The sale of "halal certified" beauty and personal care products is thriving. Many businesses are slowly learning how lucrative the market can be. According to MuslimVillage.com, this market is worth over $5 billion globally.
Recently, however, no beauty product has much of a stir as Inglot's O2M nail polish.
A background -- Nail polish is an oft disputed topic in many Muslim circles. Over the years, many scholars have been in consensus that prayer can't be performed while wearing nail polish, as the required ablution (or wudu) is not done properly of water does not reach every part of the body. Nail polish is seen to preclude this, as it does not allow water to get to the nails.
The issue has been contentious among many Muslim women. Some stopped wearing nail polish altogether. Many choose to wear it only during their menstrual period, when they aren't praying. Still, others continue to wear it, citing that they don't see it as a big deal.
What's revolutionary about the Inglot nail polish isn't the polish itself, but rather, the dialogue that has surrounded it.
Recently, Mustafa Umar, a scholar from Southern California, came out with the results of an experiment conducted by one of his students on whether breathable nail polish allowed water to penetrate. After he published these findings, known by many as "the nail polish fatwa," sales of Inglot skyrocketed as bottles of O2M nail polish flew off the shelves.
In his experiment, he analyzed the fiqh (Islamic legal reasoning) behind the nail polish issue and conducted an experiment using a sample of dried nail polish on a coffee filter and a drop of water.
His conclusion was specific to the O2M brand, saying that it was sufficient for wudu.
This isn't the first "nail polish fatwa," however.
The prominent Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Mohammad Fadlallah also has given a fatwa on the issue, saying that the thin barrier that tightly sticks to the body" doesn't constitute a barrier to water, so as to invalidate wudu.
Despite this, many women still aren't comfortable with the experiment, testing it out themselves to different results. And many are crying "fraud" as they claim that Mustafa Umar's experiment was flawed.
But can laymen (or women, in this case) debunk an experiment conducted by an Islamic scholar that easily?
"How much and what do they know about the fiqhi opinion, and about nail polishes in general?" Says Imam Tahir Anwar from San Jose, in response to that question. "It's not just a matter of some lay person doing a test based on no experience whatsoever."
And what does Inglot Cosmetics have to say about all of this new hype surrounding their O2M nail polish?
Inglot has indicated plans to look into other products for Muslims, including an alcohol-free fragrance and additions to their Freedom System Palettes, says Hayden Tee, the Creative Director for Inglot Cosmetics. They've even restructured their sales training to help sales agents in the United States talk to Muslim customers about O2M.
"We adore collaborating with all Inglot lovers and look forward to future marketing exposure within the Muslim community."