What does the title of this collection of Arabic tattoos say? اتَّكَلْنا منه على خُصٍّ الاتحاد قوة : "Unity is power." That's a pretty powerful sentiment...and although we don't speak Arabic, unfortunately, and we can't know what any of these pieces say...they emanate a really beautiful aura of strength. In fact, many lettering tattoos do, and that's probably, in part, because words, quotes, text...these all hold a lot of meaning for many people. Although the quote "actions speak louder than words" may exist, sometimes we tattoo words on our skin to remind us of actions we should take, philosophies or ideas we'd like to remember, or names that are close to our heart.
Arabic, in particular, holds a lot of meaning for those because it has deeply religious roots. "Arabic language cannot be separated from Islam as it is the main language of Islam. Koran, the holy book of Muslims and the main reference of Islamic tenets, was written in Arabic language and reveled in Arabic context even the messages are universal. Furthermore, hadith (the prophetic tradition), the second source of the Islamic tenets, was written in Arabic and most books explaining the interpretations of these sources are written in Arabic." The calligraphy you see here in this collection of Arabic tattoos, therefore, probably has religious context for many, but even if it doesn't, it still echos the sentiments of an ancient culture that has survived for thousands and thousands of years. "The Arabic alphabet is known to be the second most used language in the world. Many scholars believe that the alphabet was created around the 4th century CE."
"Arabic calligraphy is the artistic practice of handwriting and calligraphy based on the Arabic alphabet. It is known in Arabic as khatt (Arabic: خط), derived from the word 'line', 'design', or 'construction'. Kufic is the oldest form of the Arabic script." And while there are many different tools, types of script, and styles of writing, much of Arabic calligraphy is thought of as an instrument to glorify God, especially when used in public arts such as mosques, tapestries, and pottery.
Arabic tattoos could also be seen as a public art: our skin is shown to the world often, and those who are tattooed usually express themselves through that particular art form. If you've seen Islamic architecture, you've probably noticed that the decorative tiles, relief sculptures, or carvings, are also emblazoned with the beautiful calligraphy of the Arabic language. One could say that our skin is just like the decoration on a building...it should express the beauty within, or the purpose of its existence. Our words hold the power of our beliefs, and these pieces directly illustrate that. "It is noteworthy, for instance, that the Prophet Muhammad is related to have said: "The first thing God created was the pen."
Another reason why this lettering style is so powerful, is that in most Islamic art there are no depictions of people...this is in keeping with some of their deep religious beliefs. "Islamic art is full of intricate geometries and elegant script, but devoid of any imagery of people, to avoid false idolatry. Depictions of people or animals are thus forbidden in tattoos; any impure images are likewise forbidden." Hence why lettering and calligraphy are so often used for decoration.
However, it is worth noting that some devout Muslims believe that tattoos are "haram", which is something that God expressly forbids. "Most Muslim scholars write that permanent tattoos are haram, though there is no actual mention of tattoos in the Qur’an...the intentional infliction of pain on the body is forbidden by Islamic law, thus many consider tattoos and even piercings out of the question. Tattoos alter God’s creation which is strictly forbidden in Islam." But, of course, this is all dependent on your own beliefs, and your own expression for what you care about and love. As this collection of Arabic tattoos prove, many people embrace this art form as a celebration of their culture and perhaps even their love for God.