Masah over Regular Socks
A detailed look at the issue of wiping over socks
instead of washing the feet while performing wudu.
By Mufti Taqi Usmani
Posted: 27 Zul-Qa'dah 1422, 10 February 2002
|Q.) What do the Ulama (Shariah Jurists and Scholars) say in regards
to making masah over ordinary socks for performing wudu? Kindly explain on which types of
socks is it permissible to make masah (wipe)?
There appears to be differences of
opinion in making masah on woolen or nylon (ordinary socks).
a) Many Fuqaha (Jurists) have ruled making masah on such socks as permissible with
certain conditions. If those conditions are not fulfilled, it will not be permissible to
make masah on the regular socks. That will subsequently lead to many types of socks being
invalid for masah.
However, Sayyed Abul 'Aalaa Maudoodi claims that it is unconditionally permissible to
make masah on any type of socks.
b) To those Ulama who hold the opinion that making masah on regular socks is
conditionally permissible, he responds, "I have attempted many times and made all
efforts to find the sources of these conditions, but could not find them in the Sunnah.
The Sunnah only establishes that Rasulullah made masah over socks and
shoes. Apart from Nasai, all the Books of Sunan and Musnad Ahmed record the Hadith
narrated by Mughirah ibn Shu'bah, Radi-Allahu anhu, that Prophet Muhammad
performed ablution and made masah over his socks and shoes. It is mentioned in Abu Dawood
that Ali, Abdullah ibn Masood, Bara ibn 'Azib, Anas ibn Malik, Abu Umamah, Suhail ibn
Saad, and Umar ibn Hurayth made masah over their socks.
The practice of making masah over socks is also narrated from Umar and Abbas. Moreover,
Ibn Abbas and Anas ibn Malik are reported by Uwais ibn Auws in Tahawi that the Prophet
made masah only over his shoes; socks are not even mentioned. This was also the practice
of Ali. Thus, after taking into consideration all these narration's, it should be
permissible to make masah on only socks and socks with shoes, just as it is permissible to
make masah over leather socks. In these different narration's, the Prophet
did not make any mention of the conditions of the socks as outlined by the jurists.
Therefore, I am compelled to state that the conditions are baseless. The Jurists are not
the lawmakers of the Deen. Hence, if one chooses not to follow these conditions, he will
not be sinful."
Apart from Sayyed Abul 'Aalaa Maudoodi, Ibn taymiyyah, Hafiz Ibn Qayyim and Allamah Ibn
Hazam also have the same opinion. Respected Mufti Sahib, I humbly request your comments on
the above matter, as well as guidance according to Shariah.
A.) Al-jawab billahi at-taufeeq (the answer with Allah's guidance)
It is not permissible to make masah (wipe) over the socks that are worn nowadays made
from cotton, wool, and nylon, etc., according to any one of the A'immah Mujtahideen
(Imaams of Ijtihaad). Your assumption, that there are differences of opinion among the
Fuqaha (Jurists) in these regards, is incorrect. On the contrary, all of the Imaams of
Ijtihaad are unanimous that it is not permissible to make masah on thin socks. Allamah
Kaasaani (R.A.) writes in Bada'e us Sana'e, first volume, page 10: "If they (the
socks) are so thin that water seeps (penetrates) through them, then it is not permissible
to make masah over such socks by the consensus of the scholars."
The Qur'an requires washing of the feet. Only
mutawatur hadith can make an exception to this general requirement.
And Allamah ibn Nujaim (RA.) writes: "And it is not permissible to make masah over
thin socks made from yarn or hair. There are no differences of opinion on that. However,
if the socks are thick, to the extent that one can walk one Farsakh (three miles) or more,
then the jurists have differences of opinion." (Al-Bahr-ur-Ra'iq, first volume,
p.192). From the above it is clear that to perform masah on the following types of thin
socks is not held permissible by any of the Imaams of the madhaahib (Schools of Thought):
(a) The socks are not thick, and water penetrates through them,
(b) They cannot stay upright without having to tie them,
(c) It is not possible for one to walk with them continuously without the socks
If not all three of the above mentioned conditions are present then only the scholars
have differences of opinion. In regards to Sayyed Abul 'Aalaa Maudoodi, he has chosen a
path apart from the majority of the Ummah. In this specific issue he has once again gone
against the Jumhoor-e-Fuqaha (majority of the Jurists), and has been mistaken.
