I was out hiking with my friends in the lovely scenic reservoir of Dovestone, Oldham, UK. When the time for prayer came I spread out my travel prayer mat and started to pray in the direction of Makkah (Mecca). I did not take off my shoes when I prayed.
When I finished my prayer my friends looked confused and asked me, “Can you Pray with Shoes on in Islam?”. I gave them a Sunnah smile and replied, “Yes”. =)
Then it occurred to me how many times I get asked this same question. So I thought I’d produce this comprehensive helpful guide for everyone. And answer all questions around the topic praying with shoes on.
Can you Pray with Shoes on in Islam?
Yes, Muslims can pray Salah (the five daily prayers) with their shoes on.
It is permissible to pray with shoes on as long as the shoes are clean and do not have any filthy impurity on them. Having some dirt and dust on them is fine. What’s prohibited is having something on them that the sharia would consider impure.
The evidence for wearing shoes in prayer is found in the hadith of our Prophet (peace be upon him). The beloved companions of our Prophet (may Allah be pleased with them all) loved the Messenger dearly. They would document every action of our Prophet (peace be upon him). In one such evidence the companion Sa’id informed us that the Prophet would wear his shoes in prayer.
Sa`id bin Yazid Al-Azdi: I asked Anas bin Malik whether the Prophet (peace be upon him) had ever prayed with his shoes on. He replied “Yes.”
[Collected by Sahih al Bukhari • Vol. 1, Book 8, Hadith 383]
Can you Pray with your Sneakers/Trainers on?
Yes, you are allowed to pray with your sneakers/trainers on in Islam. Any type of clean footwear is fine to wear during prayer (Salah). Praying with shoes, slippers, sneakers, trainers, sandals is all acceptable and permitted in Islam.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) would pray with his shoes/sandals on. The evidence for this is found in many hadith of the Prophet. The companions of the Messenger thoroughly documented the Prophet wearing shoes in prayer.
“My grandfather, Aws, used to perform prayer, and sometimes he would make a gesture while praying, and I would give him his sandals. He said: ‘I saw the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) performing prayer in his sandals.’” – [Collected by Sunan ibn Majah • Vol. 1, Book 5, Hadith 1037 • Graded Sahih]
If there is impurity on your trainers then this must be cleaned before praying. But praying with sneakers/trainers on is perfectly fine.
Is it Sunnah to Pray with your Shoes on?
Yes, it is Sunnah to pray with your shoes on. Wearing shoes in prayer is a forgotten Sunnah (tradition) of our Messenger (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) would normally pray with his shoes on. There are numerous authentic narrations that show us that the normal practice of our Prophet (peace be upon him) was to pray with his shoes on.
In one such narration the Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded the Muslims to pray with their shoes on.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon) said: “Act differently to the Jews. They do not pray in their sandals or their shoes.” – [Collected by Sunan Abi Dawud • Book 2, Hadith 652 • Graded Sahih]
In the above narration the Prophet commanded us to differentiate ourselves from our Jewish friends. The normal custom of Jewish people and their Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) was to take off their shoes in prayer.
Prophet Moses would wear sandals. When he went to Mount Sinai in the miracle of the burning bush Allah commanded him to take off his sandals.
And when he came to it, he was called, “O Moses, Indeed, I am your Lord, so remove your sandals. Indeed, you are in the sacred valley of Tuwa. – [Qur’an 20:11-12]
A similar message is given by God Almighty in the Old Testament. Moses (peace be upon him) is commanded to take off his shoes.
“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” – [Book of Exodus 3:5]
The tradition of the previous Prophets and their nation was to take off their shoes before prayer. The Sunnah (tradition) of our beloved Messenger and his nation is to wear shoes during prayer.
We should all try to revive this Sunnah of our Prophet and wear shoes during prayer.
Conditions for Wearing Shoes in Prayer
1. Your shoes must be clean and free from impurities
The first condition for wearing shoes in prayer is that your shoes must be clean. All impurities and filth must be removed before starting the prayer.
