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Important Issues When Performing Wuḍūʿ

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn

Intricate issues of wuḍūʾ that are sometimes misunderstood.

The Issues:

    1. Performing Wuḍūʿ: Making the Intention
    2. Performing Wuḍūʿ: Completing the Actions in the Prescribed Order
    3. Performing Wuḍūʿ: The Ruling on Continuity in the Steps
    4. Performing Wuḍūʿ: The Sunnah of Running One’s Fingers Through the Beard When Performing Wudūʾ
    5. Performing Wuḍūʿ: The Period of Time One is Allowed to Wipe Over One’s Socks
    6. Performing Wuḍūʿ: The Ruling of Wiping Over Thin Socks and Those with Holes
    7. Performing Wuḍūʾ: Rulings Related to Injuries
    8. Performing Wūḍūʿ:The Wuḍūʾ of One Who Removes His Socks After Wiping Over Them 

1. Performing Wūḍūʿ: Making the Intention

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn (d. 1421 AH) said:

Intention is a prerequisite [when performing wuḍūʾ]. Its place is in the heart, and no one knows the true intentions [of people] except for Allāh. Intention is also a prerequisite in all forms of worship.

The Two Types of Intention that Concern Any Act of Worship

Discussion concerning intentions is in two parts:

  1. The first is the specification of an action such that it is set apart from others. For example, one may intend to pray and specify his action as being ṣalāh al-dhuhr. Or he may intend [the actions of] ḥajj or to fast. This is a subject discussed at length by the scholars of fiqh.
  2. Intention that concerns the dedication of an act solely for [Allāh], rather than the intention that sets one act of worship apart from another [as in part one]. This is termed sincerity and is opposed to shirk [to direct any form of worship to other than Allāh]. This is a subject discussed in the chapters of tawḥīd by those who specialise in the conduct and manners [with which acts of worship are performed]. This is of more importance than the first article because it is the true core of Islām and the essence of religion [as a whole]. As such, it is compulsory that people pay due attention and care to it.

The Two Prerequisites for the Acceptance of Any Act of Worship

It is befitting for one performing an act of worship to remember two things:

    1. The order of Allāh concerning this act of worship such that the action is performed with mindfulness of that order. For example, one performing wuḍūʾ should contemplate the order of Allāh as the Most High said:

      يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُوا بِرُءُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَيْنِ

      “O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles.”
      [Al-Māʾidah, 5:6]

      He should not perform wuḍūʾ simply because it is a prerequisite for his ṣalāh to be accepted.

    2. To imitate the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) [in that action] such that following his example is fully achieved.

Evidence for Intention Being a Prerequisite for Wuḍūʾ

Having intention [when performing wuḍūʾ] is a prerequisite for the soundness of the action itself, its acceptance, and validity because of his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) saying:

إِنَّما الأَعْمَالُ بِالنِّيَّات

“All actions are judged by their intentions”1

 ابْتِغَاءَ وَجْهِ اللَّهِ

“Seeking the Countenance of Allāh”
[Al-Baqarah, 2: 272]

وَالَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا ابْتِغَاءَ وَجْهِ رَبِّهِمْ

“And those who are patient, seeking the Countenance of their Lord”
[Al-Raʿd, 13:22]

وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ ابْتِغَاءَ مَرْضَاتِ اللَّهِ فَسَوْفَ نُؤْتِيهِ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

“And whoever does that seeking a means to the approval of Allāh—then We will give him a great reward.”
[Al-Nisāʾ, 4:114]

The Ruling of Vocalisation of Intentions for Acts of Worship

Should one vocalize his intention?

The scholars have two opinions on this issue. The correct opinion is that one should not vocalise it and that worshipping Allāh through the vocalisation of one’s intention is a forbidden innovation. The evidence of this is that it has never been narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and his companions ever vocalised their intentions [for any act of worship]. If such a thing was legislated, it would have been made clear on the tongue of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) either by his command or action [i.e. when he was about to perform an act of worship].2 Thus, vocalisation of intentions is an innovation regardless of whether it is done for the purpose of ṣalāh, zakāh, or ṣawm.

As for Ḥajj, there is also no narration that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) ever said: “I now intend to perform Ḥajj” or “I now intend to perform such-and-such rite [of Ḥajj].” Rather, he used to vocalise the talbiyah3  and in doing so his intention was made apparent. However, the intention for Ḥajj would have been made before his actual vocalisation of the talbiyah.

If a person needs to set an exception to his performance of the rites [of Ḥajj], there is also no need for him to vocalise this by saying: “Indeed, I want so-and-so [exception].” Rather, he should say [the invocation]: “ ‘O Allāh, If I am prevented by an impediment, then allow my place to be in the vicinity of where You have impeded me,”4 without the need to vocalise this as a separate intention.

The most well-known opinion of the [madh`hab is that it is from the Sunnah to vocalise one’s intention in secret for Ḥajj and other acts of worship. As aforementioned, this opinion is weak. As for the opinion that it is from the Sunnah to vocalise it loudly, this is even weaker. Additionally, it is the cause of unnecessary disturbance for people especially in the congregational ṣalāh. There is no need for anyone to vocalise their intention because Allāh already knows it.

