A. Wiping over the socks is a Sunnah which has come to us from the Messenger of Allah and it is better for the one wearing socks to wipe over them, rather than taking them off to wash his feet.
The evidence for this ruling is the Hadeeth (narration) of Al-Mugheerah Ibn Shu’bah, may Allah be pleased with him, who said that the Prophet once made Wudhoo' (ablution), and that: “I moved to remove his Khuffs (leather socks), but he said: "Leave them, for indeed my feet were in a state of purity when I wore them." So he wiped over them.”
The legislation of wiping over the Khuffs or other kinds of socks and stockings is established in the Quran and Sunnah. Allah Almighty Says in the Quran (what means): “O you who believe! When you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles…” [Quran: 5:6]
There are two correct ways of reciting the phrase 'Wa Arjulakum' (i.e., 'and your feet') having reached us from the Messenger of Allah :
1) Reciting it as: ‘Wa Arjulakum’ with a Fat-ha on the laam, hence linking it in meaning to ‘Wa Wujoohakum’ (i.e, 'and your faces'), i.e. wash the feet.
2) Reciting it as: 'Wa Arjulikum' with a Kasrah on the laam, hence linking it in meaning to ‘Bi Ru’oosikum’ (your heads), i.e. wipe the feet.
That which explains when to wipe the feet and when to wash them is the Sunnah, for the Messenger would wash his feet when they were uncovered, and wipe over them when they were covered by Khuffs.
As for its legislation in the Sunnah, Imaam Ahmad, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "There is no aversion in my heart to wiping. There are forty Hadeeths with regards to it from the Messenger of Allah and his Companions, may Allah be pleased with them."
Question 2. What are the authentic, established conditions for wiping over the socks and what are their evidences?
A. There are four conditions:
The first: that he (who intends to wipe over the socks) be in a state of purity when he wears them. The evidence for this is the saying of the Prophet to Al-Mugheerah, may Allah be pleased with him: "Leave them, for indeed my feet were in a state of purity when I wore them."
The second: that the Khuffs or socks be pure and clean. If they have filth on them then it is not permissible to wipe over them. The evidence for this is that the Messenger prayed with his companions, may Allah be pleased with them, one day in shoes, and during the prayer he removed them. Then he informed his companions that he did so because Jibreel (Gabriel), may Allah exalt his mention, had informed him that they had filth or dirt on them. This indicates that the prayer is not acceptable when there is something in it which is impure, and because when one wipes over the filth, it smears him too, thus nullifying his state of purity.
The third: that he wipes over them when he is in a state of minor impurity, not when he is Junub (i.e., in the state of major impurity) or in any state that necessitates Ghusl (bath). The evidence for that condition is the Hadeeth of Safwaan Ibn 'Assaal, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: “The Messenger of Allah ordered us to not remove our socks for three days and nights when we were on a journey, unless we were Junub, but not after excretion, urination or sleep.” So, the condition is set that the wiping is only for minor impurity, not for the major impurity.
The fourth: that the wiping be for the period determined by the Sharee'ah (Islamic Law), and that is a day and a night for one who is resident, and three days and nights for the one on a journey. This is due to the Hadeeth of 'Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: “The Messenger set a limit of one day and night for the resident, and three days and nights for the traveller,” meaning for wiping over the Khuffs. [Muslim] For the resident, this period lasts for twenty-four hours, starting from the first time one wipes over the socks, and seventy-two hours for the traveller.
So, if we were to assume that one (who is resident) purified himself for Fajr (dawn prayer) on Wednesday at 5am, then covered his feet with socks and kept them on, and passed wind and renewed his ablution, and then he remained in this state till the Ishaa' (night) prayer, then he slept and woke for Fajr at 5am on Thursday, then he has to make Wudhoo' and uncover and wash his feet, as the period has expired. But were he to make Wudhoo' before 5am, then it would have been acceptable for him to wipe and he could then pray Fajr with this wiping. He can keep praying as much as he wishes afterwards with that same Wudhoo', for it does not become void when the period of wiping ends, according to the strongest opinion of the scholars. This is because the Messenger did not set a time period for the state of purity, rather, he set a time period for the wiping only.
So, when the period for wiping has finished then there is no wiping after this, but if one was in a state of purity when the period expired, then his state of purity remains. This is because this state of purity has been established according to the dictates of the Sharee'ah, so it cannot be removed except by evidence from the Sharee'ah. There is no evidence for the state of Wudhoo' ending as the time period for the wiping ends. Besides these conditions set for wiping over the Khuffs (and socks), there are other conditions that some scholars mentioned, but these are controversial.