The khuff is a footwear one wipes instead of washing the foot in ablution. The khuff prevents the state of “lesser hadath” (lesser ritual impurity – the one removed by ablution) from reaching the feet for 24 hours (72 hours for the traveler.)
Conditions for Wiping the Khuff
The khuff must be worn after washing the feet, and one must complete the ablution before anything that breaks it happens. In addition, the khuff worn must meet all the following conditions:
- It is suitable for traveling, which means it meets the following 3 conditions:
- Water resistance: its material does not let wetness through to the skin when wiping. Most cotton socks will therefore not be suitable*.
- Firmness: if placed on the floor like a pair of shoes, then the khuff stands by itself unsupported. This includes the part going up the shin until above the ankle (i.e. it remains upright, like the leg of a leather boot)
- Suitability for walking: they should not be made from iron, wood or glass, since one cannot walk significant distances in these.
- It covers all of the area that is obligatory to wash in ablution for the foot (i.e. including the ankle.) Two important exceptions are:
- It is allowed for each khuff to have a hole or holes that do not, when added together, exceed the size of the 3 smallest toes on the foot.
- It is OK if one can see the ankles from above if the khuff goes above the level of the ankle and covers all sides. An example: wearing tall rubber boots.
*Note: the imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal said that one can wipe socks if nothing appears from the skin through them. Thin socks will not do, because the skin appears through the material, especially when being stretched while doing something like putting shoes on.
Invalidators of Wiping the Khuff in Ablution
- Doing something that requires a complete body wash (ghusl), i.e. causes greater ritual impurity
- Taking one single khuff off
- Having most of one single foot reach the (tall) shin of the khuff
- Having worn the khuff for more than 24 hours after breaking ones ablution with the khuff on if one is not a traveler. In other words, if someone took a complete ablution and put the khuff, he starts counting the 24 hours from the moment he broke this ablution. The traveler counts 72 hours (The traveler is someone has exited from the place he was settled, by a distance of about 1 kilometer without buildings, and is intending to travel over 98 kilometer from that breakpoint.). Note that:
- If someone wore the khuff and was not a traveler and then left before the 24 hours were up, he continues to wear them for 72 hours.
- If someone wore the khuff as a traveler and then became a non traveler after 24 hours had past, then he cannot continue wiping the khuff
Using socks over the Khuff
If someone wears a sock on top of the khuff before breaking ones complete ablution (washing the feet) then it is allowed to wipe the sock instead of the khuff. This is provided that wetness from the wiping reaches the khuff underneath.