Rafed English

The Wiping or Washing of the Feet in the Wudu

The scholars of Islam have differed on the type of purification of the feet [required] for the parts of the wudu. The jurists of the masses have stated (and amongst them are the four Imams), that it is obligatory to specifically wash [the feet]. Dawud b. 'Ali and al-Nasir li'l-Haqq, who are amongst the Imams of the Zaydiyya, have stated it is obligatory to combine between the washing and the wiping, whereas some of them have said one can choose between the two. The Imamis (in following the Imams of the pure family) have said it is obligatory to wipe.

The proof of the Imamis

 

[The proof] is the saying of the Most High: "And wipe your heads and your feet up to the anklebones."(5:6) For us, the reasoning as explained by Imam al-Razi is sufficient. When arguing based on this verse he stated in detail saying: "The proof of those who say it is obligatory to wipe is based on two famous readings in the [Qur'anic] statement 'and your feet' (verse 5:6). Ibn Kathir, Hamza, Abu 'Amr and 'Asim - based on the reports of Abu Bakr narrated from him - have recited it in the genitive case; Nafi', Ibn 'Amir and 'Asim have recited it, according to the tradition reported by Hafs from him, in the accusative case." He (al-Razi) said: "So we say, as for the recitation in the genitive, it would necessitate the feet [in the verse] to being a conjunction with the head. Therefore, just as it is obligatory to wipe on the head, similarly [it is so] on the feet." (Al-Razi said): "If it is said why is it not permissible to claim that the [word feet] ends in the genitive case due to the rule [stating] that the genitive case is inserted based on what closest to it as it is in the saying 'the hole of a lizard is destroyed' and 'the leaders of the people are wrapped up in a garment?'

We say: This is invalid for several reasons: 1) The [rule of the] genitive case being inserted based on the word closest to it is considered to be a mistake which is tolerated due to the needs of a poem, whereas the speech of God is necessarily above that. 2) The above rule is only applied where the possibility of confusion is safeguarded against like the saying "the hole of a lizard is destroyed" for it is necessarily known that that destruction is not attributed to a lizard, rather, it is to a hole, whereas there are no safeguards against confusion in this verse. 3) The [rule of the] genitive case being inserted based on the word closest to it is applicable [only] when there is no conjunction; as for when there is a conjunction the Arabs do not use it." And al-Razi [further] said: "As for the reading [of the feet in the verse] being in the accusative case, they have said that this also requires the wiping and that is because of His saying 'and wipe your heads,' the [word] head [in the sentence] is in an accusative position, due to the command 'wipe' - as it (the head) is the object [in the sentence], but it is [written] in the genitive case due to the preposition ba. So if 'the feet' are conjoined to 'the head' [in the sentence] then we are allowed to read 'the feet' in the accusative case, as it is conjoined to the position of the head [which is in the accusative case in the sentence]. We are [also] allowed to read it in the genitive case as a conjunction (to the apparent preposition)." He said: "If this is clear, then we say it is clear for us that it is permissible that the 'amil (a word governing another in syntactical regimen) of the accusative in His saying '...and your feet....' be His saying 'wipe.' [However] it is permissible that [the 'amil] be His saying 'wash' but if the two 'amils are combined on one word, then the closest one is the best [to use]." He said: "It is obligatory that the 'amil of the accusative in His saying 'and your feet' be His command 'wipe.'" (Al-Razi said): "So it is clear that the recitation of 'and your feet' in the accusative also leads to the wiping [of the feet].

Then they [objected] saying it is not permissible to defend it (the wiping) by traditions because all of them are in the form of singular traditions and the apogation of the Qur'an by a singular tradition is not allowed." This is his speech word to word, nothing is left out, but he (al-Razi) further said: "There are many traditions reported on the obligation of washing. Washing [the feet] includes the wiping whereas the opposite is not the case. Therefore washing is closer to observing caution. So it is necessary to opt for it (washing). On this basis, it is necessary to be sure that the washing of the feet takes the place of the wiping" etc. I say, as for the traditions on washing, you will know the view of the Imams of the ahl al-bayt and their friends about it soon, God willing.

