Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
Nail polish, paint, etc. have a thick layer that prevents water reaching your skin. It is, therefore, a must to remove that layer before making wudu.
Regarding the two arguments you raised, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
The sisters you were arguing with are trying to draw analogies between rulings of the Shari`ah. But we have to caution that analogy (qiyas) is one the secondary sources of the Shari`ah, which requires that certain conditions be met and that the person who manages it is qualified.
Only well-qualified scholars who are well-versed in religious sciences can practice analogy. Other people should resort to scholars to learn the rulings of the Shari`ah.
Washing the hands — nails included — with water is an essential integral part of wudu, which means that wudu is not valid without it; washing is incomplete unless water comes in direct contact with the skin and fingernails.
Nail polish, paint, etc. have a thick layer that prevents water reaching your skin. It is, therefore, a must to remove that layer before making wudu. Henna (or hair dye), however, is different from nail polish since it has no visible layer but only color. So it does not affect the validity of wudu.
What is stated above is the generally accepted view of all of the Schools of Jurisprudence. Exceptions to this rule are made only when use of water becomes harmful because of a health condition or sickness.
The analogy of wiping hands with wiping on socks or stockings is not valid; there is precedent to allow wiping on socks or stockings in the Shari`ah, while no such precedent exists regarding wiping of hands in normal circumstances.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.
Source: Excerpted, with slight modifications, from: www.islam.ca