tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

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bahaimartin
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tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

Postby bahaimartin » Sun Aug 21, 2011 9:28 am

i like to know comments on tattooing bahai symbols
i appreciated

BruceDLimber
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Re: tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

Postby BruceDLimber » Sun Aug 21, 2011 7:16 pm


DEFINITELY NOT!!!

This is something definitely forbidden as disrespectful and extremely inappropriate!

Bruce

bahaimartin
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Re: tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

Postby bahaimartin » Sun Aug 21, 2011 7:38 pm

thank Bruce for your comment.
would you be kind to provide the reference where is forbidden?
thanks

Jonah
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Re: tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

Postby Jonah » Sun Aug 21, 2011 9:20 pm

I can just point you to three URLs that touch on this, though they don't answer your question:

http://bahai-library.com/uhj_permissibility_tattoos
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2139
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2160

paula
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Re: tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

Postby paula » Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:18 am

According to the previous post with such an absolute statement regarding tattoos as being "forbidden" and "disrespectful" and "extremely inappropriate":

If this is true, then the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand and the House of Justice have made a terrible mistake by allowing Indigenous people such as the Maori become Baha'is.

"...the oneness of mankind will not be based on forced assimilation...." (13 February 1996, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer).

I thought concept of clergy and it's practice was abolished???

bahaimartin
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Re: tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

Postby bahaimartin » Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:27 am

Jonah:
thanks so much for you reply, it has been very appreciated

bahaimartin
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Re: tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

Postby bahaimartin » Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:28 am

and thanks so much to all that give some input in this matter

BruceDLimber
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Re: tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

Postby BruceDLimber » Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:59 am

paula wrote:According to the previous post with such an absolute statement regarding tattoos as being "forbidden" and "disrespectful" and "extremely inappropriate":

If this is true, then the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand and the House of Justice have made a terrible mistake by allowing Indigenous people such as the Maori become Baha'is.


The point is not tatooing itself (which is an entirely separate question), but the fact that the question was about the tatooing of Baha'i symbols.

It is these we are admonished to treat with respect, such that certain uses of them are strongly discouraged (to say the least)!

There is no problem whatever with cultures that routinely tattoo their members' bodies provided other images are used

Bruce

paula
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Re: tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

Postby paula » Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:17 pm

Ya' know, I've always experienced difficulties with Baha'is who don't use the Writings or statements from the House of Justice to offer possible answers to questions. Jonah already covered these references with the links he provided. What I was hoping to do was bring a larger perspective to the discussion without mandates or definitive proclamations.

Again, Bruce, I will leave another forum we have shared. I'm far too interested in expanding my awarenesses and perspectives and leaving fundamentalism somewhere in the outer galaxies.

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Re: tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

Postby Jonah » Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:34 pm

If we're allowed to adorn our bodies with Baha'i symbols in the form of jewelry, it doesn't seem to me to be that different, qualitatively, from putting the design in ink instead of in gold. That is, what's the difference really between the symbol being on a ring on our skin, versus in ink on our skin?

I have no answer to this issue; I'm just musing.

BruceDLimber
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Re: tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

Postby BruceDLimber » Tue Aug 23, 2011 7:38 am

paula wrote:... fundamentalism


I could easily accuse YOU of divisiveness because of your use of a put-down such as the one above, but choose not to pursue this further.

Respect for Baha'i teachings, symbols, and standards is hardly blameworthy (little as some choose to respect them).

Bruce

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Re: tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

Postby brettz9 » Tue Aug 23, 2011 4:46 pm

Hello friends,

I hope we all with our fellow brothers and sisters can find the light in the different means of finding truth available to us.

On the one hand, Bruce, I think a fair point has been raised to you for the future about whether more caution could be used in avoiding jumping to conclusions about the intents of the questioner. Bahaimartin asked a question which was obviously not asked in malice. And even if such a practice were explicitly forbidden, do you really think 'Abdu'l-Baha would blame such a well-meaning question based in love for the Faith? He was even patient with rude questioners, much less polite ones.

And though I don't mean to add fuel to fire by asserting in any way that your concerns were equivalent, I recently ran across this pilgrim's note which I found interesting for its emphasis on always maintaining dignity in addressing fellow Baha'is:

The Guardian here read from material sent him from a large city in America. He was disgusted with - what shall I say - almost puerility of admonishment to the believers - in a vein in which Baha'is should not be addressed. But on the other hand, they should be reminded from the teachings of their obligations and responsibilities to the Cause. He spoke in no uncertain terms of his disgust, etc.

(Pilgrim's note attributed to the Guardian, at http://bahai-library.com/pilgrims/edge.html )


And from another pilgrim's note:

"The Blessed Beauty directed that there should be great modesty in the women, that they should not bare the neck and bosom, and that the women in the East should wear a veil.*

"The conditions are different in the West, but the women of the West must see the spiritual significance of this Teaching. Do not distress them by saying that they should not have done this or that. They will see by themselves. Talk about this only, so to speak, one by one, with the friends, when you have the opportunity.

