Recently, a very interesting question (and consequently, fatwa) came to my attention:
Assume that I satisfy the conditions for wiping over socks. Now, if I’m at home and I can easily wash my feet (while making wudu’u), but I have socks on. Should I wipe or should I wash my feet?
Also, what if I go to sleep wearing my socks and then wake up for Fajr, is it permissible for me to wipe over my socks? What is better, wiping over the socks or washing the feet?
I found a very interesting and (alhamdulillah) useful fatwa that has simplified my life greatly (especially here in bitterly cold Canada):
The majority of scholars, including Abu Haneefah, Maalik and al-Shaafa’i, are of the view that it is better to wash the feet. They said: that is because the basic principle is washing the feet, so that is better.
See al-Majmoo’, 1/502
So far, nothing surprising. However, here comes something very interesting from our beloved Imam Ahmad [RA]:
Imam Ahmad was of the view that wiping over the socks is better. He gave the following evidence for that:
1 – It is easier, and the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was never given the choice between two things but he chose the easier of the two, so long as it was not a sin; if it was a sin he would be the furthest removed of the people from it. Narrated by al-Bukhaari (3560) and Muslim (2327).
2 – It is a concession, and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah loves concessions to be taken as He hates sin to be committed.” Narrated by Ahmad, 5832; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, 564.
3 – Wiping over the socks involves being different from the people of bid’ah who reject it, such as the Khaarijis and Raafidis.
OK, so 3 of the major Imams said that washing the feet is better whereas 1 of them said wiping over socks is better. So I can’t conclusively say which one is better, Allahu alam.
But generally speaking, should I wipe or should I wash my feet? The answer is in the middle of the two afore-mentioned opinions and (not surprisingly), it comes from the one who placed so much emphasis on the importance of the wasat (middle) path – Shaikh Al-Islam ibn Taymiyya [RA]:
What is better for each one is that which is suited to his circumstances. For the one whose feet are bare, it is better for him to wash them, and he should not put on socks so that he can wipe over them, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to wash his feet when they were bare, and he would wipe over them if he was wearing khufoof.
End quote from al-Insaaf, 1/378
So basically, if you’re wearing socks – wipe. If you’re not, then wash. Alhamdulillah!
Wiping over the socks is an aspect of fiqh where there is much ignorance. Here are some very pertinent issues dealing with wiping over socks, please try to read the links and not just the excerpts that I posted:
Wiping can be done over leather socks (khuffuf) or regular socks (jawrabayn):
It was narrated that Yahyaa al-Bakka’ said: I heard Ibn ‘Umar saying, “Wiping over the socks (jawrabayn) is like wiping over the leather slippers (khuffayn).”
- Socks put on in a state of Taharah (purity)
- Socks are clean (tahir) in and of themselves
- Only for wudu’u, can’t be wiped for ghusl (bath)
- Time limits: 1 day and 1 night for resident (i.e. 24 hours), and 3 days and 3 nights for the traveller (i.e. 72 hours)
The way in which one wipes over them is to put one’s wet fingers on the toes then pass them over the feet to the shin; the right foot should be wiped with the right hand and the left foot with the left hand. The fingers should be spread when wiping and it should not be repeated.
Is it better to wipe or wash? (You should know the answer by now)
Wallahu ta’ala alim! SubhanakAllah humma wa bihamdika ashhadu allaa ilaha illa anta wa nastagfiruka wa natoobo ilaika.