Fatwa No : 86901
Men praying with pants below the ankle
Fatwa Date : Rajab 16, 1425 / 1-9-2004
While I was praying at a Masjid a brother stopped me and said that one must have clothes (pants/ Arabic dress, pajamas etc.) above the ankle. In-other words men should not cover their ankle while praying. As a result I fold my pants above the ankle and perform my Salat. Please comment.
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; and may His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions.
Al Bukhari reported that Abu Hurairah (Radiya Allahu Anhu) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said: "The dress that is under the ankle is in the Hellfire." This is an evidence that it is forbidden to be dressed with a garment that covers the ankle and goes below it, and this applies to circumstances during the prayer and outside the prayer. Of course, it is more prohibited during the prayer because prayer requires humbleness. Being dressed with a garment that covers the ankle and goes below it is a sign of arrogance and pride.
For this reason the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) told one man, "Have your lower garment halfway down your shin; if you cannot do it, have it up to the ankles. Beware of trailing the lower garment, for it is conceit." This Hadith is reported by Ahmad and Abu Dawud and it is authenticated by Albani and Shuayb Al Arnout.
Abu Dawud reported that Abu Hurairah said: "While a man was praying with a garment below the ankle, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) interrupted him and told him “go and make Wudu”. So the man went, performed Wudu and came back. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) told him again “go and make Wudu”. He went, performed Wudu and came back. Another man asked the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) ‘why is it that you ordered him to make Wudu. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said: “He was praying with a garment that was below the ankle, and Allah does not accept the prayer of a man who is dressed below the ankle”." Imam Al Nawawi said in ‘Riyadh Al Saliheen’ that 'The chain of narrators of this Hadith is authentic according to the conditions of Muslim. The writer of ‘Awn Al M’abood also said that this Hadith is sound.'
Therefore, you did well by doing what the brother had advised you. You have to continue doing so for the prayer and outside the prayer. But you have to notice that folding up clothes during the prayer is disliked. This is because the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) prevented us from doing so.
This prevention is understood by the scholars as being prevention from falling into what is disliked. As you were forced to fold up your clothes to avoid having the garment below the ankle, something which is Haram during prayer and outside prayer, and in the aforementioned Hadith it is one reason why the prayer is not accepted. So we do not see any harm in what you did, acting upon the rule of committing “the lesser of two evils”. Of course, having the garment below the ankle is more serious than just folding it up, in two aspects:
Firstly, being dressed with a garment below the ankle is forbidden for men – according to the preferred opinion – either during the prayer or outside the prayer.
Folding up clothes is disliked during the prayer only and it is not forbidden in any case.
Secondly, the meaning of the Hadith is that being dressed below the ankle renders the prayer unacceptable, and this does not apply to folding up clothes.
Allah knows best.