Breathable nail polish a surprise hit with Muslims

By Vanessa Gera

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Feb. 28 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

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.

Follow Vanessa Gera at www.twitter.com/VanessaGera

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