Tattooed Muslim Observes Daily Prayers. Is He Damned?


Tora Sudiro is a walking sheet of Batik: His tall and broad physique provides plenty of drawing space for tattoo artists. The thing that made him worth mentioning – aside from his adorable qualities and sense of humor – is that, this is a Muslim man who, more than once, has been witnessed observing prayers in a mosque or musholla.

The first thought we had was, "Why did he wear tattoos when he never really renounced his religious duties?" Weren't tattoos damned since our fifth grade teachers made us memorize hadiths about all methods of damnation?

The same damnations were applied to breast reduction and enhancement, eye-brow trimming, liposuction, facelifts, noise and fragrance or jingle emitted from females (intended or not), and male-piercing (although I'm not sure about female body piercings, are we limited to the ears or is also okay to decorate the nose, bellybutton, nipples and youknowwhere?).

There's a recent long discussion about this here, and there's always the forums and FPIs** to set things clear for you in case you want the simpler clarifications.

The underline is that wearing a tattoo is not okay.

And if you seriously want to end up in heaven, you have to refrain from permanent modifications, unplug the internet, the phone, the television, drop your children out of school, maintain illiteracy, declare war on western and eastern medicine, convert to hermitdom, marry four orphan women AND live in the dessert like a proper Bedouin. It's an atheist who said it best: You either take it all, or to hell with all.

Is the Lord really is that narrow? Did He bring us all here just to taunt and scare us with damnation? I might as well do everything wrong – oh that tattoo! – if whatever I do is only going to be chucked in hell anyways. And if I can't have fun in the afterlife, might as well have it here, right?

It's not like anybody could ever really, definitely prove that there's such thing as an afterlife anyways, right?

No, not really.

I think a lot of us get stuck at the end of that paragraph, where a cognitive shortcut forces itself in. You either stop questioning and just settle with "tattoos are not okay and Tora Sudiro is going to hell, God have mercy on his soul". Or you let go of the entire religion system, and be the pantheist, add more tattoos and don the liberated-but-conflicted attitude.

Honestly? Being a non-believer is a lot freedom. The mind unshackled can cross unimaginable boundaries and do wonderfully little crazy things. It's like attending a funeral for God and then going make up your own belief systems that works best for you and the folks around you.

It's also extremely exhausting.

So, if we don't want to settle with sending Tora to hell because he's still "generally a good guy", then where would he fit? We also don't want to dismiss the religious systems, because we've seen a lot of good that faith can do to a person and a society. The question is, again, why would the Lord put us in a world full with temptations if He was just going to constantly threaten us with hell and making it sound (almost) impossible to achieve heaven?

Looking at it from another way around, if Heaven was as easy as drive-thru hamburgers, we wouldn't have needed to pour our daily focus on achieving it, or at least try at it. We've got to go through temptation, children, work, illness, old age and whatnot to deserve anything remotely heavenly.

What lays assuring is to know that Heaven, ladies and gentlemen, is NOT out of reach as much as Hell is not a definitive answer to all our mistakes and tattoos. Heaven is just a carrot and we're the donkeys. The idea is to keep it in our minds-eye; live primarily based on hope and Not. Look. The. Other. Way. Around.

And maybe we don't need to look so far to an afterlife for a reward, when parts of heaven is already here, in the breaks between crunches, under an umbrella in a rainy day, or just pick any one of the most satisfying simple pleasures life has to offer.

The Lord didn't make it easy for us just for the sake of breaking humanity, but because He wants us to work our asses for it. He made it really hard to achieve the reward because He doesn't want us to become lazy or indulgent.

And you know what, that's fine by me.

The point to these questions is not, and will ever be, to provide resolute answers. The point to these questions is to spurt more of them. As long that you are willing to look, as long that you don't give up on Him or on your self-achievement, these questions aren't waiting to be answered, merely waiting to be asked.

Don't you wonder?

* Gorgeous tattoo image powered by good ol' Getty.
** FPI: Front Pembela Islam (Islam Defenders Front), an aggressive organization of brutal and disoriented hooligans that vandalize public property on the behalf of God and religion.
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