Clarifying the Matter of Intentions Being Perceived as a Difficulty

Furthermore, the matter of intentions is not meant to be a difficulty even if it has been made difficult for those plagued by the whispers [of shayṭān]. This is because an intention will always precede any action carried out by any intelligent, sovereign individual. For example, if water was brought close to a person and in response he says the Name of Allāh and begins to wash his hands, then his mouth and nose until the end of wuḍūʾ, it is incomprehensible that one could do so without an intention beforehand.

Due to this, many of the scholars (may Allāh have mercy on all of them) say that if Allāh had burdened us with the performance of acts of worship without an intention, it would have been a burden that none could bear. For example, if Allāh ordered us saying: ‘Pray unintentionally,’ it would be impossible [to enact such a command]. To the extent that Shaykh al-Islām [Ibn Taymiyyah] (may Allāh have mercy on him) said:

If a person eats dinner on one of the nights of Ramaḍān, then he has effectively enacted his intention [to fast the following day] even if he has not explicitly stated his intention. This is because he would have consumed more than his usual and will additionally partake in suḥūr in the last part of the night [which is itself a manifestation of his intention to fast].5

2. Performing Wuḍūʿ: Completing the Actions in the Prescribed Order

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn (d. 1421 AH) said concerning the the order of washing [and wiping] one’s limbs and head when performing wuḍūʾ:

To clean each limb [and the head] in the correct order is the fifth requirement from among the obligations of performing wuḍūʾ [after the obligation of washing the arms, face and feet and wiping the head]. The evidence [for completing wuḍūʾ in the specific order] is the saying of the Most High:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُوا بِرُءُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَيْنِ

“O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles.”
[Al-Māʾidah, 5:6]

Evidence of the Obligation of Order When Performing Wuḍūʾ

This verse is evidence because the part that is wiped [i.e. the head] is mentioned between the two that are washed [i.e. the forearms and the feet]. We do not know of any benefit of this except that it denotes the compulsory nature of order [when performing wuḍūʾ]. Otherwise, the parts that are cleaned would be mentioned together. Furthermore, the sentence itself is a statement made as the answer to a prerequisite [when you rise to [perform] prayer]. [In Arabic], that which is the answer to a prerequisite will always adopt an ordered formulation that would facilitate the fulfilment of that prerequisite [i.e., the performing of prayer as in the verse]. Also, because Allāh has mentioned it in order and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said [concerning starting with the mount of Al-Ṣafā before Al-Marwā in Ḥajj and ʿUmrah]: “I start with that which Allāh has started with.”6 The evidence from the Sunnah as well is that his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) wuḍūʾ is described as ordered in the way mentioned by Allāh [in the aforementioned verse] by all of those who have described it.

Contrasting Rulings on Forgetting or Ignoring the Order of Wuḍūʾ

[Q]: If order is obligatory [when performing wuḍūʾ], would its compulsory nature cease in the face of ignorance or forgetfulness?

[A]: Some scholars say that its compulsory nature is exempted due to ignorance or mindlessness because they are [valid] excuses. Just as not observing order between the prayers that are made after their appointed time is acceptable [only] if one forgets.7

Other scholars say that order is obligatory; its obligatory nature will not cease even if one forgets. There is weakness in analogising this issue with the praying of a ṣalāh after its time because each ṣalāh is an individual act of worship while wuḍūʾ is one [single] act. [A closer analogy] to the order of wuḍūʾ would be changing the order of the rukūʿ and sujūd when praying. If one was to forgetfully perform sujūd before rukūʿ, his sujūd would be deemed incorrect. This is because it was performed before its proper place.

The Correct Opinion on the Order of Actions in Performing Wuḍūʿ: Ignorance Is a Valid Excuse Whilst Forgetfulness Is Not:

For this reason, I hold some misgivings regarding the opinion that the order of wuḍūʿ ceases to be obligatory if one forgets.

Yes; if there was a man who lived in a deserted place [by himself] and from his inception he would perform wuḍūʾ by washing his face, then arms, then feet, and finish by wiping his head [i.e., in the wrong order], then here the opinion that such a person is excused by ignorance would be sound. As the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) excused a plethora of people in similar circumstances due to their ignorance.8

3. Performing Wuḍūʿ: The Ruling on Continuity in the Steps

Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn (d. 1421 AH) said:

The sixth imperative of performing wuḍūʾ is that the body parts are cleaned one after another without delay [i.e being continuous in the actions].

Evidence Stipulating Completing the Wūdūʿ in Order

This is a requisite because of the saying of the Most High:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ

“O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles.”
[Al-Māʾidah, 5:6]

This verse proves this, as the answer to any prerequisite will always follow it immediately without delay [i.e., when you rise to perform prayer]. [In the Arabic language], that which has been set as a prerequisite [i.e. performing complete wuḍūʾ] must be followed by that which requires it [ṣalāh] as a matter of course.