Upon analyzing the evidence sited in his support, I have come to this conclusion that
he did not exert himself to understand the reality of the issue. For your satisfaction on
this issue, I briefly present the following explanation.
Actually, the Qur'an has ordered us to perform ablution (wudu) in a particular way and
has expressed and explicitly commanded the washing of the feet in Surah Al-Ma'idah, verse
6, not the performing of masah (wiping) of the feet. Allah says, "Oh Believers, when
you stand up for prayer (i.e. when you intend to pray and are not in the condition of
wudu) then ( perform wudu and) wash your faces and (wash) your arms including your elbows,
and wipe your heads (with wet hands) and (wash) your feet including the ankles".
In the above verse Allah commands us to wash our feet. Therefore to perform masah of
the feet should not be permissible in any situation, even if the socks are made of
leather. However, permissibility of performing masah over leather socks has been approved
by the consensus of the Ummah. The consensus is based on the certainty of the matter by
Tawaatur (overwhelming number of authentic narrations from the Prophet ).
Had there been only two or three narration's from the Prophet ,
then such a few Hadith (narration's from the Prophet ) would not have been
sufficient to specify (or limit, taqyeed) the generality of this Qur'anic verse, due to
Akhbaar-e-Ahaad (a few narration's from the Prophet not being influential
enough to specify or abrogate the generality of the verse).
On the contrary, the narration's in regards to masah 'alal khuffain (performing masah
on leather socks) are established by Tawaatur (overwhelming number of narration's), thus
being influential in elaborating and specifying the verse in Surah Al-Ma'idah, that is,
washing of the feet is only specific in the case that a person is not wearing leather
socks. In regards to this, Imaam Abu Hanifah (R.A) said, "I did not declare the
validity of performing masah on leather socks until its evidence was clear to me as
daylight" (AI-Bahr-ur-Ra'iq, vol. 1, p. 173.)
Moreover, masah 'alal khuffain is proven and established in narration's from more than
eighty companions of the Prophet . Hafiz Ibn Hajar (RA)
says in Fathul-Baari, (Naylul Awtaar, vol. 1, p.176). "An overwhelming group of the
Huffaz (Experts in Hadith who had memorized large number of ahadith) have declared that
masah 'alal khuffain is established by Tawaatur), and some of them have mentioned that
they collected and enumerated the narration's from the companions of the Prophet
and found them to be more than eighty in number, from which ten of them are narrated by
the Asharah-e-Mubasharah (the ten companions that were given glad tidings of Paradise in a
single gathering from the Prophet ."(Naylul-Awtaar,
vol. 1, p. 176). Hasan Al- Basri (R.A.) says, "I met seventy companions who
participated in the Battle of Badr, all of whom believed in the performing of masah 'alal
khuffain."(Talkheesul-Habeer, vol. 1, p. 158, and Bada'e us-Sana'e, vol, 1, p.7).
If the masah of the leather socks was not established from the Tawaatur or Istifaadhah
(overwhelming number of narration's) then Takhsees (specification) could not have been
applied on the verse of the Qur'an, which orders us to wash our feet during wudu. In this
regards, Imaam Abu Yusuf (R.A.) says, "The command of the Qur'an can be abrogated by
the Sunnah (traditions of the Prophet only if it has reached
the level of Tawaatur or Istifadhah, such as the level of narration's of masah 'alal
khuffain." (Ahkaamul-Qur'an Lil-Jassaas, vol. 2, p.425). In summary, Allah commands
us in the Qu'ran to wash our feet when performing wudu.
This ruling can't be specified (limited) by any condition or limited on the basis of a
few narrations from the Prophet . It is necessary to have
a continuous chain of authentic narration's, like in the case of masah 'alal khuffain. It
has reached the level of Tawaatur. Also, in regards to "KHIFFAIN" (leather
socks), Tawaatur has been established that the Prophet himself performed masah
over them, and he also gave permission to others to practice upon it. Apart from leather
socks, to perform masah on other types of socks is not established by Tawaatur The meaning
of "KHUFF" in Arabic applies only to socks made out of leather. Socks made from
cloth are not called "KHUFF" in Arabic.
