Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Question: Whereas men tend to have a sitting area to perform ablution at my local mosque, women are usually confined to a sink. Especially during winter months, I often dry my right foot and put a sock on prior to wiping the left. Is it permissible to dry one foot before washing the other?
I pray this finds you in the best of health and spirits. It is unfortunate that many mosques still don’t have equitable facilities for women. This is partly because in previous times, women didn’t pray as frequently at the mosque. However, with changed times and circumstances, it is hoped that the mosques will recognize the need and urgency to make suitable, dignified adjustments to their arrangements.
Drying Your Feet During Wudu
Regarding your question, it is permitted without dislike to dry your feet—or any other limb—after washing, during wudu. This is particularly so when there is a reason to do so (such as avoiding discomfort or cold from wet socks). [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah]
The act of wiping one’s limbs after wudu actually has basis in the Prophetic practice. Our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would sometimes dry his limbs after wudu, and sometimes he wouldn’t dry them—depending on circumstances. [ibid.]
Thus, if you dry your limbs, you can intend to be following the Prophetic practice—the practice most beloved to Allah Most High.
What About Interrupting One’s Wudu?
The Prophetic way (sunna) in wudu is to perform one’s wudu without undue interruption. [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah; Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar] This is how the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was generally observed to perform his own wudu.
However, it is understood from the Prophetic example that:
(1) Brief interruptions do not interrupt the continuity of one’s wudu—and do not call for restarting one’s wudu;
(2) Unnecessary interruptions are best avoided—but do not affect the validity of one’s wudu;
(3) After a lengthy interruption, it is encouraged to re-start one’s wudu.
A lengthy interruption is defined as being enough time for the last limb one washed drying (in normal conditions) before one resumes the wudu. [ibid.]
Turning Water Off During Wudu
The Prophetic way is to avoid waste and excess. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) encouraged not to waste water, even if making wudu from a flowing river. [Ahmad, Musnad—a sound hadith] The scholars are in agreement that wasting water is religiously disliked (makruh). [al-Mawsu`a al-Kuwaitiyya]
Waste (israf) is defined as being “using anything beyond need or benefit.” [Birgivi, al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya]
Thus, it is best to take the means to:
(1) Reduce the amount of water one uses for wudu—remembering that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) only used about half a litre of water for his wudu;
(2) Turn off the tap when one doesn’t need to actively use the water.
I hope this helps. May Allah facilitate all ways of good for you.
And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.
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