Thursday, 21 December 2006

Masah Over Regular Socks Is Not Valid

It is not permissible to make masah (wipe) over the socks that are worn nowadays made from cotton, wool, and nylon, etc - this the ruling of ALL the A'immah Mujtahideen (Imams of Ijtihaad i.e. Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i and Hanbali)

Any assumption, that there are differences of opinion among the Fuqaha (Jurists) in these regards, is incorrect. On the contrary, all of the Imams of Ijtihaad are unanimous that it is not permissible to make masah on thin socks.

The ruling is that - if:

(a) the socks are not thick, and water penetrates through them
(b) they can not stay upright without having to tie them
(3) it is not possible for one to walk with them continuously without the socks tearing.

To perform masah on these types of thin socks is not held permissible by any of the Imaas of the madhaahib (Schools of Thought). If all three of the above mentioned conditions are present then only the scholars have differences of opinion.

Actually, the Qur'an has ordered us to perform ablution (Wudhu) 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 Ta'ala says:

"Oh Believers, when you stand up for prayer (i.e. when you intend to pray and are not in the condition of Wudhu) then ( perform Wudhu 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". (Surah Al-Maidah, Ayat 6)

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 SAW. Had there been only two or three narrations from the Prophet SAW then such a few Hadith narration's from the Prophet SAW would not have been sufficient to specify (Taqyeed) the generality of this Qur'anic verse, due to Akhbaari Ahaad (a few narration's from the Prophet SAW not being influential enough to specify or abrogate the generality of the verse).

On the contrary, the narrations with regards to masah 'alal khuffain (performing masah on leather socks) are established by Tawaatur (overwhelming number of narrations), thus being influential in elaborating and specifying the verse in Surah Al-Maa'idah, that is, washing of the feet is only specific in the case that a person is not wearing leather socks.

Masah 'alal khuffain is proven and established in narrations from more than eighty companions of the Prophet SAW.

Hafiz Ibn Hajar RA says in Fathul-Baari, (Naylul Awtaar, first volume, p.176):

"An overwhelming group of the Huffaz (Experts in Hadith) have declared that masah 'alal khuffain is established by Tawaatur), and some of them have mentioned that they collected and enumerated the narrations from the companions of the Prophet SAW and found them to be more than eighty in number, from which ten of them are narrated by the Asharah Mubasharah (the ten companions that were given glad tidings of Paradise in a single gathering from the Prophet SAW."

The grand Tabi'een - Hasan Basri RA 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)

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 Ablution.

In this regards, Imam Abu Yusuf RA says:

"The command of the Qur'an can be abrogated by the Sunnah (traditions of the Prophet SAW only if it has reached the level of Tawaatur or Istifadhah, such as the level of narrations of masah 'alal khuffain." (Ahkaamul-Qur'an Lil-Jassaas)

In summary, Allah Ta'ala commands us in the Qu'ran to wash our feet when performing Wudhu . This ruling can't be specified by any condition or limited on the basis of a few narrations from the Prophet SAW. It is necessary to have a continuous chain of authentic narrations, like in the case of masah 'alal khuffain. It has reached the level of Tawaatur.

Also, in regards to "KHUFFAIN" (leather socks), Tawaatur has been established that the Prophet SAW 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. 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 they should be permissible to make masah (wipe) 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 the leave 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 permissible. 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.

After explaining the fundamental principle and its application to the reality of this issue, let us consider the Ahadith concerning wiping over socks (Jowrab). From all the collections of Ahadith, there are only three Hadith. One Hadith is narrated by Bilal RA, the second by Abu Musa Ash'ari RA, and the third by Mughirah ibn Shu'bah RA. 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 RA (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.

With regards to Abu Musa's narration, Imam Abu Dawud Sajastaani RA, in his works of Abu Dawud, 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 Imam Tirmidhi as being a good and sound Hadith. Some other eminent Muhadditheen have disagreed with Imam Tirmidhi. Imaam Abu Dawud RA 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 SAW 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 Imams, for example, Imam Muslim, Imam Baihaqi Imam Sufyaan Thawree, Imam Ahmad, Imam Yahya ibn Mu'een, Imam Ali ibn Madinee, and others have declared this narration as weak, due to Abu Qais and Huzail ibn Shurjeel being defective narrators.

Allamah Nawawi, Commentator of Sahih Muslim, (Nasbur-Raaya, Vol. I, p. 183) writes, "If all the Muhadditheen who criticised 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 Imam Tirmidhi, 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 Imam Tirmidhi, "This Hadith is Hasan, Sahih", is not acceptable."(Nasbur-Raaya, Vol. l, p.l83)

We can now justify 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 Tirmidhi is correct, then too it is only one Hadith from the entire collection of Ahadith. 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 the command of Allah Ta'ala, of washing the feet.

The Ahaadith about masah 'alal jowrabain (masah on normal socks) do not reach the level of Tawaatur. In fact, in all the collections of Ahadith we find only three narration's, from which two are unanimously weak, and the third is criticised by majority of the Muhadditheen, only Imam Tirmidhi declares it as a good. So to leave, restrict, or define the command of Allah Ta'ala on the foundation of such weak narrations is not acceptable in the Shari'ah.

Imam Abu Bakr Jassaas writes in Ahkaamul-Qur'an Lil-Jassaas, second volume, p.428, "As mentioned previously the real objective in the verse of Wudhu 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 Sahabah (RA) 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 Sahabah that they wiped over thin socks of cloth, etc.

None of the Imams have given permission to make masah over shoes."(Ma'arifus-Sunan Vol. 1, p. 347). The reason for this is the Prophet SAW wiped over his shoes only when he already was in the state of Wudhu. He would perform a fresh Wudhu for every prayer, because he was already in the state of Wudhu, 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 RA 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 SAW 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 Wudhu, can't wipe over his shoes. After the clear evidence has been brought, there is no flexibility in the issue. In conclusion, all reliable Fuqaha and Muitahideen agree that thin socks that allow water to seep through them, do not stand upright without support, and can not 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 Ahmad ibn Hanbal.

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