, it is your intention that was recognized and known quite well to God Himself. What you do next is up to you.

best wishes,
Brett


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