Can we pray behind those who wipe on socks?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

I usually pray at the prayer room on campus. At the wudu facility, just about everyone does masah on their socks, and despite politely dealing with a few them on the issue, they ignore or argue… There are always several jamaahs being held in the musala for the same prayer at all times (even if only two people), so there’s no escaping praying behind people who do masah on socks. Is the salah valid?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Walaikum assalam,

If you are not sure that the person has wiped for this particular prayer, assume he has not, and pray behind him.

This is what Shaykh Mahmoud Usmani said, emphasizing that we have not been made morally responsible to pry into the affairs of others, especially when doing so entails undue hardship, and that the default assumption regarding all human actions (as explained by Imam Abu’l Hasan al-Karkhi, the great Hanafi faqih) is that they are valid and sound, and we are expected to interpret them in such a manner whenever possible.

Or assume that his socks are thick enough (e.g. in the Hanbali school, whose conditions are less taxing than the others in this matter).

When you have a reasonable choice or alternative (such as another congregation being available), though, avoid such situations.

And Allah alone gives success.

Walaikum assalam,
Faraz Rabbani.

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