There is a unanimous decision on the permissability of passing wet hands (masah) on leather socks for Wudhu (Ablution).
Imam Bukhari rahmatullahi alayhi relates the following hadeeth in his Sahih on the authority of Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqqas radhiyallahu anhu regarding the Prophet that he passed wet hands over his leather socks. Hadhrat Abdullah ibn Umar regarding it responded by saying, ‘Whenever Sa'ad narrates a Hadith from the Prophet , there is no need to refer to anyone else. (pg 33, No 202)
Also on the authority of Amr ibn Umaiyyah, he says, ‘I saw the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam passing wet hands over his turban and also his leather socks.'
It is related by Muqaira ibn Shu'ba Radhiallaho Anhu, ‘Once I was in the blessed company of the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam on a journey and I asked to take off his leather socks. He ordered me to leave them as he had put them on after performing ablution. So he passed his wet hands over them.'
The above mentioned Ahadeeth, the fact that they are all Sahih Ahadeeth imply that there is no doubt in it being the Sunnah of the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam. Imam Abu Hanifah Rahmatullahi Alayhi is reported to have said concerning one who doesn't believe Masah as being permitted, as an Innovator, rather, some renowned scholars such as Imam Karkhi have gone to the extent saying that the Ahadeeth regarding the passing of wet hands on leather socks number over forty and according to the great Tabi'ee Hasan Basri Rahmatullahi Alayhi, they number over sixty and therefore reached the status of Tawatur (manifestly proven saying of the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and henceforth whoever refuses to believe in its permissibility would be out of the fold of Islam.
Once, the great Imam was questioned about the qualities of the Ahle Sunnah wal Jamaa'ah. He answered by describing them with striking questions. 1) They give precedence to Shaykhayn i.e Hadhrat Abubakr Radhiallaho Anhu and Hadhrat Umar Radhiallaho Anhu over the rest of the companions. 2) They have the two son in-laws Radhiallaho Anhum of the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, and 3) They believe in the passing of wet hands over leather socks. Hence apart from the Shia and Rawafidh sects, there is a complete unity in its permissibility.
However that is regarding leather socks. The Mas'alah is similar concerning Jawrabayn (normal, cotton or woollen socks) with a few necessary conditions. All four Imams are of this opinion due to the following Ahadeeth narrated by Tirmizi and also Abu Dawood on the authority of Muqaira ibn Shu'ba Radhiallaho Anhu that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam performed ablution and passed wet hands on cotton socks with his sandals (also his feet). Abu Musa As'ari relates a Hadith in his Sahih from Hadhrat Bilal Radhiallaho Anhu saying that Rasullullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam used to pass wet hands on both his leather and cotton socks.
Form these Ahadeeth, we understand that the passing of wet hands on socks but only if three conditions are fulfilled.
There is consensus between the Sahabah Radhiallaho Anhum and therefore the four Imams say that these conditions must be fulfilled, otherwise the masah will not be valid. The reason being is, so that these socks become similar in quality and properties to leather socks. Famous companions such as Ibn Mas'ood Radhiallaho Anhu, Bara'ah Radhiallaho Anhu and others have all mentioned these conditions. These conditions are as followed:
1) They must be thick so that water does not enter them.
2) They must not tear if they were walked in for a mile.
3) They must stay stuck to the feet without being tied.
When these conditions are not fulfilled, then there will be hardly any difference in wearing socks and not wearing them and therefore washing the feet will become necessary. Allah knows best.
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