All of the Imams of Ijtihad are unanimous that
it is not permissible to make masah on thin socks.
Therefore, the permission of making masah is only specific with the leather socks.
Regarding other types of socks the command of the Qur'anic verse of washing the feet must
be implemented. However, if the material of the socks is so thick that is equal or better
than leather socks, that is(a) water does not penetrate through them, (b) they do not have
to be tied with something in order for them to stay upright, and ~ it is possible to walk
with them at least one mile. In such types of socks there are differences of opinions
among the Jurists. Some say, since they have retained the same qualities of leather socks,
therefore it should be permissible to make masah over them. Others say that Tawaatur is
established only for wiping over leather socks, thus it is not permissible to wipe over
any other type of socks.
Socks are of three types: (1)KHUFFAIN, (Leather socks), it is permissible to make masah
over them based on consensus supported by Tawaatur.
(2)Thin socks, not made of leather, nor having the qualities of leather, but are like
the regular socks made from cotton, wool, or nylon. It is not permissible to make masah on
such socks as it is not established with enough evidence that would enable one to take
leave from the order of washing the feet as mentioned in the Qur'an.
(3)Thick socks, not made from leather, but have the qualities of leather. According to
some Jurists, it is permissible to make masah over such socks, while others say it is not
In conclusion, socks not having the qualities of leather are not a point of
disagreement among the Jurists. They all agree on its impermissibility. The reason being
that the Qur'anic command ( washing of the feet) can't be left until the establishment of
performing masah is at the level of Tawaatur, as in the case of masah 'alal khuffain.
Therefore, the conditions that are mentioned by the Fuqaha (Jurists) are not their own
made up specifications. They have verified a level to meet the standard of leather socks.
Ahaadith on Masah Over non-leather Socks (Jowrab)
After explaining the fundamental principle and its application to the reality of this
issue, let us consider the Ahaadith concerning wiping over (non-leather) socks (Jowrab).
From all the collections of Ahaadith, there are only three Hadith. One Hadith is narrated
by Bilal, Radi-Allahu anhu, the second by Abu Musa Ash'ari, Radi-Allahu anhu, the third by
Mughirah ibn Shu'bah, Radi-Allahu anhu. The narration of Bilal has been recorded in M'ujam
Sagheer Tabraani, and the narration of Abu Musa in Ibn Majah and Baihaqi.
However, Hafiz Zayla'ee (a far renowned Muhaddith) in his famous works, Nasbur-Raaya,
Vol. 1, pp. 183-184. has proven that both the Sanads (chain of narrators) are defective
and weak. In regards to Abu Musa's narration, Imaam Abu Dawood Sajastaani (R.A.), in his
works of Abu Dawood, being one book from the Sihaah Sittah (six most authentic books of
Ahaadith) has written: "It (the Hadith's sanad) is not continuous, nor is it reliable
(strong)."(Bazhlul-Mujhood, Vol. 1, p.96) Therefore, both these narration's do not
need to be further discussed
The remaining Hadith of Mughirah ibn Shu'bah is mentioned by Imaam Tirmizi as being a
good and sound Hadith. Some other eminent Muhadditheen have disagreed with Imaam Tirmizi.
Imaam Abu Dawood (R.A.), after recording this narration states, "And Abdur-Rahman ibn
Mahdi should not narrate this Hadith, because the authentic famous narration from Mughirah
ibn Shu'bah is that the Prophet used to perform masah
'alal khuffain."(Bazhlul-Majhood, Vol. 1, p.96) Imaam Nasai (R.A.) writes in Sunan
Kubra', "Apart from Abu Qais no one else has narrated this Hadith, and I don't know
of any other narrator who supports this narration. Although with certainty, Mughirah ibn
Shubah's narration about masah 'alal khuffain is sound (Sahih)."(Nasbur-Raaya, Vol.
