Is it forbidden for Rastas to have tattoos?

Rastas and Tattoos
Rastas and Tattoos

After the minor feud with Tarrus Riley and Anthony B at Rebel Salute, fans on the side of Anthony B used Riley’s tattoos as a reason to question is authenticity as a Rasta. This did not make much sense to those who see Rasta has having more to do with the heart then the outward appearance. Still many pointed to the bible verse below to justify their criticism of Tarrus Riley:

“Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19: 28.

It seems like everywhere you turn these days there is someone wearing tattoos. While some people are content with having one or two engraved on their bodies, others go the extreme by having them plastered all over their bodies, so much so that you can’t tell skin from tattoo.

More and more, the Rastafari faith is being permeated with members who are sporting at least one tattoo on their bodies.

With this fast growing trend, it could be only a matter of time before everyone is doing it, including the people of Jah.

18 Karat Reggae sought answers from Ras Mubarak a prominent Rasta leader who was born in Jamaica but has repatriated to Ghana as to whether Rastas should engage in the practice of tattooing their bodies.

For him, there is no simple ‘yes or no’ answer on the topic as it is more complex than that.

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“Without making reference to the scripture, it must be highlighted that on a moral level, that act of tattooing, more so all over the body, is seen by many, even persons who aren’t Rastas, to be a deviant act. Also of note is that the act is not affirmed in the scripture,” he said.

Referring to the above-mentioned verse in Leviticus, Ras Mubarak said that the mere fact that there was a command against tattoos should be enough to raise some questions.

“The New Testament does not say anything about whether or not a Rasta should get a tattoo; however, we do have this command in 1 Corinthians 10:31 that whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, all should be done to the glory of God. The New Testament does not specifically command against tattoos, but it also does not give us any reason to believe Jah would have us get tattoos,” Ras Mubarak pointed out.

For those who have not yet ventured in getting one, Ras Mubarak said they should stop and consider the fact that this may be a lifetime mark, seeing that surgical removal is unpopular. Also, one needs to decipher whether or not Jah would be pleased with the act.

Tattoos, too, have been used by some to show how much they love someone. For others, it is a way of remembering a departed one.

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Responding to this issue, Ras Mubarak said it is a popular myth that once an act is done out of love, it makes it good.

“Tattooing ‘ONE LOVE’ does not make it anymore acceptable than if a person tattooed a symbol or someone’s name.”

Another reason to be careful of the images that are imprinted on your body is what it can attract.

Pointing out that a tattoo in itself isn’t enough to attract evil spirits from the demonic world, “but if one tattoos demonic signs on their bodies, that is, without a doubt, welcoming such spirits. So, yes tattoos are capable of attracting demons.”

For Rastas, Ras Mubarak said a good test to determine if tattooing their bodies is OK is to consider whether they can, in good conscience, ask Jah to bless and use that particular activity for His own good purposes.

“An important scriptural principle on issues the Bible does not specifically address is, if there is room for doubt whether it pleases Jah, then it is best not to engage in that activity. Romans 14:23 reminds us that anything that does not come from faith is sin. We need to remember that our bodies, as well as our souls, have been redeemed and belong to Jah,” he pointed out.

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2 Comments

  1. The body is the temple of GOD. I have found that there are things no matter how simple or innocent they appear are a seed that grows to be a tree which neither offers good fruit or shelter that nourishes the soul.

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