Question # 507: Should we pray in shoes with which walk in the streets? What about slippers? Please provide authentic ahadith and statements from major scholars of Islam with references.
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: It is proved from the authentic sunnah of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) that it is permissible to pray while wearing shoes provided there is no impurity on them. If a person forgets about some impurity on his shoes and prays while wearing them, then he has to take them off when he finds out or remembers it. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) enjoined this concession so as to differ from the Jews. However, this act has to do with the kind of shoes and mosque at that time. No doubt the mosques were not furnished with carpets then, rather the floors were of sand and pebbles. Nowadays mosques are furnished with carpeting, in such a situation, it is better to take off the shoes, so as to avoid making the carpets dirty. The one who is keen to follow this Sunnah can apply it when praying at home, or when praying in places where there are no furnishings or carpets, such as parks, beaches, and out of doors, etc.
Long Answer: One of the conditions which must be met before starting to pray is to make sure that one’s body and clothes and the place in which the Muslim is going to pray are all clean and free of impurities. It was narrated from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) that he used to pray while wearing his shoes. Anas ibn Maalik (رضي الله عنه) was asked, “Did the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) pray wearing shoes?” He said, “Yes.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). This is to be understood as meaning, so long as there is no impurity on the shoes; if there is any impurity on them then it is not permissible to pray in them. If a person forgets and prays wearing shoes when there is some impurity on them, then he has to take them off when he finds out or remembers. This is because of the hadith of Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (رضي الله عنه) who said: “While the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was leading his companions in prayer, he took off his shoes and placed them to his left. When the people saw that, they took off their shoes too. When the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) finished his prayer, he asked, ‘What made you take off your shoes?’ They said, ‘We saw you take off your shoes, so we took ours off too.’ The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, ‘Jibreel (عليه السلام) came to me and told me that there was something dirty on them.’ When any one of you comes to the mosque, let him look and if he sees anything dirty on his shoes, let him wipe them and then pray in them.” (Abu Dawood; classed as saheeh by al-Albani in Saheeh Abi Dawood).
[And Abu Dawood narrated from ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb, from his father, that his grandfather said: I saw the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) praying both barefoot and wearing shoes (This was also narrated by Ibn Maajah).]
One of the reasons why the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) prayed wearing shoes is to be found in the hadith, “Be different from the Jews, who do not pray in their shoes or in their leather slippers (khufoof).” (Abu Dawood, 652; classed as saheeh by al-Albani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 607). That is regarded as mustahabb for the purpose of differing from non-Muslims, as stated above.
Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “When any of you prays and takes off his sandals, he should not harm anyone by them. He should place them between his feet or pray with them on.” (Reported by Abu Daawood; graded saheeh by Al-Albani)
This has to do with the kind of shoes and with the mosque at that time. [There is no doubt that their mosques were not furnished with carpets, rather the floors were of sand and pebbles, so it did not matter if they entered the mosque wearing shoes.] However, if the mosque is furnished with carpeting [like nowadays], then the mosque should be kept clean of shoes, and no one should enter wearing shoes lest the place is made dirty. (Fataawa Samaahat al-Shaykh ‘Abd-Allah ibn Humayd). Moreover, the furnishings of the mosque are a waqf that should not be damaged or destroyed, and if dirt gets onto the carpets it will offend those who pray and prostrate on them. Hence no one should enter wearing shoes and walk on the carpets in the mosque in shoes, lest he damages them or makes them dirty.
Shaykh Ibn Baaz was asked: What is the ruling on praying in shoes? He replied: “The ruling is that it is mustahabb after checking to make sure they are clean, because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) used to pray in his shoes, and because the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “The Jews and Christians do not pray in their khufoof (leather socks) or shoes, so be different from them.” But if a person prays barefoot, that does not matter, because it is proven that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) also prayed barefoot sometimes. If the mosque is furnished with carpets, it is better to take the shoes off, so as to avoid making the carpets dirty or putting other Muslims off the idea of prostrating on it (Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn Baaz).
Shaykh al-Albani said: I have advised our Salafi brothers not to be so strict concerning this issue – i.e., praying in shoes in the mosques – because there is a difference between the mosques nowadays which are furnished with fine carpets, and the Prophet’s Mosque in the early days of Islam. I gave them the analogy of another example from the Sunnah, wherein in another story the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) ordered the one who needed to spit whilst praying to spit to his left or beneath his feet. This was acceptable because the floor in the mosque where the person had to spit was made of sand or pebbles. But nowadays the prayer hall of the mosque is furnished with carpets, so do they say that it is permissible to spit on the carpets?! Both cases are the same.
Based on this, it is better not to pray in the mosque wearing shoes nowadays, except for one for whom it is difficult to take off his shoes; he may pray in them after making sure that they are clean and that he will not annoy those who are next to him. If this will lead to some kind of argument and resentment and will put others off, then it is better for him to take his shoes off, in the interests of harmony among Muslims and not causing enmity and hatred.
The one who is keen to follow this Sunnah can apply it when praying at home, or when praying in places where there are no furnishings or carpets, such as parks, beaches, and out of doors, etc. If this action confuses some of those who are unaware of the Sunnah, he should explain to them that it is Sunnah before he does it, so that they will not find that odd.
(The above reply is based on various answers on similar topics provided by:
- Islamqa.info; and
- Islamweb.net, a web site belonging to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs in the State of Qatar)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.