Will One’s Salaah Be Valid Behind an Imam Whose Wudhu is Invalid ?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by

Question: Asalam u alaikum,

Is the Salah of the one following an imam valid if the imam’s Wudhu is not valid ? it is my understanding that if the imam wears a cotton socks and makes Wudhu over the socks, then his Wudhu is invalid. if that is the case, then his Salah is invalid. So does it mean that those who were following him their Salah is also invalid?
If placed in a situation like this where one notices that the imam is wearing a socks, then should one refrain from reading behind this imam ?

Answer: Wa Alaikum As Salaam,

The scholars have allowed the performance of masah (wiping) over cloth or cotton socks when certain conditions are met.

According to the Mazhab of Imam Abu Hanifa (A.R.), the following conditions must be met:

1. It stays up for itself on the feet.

2. A person can walk with these socks (alone) to a distance of three miles without the socks being torn.

3. It is so thick that water is not able to seep through the socks to enter the feet.

4. A person is not able to see his feet through the socks.

According to the Mazhab of Imam Malik (A.R.), it states that these socks, (cotton or cloth) must be made with leather inside and outside so that it resembles the leather socks (Khufain) and a person may be able to walk upon them. Only then, it would be permissible to make masah over them.

According to the Mazhab of Imam Shafi (A.R), it states that an allowance would be granted to perform masah over these socks, (cotton or cloth), when the following conditions are met:

1. They must be thick and heavy to the extent that it is not transparent and nothing can penetrate it (like water) and one can walk continuously upon them.

2. The sole of these socks must be made with leather.

According to Imam Ahmad (A.R), he says that the following conditions must be met in order that a person performs masah on these socks:

1. It must be very thick, to the extent that no part of one’s foot becomes visible.

2. It remains firmly gripped onto the feet and a person is able to walk continuously with these socks.

All the above great Imams possessed great knowledge in the Sciences of Tafseer, Hadith and Fiqh and their explanations are in accordance to what is mentioned in the traditions concerning masah over the non-leather socks.

These traditions have been misunderstood by many; hence many people continue to make masah over their regular cotton socks which in reality is opposed to the meaning of the traditions.

In the traditions it is evident that the Prophet (S.A) made masah over the leather socks (known as Khufain in Arabic) and he also made masah over the non-leather socks (known as Jurabain in Arabic). However, the ‘Jurabain’ or non-leather socks which were worn by him were such that they were thick being covered with leather at times or having the sole as leather at other times. (Al Fiqhul Islami Wa Adilatihi Vol. Pg. 498 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan)

It is based on the nature of socks worn by the Prophet (S.A) that the Imams of Fiqh and other great scholars have concluded that the above mentioned conditions must exist in order to perform masah over the non leather socks. (Fatawa Haqaania Vol. 2 Pg. 165 Jamia Darul Uloom Haqaania Nawshehra Pakistan; Fatawa Mahmoodiya vol.5 Pgs. 195,196 Darul Ifta Jamia Farooqia Karachi).

One reason for the misunderstanding which is present among many, is the usage of the word ‘socks’ by many authors when translating the original Arabic words of ‘Khufain’ or ‘Jurabain’. Many authors do not explain ‘the type of socks’ referred to in the traditions, hence, many understand it to be the modern day cotton, woolen or nylon socks, which is a grave error and misunderstanding.

It is the unanimous agreement (Ijmaa of all the Imams of Fiqh) that if the socks are thin and water can seep through and enter into them, masah would not be permissible upon them. (Bada’ius Sana’I Vol. 1 Pg. 10 Maktaba Rasheediya Queta Pakistan)

With this explanation, it is clear that the present day cotton and nylon socks do not fulfill the conditions mentioned above. As such, it will not be permissible to make masah over these socks.

If a person performs salaah after having done masah on these socks, his salaah will not be valid and he must repeat his salaah after making proper wuzu by washing the feet. (Raddul Mukhtar, Al Bahru Raiq)

If such a person leads you in salaah, then your salaah will not be in order, you must repeat your salaah. (Fatawa Darul Uloom Deoband Vol. 1 Pg. 210 Darul Isha’at Karachi).

Based on the above explanation, the answers to your question are:

1. If the Imaam’s wudhu is not valid then the Salah of one following him is not valid.

2. The salah of those who are following the Imaam will not be valid if the Imaam had made Masah on such socks which did not fulfill the above mentioned conditions. None of the authentic and reliable scholars of the past and present have considered it permissible to make Masah on the present day cotton and nylon socks which do not fulfill the conditions laid out by the great fuqaha (jurist) and scholars of the past.

If one notices that the Imaam is wearing socks that do not fulfill the said conditions, one should refrain from performing Salah behind him..

And Allah Knows Best.

Mufti Waseem Khan.


This answer was collected from, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.

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