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Masah (Arabic مسح) refers to the act of ritually cleaning the head or feet with a small amount of water, running the wet hands over the head or feet before prayer (salat) in the Islamic faith. The term pre-dates Islam and shares the same root as the word Maseeh (Messiah) which is used for one who is anointed, in religious terms by God.
Masah of the head
Wet hands should be passed all over the head, with a deliberate stroke downwards from the top of the head; then index fingers are placed in ear canal while thumbs pass behind ears & lobes; then swipe back of hands over neck nape. This is done in one continuous motion, without refreshing the hands with water for each component. NOTE: Hands should not be passed around the fore-neck as it is prohibited. One may not make masah over a Muslim head cap, and wet hands must actually touch the head.
Masah of the feet
If one has performed (Wudu or Ghusl), followed immediately by covering feet with the socks, then Masah can be done over leather socks (khuffs) by wiping the covering of the feet, as long as the (Wudu or Ghusl) remains unbroken between prayers, BUT it is not permissible to do masah if the leather socks have significant holes, after 24 hours have passed at home or after passage of 3 days while traveling.
Conditions of Masah
- The socks must be strong enough to enable walking in them on roads for approximately three miles without the socks tearing.
- The socks should remain in position (covering the foreleg) without being tied; they should not slip.
- Water must not be able to seep through.
Type of socks where Masah is allowed
- Khuffain (leather socks): Permissible.
- Thin socks (not made of leather, nor having the qualities of leather, but like regular socks made from cotton, wool, or nylon): Impermissible. It is not established with enough evidence that these would enable one to take leave from the order of washing the feet as mentioned in the Qur'an.
- Thick socks (not made from leather, but have the qualities of leather): According to some Jurists, permissible. According to others, impermissible.
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