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LEBANON: Ayatollah says nail polish permitted under Islam


Religious edicts are generally not fodder for beauty salon gossip, but as soon as Shiite cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Fadlallah issued a fatwa allowing women to pray wearing nail polish, word spread through Beirut faster than knockoff Prada bags. 

“All the girls in the Dahiyeh are talking about it,” said 29-year-old Nadine Dirani, a veiled mother of two living in the Dahiyeh, Beirut's heavily Shiite southern suburbs. 

“I think it’s an important step, and why not?" she said. "It makes our lives easier.” 

Fadlallah, the cleric accused by the U.S. of ordering a series of terrorist attacks in the 1980s, is known for issuing unconventional fatwas, some of which have provoked criticism from conservative corners. 

He recently ruled that women are allowed to strike their husbands in self defense, and that all seafood is halal, or permitted, a first for a Shiite cleric. 

The nail polish fatwa came in response to a question from a female supporter and was later posted on Fadlallah’s official website

The logic behind the previous ban was not tied to modesty so much as nail polish was considered a barrier to the skin that prevents proper ritual ablution before prayers. 

The wording of the new fatwa makes it clear that the thick, removable barriers such as “dough, henna grease and the like," which invalidate the 'wudou’, or ablution before prayers, do not include “the thin barrier that tightly sticks to the body.” 

Therefore, small amounts of substances such as “paint and glue” are permissible, it said.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut 

Photo: A pair of students at American University of Beirut show off their nail polish. A leading ayatollah recently said Muslim women could pray without having to remove their nail polish. Credit: Meris Lutz / Babylon & Beyond

Comments () | Archives (24)

2 Jen, little do you know, just goes to show how shallow and naive you are, another puppet of the media.

seriously people, grow up.
sunni or shiite - both muslim, stop squabbling
american american muslim - unneccesarry to generalize and diss all south-east asians/arabs,.
faithfreedom peeps - get some understanding, for real! islam is not about what some moulana says - its about submission to God, and peace and social justice. in terms of your two interpretations of islam attempted quip, i quote "it is better to remain silent and be thought of as a fool, then to speak and remove all doubt". If you want to insult something, at least learn about it first, and from more than one source.

for people who think - the quraan makes it pretty simple "there is no compulsion in religion" so use logic and stop forcing ridiculous rulings like no nailpolish upon unsuspecting victims, try thinking about principles.bella-if you don't believe it, try finding something in the quraan or hadith to back up your statement.

intolerant, ignorant idiots - not all muslim women are oppressed, uneducated and needing to be saved from the big bad religion. not all muslims are terrorists. terrorism is unislamic - that simple.

rdeef - guess what? muslims read too! and other people also find events elsewhere in the world interesting, though you probably wouldn't, considering your patronizing, uninformed and uncultured approach. guess what else? i'm a muslim woman, I love my body and its not neccessary for me to be completely hidden from society. beheadings - see above.
PS- I'm capable of thinking - I don't need anyone to give me a crumb of freedom to be ecstatic about, I have the freedom to do anything i choose to.

religion is supposed to be a means to an end, about personal development, not a competition.

Jaz, I agree with you completely!

