Prayers: Covering ankles

Q474 :If there is a Hadith which requires men to expose there ankles, is there any need for more clarification by scholars? My friends argue that rulings are needed only on those situations which are not mentioned in the Qur'an or the Hadith.

A474 : It is true that when you have a Qur'anic verse or a pronouncement by the Prophet (peace be upon him), which is directly related to a certain situation, then no one can give a special ruling on the matter. However, there are numerous situations in which the role of a scholar is to relate the statements available to each particular case. In such situations, verdicts are required and these take the form of a religious ruling or a fatwa. This task should never be under-estimated. It is very important task and can only be done after a thorough study of Islam and how rulings are deduced from available statement. You speak about men being required to expose their ankles and ask whether there is any need for any clarification by scholars. What I can tell you is that if there is any Qur'anic verse or authentic Hadith which explicitly makes this requirement, then no one can argue about it or make a statement that differs with it. But such a requirement is certainly not mentioned in the Qur'an. I have not seen or heard of any Hadith which aspires to any degree of authenticity which makes that requirement of all Muslim men. Indeed, the reverse is true, because in cold winter days, the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and other Muslims used to wear what is known as "khuff" which is a pair of soft shoes which normally cover the ankles. Moreover, the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to wear socks and wipe over them, when they needed to have ablutions or wudhu. It is well known that socks cover the ankles. Having said that, I should perhaps explain that in the early days of Islam, it was socially considered a sign of arrogance for any person to wear a dress lower than the middle part of his legs. That [social consideration] meant that the proper dress of a man reached down midway between one's knees and one's ankles. To show any sign of arrogance or to demonstrate conceit is forbidden in Islam. Hence, the insistence of some scholars on the need to wear what is modest and far from suggesting conceit. Nowadays, most Muslim societies have a different view of appropriate dress for men. Many are the Muslim communities where the normal dress is that of a suit, socks and shoes. This means covering of ones legs including one's feet. If this is the normal type of dress, it follows that it is perfectly acceptable to wear during prayers. Otherwise, if we were to insist on the same length of dress which used to be worn in the early Islamic days, we would require anyone who wears a suit to take off his shoes and socks, and fold up his trousers. This is totally unnecessary because it neither follows a Sunnah nor gives a decent appearance. I can tell you that a great deal ... is being said by people who have little knowledge of Islamic fiqh. There is simply no virtue in exposing ankles, whether in prayer or outside it. Anyone who has a different view should support it by evidence from the Qur'an or the Hadith.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )