Does Nail Polish Prevent Validation of Wudu (Ablution) ?
Some scholars have argued that it is essential for the water to reach the surface of the nail for the wudu to be valid. However some key points about religion as a whole should be borne in mind before passing such legislations or prohibitions on nail polish - assuming one is permitted to do so.
1) Something in wudu we have to appreciate is as follows. Wudu is not for physical cleansing, it is for a spiritual requirement. Therefore, there is room there to balance practicalities with wudu. For example, If one is wearing a band aid (plaster) or a bandage over a wound, he may not wish to put water over it during wudu as it will become loose, thus to avoid excessive wastage of fresh band aids or bandages - he may choose to keep that part dry. Such a person is being practical by utilising the additional wisdom of points 2, 3, 4 and 5 below.
2) We must think about Quranic verses such as ..." مَا يُرِيدُ اللّهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ حَرَجٍ وَلَـكِن يُرِيدُ لِيُطَهِّرَكُمْ وَلِيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ "... Allah does not wish to place you in any difficulty, rather He wishes to purify you, and to perfect His blessings upon you so that you may be grateful" - (Qur'an 5:7). Allah intends to make religion practical for us, and this verse follow on from a scenario where one could not find water for wudu and can use clean sand if available to make our lives easier.
3) Thirdly, Allah is not in need of wudu or any of our acts of worship, and making rules or passing a fatwa on believing women as has been done, that nail polish voids wudu is ignorant or unappreciative of this fact. More elaborately, making a requirement out of water touching the surface of the nail is not a teaching appreciative of the grand scheme of worship and purposes of wudu. The purpose of wudu is a spiritual one - not to physically clean the skin or nail.
4) The person performing the wudu, has not done anything to make her life easier before Allah - she is still having to wash her whole hand... what is meant here is that since wudu is an act to show our devotion, a person wearing nail polish is still completing all parts of wudu and this test of hardship and loyalty to Allah is not reduced any bit by having nail polish on.
5) Finally, Allah says if you cannot find water for wudu, you may use clean sand - this further emphasises that the purpose of wudu is a spiritual one, not to physically clean the nail or skin with water i.e. water contact with the body is not the main goal of wudu.
The problem started when Muslims began to ask many questions to 'learned-men' to get a "yes" or "no" answer, when such answers are not there. They were forced to pass verdicts or fatwa on many matters where Allah has actually laid it open for individual believers' interpretation and ease. Allah has laid many things open for us to decide so that he does not unnecessarily burden us. That is why Allah says in one verse not to ask for more details during revelation of the Quran lest a rule may be revealed making our lives difficult when it need not be:
"Believers! Do not ask questions about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble. But if you ask about things when the Qur'an is being revealed, they will be made plain to you, Allah will forgive those: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Forbearing." (Qur'an 5:101)
Therefore, there is no need to ask for superficial details that not only make life more difficult but can also detract a person from the grander objective of worship. As a final point, besides Allah, no one has the right to make such a legislation or pass such a verdict when Allah has not done that.
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