بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Can I wipe over thick wool socks during wudu instead of the traditional leather socks?
Mufti Taha’s Answer
The primary requirement in the sock over which wiping is permitted in wudu is strength: it should be sturdy enough to be worn without shoes or sandals (even though this would not actually need to be done) in one’s normal daily routine. Strength is not seen as an exclusive attribute of leather; it is well possible for a sock made of material other than leather to exhibit the same quality of strength. In fact, we sometimes find leather socks that are so delicately thin that wiping over them would not be permitted.
An extension of this condition of sturdiness is that the sock should prevent the penetration of water. Therefore, where a non-leather sock is thick enough to prevent the penetration of water when it is poured over the sock, one may validly wipe over it in wudu. (Tuhfat al-Muhtaj 1:252)
What if the sock is sturdy enough to walk in, but does not quite prevent the penetration of water when poured over it? In terms of the position set out above, wiping over such a sock would not be permitted. This is the preferred view of the madhhab.
Alongside it, however, two alternative opinions exist within the madhhab:
- In one of these, the penetration of water is to be considered, not where one pours water over the sock, but rather where one wipes over the socks with a wet hand. A number of scholars of the madhhab held this view. (Tuhfat al-Muhtaj 1:252) In terms of this view, a sock which is strong enough that one is able to walk around in it, and thick enough to prevent water from penetrating when one wipes over it, may validly be wiped on.
- The other opinion, which is preferred by Imam al-Ghazali and his mentor Imam al-Haramayn, states that preventing the penetration of water is not required in the sock at all. (al-Wasit 1:400) Under this view, one may validly wipe over a sock strong enough to be walked around in, even if it does not prevent the penetration of water at all.
While these views do not represent the formal position of the madhhab, they may–as we are informed by the scholars of our madhhab–be practiced upon in one’s personal capacity.
And Allah knows best.