1, p. 183)
Many Imaams, for example, Imaam Muslim, Imaam Baihaqi Imaam Sufyaan Thawree, Imaam
Ahmed, Imaam Yahya ibn Mu'een, Imaam Ali ibn Madinee, and others have declared this
narration as weak, due to Abu Qais and Huzail ibn Shurjeel being defective narrators.
Allamah Nawawi (R.A.), Commentator of Sahih Muslim, (Nasbur-Raaya, Vol. I, p. 183) writes,
"If all the Muhadditheen who criticized this Hadith as being weak were separate in
their statements (i.e. not voiced together), even then, they would be correct over the
ruling of Imaam Tirmizi, as the fundamental principle is that criticism prevails over
approval. All the Huffaz of Hadith agree that the narration is weak.
Therefore, the statement of Imaam Tirmizi, "This Hadith is Hasan, Sahih", is
not acceptable."(Nasbur-Raaya, Vol. l, p.l83) .This is the status of the Hadith's
sanad, that people like Sayyed Abul 'Aalaa Maudoodi cite to support his claim. You can now
verify and clearly see that the majority of the Muhadditheen have declared it weak and
unacceptable to use as a daleel ( proof). Assuming the statement of Imaam Tirmizi is
correct, then too it is only one Hadith from the entire collection of Ahaadith. Again the
same question arises, can we leave the clear command from Allah Ta'ala to wash our feet
while performing Wudhu on the basis of one Hadith? As mentioned previously, the
establishment of masah 'alal khuffain reached the level of Tawaatur, and that Imaam Abu
Yusuf said that if it hadn't reached that level then we would not have the flexibility of
specifying (limiting) the command of Allah Ta'ala, of washing the feet. The Ahaadith about
masah 'alal jowrabain do not reach the level of Tawaatur.
There are more than 80 ahadith on wiping over
In fact, in all the collections of Ahaadith we find only three narration's, from which
two are unanimously weak, and the third is criticized by majority of the Muhadditheen,
only Imaam Tirmizi declares it as a Sahih Hadith. So to leave, restrict, or define the
command of Allah Ta'ala on the foundation of such weak narration's is not acceptable in
the Shari'ah. Imaam Abu Bakr Jassaas writes in Ahkaamul-Qur'an Lil-Jassaas, (vol. 2,
p.428) "As mentioned previously the real objective in the verse of wudu is to wash
the feet. In fact, even performing masah over leather socks would have never been made
permissible, had it not been established by Mutawaatir Ahaadith. So due to the fact that
the narration's of masah 'alal jowrabain are not on the same scale as the narration's of
masah 'alal khuffain, the main objective of washing of the feet must be applied.
The statement that the Sahaba (Companions of Prophet ) were reported to have
wiped over their socks and permitted others to do so, is incorrect. It is not proven in
any narration or practice of the Sahaba that they wiped over thin socks of cloth, etc. A
very famous 'Aalim, Allamah Shamsul Haqq Saheb Azeem Abaadi (RA.), (popular among the
Ahle-Hadith) writes, "Socks can made out of leather, wool, cotton, etc., everyone of
them are called "SOCKS". It is not permissible to wipe over any type of sock
until it is not established that the Prophet used to wipe over socks
of wool, etc."('Awnul-M'abood, vol. 1,p.62). From this, it is even more apparent that
the Sahaba used to wipe over either leather socks, or thick socks that would match
attributes of leather socks.
In regards to this there is a narration in Musannaf ibn Abi Shayba, vol. 1, pl88,
"Sayed ibn Musayyab and Hasan Al-Basri used to say that it is permissible to wipe
over socks, with the condition that they are thick." Note, that the word,
"SAFEEQ" in Qaamoos and Mukhtaar As-Sihaah (the names of two Arabic
dictionaries, means, "VERY THICK AND STRONG CLOTH". Both of the above mentioned
men were eminent Tabi'een, and they used to issue fatawa (Shariah decrees) after seeing
the practice of the Sahaba. Therefore, the Fatwa (Shariah decree), that the socks must be
thick matching the attributes of leather is nothing new. For convenience, I have repeated
the conditions of the thickness of the socks below:
- water proof (water should not be able to seep through them)
- so thick that they can stand upright without having to tie them
- possible to walk in continuously for at least a mile (without tearing)
With these three conditions in thick socks, they now share the same quality as leather
socks. Most of the fuqaha (Jurists) have permitted making masah over such socks. See the
(1) Dalaalatun-Nass, (the derived objective) from the Hadith in masah 'alal khuffain,
also applies to thick socks. Dalaalatun-Nass remains in the category of Qat'ee-uth-Thuboot
(established on the basis of certainty), and is not the same as Qiyaas, as mistakenly
understood by some.