The evidence from the Sunnah is that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) performed wuḍūʾ in a continuous manner, never disjoining the cleaning of one body part from another. Also, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) ordered a man to perfect his wuḍūʾ upon seeing that he had left the equivalent of a fingernail’s worth of skin on his foot unmoistened by water. In the ḥadīth of ʿUmar (رضي الله عنه): “Return and perfect your wuḍūʾ.”9

In ‘Musnad al-Imām Aḥmad’ [it is narrated] that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) saw a man praying who had left on the surface of his foot the equivalent of a dirham [coin] that had not been moistened with water. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) order him to repeat his wuḍūʾ and his ṣalāh.10

The difference between the wordings of these two ḥādiths, when taken individually, is the order to perfect the wuḍūʾ, [as the first one] refers to completing what was left out only. It stipulates washing the part [of the limb] that was not cleaned without cleaning the rest [again]. However, when we take the narration of Muslim and Imām Aḥmad together, it stipulates the requirement to repeat the wuḍūʾ [in its entirety]. [This is correct,] as the narration of [Imām] Aḥmad is authentic as graded by himself and Ibn Kathīr also l [who said]: “Its chain of narrators is authentic.”

From a logical standpoint, wuḍūʾ is a single act of worship. Thus, if we were to disjoin its parts it would cease to be a single act of worship.

Contrary Opinion on this Matter

Some scholars say that continuity [in wuḍūʿ] is Sunnah and is not a prerequisite. This is because Allāh has ordered the cleaning of these body parts. This will have occurred even if they are cleaned divisionally and not in succession. However, the opinion that succession is a requisite is more sound. This is because it is a single act of worship so should not be disjoined.

The Definition of Continuity in Wuḍūʾ11

Furthermore, succession [as applied to wuḍūʾ] can be defined as: not allowing one body part to completely dry before proceeding to the next body part. This stipulation is set under the prerequisite [that wuḍūʾ] is being performed at a time of normal [conditions], free of [harsh] wind or extreme hot or cold.

When we say ‘preceding body part,’ we mean the part of the body immediately preceding it only. For example, if someone was to wipe his head while his arms are still wet [the preceding limb] but after his face has dried [two body parts preceding the head], his wuḍūʾ would be correct. This is because when we say ‘the preceding body part’ we mean only the one preceding it in the succession [of wuḍūʾ], not all of the preceding parts of the body.

When we say ‘normal [conditions],’ we mean to exclude extreme [temperatures]. For example, winter or the rainy season is a time when the limbs take longer to dry while the windy or hot seasons dry the limbs rapidly.

Another Opinion: Defining Continuity in Wūdūʿ by Time Spent

Other scholars say, as was narrated by Imām Aḥmad, the best measure [of succession] is the actual time spent [between body parts] irregardless of whether that part of the body has dried. That is, as long as the wuḍūʾ is performed successively, [it is deemed correct regardless of drying]. If people would say this person has performed his wuḍūʾ in a continuous manner and has not disjoined it, he would be considered as having performed it successively [and thus successfully]. The scholars have used the norms of the people as a valid measure in many [judicial] issues. However, the norms of the people may not be consistent [in this issue]. As such, measuring succession by ensuring that the given body part has not dried would remain the best measure of evaluating continuity [and thus validity in the actions of wuḍuʿ].

Exceptions to the Requisite of Continuity in Wūḍūʿ

The stipulation of continuity is precluded if left for a matter relating to purification itself. For example, if one is unable to perform his wuḍūʾ continuously because he has to remove a bandage from one of his limbs that would otherwise prevent the water from reaching the underlying skin. Or if, while performing wuḍūʾ, the water runs out. [In such a case], if one was to spend time extracting water from a well or transferring water from one container to another and the part of his body that was cleaned ends up drying, [he may simply continue his wuḍūʾ], and there is no harm in that.

However, if the disturbance to the continuity of wuḍūʾ concerns that which is unrelated to this purification, like if one finds—while performing wuḍūʾ—some blood on his clothes, so he begins to remove it causing his limbs to dry. This matter is unrelated to wuḍūʾ and as such, he would have to repeat it [from the beginning].12

4. The Sunnah of Running One’s Fingers Through the Beard When Peforming Wudūʾ

Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn (d. 1421 AH) said:

From among the Sunnah practices when performing wuḍūʾ is to run one’s fingers through their beard if it is thick. Beards can be classed as either thick or thin.

Defining Thin Beards and Their Ruling

Thin [beards] are those that do not cover the skin [underneath completely]. [Such beards] and [the skin] underneath them must be cleaned [when performing wuḍūʾ]. This is because [the skin] underneath is visible and as such is included in the face.

Defining Thick Beards and Their Ruling

[As for] thick [beards], they are those that completely hide the underlying skin. For these, only the outer apparent hair must be cleaned [when performing wudūʾ]. According to the [Ḥanbalī] madh`hab, the hairs that hang [down from the face] must also be cleaned. It has also been said that it is not obligatory to clean these hairs just as it is not compulsory to wipe the beard hair that hang down from the head [when performing wuḍūʾ].

