Is Nail Polish Permissible?

Is Nail Polish Permissible?


Salam, your blog mashAllah has taught me a lot. I’ve always heard that wearing nail polish whilst praying is haram? Is this true? JazakAllah for reading my question. 🙂 May Allah bless you inshAllah.

Wa alykum as-salaam,

I would like to be clear, that wearing nail polish while praying is not haram, and that wearing nail polish is not haram. Opinions that say that praying or that wearing nail polish is haram are wrong, and I cannot think of any evidence in The Qur’an or the Sunnah that would make a credible argument against nail polish.

The issue that scholars have with nail polish involves whether or not a woman may preform wudhu, or ritual ablutions, whilst having nail polish on her nails.

Now, to be clear, there is nothing in The Qur’an that addresses nail polish or how to deal with it, and that the issue centers around the following Hadith:

“If you find water, then let it touch your skin, for that is good.” This Hadith was narrated by Abu Daoud.

There are other variations of this theme in other Hadith, but the idea that you must be able to have water go over your skin is the central issue, for all schools of thought. The question we must ask ourselves, is this appropriate for nail polish?

You see, the argument, allegedly made by Imam Shafi’i, is that anything that comes between water and your skin, like a wax, henna dough (is that what you call it?), or grease that prevents water from coming into contact with your skin, this prevents you from completing your wudhu. So, the question we must ask, does nail polish fall into the same category of this argument?

My opinion, even as a man, is that many times these scholars (who are mostly men, as well) do not exactly understand nail polish, and so when they are issuing this opinion they seem to misunderstand what nail polish does. There is a difference between what these scholars (as men) will understand and what women, who actually utilize nail polish, will think of it.

Why do I say that? Let me explain.

Scholars have argued that you may complete wudhu, even with your shoes (or socks) on, if you must, and they have used various arguments that cite the Hadith quoted from Mughira ibn Shu’ba and Ali ibn Abu Talib, that construct the basis for the requirements for someone to preform wudhu without having water pass over their feet.

So, from my perspective, it is clear that Muslim scholars are able to justify such actions, when they understand it personally, and until more women enter into Islamic scholarship (which they should) we will continue to have this problem of men misunderstanding women’s issues, which is not surprising and to be expected.

My point is that, whether nail polish prevents you from preforming wudhu or not, I do not think is explained by the Hadith mentioned earlier and that the alleged quote from Imam Shafi’i is speaking more about things that, I as a man who does not understand nail polish think are different, however, I may be wrong. Regardless, there are situations where scholars have justified wudhu that is acceptable despite the fact that water does not pass over a person’s skin.

However, as far as your question over whether a woman may pray with nail polish on, I believe that, as long as you have your wudhu, you are able to pray, even if you have nail polish on. This opinion is agreed upon by various scholars, including famously by Ayatollah Mohammad Fadlallah.

My personal opinion is based upon Dr. Souad Saleh (First Female Dean of Al-Azhar) who says “Today, we stress rituals and disregard the real essence of Islam,” which I think is something we should all remind ourselves: to focus our energy into treating each other with respect, and by making our prayers and acts of worship directed towards improving ourselves. We improve ourselves by acting better towards others, rather than stressing over the technical details that we give too much importance, unfortunately, at the expense of being better people, which is the ultimate test of a Muslim.

Insha Allah, I hope I answered your question, and that if you, or anyone else, has a question on this, or any other topic, please do not hesitate to ask.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.