Islam states that in order to pray properly, adherents must purify themselves by washing every part of their hands and arms, including the nails.
For many Muslim women, nail varnish is too much of a chore to wear because it must be removed then reapplied before and after their mandatory 5-times-daily prayers.
However, the Polish company Inglot has developed a breathable polish which supposedly allows water to penetrate to the nail. This product-originally designed as a healthier alternative to standard polish- is making a big impression in the Muslim community.
The polish- known as O2M- was originally developed to allow air and water vapor to penetrate to the fingernail. This was supposed to be a healthy option for women who wore nail polish for much of the time.
The craze in the Muslim community began last year when Islamic scholar Mustafa Umar wrote a post on his blog suggesting that the nail polish was permissible for followers of Islam.
According to company founder Wojciech Inglot, this event led to a “serious increase” in sales, to the point where the company was unable to cover all of their orders for the product.
There is some controversy amongst Islamic authorities on whether the nail polish is permissible to Muslims.
Islamic scholar Abu Anaf said: “The main thing is that the woman has to make sure that the water touches the nails. Anything which stops the water from touching the nails is not allowed.”
“So long as this nail polish does not stop the water from touching the skin of the nails, there is absolutely no problem with a Muslim female wearing it.”
He added that not all “breathable” brands appeared to allow water to pass through, and that he had ordered a shipment of the nail polish so that he could test it.
The company Inglot is currently carrying out tests to ensure that the product complies with Islamic law and can be marketed as halal.
Fargana Shafi, a Muslim resident of Dhaka, said: “by putting on nail paint you cannot make wudu (purify oneself with water before prayers) as water cannot pass through those parts of the nail.”
Other Muslim women polled in Dhaka said that although they were concerned about using multiple layers and the risk of the water not permeating through, most were willing to try the new nail polish.
According to Selma Cook from the Islamic Garden, Muslim women often wear henna on their hands, and during times when they are menstruating and exempt from prayers many wear nail polish.
The new nail polish is one of the final legacies of creator Wojeciech Inglot, who died suddenly of internal hemorrhaging this February at the age of 57.
The company founder admitted that the product had previously struggled to sell and suffered from a low profit margin. Nevertheless, he was determined to develop a product for consumers who expected ever-increasing standards of health in cosmetics.
Before his death, Inglot said he was "surprised and happy" that his nail polish had become so popular in the Muslim community.
Amendment: It has been pointed out to us that Inglot is a Polish rather than a Swedish company.