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Why Do We Wipe the Top of the Socks in Wuḍūʿ? 

Imām Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn

The best place to wipe when performing wuḍūʿ with socks is the upper portion of the socked foot seeing as it serves as a form of worship rather than purification.

[Wiping over the socks] is performed by wiping most of the apparent, upper portion of the foot only.

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

Wiping is specifically targeted to this area because of the ḥadīth of Mughīrah ibn Shuʿbah (رضي الله عنه): “He wiped his socks.” The implied meaning here is that he wiped the uppermost part of the sock. Also, because of the ḥadīth of ʿAlī (رضي الله عنه) who said: “If this religion was based completely on opinion, it would have been more befitting to wipe the bottom of the sock than its top. I saw the Messenger of Allāh (صلى الله عليه وسلم) wipe the uppermost part of his sock.”[1] This ḥadīth has some weakness but has been graded ḥasan by some scholars.

In his statement “If this religion was based on opinion,” there is an issue, which is that ‘opinion’ here refers to sound intellect. Is this religion contrary to sound intellect? The answer is no. The intention of ʿAlī (رضي الله عنه)—as long as this can be authentically narrated from him—is [those who rely] on their own deductions as the Most High said:

وَمَا نَرَاكَ اتَّبَعَكَ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ هُمْ أَرَاذِلُنَا بَادِيَ الرَّأْيِ

“We do not see you followed except by those who are the lowest of us [and] at first suggestion.”
[Hūd, 11:27]

That is those who follow whatever is apparent to them from a particular issue.

Upon contemplation, we find that wiping the upper, apparent portion of the foot is more suitable, and is intellectually sound. This is because this wiping is not meant to fulfill the purpose of cleansing or purification [of the sock or foot]. Rather, it is performed as a means of worship. Had we wiped the bottom [instead], it would cause the sock itself to become dirtier [through annealing of dirt from the ground to its moist surface].

Endnotes:

[1] Authentic: Narrated by Imām Aḥmad 1:114, Abū Dāwūd: 162, Abū Yaʿlá: 346 and others. Graded authentic by Ibn Ḥajar in ‘al-Talkhīṣ al-Ḥabīr’:219, ʿAbd al-Ghani al-Maqdisī in ‘al-Tanqīḥ’ 1:530, al-Albānī in ‘Ṣaḥīḥ Abū Dāwūd’: 152 and others.

Source: Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ 1:259-260
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī

Published: June 9, 2023
Edited: June 10, 2023

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