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How I balance my nail love with my prayer obligations

"As a Muslim, I couldn't have my nails done if I intended to pray," writes Sidra Sheikh.

Delicate pink matte oval shaped manicured nails on jeans background
The options aren't always perfect, but here's what I recommend for balancing nail love with prayer obligations.

As long as I can remember I've always loved having my nails done — whether that meant doing them myself at home or going to a salon.

Even as a kid, I would apply nail polish regularly, changing out colours way too often.

As I got older, the application shifted from nail polish at home to getting either polish at a salon or acrylics.

This went on for some time through high school until I started understanding my religion more. It became more clear to me that as a Muslim, I couldn't have my nails done if I intended to pray.

Before each of the daily five prayers, I would have to perform ablution to cleanse my body before praying and ensure I was in my cleanliest state. Part of ablution includes washing the hands, which includes the nail bed, and so if there was nail polish or fake nails covering the nail bed the ablution would be invalid — and therefore I would not be able to pray.

When I first realized this, I tried to find every loophole to try to hold onto my nail love while also wanting to fulfill my religious obligations. I guess many others were also coming to similar realizations around the same time and looking for solutions, because I recall there being so much information surrounding it online. Also, around this same time, many companies had started creating products to try and cater to Muslims facing this, so there must have been a shift of some sort around then.

I explored some of the options and products, but ultimately my heart just didn't feel right. In my opinion, there was no certainty with the options or products that I came across and so I chose my bed and laid in it — spoiler alert, it wasn't the nail bed.

That being said, my love for having my nails done may have changed, but it did not disappear completely. Over the years, I've found some ways to still enjoy this pleasure, while also making sure to stay true to my obligations.

Full disclosure: I haven't quite figured out a way, nor do I think there is one, to have the best of both worlds simultaneously, but there are a few ways to balance it out. If you're like me, check out three ways you can balance prayer obligations with nail love.

Try press on nails

I discovered this option around the time of my wedding — and it has been my go-to since. It is just the easiest and fastest and honestly with the amount of press on options popping up, it's a win-win.

These give you any look you're going — I can literally stick them on within minutes and pretty much anywhere — I've even done it in a moving car.

They come in so many shapes, sizes, colours and designs, and you can pop them off in minutes too. The best ones are the ones that come with adhesive tabs already attached because its the quickest application in my opinion and experience — at this point I don't even go near the glue on ones — too much work and mess. There are also some now that come with both glue and adhesive tabs.

Sally Hansen Salon Effects Perfect Manicure Press-On Nails

Sally Hansen’s Salon Effects Perfect Manicure [Photo via Sally Hansen]
Sally Hansen’s Salon Effects Perfect Manicure [Photo via Sally Hansen]

$11 at Walmart

The price point is reasonable especially when compared to a salon service — and it is very hard to tell the difference to be honest. I used them for all my wedding events and photoshoots and those hand close-ups looked pretty good if I do say so myself.

Get a manicure during your period week

This is probably the best week to indulge in all the nail love, since prayers are not mandatory during period week. I honestly will try to only go in to the salon if I can make it in on the day right before my period begins or literally day 1 of it, so that I can optimize my service.

Acrylic nails drying under ultraviolet light
A manicure during the week of your period can be a great option to treat yourself.

I hate having to remove polish within hours after a professional service, so if I go during a week I'm not on my period I'll opt for a no polish service to avoid having to break my heart removing the prettiness, and also not to waste the tech's time.

Acrylics are probably still a pass unless your period goes on for longer than a week, because that's just rough on the nails for such a short amount of time.

Polish up after prayers

This is probably my most least used option, unless its winter.

A black woman with long, slender fingers, paints her nails a shade of brown.
A black woman with long, slender fingers, paints her nails a shade of brown.

Since prayers line up with sunrise and sunset — for evening plans in the winter that means application could be as early as 4 p.m. with removal having to be before sunrise, which gives you a good amount of time between application and removal, especially if it's a special occasion.

However, in the summer ,with sunset being around 9 p.m. and prayers being two to three hours apart throughout the day, it may not be worth it unless there is a reason other than applying for self-pleasure, such as an event that is timed perfectly between.

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