The Ruling of the Beard Hair that Hang down from the Face

The closest opinion [to the truth] is that it is obligatory [to clean these hairs]. The difference between this and [the hairs that hang from] the head is that the beard, even if grown long, is included in the face when one turns to face something so must be considered within the boundaries of that face. As for the hairs that hang down from the head, they are not considered part of the head. This is because the word ‘raʾs’ [‘head’ in Arabic] refers to that which is high or above. The hair that hangs down from the confines of the head are not considered high, [and therefore not considered part of the head when performing wuḍūʾ].

Procedure of Takhlīl [Running the Fingers through the Beard] When Performing Wuḍūʾ

There are two methods of running one’s fingers through [their beard]:

  1. To take a handful of water and place it under [the beard], then rub it in, such that water is able to enter between [the hair strands].
  2. To take a handful of water and run it through the beard using one’s fingers like [the teeth] of a comb. The evidence of this is the saying of ʿUthmān (may Allāh be pleased with him): “The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to run his fingers through his beard when performing wuḍūʾ.”13
    There is some dispute concerning the chain of narrators of this ḥadīth. However, it has many narrations. These corroborations raise its grade to that of ḥasan [acceptable] at the very least. Considering this, running one’s fingers through thick beards is Sunnah [when performing wuḍūʾ].

The Classifications of Beard Hair Cleanliness

The people of knowledge have mentioned that purification of the hair is classified into three categories:

  1. Situations wherein it is compulsory to purify that which underlies the beard, regardless of whether it is thick or thin. This occurs when performing major purification from the state of janābah [major impurity]. The evidence of this is the ḥadīth of Āʾishah (may Allāh be pleased with her) who said: “The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to pour water over his head until he thought that the skin [of his scalp] was sufficiently moistened. He would then flood [his head] with water three times,”14 and the ḥadīth: “Wash the hair, and clean the underlying skin”15
  2. Conditions in which it is not obligatory to purify that which is under the hair, regardless of whether that hair is thick or thin. This would be [when performing] tayammum.
  3. When it would be obligatory to purify that which is beneath thin hair, but not that which is beneath thick hair. This is [when performing] wudūʾ.

The Ruling on the Beardless and the Bald

As for the ones who do not have beards, the ruling of running one’s fingers through [the beard] when performing wuḍūʾ does not apply to them.

Can a similar ruling apply to bald [people] who do not have hair on their head from shaving or cutting it due to their engagement in religious rituals [Ḥajj or ʿUmrah]? Some scholars say they should run a straight razor over their head [when performing wuḍūʾ]. However, there is no actual benefit from this action, as running a straight razor over one’s head is not a desirable action [from an Islamic legislative standpoint outside of a religious ritual such as Ḥajj or ʿUmrah] such that we could say if one does not [have hair to clean] he should shave instead. Furthermore, the goal of running a straight razor over the head is to remove hair, but this individual does not have hair. This is similar to the opinion that a mute should still recite [sūrah] al-Fātiḥah [in ṣalāh] by moving his tongue and lips, even if no sound is produced. Similarly, there is no benefit from this as the only reason to move the lips and tongue is for the purpose of creating sound or reading. If the creation of sound here is non-existent, then moving the tongue and lips is meaningless.16

5. Performing Wūdūʿ: The Period of Time One is Allowed to Wipe Over One’s Socks

Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn (d. 1421 AH) said:

The period of time in which it is permissible for one to wipe over one’s socks [for one who is in a state of wuḍūʾ when he began wearing them] is either a day and a night [for the resident] or three days [for the traveller].

How Is This Period of Time Measured?

The Opinion and Reasoning of the Ḥanbalī Madh`hab

These time periods begin when he nullifies that wuḍūʾ [according to the Ḥanbalī madh`hab]. Their reasoning is that this nullifier has stipulated the requirement to perform wuḍūʾ, so the ruling should be in accordance with it. Otherwise, the period of wiping [over] is not considered started until the first time a person wipes over their socks.

We can attach the start period of wiping over the socks to three occurrences:

  1. From when the socks are first worn.
  2. From when wuḍūʾ is first nullified [after the socks have been worn].
  3. From the first wiping [i.e., the first time wuḍūʾ is performed after wearing the socks].

As for when the socks are first worn [point 1], the period of wiping does not start from this time. There is no difference of opinion regarding this in the [Ḥanabalī] madh`hab. As for when wuḍūʾ is nullified [point 2], the [Ḥanbalī] madh`hab holds the opinion that the period of wiping begins with it.