'AnotherAmerican': ''SOMETHING to cherish''...?! Sorry, but I am rather SOMEONE, not 'some-thing' - so, please: SOME-ONE to cherish... that would be better. Of course, in Saudi Arabia you will find Wahhabies who call themselves Sunnis, but in fact they're not. Islam is not that simple. Remember hadith saying Islam will be divided into more than 73 sects and groups? Only one of them will be the true Islam, which is the one who follows the Qur'an and the Sunna AND the teachings of real Islamic scholars who only teach the same things that the Prophet, salla Allaahu 'alayhi wasallam, used to teach - scholars like: Al-Ghazali, Imaam Shafii, Imaam Malik, Abdel Qadir Jillani or shaykh Abdallaah al-Harari al-Habashi... All of these scholars followed the real Sunni creed of mashariyya Ahl-as-Sunna wa al-Jama'a and they knew that all seafood is allowed and nail polish, though not yet invented at their times, is a kind of constant barieer between the nail and water in wudhu, unlike henna. Nail polish is forbidden in wudhu because it prevents water from reaching the nail and there are no pores or holes in its surface so the water could soak it and reach the nail, so it forms kind of a real barrieer. Henna is sth very different, however. As to the women, well, we know that Islam means both submission to Allaah's will - yes, both men and women are to submitt to their Creator, not to each other - and also PEACE: ISLAM is from two words: SALAAM - PEACE nad ASLAMA - SUBMISSION MEANING OBEYING THE WILL OF ALLAAH . MEN ARE SUPPOSED TO PROTECT WOMEN WHICH MEANS THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FINANCIALLY FOR THEM AND THEY HAVE TO GIVE ADVICE AND ALL KINDS OF HELP TO WOMEN WHEN NEEDED, BUT IT DOESN'Y MEAN THEY CAN CONTROLL WOMEN IN ANY WAY AND THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO EXPECT WOMEN TO SUBMITT TO THEIR CHAUVINIST WISH...! THE HOLY PROPHET, PEACE BE UPON HIM, WAS THE BEST HUSBAND TO HIS WIVES AND NEVER EVEN BEAT THEM, EVEN IF THEY ANNOYED HIM... THIS IS THE GOOD EXAMPLE OF HUMBLENESS THAT EVERY MUSLIM MALE SHOULD TRY TO FOLLOW... ALLAAH KNOWS BEST.

After reading all of the posts, one thing is abundantly clear...ignorance knows not race, religion or national origin. I am Muslim. I am American...African-American to be exact. As an American-Muslim I have faced so much racism not from other Americans but from the Arabs, Africans and South Asians. It seems to be their belief that you can not be Muslim and American. The masjids are filled with cliques based on national origin so much so that I now seek out "American" masjids so that when I greet another sister the salaam is returned. Because you were born in a Muslim country does not mean you are more Muslim than someone like myself, that by Allah's Grace and Mercy converted to Islam. Being Muslim and Arab are not synonymous; therfore there are rich Arab countries (people largely are Muslims) and the countries that tend to call themselves "Muslim" countries are not necessarily Arab. All these debates about fatwas is useless...if you follow the Quar'an and the Hadiths and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) then your path is clear. I must say that Alhamdulilah, I am grateful that Allah chose me for those path (the right path) and I am most grateful that by His Grace my iman is Masha Allah strong because living here in the States and facing such outright discrimination amongst other Muslims when Islam clearly warns against that is sometimes truly disheartening. I would like to pose a question to you Arabs, South & South East Asians and Africans (Northern and Eastern Africans in particular) how do you justify your blatant racism and nationalism???

@ Sirali: Muslims invented gas? What exactly is so Islamic about gas? (Other than the fact that they were "invented" by people who happened to be Muslims) In that case, the TV, plane, computer, Internet, atomic bomb, car are all Judo-Christian inventions!

@ idiot American Guy (aka Muslim taqiyya) "and in the top 10 poorest countries in the world, most are Christian." (No actually, most of the poorest countries in the world are Muslim. Did you forget about Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, all of which are Muslimc ountries? And let's not forget, the top 10 riches countries, most are predominantely Christian countries. So there you go.)

@ Bella and noor eideen: so does this mean that there are 2 interpretations of Islam????? OMG, THIS MUST MEAN THE ISLAM AND QU'RAN IS "FLAWED AND MISGUIDED" SO THE ANSWER MUST BE CHRISTIANITY! HAHAHAHAHAHA

@ everybody else:

wake up gullible american islam means submission not peace to learn more about islam please visit

Why we don't put this part of the world in our rear view mirror is beyond me.

if you really want to get down to nitty gritty,nail is NOT skin strictly speaking.therefore,"nothing gets between water and your skin" does NOT apply here.

who gives a hoot about these cave people who hate women and detest their bodies as awra ie the whole woman is a genital they believe that has to be covered. what a trip not to forget beheadings and mutilations etc. the ladies must be ecstatic that mr fadlallah has given then a tiny crunb of freedom and femininiy. but then again normal societies need not waste any time on these silly non events in the bizarre world of Is. better learn to cherish our freedoms, our laws and our humanness and defend our culture from these imperialistic deceptive colonizers who are always crying victim in front of foolish cameras that care to report them.

