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Explanation of Surah Maaidah Ayah 6

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org

Masah on foot

Please refer to Surah Al Maeda Verse 6 and its translation:

 فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُوا بِرُءُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَيْنِ ۚ

Translation done by many people: “Wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water); and (wash) your feet to the ankles”

 “Wash” has been added here for foot in English translation. As per literal translation of this Aayat it should be “Wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water) and your feet to the ankles”

It means as per literal meaning Quran is asking to (i) wash faces and hands to elbows (ii) Rub your head and feet.

However all four imams require washing of foot. They allow masah only on certain types of socks (leather) with some more conditions.

I also read explanation of some Ulema saying that as Quran has asked to wash your foot (as per common translation) so a definite proof/hadis is required to override it and do masah.

  1. Is my translation of Ayat correct i.e. Quaran is asking to do masah on foot?
  2. If my translation is correct then why most of Ulema including Imams ask for washing foot instead of masah? Am I missing something here?

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

The translation which says to wash the feet is correct. The ruling of masah is restricted to the head. The command of ghusl (washing) is applied to the face, hands, and feet.

This can be easily understood by one who has studied basic Arabic grammar.[1] 

We advise taking lessons in Arabic from your local Ulama who may help alleviate any misunderstands.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Saad Haque

Student Darul Iftaa
New Jersey, USA 

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.


[1] Words in Arabic may be broken down into three categories: 1) اسم 2) فعل 3) حرف

فعل translates to an action. Each action must have an executor (فاعل) and something which the action is being done to (مفعول).

In this case, ghusl is the action, the person performing wudhu is the executor, and the body parts (face, hands, and feet) are مفعول. All مفعول come in halat-nasab (zabar َ). In this ayah, the body parts that require masah are in halat-jarr (zer ِ) whereas the body parts that need to be washed are all in halat-nasab (zabar َ). The word ارجلكم is with zabar and not zer.

This answer was collected from Askimam.org, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.

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