The Correct Opinion in this Matter

The second opinion is that the period begins from the first wiping [of the socks]. This is because of the hadiths: “The traveller may wipe over his socks for three nights. The resident for a day and a night…”17

The term wipe cannot apply to an individual until he engages in the action of wiping itself. This is the correct opinion. The evidence is also based on the fact that the scholars themselves say that if a man puts on his socks while at home [after performing wuḍūʾ], then nullifies his wuḍūʾ, then travels, then wipes his socks for the first time [while making wuḍūʾ] during his trip, he should complete the period of wiping as a traveller [i.e. three days]. This proves that the period begins from the first wiping [not from when the wuḍūʿ is first nullified]. This [deduction] is quite clear. Thus, the correct opinion is that we count the period as beginning from the first wipe, not from nullification of the state of purity.

A Practical Example

An example of this would be if a man performs wuḍūʾ for Ṣalāt al-Fajr then wears a pair of socks. He remains in a state of purity until nine in the morning at which time he nullifies his wuḍūʾ but does not renew it immediately. Then, he performs wuḍūʾ at twelve o’clock. According to the [Ḥanbalī] madh`hab, his period of wiping is measured from nine o’clock. However, according to the correct opinion his period of wiping is measured from twelve o’clock and will extend until the same time on the following day if he is home, or twelve o’clock on the fourth day [i.e. three days later] if he is a traveller. The period of wiping for a person at home is twenty-four hours, and for a traveller is seventy-two hours.

Refuting the Widely Held Misconception of “5 Prayers”

As for the widely held opinion of many of the general populace that the period of wiping is always five salahs, this is incorrect. This is because a person may pray more than five salahs while his period of wiping [over the socks] remains intact.18

6. Performing Wuḍūʾ: The Ruling of Wiping Over Thin, Sheer or Holey Socks

The Opinion of the Ḥanbalī Madh`hab

Among the prerequisites for wiping over the socks [when performing wuḍūʾ] is that the socks completely cover the parts of the foot which require wiping.

The meaning of ‘completely cover’ is that no part of the foot which is compulsory [to wipe over] is visible through the sock [i.e transparent]. Whether this visibility stems from its thinness, sheerness, or holes in it.

The Evidence of the Ḥanbalī Madh`hab

This is because if there are holes, then what needs to be wiped is visible. It is, therefore, impermissible to wipe over it [as it is not covered by the material of the sock]. Some scholars even say—and this is the most well-known opinion of the [Ḥanabalī] madh`hab: even if the holes are the size of an awl head [thicker needle used in leather-working]. Their reasoning is that for socks that are thin or have holes, the skin is apparent and therefore must be washed. Washing and wiping cannot be combined in a single limb [when performing wuḍūʾ]. As for the sock that shows the skin underneath it because of its sheerness, it is impermissible to wipe over it because it is not considered a covering. The evidence of this is that if a person was to pray in a sheer garment that showed his underlying skin [i.e. in an area that must be covered], his prayer would be invalid.

The Opinion of the Shāfiʿī Madh`hab

The Shāfiʿī madh`hab has taken the opinion that it is permissible to wipe over sheer socks that do not completely cover [the underlying skin]. This is because the place to be wiped is covered, in that water cannot reach it. As for the fact that the underlying skin is partially visible, this does not matter because it is not part of the ʿawrah which needs to be completely covered such that we should say: It is impermissible to wipe over that which partially shows the underlying skin. Also, there is nothing in the Sunnah that proves the compulsory nature of covering the feet completely with the sock. This reasoning is sound from the Shāfiʿī [madh`hab].

The Correct Opinion

Some scholars have said that the sock completely covering the foot is not a prerequisite for wiping over it. Their evidence is that all of the passages that mention wiping over the socks are general [in that they do not mention any exclusions]. These general passages should, therefore, be interpreted thus. Anyone who then wishes to add a prerequisite to this must bring evidence in support of their claim. Otherwise, we should leave that which has been left general by Allāh and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) as is, just as we would set prerequisites [for any ruling] if Allāh and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) have done so.

Furthermore, the majority of the companions were poor and the socks of the poor are not usually free of holes. If this was the case for most [of the socks worn] by the majority [of people] at the time of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) never brought attention to it, this proves that [complete covering is not a prerequisite]. This is also the opinion taken by Shaykh al-Islām (Ibn Taymiyyah).

Debating the Evidence of the Ḥanabalī Madh`hab

As for their [the Ḥanbalī madh`hab’s] claim that what is visible from the foot must be washed and this washing cannot be combined with wiping; this is consistent with the prerequisite they hold that the sock must completely cover what is compulsory [to wash from the foot]. Thus, they have brought evidence that is based on an opinion they have chosen to adopt. They have, in effect, used their own claim to justify another claim. So it should be said to them: Who said that whatever part of the foot is apparent must be washed?

Rather, we say: Any sock that matches the general description related in the Sunnah which leaves some of the foot exposed does not have to be washed. Rather, it follows the ruling of the rest of the sock and can be wiped along with it.