As for his saying that the washing includes the wiping, this is a clear mistake, rather, they are two [separate] entities linguistically, according to custom and the shari'a. It is necessary to note that washing the feet cannot take the place of wiping them. Imam al-Razi stood between two opposites; the contradictions between the fixed Qur'anic verse and, in his view, the authentic traditions; he therefore confused himself by saying that the washing includes the wiping and that it is closer to the most cautious [course] and that it takes the place of the wiping. [In doing this] he thought thereby that he combined the verse and the traditions. One who examines this defence of his will find him in confusion. Had there not been a clear verse indicating the obligation of wiping on the feet, he would not have needed to make the washing take the place [of the wiping] so examine and contemplate carefully.

A group of the intelligent scholars of fiqh and Arabic trod this path, amongst them was the jurist and researcher Shaykh Ipahim al-Halabi who studied the verse on the wudu in his book called "Ghaniyah al-Mutamla fi sharh maniyya al-musalli 'ala madhhab al-Hanafi." He said: "It (the feet in the aforementioned verse) has been recited by the seven [reciters] in the accusative and the genitive cases; the famous opinion is [to recite] it in the accusative case, conjoined to 'on your faces' and the genitive case is inserted on that word which is closest to it". He (al-Halabi) said: "And the correct view is that the feet are conjoined to the head in the two recitations, [it can be recited in] the accusative due to the position in the sentence (as it is the object in the sentence) and they (the feet in the statement) can be recited in the genitive case due to the preposition." He continued: "That is because of the prohibition of the conjunction [of the feet] to 'on your faces' because of the separation between the conjunction ('atf) and that which it is conjoined to (ma'tuf alayh) due to a foreign sentence (which is 'wipe your heads')." He said: "And the rule is that there should be no separation between the two (the conjunction and what it is conjoined to) by a word let alone by a sentence. We did not hear in pure Arabic that I hit Zayd and I passed by Bakr and 'Amr with a conjunction of 'Amr on Zayd. As for the genitive case being inserted based on the word which is closest to it, it can occur rarely in adjectives like the saying of some of them: "This hole of the lizard is destroyed."

And amongst those who travelled this clear path is Abu'l-Hasan al-Imam Muhammad b. 'Abd al-Hadi known as al-Sanadi in his commentary on the Sunan of Ibn Maja. He says (after being sure that the apparent meaning of the Qur'an requires wiping): "The wiping is the apparent meaning from the book because reciting it in the genitive case is apparent in it; however, imposing the recitation in the accusative case by making it a conjunction to the position [in the sentence] is better than preferring the recitation in the genitive case over the accusative case as stated by the grammarians." (He said): "Also, by doing this, we are free from the separation by a foreign (sentence) between the conjunction and what it is conjoined to. So the apparent meaning in the Qur'an is the wiping." These are his words but, like others, he deemed it necessary to interpret the Qur'an [according] to the traditions which explicitly talk of the washing."

Concerning this verse, Imam al-Zamakhshari has philosophized it in his al-Kashshaf [saying]: "The feet are amongst the three parts which are to be washed by pouring water on them; they (the feet) are the place one expects the prohibited extravagance of water [to be practised], hence it was conjoined to the third part of the wudu [which is] to be wiped; it was conjoined to it (the head) not for the sake of wiping but to indicate the necessity of moderation when pouring water on the feet." He said: "And the verse states 'to the anklebones' as the final point [in washing] to remove any thoughts of those who might think that they (the feet) are to be wiped since no limits have been imposed on the wiping in the shari'a."

This is the reasoning offered for the conjunction of the feet on the head and for mentioning the limits [of wiping] on the feet. As you can see, nothing in it is derived from the shari'a rulings from the fixed verse. Neither is there anything concerning it in the exegesis, nor is there any verse which proves it (his view). He is merely trying to interpret the verse according to his views rather than deriving his views from the proofs. He has exceeded the limits in his speculations, nobody pays heed to him except one who is convinced of washing the feet based on primary juristic rulings. As for it being a point of contention, it is not to be paid heed to especially after their admission that the apparent meaning of the book indicates the obligation to wipe. Sufficient for us is the Arabic [grammatical] rule that the feet are conjoined to the wiped head, this is according to the agreement of the sources and juridical rulings.

Adapted from: "Questions on Jurisprudence" by: "Abdul Hussein Shareefaldin Al-Musawi"

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