Conditions of wiping over socks
It is a confirmed Sunnah of the Prophet to wipe over socks in wudu. This makes it easier for the Muslim to perform wudu when he cannot take off his socks.
Wiping over the socks has different conditions. This must be adhered to in order to perform wudu and prayer validly.
In this article you read the conditions for wiping over socks made of leather (khoffayn). These also apply to shoes that cover the ankles and socks made of wool, cotton or other fabric. These conditions have been established according to the sources.
1. Swipe over the top
To be able to wipe over the socks with validity, it must be done over the top. So you do not wipe at the bottom, soles or at the heels of the sock.
One wipes from the tips of the toes, to the beginning of the shin, without going back.
This is mentioned in a narration of the companion 'Ali. He reported that the top of the sock should be wiped.
'Ali ibn Abu Talib said:
"If the religion were based on opinions, it would be more important to wipe the bottom of the sock rather than the top, but I have seen the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) wipe the top of his socks."
[Sunan Abi Dawud 162]
2. After having already washed the feet in wudu
The Muslim wears the socks he wants to wipe in a state of purification. He should therefore only wear the socks when he has already performed wudu in full.
After performing wudu, he wears the socks. If the wudoo is invalidated, then he wipes the socks and does not have to wash his feet.
Al-Mughirah ibn Shu'bah reported:
I was traveling with the Prophet (ﷺ) and I reached out to take off his leather socks. The Prophet said, "Leave them on, for I have worn them in a state of purity." Then the Prophet wiped over them during wudu.
[Sahih Bukhari 203, Sahih Muslim 274]
3. Not in a state of Janabah
It is not possible to wipe the socks in a state of Janabah (major impurity). That person should then perform the Ghusl (major ablution) and then wear the socks. The next time he has to perform wudu, he wipes his socks if he wishes.
Safwan bin Assal reported:
While we were traveling, the Messenger of Allah ordered us not to remove our Khuff for three days (72 hours), except in a state of Janabah (major impurity), but not after defecation, urination or sleep (minor impurity).
[Sunan Tirmidhi 96 (Hasan Sahih)]
4. Duration of validity
The period of validity is 24 hours for the non-traveler and 72 hours for the traveler. Time starts when the person wipes their socks for the first time in wudu.
'Ali ibn Abu Talib reported:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said that the time for wiping the socks is one day (24 hours) for non-travellers and three days (72 hours) for travelers.
[Sahih Muslim 276a]
5. It should cover the ankle
It is an important condition that the socks cover your ankles. This is a requirement because in wudu one should wash the entire foot, including the ankles.
Wiping over shoes, sandals, leather socks or socks of other fabric is only valid if it covers the entire foot, including the ankles.
The majority of scholars believe that one cannot wipe over the socks if they do not cover the ankles.
أبو داود: سمعت أحمد سئل على أي خف يمسح الرجل؟
: يواري الموضع الذي يجب عليه الغسل.
"مسائل داود" (57)
Imam Ahmad said:
"It is not allowed to wipe the sock until it covers the parts of the foot being washed in wudu (ankle, heel, sole, etc.)."
[Masail Ahmad 57 bi riwayat Abi Dawud]
6. Nothing of the feet should be visible
Some socks have holes through which the skin of the foot is exposed. It is not allowed according to the correct opinion to wipe over such socks.
But it is possible to wipe over the leather socks that have holes in it if one wears thick socks under it, because that would prevent exposing the skin of the foot.
عبد اللَّه: سألت أبي عن الخف بلا عقب؟
: لا يمسح عليه إذا بدا من رجله شيء، لم يمسح عليه إلا يكون عليه جورب من هذِه التي تلبس بالنعال، وتثبت في الساق.
: كان يسترخي لا يثبت؟
: يمسح حتى مثل الخف.
I asked my father (Imam Ahmad) about leather socks (khoffayn) with missing heels. He (Imam Ahmad) said: "A person does not wipe it if something appears from his foot. He could only wipe it if he wears a sock under it which is the same thickness of the khoff (leather sock).
[Masail Ahmad 125 bi riwayat 'Abdullah]