As for the claim that washing and wiping can never apply to the same limb, this [rule] is contradicted by the condition of a plaster someone wears in the middle of his forearm [i.e due to an injury]. Here, he would wipe over the plaster and wash the exposed portion of his arm. Even if we were to concede the foot being completely covered [as a prerequisite], we would say wash the exposed part and wipe over the covered portions [just as one would do with a plaster]. However, such a ruling [as applied to the foot] should not be conceded. Rather, the opinion chosen by Shaykh al-Islām is correct. This is because socks are not usually completely free of holes. What justification can we then use to cause hardship for the people through the obligation of such a prerequisite? Also, there are many people nowadays that wear thin socks from which they derive benefits like warmth for their feet. When the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) once sent a military detachment into cold weather he ordered them [to perform wuḍūʾ] by wiping over their head coverings and socks. This was because socks [of any kind] warm the feet.

In conclusion, there is a difference of opinion among the scholars concerning this prerequisite. However, the correct opinion is that it is inapplicable.19

7. Performing Wuḍūʾ: Rulings Related to Injuries

Evidence for Wiping Over a Bandage in Wuḍūʾ and Ghusl

Shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn (d. 1421 AH) was asked:

[Q]: Is one allowed to wipe over an injury when performing wuḍūʿ and ghusl? Why is it permissible to wipe over a bandage when performing wuḍūʾ and ghusl, but one can only wipe over his socks when performing wuḍūʾ, not ghusl?

[A]: The reasoning for this are many:

  1. The ḥadīth of the man afflicted with a head injury—if we were to grade it as ḥasan—in which the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “It would have been sufficient had he performed tayammum20, then tie a cloth over the injury, and wipe over it.”21 This ḥadīth concerns ghusl, as the injured man was in a state of major impurity.
  2. Wiping over a plaster is a necessity. That which is a necessity remains as such whether the person is in a state of major or minor impurity. As for wiping over the socks, this is considered an allowance.
  3. The injured body part is covered with that which is permissible according to Islamic legislation. Thus, it is also permissible to wipe over it like socks.
  4. Wiping [over the head and socks] has been legislated as a form of worship [when performing wuḍūʾ]. Thus, whenever we are unable to wash a body part [for a valid reason], we move to wiping as it is effectively a level down from it.
  5. Purification of the bandaged body part through wiping is closer to true purification than resorting to tayammum. The hadiths that concern wiping over bandages, even though they are graded weak [by some scholars], act to corroborate and strengthen one another.

We can use the qiyās (analogization) of wiping over the socks, albeit a remote form of [qiyās], [as evidence]. In this vein we say: This is a body part that has been covered with that which is permissible according to Islamic legislation. Thus, it is obligatory to wipe over it. This analogization has some weakness in it as wiping over the socks is an allowance, and is temporary. While wiping over bandages is a necessity and is not bound by any measured period of time [the way sock wiping is]. [They also differ] in that sock wiping applies only to minor impurity [i.e., when performing wuḍūʾ], while plaster wiping applies to both major and minor forms of impurity. [Furthermore, they differ] in that sock wiping occurs on the apparent top of the foot, while plaster wiping is inclusive [of the whole plaster]. Thus, even though this analogy has clear shortcomings, it is fundamentally sound in that a part of the body has been covered with that which is Islamically lawful and should therefore be wiped like socks. This is the opinion taken by the consensus of the scholars.

Contrary Opinions on This Issue

Other scholars—like Ibn Ḥazm [al-Ẓāhirī]—say that plasters should not be wiped. This is because the ḥadīth in support of it are weak. They do corroborate one another [according to him], and he does not see qiyās [as a valid form of evidence]. Those who take this opinion have differed regarding the alternative [to wiping]: Some say: Washing is inapplicable so he should move to its replacement—tayammum. That he should clean the parts of the body he is able to, then perform tayammum on behalf of the bandaged part of his body. This is because he is unable to use water for that body part, so it is as if he is unable to use water for his entire body in which case he should perform tayammum.

Others say: He should not perform tayammum nor wipe. This is because he is unable to clean that part of his body so he is excused from cleaning it altogether, just like the rest of his obligatory duties.

Refuting the Opinion That the Injured Body Part is to be Ignored

This is the weakest of all opinions in this matter; that he abandons washing altogether without performing tayammum or wiping. He still has that part of his body; it has not been amputated such that the obligatoriness of cleaning it has ceased completely. If he cannot clean it with water, he should still clean it with a replacement [to water]. The verse may encompass his [situation]:

وَإِن كُنتُم مَّرْضَىٰ أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاءَ أَحَدٌ مِّنكُم مِّنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لَامَسْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُوا مَاءً فَتَيَمَّمُوا

“But if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women and do not find water, then seek clean earth..”
[Al-Māʾidah 5:6]

This person is considered ill as a bandaged injury or sprain are both considered forms of illness. Thus, tayammum is applicable [as in the verse].

If we then say: either he wipes or performs tayammum. Wiping is undoubtedly closer to purification than tayammum. This is because wiping uses water while tayammum uses dirt. In addition, tayammum may occur in an area unaffected by the injury itself as tayammum is inclusive of the head and hands only. The injury could, for example, have afflicted the upper arm or ankle. Therefore, the closest opinion to the truth is that wiping is permissible.

