The issue of wiping over one’s socks instead of washing the feet during ablution, after the sock was put on after a wudu or ghusul.
This is permissible according to the texts of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah. Allaah says:
يا أيها الذين آمنوا إذا قمتم إلى الصلاة فاغسلوا وجوهكم
وأيديكم إلى المرافق وامسحوا برءوسكم وأرجلكم إلى الكعبين
which means: “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-Maa’idah: 6]
The word ‘feet’ in this verse has two possible meanings: one indicating washing them and the other indicating wiping over the socks if one wore them whilst in the state of ritual purity.
If the feet are bare then wiping over them is prohibited and one must wash them, as was the practice of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
Al-Mugheerah ibn Shu’bah, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated: “The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam once performed ablution, and so I bent down to remove his leather socks, but he stopped me saying: “Leave them, for I put them on whilst in the state of purity.”
Imaam Ahmad, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: “I have no doubt in my heart regarding the permissibility of wiping over the socks, because there are about forty Prophetic narrations proving it.”
One may wipe over anything that is made in such a way that it is worn over the foot, as in the narration of Thawbaan, may Allaah be pleased with him, who said: “The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam once dispatched a battalion who faced severe cold, and when they returned they complained to the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam about what they had undergone; so he sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam commanded them to wipe over their turbans and socks (in the future).”
The permission given for the turban is due to it being difficult to take off and put on again, and this does not apply for the Ghutrah (i.e., the men’s head cloth) unless it is something that is wrapped over the head in such a way that it makes taking it off and putting it back on a difficult task.
Socks can be made of leather, cotton, wool or any other material. Wiping over them is permissible even if they have holes or patches, because this is how the socks of the Companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, were.
One must wear the socks whilst in the state of ritual purity – after having washed his feet during ablution or bathing – in order to be able to wipe over them.
Also, one may only wipe for the allowed duration of wiping, and when this period has expired then one may not wipe.
Additionally, wiping may only be done to purify oneself from a minor impurity, but if one goes into the state of major impurity where he must perform a Ghusl (i.e., bath), then he may not wipe and must instead wash his feet as a part of his Ghusl, as was mentioned in the narration of Safwaan, may Allaah be pleased with him: “The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to command us not to take off our socks for three days and nights whilst travelling – except in the case when one had to perform Ghusl.”
A resident may wipe for twenty-four hours and this begins from the time of wiping the socks rather than from when one first puts the socks on; also, wiping is not only valid for the five daily obligatory prayers but also for as many optional or obligatory prayers as one wishes, as long as it is within the permitted wiping period mentioned earlier.
Some people may forget when they first wiped and therefore become confused as to whether or not their prayer is valid, because if one remembers whilst praying that he wiped over his socks after the time for permitted wiping period has expired, then he must immediately come out of the prayer, because such a prayer is invalid due to it being performed without being in a state of purity.
Therefore, my advice to those who wish to wipe is that they should have a set time where they take off their socks daily, in order to be sure.
One may wipe for as long as he desires following the aforementioned method of taking his socks off, washing his feet as a part of ablution, putting them on again, and then wiping over them as part of his subsequent ablutions.
Wiping is on the upper part of the foot; do not think that since the lower part of the foot touches the ground, then it follows that this is where we should wipe.
This is because Islaam is not based on what our minds approve or disapprove of; rather, Islaam is based on the texts of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah.
One’s state of purity after wiping is not nullified by taking off his socks, as stated by Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allaah have mercy upon him, but if he does take off his socks, then he may not put them on again and wipe over them again unless he performs ablution during which he washes his feet.
The socks themselves must be pure before one puts them on in order for it to be permissible to wipe over them.
No prior intention is required as a condition for wiping and therefore it is permissible for one to wipe if he puts on his socks after ablution and later decided to start wiping while the same socks are still on his feet.
One can consider his shoes as exactly the same as his socks regarding wiping over them, as long as all the conditions of wiping mentioned earlier are met.
However, if he wipes over his socks and then his shoes, and later takes his shoes off, then he may not wipe over his socks after that.
Likewise is the case if one wears two pairs of socks, one over the other, which means that if one takes off the upper ones, he may not continue wiping over the bottom ones.