Okay now I can't wait for OPI's next line "Shades of Islam"... how about "Harem Eye", a spell-binding bright red sure to draw more than a causal glance?

By the way, for all non-Muslims reading this, Islam (and I mean sunni Islam, which is the original Islam) allows all seafood without argument, I don't know how the shia messed up with that one, also that one about a woman striking her husband in self-defence-hello! Islam does not in any way promote striking-for men or women. As the Prophet says: The best of you (men) is he who is best to his wives. The shia certainly do succeed in twisting Islam into whatever they want.

Its funny how the woman was thanking the Ayatollah for 'making their lives easier', as though he is a prophet or god. What a joke. The last prophet was sent to mankind 1430 years ago and his teachings clearly state that there can be no barrier between the skin and the water during wudu (ablutions). The only exception is a health related emergency. Therefore, women can wear nail polish, but ONLY if they are not praying.

Aww Sunnis, when are you going to wake up and stop bashing eveyone different from you. Prophet Mohammad PBUH and his family never responded to his critics or daubters with scorn and bashing. To say that from one fatwa you have concluded that Shias have been deviating from the Sunnah? Should I say that the fact that Sunni scholars allowed women to shave their heads in France and remove hijab as not a bidah and destroying a direct order of Allah? Or Sunni ulamahs fatwa in Saudi Arabia to denounce the Gazzans in their latest war with Israel is not against ALlah? Ijtihad or jurisprudence is still open for scholars in Shiaism and has been closed in Sunnism for more than 1000 years when so called khalifas who usurped the power of muslim ummah decided that. you will also notice that not all Ulamah in shiaism may agree with Ayotallah Fudlelah's fatwa, so how could you paint brush all based on a nail polish fatwa? It must be accumulated misunderstanding of Islam first and then of basic Akhlaq el rasool. I hope we can all give ourselves the benifit of reading and learning because no one will be there for us the day after.

Okay but what about men who pray wearing nail polish?

Aww. Shiites. Here we go again. Shiites are always trying to come up with ways to tweak the prophets sunnahs. FYI - Henna stains the nail, and doesn't create a thin barrier to the nail. Nail polish does. It really doesn't matter what Ayatollah says; i mean people are smart enough to follow the sunnnah of prophet Muhammad rather than a lady who obviously is nothing but a misleading dump. P.S. Why in the world would the LA Times care about this?.. Mhmm I wonder why...

Goodness, Jennifer, what planet do you live on? The article doesn't shove Islam down our throats. In fact, I saw it as a subtle comment on the ridiculousness of religion in general and Islam in particular. President Obama is as much a Muslim as I am a Martian. And the USA is not a Christian society. It is a secular nation comprised of believers of various sorts and unbelievers. Have you ever heard of the First Amendment?

So when you're being beaten, your hands will look nice? Good to know.

Jennifer and Another American are ignorant Americans not. USA is not a Christian Country and in the top 10 poorest countries in the world, most are Christian...Hmmm. Read before you write.

Respectfully to all comments sent in, in the hearts and minds of people everywhere ( and since time immemorial ), regardless of culture and or religious preference, is a pure and natural love for beauty.

Beauty, in all its manifestations and forms, can heal and unite society and mankind. And yes, this includes nails and nail polish.

Beauty, inner and outer, can be honored and considered a blessing to all. During this 'beautiful' weekend, let's all think more about beauty's priceless, universal value.

to the above comment, if it wasnt for muslim/arabic countries you would not have gas to fuel your cars, also arabic countries are the richest in the world, did you forget about the oil?

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