The Ruling on Combining Wiping and Tayammum for the Injured

[Q]: Should one combine wiping and performing tayammum?

[A]: Some scholars say: He should combine the two as a way of encompassing [all opinions in this matter]. However, the correct opinion is that he should not combine the two. This is because those who hold the opinion that he must perform tayammum do not obligate wiping. Just as those who obligate wiping do not say he should perform tayammum [as well]. So combining the two is to postulate an opinion outside of both views. Also, obligating two forms of cleaning for a single body part is contrary to the principles of Islamic legislation. Rather, we say: either clean that body part with this or that [but never both]. As for obligating two forms of cleaning at the same time, there exists no such thing in this sharīʾah. Allāh does not burden a slave with two different forms of worship [wiping and tayammum] to fulfil a single purpose [cleanliness for prayer].

The Ruling on Covered and Exposed Injuries

The scholars—may Allāh the Most High have mercy on all of them—said: An injury may be either covered or exposed.

If exposed, then the injury should be washed with water. If one is unable, then he should wipe it. If unable, then he must resort to tayammum. Such is the order of choices one must adopt.

If the injury is covered with that which is lawful, then his only alternative is to wipe over it. If wiping causes him harm even with the plaster over it, then he should resort to tayammum in the same way as if the injury was exposed. This is what has been mentioned by the jurists—may Allāh have mercy on all of them—regarding this issue.22

8. Performing Wūḍūʿ: The Wuḍūʾ of One Who Removes His Socks After Wiping Over Them

[Q]: A person puts on socks [after performing wuḍūʾ] for the fajr prayer. He remains in that state of purity until ẓuhr but had removed his socks at sunrise. Then he puts his socks back on while still in his initial state of purity [i.e., wuḍūʾ]. The issue: If a person removes his socks [whilst still having wuḍūʿ], does he have to perform wuḍūʾ again?

[A]: [The scholars] have differed in this issue. There are four opinions:

  1. The opinion taken by the Ḥanbalī madh`hab is that he must perform wuḍūʾ again. Even if he removes his socks a short time after performing wuḍūʾ, to the extent that the body parts have not dried. He must perform wuḍūʾ again. Their reasoning is that upon removal of that which is wiped, the purity of that body part ceases. The state of purity cannot be partial [i.e., one either has wuḍūʾ or he does not; there is no half or quarter wuḍūʾ etc.]. Considering this, if purity ceases on one body part then it is null for the rest as well. Such is the opinion of the Ḥanbalī madh`hab.
  2. If the socks are removed while the rest of the body parts [of wuḍūʾ] are still moist, then he may simply clean his feet. This is because the purity of his feet has ceased [upon removal of his socks] but the body parts [of wuḍūʾ] have not dried, so the continuity [of wuḍūʾ] is not negated. Thus, he can simply wash his feet recompleting his initial wuḍūʾ.
  3. He must only clean his feet even if the rest of the body parts [of wuḍūʾ] have already dried. This opinion is taken by those who do not see continuity [in wuḍūʾ] as a necessary requirement.
  4. The opinion taken by Shaykh al-Islām (Ibn Taymiyyah) is that the state of purity does not cease [by one removing their socks], whether continuity is observed or otherwise [i.e., whether the body parts of wuḍūʾ have dried or not]. [Rather, his state of purity continues upon removal of his socks] up until one of the known nullifiers of wuḍūʾoccurs. However, he should not re-wear his socks in this situation in order to re-start the period of wiping again [i.e., just before expiry of the wiping period, simply take off his socks and re-wear them to start the period over again without having to wash his feet as an expiration period would stipulate]. Had this been permissible, there would be no benefit to distinguishing a wiping period. Anyone who wanted to continue wiping would simply remove his socks [while in a state of purity], then put them back on to start the period over again.

His [Shaykh al-Islām’s] evidence is that this state of purity is proven by clear legislation. As such, we cannot nullify this established state without a similar legislative evidence. Otherwise, the established state of purity remains as is.

This opinion is correct. It can also be proven from qiyās [analogization]: A very hairy man wipes over his head [when performing wuḍūʾ] but no moisture is able to reach his scalp. If he then shaves his head after this wuḍūʾ, he would not have left his original state of purity [his wuḍūʾ is still intact].

If it is said: Wiping over the head is from the foundations of wuḍūʾ whereas wiping over the socks is considered a branch [from cleaning the feet which is its original, fundamental form]. Considering this, how can you equalise [through analogy] that which is fundamental [wiping the head] to that which is a branch [wiping over the socks]?