(at http://bahai-library.com/guardian_easy_familiarity )


People have it within themselves to come to the truth, if they are already open to such a Faith. That is why our community may give reminders about responsibilities such as for the Funds, etc., but it is not to lower itself into more compulsory means, even to the extent of passing around a donation box, for example.

That all being said, I would hope Paula--a belated welcome by the way!--that you might appreciate that it might be hard for Bruce to hear a sharply-worded rebuttal when he is also motivated by love of the Faith (and even more so because of that). While discussions with those who are unamenable to any opinion besides their own can indeed be fruitless, as our Writings indicate, I hardly think Bruce is such a person! Baha'u'llah advised us to "primarily speak with words as mild as milk".

In any case, please don't deprive us from your own presence because of some lack of agreement! As Shoghi Effendi said, through his secretary: "The Bahá'í community life provides you with an indispensable laboratory, where you can translate into living and constructive action the principles which you imbibe from the Teachings." (2 November 1933 to an individual believer)

And while I don't think it is something which should be taken as at all obvious, especially to the many friends who are very new to the Faith and even religion, I think Bruce may be speaking to the fact that the Faith does indeed enjoin us to view certain seemingly material issues with spiritual significance, such as interpreting reverence not as a purely subjective emotion (though while not seeing it as rigidly absolute either) and in particular use of the "Greatest Name" (which is treated on a different level from other Baha'i symbols):

"The overriding consideration must always be the proper dignity with which the Greatest Name should be used. Thus it would not be befitting to use it on drinking vessels or ash trays, plates for eating, and the like. There would, however, be no objection to its use on plaques or ornaments, jewellery or similar items which are not normally put to common use. The House of Justice instructs us to say that great care should be given to the accurate representation of the Persian calligraphy, since any deviation from an accepted representation can be distressing to Iranian believers."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Belgium, March 12, 1980)


There is also this:

"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)


Clearly, there is a such thing as being undignified and irreverent--and the compilation Lights of Guidance covers a variety of other cases in the arts, etc., where dignity is to be upheld, so I hope Baha'is will not be stopped from being able to make loving mention of such concerns in the right time or place.

On the other hand, I think we do have to be careful not to confuse our own tastes and inclinations to that of the Faith, and hopefully when failing to find agreement within the Writings of our own strongly held opinions (whether conventional or modern), it ought to humble us for the future to try to ensure we do not forbid that which God has not forbidden, just as we would not wish to enjoin that which God has forbidden, and in any case to take into account peoples' intentions and feelings, especially for those who are newer to our teachings.

Warm regards,
Brett

Baha'i Warrior
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Re: tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Tue Aug 23, 2011 7:15 pm

Some ideas humbly offered to think about before making such a decision. Dignity and moderation should always be kept in mind, as previously stated. We should also remember that since our ultimate goal is teaching and attracting men to the Cause of God, we should try to keep our images in such a way that others will not be repelled by them (I'm not saying a tattoo will do this, just stating this as a general example that can apply to many things). In addition, Bahá'u'lláh instructs: "Let there be naught in your demeanour of which sound and upright minds would disapprove, and make not yourselves the playthings of the ignorant." But no, technically there is no law against getting a tattoo; just like technically there is no law against renting those movies from the back of the video store; or covering almost every square inch of the body with piercings, and so on. The Bahá'í Faith isn't about what we shouldn't do; it's about what we should do. When we are doing our duties, then there is less time to get into others things which may be considered frivolous by some. But the Master is our example. When we do things, we should bring to mind His example. And it is true there are some cultures that use tattoos, and do other things; but we are building up our own Bahá'í culture, which acknowledges that there are some aspects of cultures which are not desirable. There are many good things in the cultures of the world, but not every aspect of them is necessarily good. I'm not going to judge aspects of those cultures, or say whether to get a tattoo/don't get one, because it's up to the individual to decide for himself. Through consultation, studying the principles/exhortations in the Writings, I'm sure one can make a mature decision for himself.

Apart from that, though, someone getting into this should not forget about the "buyer's remorse" that is seen in a large portion of people that get tattoos and seek laser surgery. These are all important things to think about before jumping into such a decision.

