Rafed English

Nail polish and Muslim women

Abeer on her way back from school decided to go to pray in the masjid. Upon reaching the masjid, she remembered she had to do ablution (wudu), so she went to the women’s restrooms outside the masjid.

While silently preparing herself to wash her face and arms thinking of the hard day she had been through and how hard where the lessons on that day she suddenly hears a scream from an older woman saying, “You are doing haram!”
Abeer shocked replies, “What am I doing wrong?”
The woman replied, “You are wearing nail polish!”
Abeer replied, “What is wrong with nail polish?”
The older woman stated furiously, “You are an arrogant small minded girl who is destroying the image of Islam and your prayers will never be accepted!”
Abeer shocked and felt like the world was swallowing her, she started to tear and just rushed out of the women’s restroom. While running out the women in the masjid noticed her upset, so they asked the older woman when she exited if she knew anything of why Abeer was upset. The woman told them what happened which caused the people to rebuke her for the way she handled the situation. They informed her that the way she treated her would cause a negative backlash on her views of Islam, and traumatize her that would cause her to abhor worships and other Islamic duties. The women fearing for the Heart of Abeer decided to go to talk to her. They found out she had gone home so decided to visit her in her home. When reaching they knocked on the door and Abeer’s parents told them to come in so they did and upon entering they noticed Abeer was quiet and looked distressed.
One of the women named Huda started by saying, “We are sorry for the way you were shouted at, it was a bad way to talk and advice people.”
Abeer slightly annoyed replied, “You did not do anything wrong and I forgive the elder woman, but what did I do wrong that needed advice?”
Huda stated, “Your nail polish was the problem, it is prohibited to put on in front of non-mahram men as it is considered as an adornment and it is a barrier to water reaching the nail which makes your wudu and ghusl invalid, therefore making your prayers invalid.”
Abeer asked, “What is the evidence to your claim?”
Huda answered, “As for the first claim Allah (swt) states in chapter Noor verse 31, ‘And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.’(1) And nail polish is considered an adornment so it is prohibited to expose.”
Huda continued, “As for the second claim, it is obvious that nail polish creates a barrier between nail and water, and we have been ordered to wash our arms from the elbow to the tips of our fingers. Allah (swt) states in the chapter of Ma’idah verse six ‘O you, who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows’(2).”
Abeer asked. “What if I do wudu, then put on nail polish is it okay to pray with nail polish on?”
Huda answered, “If the nail polish did not contain anything Najis (unclean) then there is no problem with praying with nail polish on.”
Abeer accepted that she was wrong and thanked Huda for advising her in a proper way.

1.      The Holy Quran 24:31 (translated by quran.com)
2.     The Holy Quran 5:6 (translated by quran.com)

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