We answer: Wiping, here, relates to something that was worn which has now been removed [socks]. We agree on this fact. Thus, whether it is considered fundamental or a branch is inconsequential to the final ruling [because in both instances a body part of wuḍūʾ is covered whether it be by hair or socks, its mere removal does not invalidate the state of wuḍūʾ in both cases].23


1. Authentic: Narrated by al-Bukhārī: 1 and Muslim: 1907.
2. For further reading, see: The Ruling on the Vocalising Intentions for Acts of Worship by Imām Ibn Taymiyyah
3. The saying: لبيك اللهم لبيك لبيك لا شريك لك لبيك إن الحمد والنعمة لك والملك لا شريك لك
Meaning: I am coming [in answer] to You ‘O Allāh. I am coming [in answer] to You, for You possess no partners. Indeed, all praise, blessings and sovereignty belong to You alone. You have no partners.
4. Authentic: Narrated by al-Bukhārī: 5089 and Muslim: 2903. Shaykh ʿAbd al-Muḥsin Al-ʿAbbād (may Allāh protect and preserve him) said: “The benefit of setting this prerequisite [through saying this invocation] is that if one is impeded from Ḥajj or ʿUmrah by a sickness, or car accident, or any other impediment, he would be permitted to remove his īhrām without compensatory measures of any kind.” See: ‘Tabṣīr al-Nāsik’: 70.
5. Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 1:193-196
6. Authentic: Narrated by Muslim:1218. Reference is made here to Allāh starting with Al-Ṣafā in the verse: 

 إِنَّ الصَّفَا وَالْمَرْوَةَ مِن شَعَائِرِ اللَّهِ

Indeed, as-Safa and al-Marwah are among the symbols of Allāh.
[Al-Baqarah, 2:158]

7. Translator’s note: For example, if one is going to pray ʿAṣr and Maghrib after their appointed times like at the time of ʿIshāʾ and prays Maghrib before ʿAṣr out of forgetfulness, this would be acceptable according to this opinion.
Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 1:193-196
Authentic: Narrated by Muslim: 243.
10. Authentic: Narrated by Aḥmad 3:146 and Abū Dāwūd: 175. Graded authentic by Imām Aḥmad, Ibn al-Turkumānī, Ibn al-Qayyim and Ibn Kathīr. See Tafsīr Ibn Kathīr: Māʾidah: 6 and ‘Al-Talkhīṣ al-Ḥabīr’:103.
11. Translator Note: The following section aims to clarify the issue of someone starting wuḍūʾ then stopping without completing it. Is he allowed to continue or should he start from the beginning? The answer would be that, since succession must be observed, he should look at the last limb he cleaned. If it is still wet he can continue. This is because he is deemed as having observed continuity in his wuḍūʾ. If the last limb he cleaned has dried, then continuity is broken and he must restart.
Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 1:191-193
Authentic: Narrated by al-Tirmidhī: 31 and Ibn Mājah: 430. This ḥadīth was graded Ḥasan by al-Bukhārī who said: ‘The ḥadīth of ʿUthmān is the most authentic narration I possess regarding the subject of running one’s fingers [through the beard when performing wuḍūʾ.’ It was said to him: ‘People are speaking concerning [its authenticity].’ He replied: ‘It is ḥasan.’ The same ḥadīth is narrated by many others, see ‘Al-Talkhīṣ al-Ḥabīr’:86. Through its many narrations it has been graded authentic by al-Tirmidhī, Ibn Khuzaymah, al-Ḥākim, Ibn Ḥibbān, and Ibn al-Qaṭṭān.
14. Authentic: Narrated by Al-Bukhārī: 272 and Muslim: 316.
15. Weak: Narrated by Abū Dāwūd: 248, al-Tirmidhī: 106 and Ibn Mājah: 597. Graded weak by al-Shāfiʿī, Aḥmad, al-Bukhārī, Abū Ḥātim al-Rāzī, Abū Dāwūd, al-Bayḥaqī, al-Nawawī, and others. See ‘Al-ʿilal’ by Ibn Abī Hātim 1:29 and ‘Al-Maʿrifah wa-al-Āthār’ 1:483.
Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 1: 172-175
Authentic: Narrated by Aḥmad 5:213, Abū Dāwūd: 157, al-Tirmidhī: 95. Graded authentic by: Ibn Ḥibbān, al-Tirmidhī, Ibn Maʿīn, and Ibn al-Qayyim. See ‘al-ʿIlal’ by Ibn Abī Ḥātim 1:22 and ‘ʿAwn al-Maʿbūd’ 1:264.
18. Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 1:225-227
19. Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 1:231-233
20. Tayammum: form of cleaning that replaces wuḍūʿ or ghusl for one unable to perform them. It consists of patting a surface with dust and wiping the face and hands.
21. Ḥasan: Narrated by Abū Dāwūd: 336, al-Dāraquṭnī 1:189, and al-Bayhaqī 1:227. Shaykh al-Albānī said in ‘Tamām al-Minnah’: This ḥadīth has been graded weak by al-Bayhaqī and [Ibn Ḥajar] al-ʿAsqalānī and others except that it is corroborated by the ḥadīth of Ibn ʿAbbās which raises its grade to that of Ḥasan save for the part ‘he may tie a cloth…’, this addition is weak, munkar [contradicts that which is authentic] and is found only in this weak narration. See ‘al-Talkhīṣ al-Ḥabīr: 210.
22. Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 1: 244-47
[23] Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ, 1:263-264

Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: January 26, 2023
Edited: July 3, 2023


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