BruceDLimber
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Re: tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

Postby BruceDLimber » Wed Aug 24, 2011 7:59 am

brettz9 wrote:I think Bruce may be speaking to the fact that the Faith does indeed enjoin us to view certain seemingly material issues with spiritual significance


The particular that immediately came to mind when I read the original question is the fact that while early Baha'is placed the Greatest Name on tombstones (and indeed, I have seen such stones on graves near Shoghi Effendi's), this is now considered improper; and only the nine-pointed star and the word "Baha'i" (plus of course quotes from the Writings) may be placed on gravestones today:

656. "The use of the Most Great Name or the ringstone symbol on gravestones is
not appropriate. In a letter dated September 17, 1971 to an individual believer we
wrote the following:

"'Concerning the questions you ask in your postscript, there is no specific
ruling regarding the type of headstone that may be used at a grave site.
However, regarding the inscription on a headstone, the beloved Guardian
asked the believers not to use any form of the Greatest Name but a nine-pointed
star may be used. Or, you may wish to have an appropriate text from the Sacred
Writings inscribed on the headstone. The position of the body in the grave should
be with the feet pointing toward the Qiblih, which is Bahjí in 'Akká'."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly
of Uganda, May 4, 1972)
--Lights of Guidance, p. 199.

Tatoos strike me as falling into the same category, especially because they are permanent (or at least extremely difficult and expensive to remove), such that making a mistake in this sort of thing may turn out to be forever.

(I also remember the horror story of a book published presumably by a non-Baha'i with the title Paint Your Volkswagen. I saw this book, and one of the photos in it showed a VW beetle with a Greatest Name painted on its rear panel.)

Peace,

Bruce

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Re: tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Wed Aug 24, 2011 9:32 pm

Good post, Bruce! If I'm not wrong, the Greatest Name should also not be used as profile pictures on social networking websites (someone shared with me a reference to that which I don't have right now). I think that, along with what you wrote, stresses the importance of showing reverence in what we do, and tattooing sacred symbols on the body doesn't seem very respectful or reverent. If someone wants to teach the Faith by having a reference to the Cause on his person, then (one idea I have) there are approved Bahá'í t-shirts with approved types of designs that let people know one is a Bahá'í, for example. Indeed we have to use our best judgment based on the current guidance, because we really can't expect a long list of not using the Greatest Name on a, b, c, d ... z.

Just giving an extreme example to try to make a point: Personally I wouldn't get a tattoo, or color my hair green and spike it, put on chains, etc.; just think about the people we are trying to teach, even if technically there is no law against these things, we have to remember our ultimate goal and purpose. In an extreme case, creating an appearance which scares others or repels them would seem to make attracting people to the Cause more difficult. I'm just giving an extreme example and not trying to compare that to a guy that already has a tattoo; but then, even with that what is "moderate" in this context? For one guy it's one; or another it's two; or another three, etc. And each person has his own opinion or view. So where does it end? We can't conclude three is moderate but four is not because Joe and his friends think that.

Just look at the examples of prominent Bahá'ís or Bahá'ís serving on institutions, I don't think any of them has a tattoo (I may be wrong but I don't think I've seen it). But if someone comes into the Faith with tattoos, there is nothing wrong with that. What I am referring to is people that are already in it and contemplating trying these new things, maybe they might want to think about other options. :D Just some personal thoughts humbly offered. :)

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Re: tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

Postby Jonah » Sun Aug 28, 2011 6:38 pm

I just came across a Baha'i-symbol tattoo, a 9-pointed star. See http://www.flickr.com/photos/noname/32647901/. Of the 7 comments to this Flickr post, a couple said they were considering the same. (Again, I am not offering my own approval or disapproval, just sharing information. Symbols are made sacred or profane by the ways we use them, and clearly putting this on one's body changes its semiotic value.)

Image

I also have read hints that the Báb did legislate on the use of tattoos, though I don't know what he said. From http://bahai-library.com/maceoin_deconstructing_sharia :
[In the Bayán,] there are elaborate regulations for pilgrimage, fasting, the drawing and use of talismans, the manufacture of rings, engraved stones, and tattoos, the use of perfume, the washing and disposal of the dead, and so on


And on a lighter note, whenever I use the custom Google search for this site with the keyword "Babi," I see tons of ads for Baby and Barbie products!

Jonah
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Re: tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

Postby Jonah » Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:51 am

I just came across a nice blog post on the use of the Greatest Name. I think most of the quotations they use have already been cited above, but it's still an interesting read: bahaiblog.net/site/2011/06/09/using-the-greatest-name.

pilgrimbrent
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Re: tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

Postby pilgrimbrent » Thu May 31, 2012 10:14 pm

There are indications that the Bab directed that his followers tattoo their bodies with sacred symbols - the women with the daira,
http://bahai-library.com/bab_daira_1
the men with the haykal
http://bahai-library.com/bab_daira_haykal_1
Though it is not clear to me whether these were more in the nature of a henna temporary tattoo or a permanent one.
In any event, the laws of the Bab are superseded by the Aqdas and not in force now.
Though I personally find most tattooing distasteful and not adding much in the way of beauty, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the House of Justice has not absolutely condemned tattooing.
Brent

pilgrimbrent
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Re: tattoo my body with bahai symbols?

Postby pilgrimbrent » Thu May 31, 2012 10:21 pm

Bruce's comments are not as denunciatory as you might first get the impression of. He posts in a large font, in bold, and this looks like shouting, but his points are well taken.
Brent


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