(2) Athaar (practices) of the Sahaba Based on the above two proofs it would be
permissible to wipe over thick socks. Allamah ibn Hamaam (R.A.) writes in Fathul-Qadeer,
vol. 1, p. 109, "There is no doubt that the permission to wipe on the khuff is
Khilaaful Qiyass (contradictory to reasoning and analogy).Therefore, to compare another
thing with it (the khuff), would be incorrect, except by using Dalaalatun-Nass, being that
the same characteristics of the khuff be present for it to be in the same category of the
khuff. "Principally, one may leave the act of washing the feet by performing Masah
over them only if the narration's reach the level and standard of Tawaatur. Masah 'alal
khuffain satisfies condition. On the other hand, masah 'alal jowrabain is not at that
Therefore, it is not permissible to make masah on the jowrabain. However, if jowrabain
have characteristics similar to those of leather socks, through Dalaalatun-Nass and the
practices of the Sahaba and pious ancestors, most of the Fuqaha allow masah on such socks.
After elaborating on the attributes of the leather socks, all the Imaams of Ijtihaad have
reached a consensus about this issue. As to the opinions of Allamah Ibn Hazam, Allamah Ibn
Taymiyyah, and Allamah Ibn Qayyim, with due respect of their status and position, they
have differed from the Jumhoorul-Fuqaha on many issues. Among others one is this issue. We
are bound to follow the ruling of the majority Fuqaha, Muhadditheen and all of the
Mujtahideen. How daring it is for one to even leave washing of the feet, as it is the
order of Allah! If someone wraps his foot in cloth and performs masah over it, will this
be permissible too?
Making Masah Over Shoes
None of the fuqaha allow making masah on
In your question you mentioned that Sayyed Abul 'Aalaa Maudoodi also permitted to wipe
over the shoes. I wish to explain that as well. Some Fuqaha allow performing masah over
the Jowrab when it is thick, but none of them allow making masah on shoes. Sheikh Yusuf
Benori (R.A.) writes, "None of the Imaams have given permission to make masah over
shoes."(Ma'arifus-Sunan Vol. 1, p. 347). The reason for this is the Prophet
wiped over his shoes only when he already was in the state of wudu. He would perform a
fresh wudu for every prayer. And because he was already in the state of wudu, instead of
washing his feet he would wipe over his shoes. The proof of this is in Sahih Ibn
Khuzaimah, "It is reported from Ali, Radi-Allahu anhu, that he asked for a glass of
water, he then performed a brief ablution and wiped over his shoes. He then said, this is
how the Prophet used to perform his wudhu when his wudhu was not broken.
(Sahih Ibn Khuzaimah, Vol. 1, Hadith 300, Chapter 154, p. 100). From this Hadith we learn
that a person who does not have wudu, can't wipe over his shoes. After the clear evidence
has been brought, there is no flexibility in the issue.
All reliable Fuqaha and Muitahideen agree that thin socks that allow water to seep
through them, do not stand upright without support, and cannot be walked in continuously,
are not permissible to make masah on. Shoes are also not allowed to be wiped over. Thin
socks of today that are made out of cotton, wool, nylon, etc., do not have the features of
leather socks, therefore, it is not permissible to make masah over them. If someone does,
their wudhu will not be valid, according to Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi, Imam
Ahmed ibn Hanbal, or any other Mujtahideen.
Muhammad Taqi Uthmani Jumadul-Ulaa, 1397 Hijrah. This fatwa was translated by Adil Khan
27 Ramadhan, 1420.
Translation checked and approved by Mufti Ebrahim Desai. This version edited by Khalid
Baig for grammar and clarity.