But after finding out how difficult and expensive it was to get his own tattoos removed with laser treatment, the Jakarta resident came up with a novel idea.
Sandi began offering affordable tattoo removal to people who had undergone a similar change of heart — but told his customers they must show genuine remorse by memorizing and reciting 50 verses from the Quran. After that they pay as little as 100,000 Indonesian rupiah ($7) for anaesthetics and treatment.
He then converted a room adjacent to his parents’ house in South Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, into a tattoo removal clinic that he named Tattoo Hijrah Removal.
The clinic is equipped with laser tattoo removal machines that Sandi bought with money collected from a crowdfunding effort that raised 90 million Indonesian rupiah in just five days in August last year.
More than 1,400 people registered online for Sandi’s initial treatment offer.
“I selected 400, including 150 women,” he said. “Some continued with the treatment, while others backed down — but, overall, 70 percent of them had their tattoos removed,” said as he took a break from treating a client.
Now Sandi only accepts registration via a messaging application and selects clients who are willing to meet his requirements.
“They must be able to show they are remorseful,” he said, adding that a client has to recite 10 verses before each session for a round of five treatments. If more sessions are needed to remove the tattoos, clients have to pay for another round and repeat the same drill.
Sandi offers leniency to some clients with difficult histories, such as Andri Purnomo, a Muslim convert.
Purnomo converted to Islam in 2012 so he could marry a Muslim girl, but the marriage lasted only two years.
During his wayward life following the divorce, Purnomo had both his arms inked, but said he never regretted having converted to Islam despite his failed marriage.
“After a while, I began to feel uncomfortable with my tattoos. I signed up for Sandi’s treatment in August 2017 but was not selected. I really wanted to have my tattoos removed, so I contacted Sandi directly and told him about my situation,” Purnomo said.
Sandi agreed to treat Purnomo on condition that he learn how to pray, perform the prayers and recite two short chapters of the Quran before each treatment.
“So I learned, and we pray together whenever I have my session. Last year was a turning point in my life when I felt I had a calling, became uncomfortable with my tattoos and met Sandi. They all came at the same time. Maybe they were meant to be like that for me,” he said.
Zulfikar Hasan, a communications student from Karawang in West Java, commutes for two hours every month with his parents and a counsellor to Sandi’s studio to have his tattoos removed. He has undergone four sessions at the clinic.
Sandi also treated Hasan as a special case after a request from the counsellor, Zahra Zakaria, who convinced him that Hasan needed the help of a role model to re-embrace Islam.
“I had my chest and back inked because of peer pressure. My friend said they would look good on me,” Hasan said. “At first my regret was that they weren’t as good as I had expected. But after consulting with Zahra and long talks with Sandi, I realized that as a Muslim I should not have tattoos on my body,” Hasan said.
Source: Arab News