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    Jan 2007

    Default Is breathable O2M nail polish halal?‏

    Breathable nail polish a surprise hit with Muslims

    RZEMYSL, Poland (AP) — For Zaida Saleh, like for many observant Muslim women, manicures have long posed a religious problem.

    With prayers five times a day, and a pre-prayer ritual that requires washing the hands and arms, traditional fingernail polish has been mostly off limits because it prevents water from making contact with the nails.

    A new "breathable" nail polish by a Polish company, Inglot, is changing that.

    The company and some Muslims say the polish is the first of its kind because it lets air and moisture pass through to the nail. A craze has built up around it with Muslim women in recent months after an Islamic scholar in the United States tested its permeability and published an article saying that, in his view, it complies with Muslim law.

    "It's huge," said Saleh, a 35-year-old who hadn't polished her nails in many years but immediately went out and bought the product in five colors, including a bright pink, a burgundy and a mauve. "I am excited. I feel more feminine — and I just love it."

    The news of Inglot's breathable polish has in recent months spread quickly from woman to woman and over the Internet. It also has given Inglot a boost in sales of the product, called O2M, for oxygen and moisture.

    The nail polish now stands as one of the final life achievements of Wojciech Inglot, a Polish chemist and entrepreneur who developed it to create what he billed as a healthier alternative to traditional nail enamels, which block the passage of moisture and oxygen to the nail. He died suddenly on Saturday at the age of 57 after suffering internal hemorrhaging, and is being laid to rest on Wednesday in his hometown of Przemysl.

    Though the Muslim holy book, the Quran, does not specifically address the issue of nail polish, some Islamic scholars have said that water must touch the surface of the nail for the washing ritual to be done correctly.

    Some Muslim women might put nail polish on after finishing the last prayer of the day before going out, and then take it off again before dawn prayers. They can also wear it during their periods, when they are excused from the prayers, but some find it embarrassing to do so because it could signal they are menstruating. Some simply don't want to take the trouble of getting a manicure that won't last long.

    "It was a big headache for me to put it on only for five days, so I didn't wear it for a long time," said Saleh, who was born in Sri Lanka but now lives in Anaheim, California, where she is a teacher of preschool and kindergarten level children. "This was a huge breakthrough for me. We are supposed to cover up, but nowhere does it say 'don't be fashionable.'"

    Nobody was more surprised by the splash it made with Muslims than Inglot himself.

    "I don't think there is a single Muslim living here," Inglot said in an interview with The Associated Press nine days before his death at his factory in Przemysl, near the border with Ukraine. "We didn't even think about this."

    Inglot began about four years ago to develop the formula for the breathable enamel, which uses a polymer similar to that in the newest generation of contact lenses.

    Inglot said the chemical formula is "tricky" and "quite expensive" to produce, and that the profit margin on O2M is not high. However, he said he was determined to develop a breathable polish knowing that consumers are ever more focused on health and expecting them to welcome a varnish that would let the nail breathe.

    He said the enthusiastic Muslim reaction to the product began after an Islamic scholar, Mustafa Umar, published an article on his blog in November declaring it permissible. The result was a "serious increase in the sale" of O2M. Inglot said the company was unable to immediately meet all requests for orders, but that the phenomenon was so fresh that he didn't yet have any figures on sales.

    "But it looks very promising," Inglot said. "We were very surprised and very happy with that."

    Umar, director of education and outreach with the Islamic Institute of Orange County in California, said he decided to study the matter because Muslim women had already been discussing the product in online forums. There was uncertainty over whether it would be ritually compliant, and they weren't getting any answers.

    "So I decided to go ahead and write an article on this because I know how important it is for Muslim women around the world," Umar said.

    The research involved putting the O2M polish and a standard polish on coffee filters, letting them both dry, and then putting water drops on top of each and seeing if the moisture seeped through. In the case of the traditional nail polish it did not, but it went through the O2M polish and even wet a second filter below.

    Umar said he has gotten an enthusiastic reception to his opinion from women — not only because they are reveling in the chance to accessorize with colorful varnishes.

    "Usually when men give a religious ruling or verdict, they tell women that something is not allowed," Umar, 31, said. "They felt so good that someone was finally telling them 'you are allowed to do this.'"

    There are still some outstanding questions, however, about how breathable the nail polish will be if multiple coats are used — say a clear bottom coat, two layers of color plus a top coat, as is common.

    Before his death, Inglot was working to answer this question and gather other data on the product. The company's other managers are deep in mourning over losing Inglot but plan to continue that effort. Inglot had insisted on having more data before he felt he could responsibly promote the varnish as being compliant with Islamic law.

    Islam has multiple schools of thought and no universally agreed-upon figure — such as the pope of the Roman Catholic church — to issue final rulings on religious legal interpretation. So it's not clear if all Islamic scholars would agree on O2M's permissibility, or on whether wearing nail polish at all is compatible with Muslim notions of modesty.


    This new nail polish is permeable only to water vapor not water in liquid state, as the company claims. Even if their claims are correct, for wudu and ghusl, the water has to flow, so it’s clearly understood that water should be in liquid state. No one does wudu or ghusl with steam. Not to mention, most often you need to do more than one coating and this permeability is only limited to one coating.


    To date, the Jamiat has not approved any nail polish that is suitable for Wudhu. It is a condition that water reaches the surface of the finger nails and toe nails for Wudhu to be valid. Nail polish prevents water from reaching the surface of the nail and it is therefore necessary to remove before making Wudhu. The Wudhu will not be valid if the nail polish remained on the nail at the time of making Wudhu.

    There have been concerns raised about a certain nail polish product claiming to be water permeable, thus allowing water to reach the surface of the nails. Due to this claim, some people have been misled into assuming that this nail polish is Halaal (in the sense that it is suitable for Wudhu without the need to remove it).

    Due to the numerous requests from concerned Muslim sisters, the Jamiat looked into this particular product and conducted multiple tests. The results turned out to be negative and it was concluded that the nail polish is not water permeable and it prevents water from reaching the surface of the nail. Hence, this particular type of nail polish that is being marketed as Halaal nail polish is not acceptable for Wudhu.

    And Allah Knows Best

    Mufti Suhail Tarmahomed


  2. #2
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    Dec 1999
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    I personally don't even like the habit of women who wear nail polish when they are on the menstrual cycle (because they don't have to pray). Why would women want others to know that they are on their cycle?

  3. #3
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    Jan 2007


    I agree with you. I'm not sure if they have thought about it that far.


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