The evidence for this is found in the hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
While the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was leading his Companions in prayer. He took off his shoes and laid them on his left side. So when the people saw this, they removed their shoes too. When the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) finished his prayer, he asked: “What made you remove your shoes?” They replied: “We saw you remove your shoes, so we removed our shoes.” The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) then said “Angel Gabriel came to me and informed me that there was filth in them. So when any of you comes to the mosque, he should see; if he finds filth on his shoes, he should wipe it off and pray in them.” – [Collected by Sunan Abi Dawud • Book 2, Hadith 650 • Graded Sahih]
In the sharia dirt and dust are not considered impure (najas). In fact when a Muslim does not have access to clean water we are commanded to do ‘tayammum’ instead of wudu. Tayammum is a dry ritual purification where we do the actions of wudu with dry earth or dirt when water is not available. So if your shoes have dirt or dust on them this is fine and pure and you can pray in them without a problem.
What’s considered impure in the sharia is things such as urine and feces (or faeces). So if you happen to be walking on the street and stepped on urine or feces. Then you must clean your shoes before praying with them. This is what is being referred to in the hadith above when the Prophet instructs us to remove any filth on our shoes before prayer.
2. You should be able to perform all actions of the Salah properly
The second ‘Sunnah’ condition for wearing shoes in prayer is that you are able to do all the foot postures of the prayer properly. I say the ‘Sunnah’ condition because this is not a necessary condition of the prayer. Your prayer is accepted even if you did not position your feet like the Messenger did. However, since we are talking about reviving Sunnahs of the Messenger. It would defeat the purpose if we revive one Sunnah at the expense of losing another.
The Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is that when he was in the sitting position in prayer he would sit on his left foot and prop up his right foot. The toes of his right foot would then face forward towards the Qiblah. This is known as Iftirash.
We have many authentic narrations to show that the Prophet sat in the iftirash position. One such narration is from the companion Muhammad bin `Amr bin `Ata’ (may Allah be pleased with him). He reported that when the Prophet prayed he sat on his left foot and propped up the right one.
“On sitting In the second rak`a he sat on his left foot and propped up the right one.” – [Collected by Sahih al Bukhari • Vol. 1, Book 12, Hadith 791 • Graded Sahih]
At the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) the footwear that people wore were thin animal skin or leather. They did not have thick hard soles like we have today in our modern footwear and Nike trainers/sneakers. So doing the foot postures of the prayer while wearing shoes was easier at the time of the Messenger.
So if you have thick soles on your shoes which would prevent you from sitting in the iftirash position. And imitate the proper foot posture of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the prayer. Then perhaps it is better to take off your shoes and pray.
As mentioned above, it is not a condition of the prayer to sit in the iftirash position with your right foot propped up. So if you are travelling outside and want to pray with your shoes on this is fine. Despite you not being able to prop up your right foot and bend your toes to face the Qiblah with your shoes on. But let’s all try our best not to revive one Sunnah by leaving off another.
Why are Shoes not Allowed in a Mosque?
The mosques at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) were not like the mosques we have today. During the time of our Prophet (peace be upon him) the mosque floor consisted of sand and dust. It was also common for the mosque floor to get muddy when it rained. So naturally people would wear shoes and sandals to the mosque.
Alhamdulillah today we have many resources available to us. We like to decorate the ‘houses of Allah’ (our mosques) with fancy expensive carpets and floors made of beautiful marble. Therefore, it is not befitting to wear shoes that have dirt and mud on them into the mosque. You would be bringing in all the mess from outside into the mosque carpets and ruin the floor.
In many authentic narrations our Prophet (peace be upon him) told us that cleanliness is half of faith.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Cleanliness is half of faith and al-Hamdu Liliah (Praise be to Allah) fills the scale, and Subhan Allah (Glory be to Allah) and al-Hamdu Liliah (Praise be to Allah) fill upwhat is between the heavens and the earth” – [Collected by Sahih Muslim – Graded Sahih]
Our Prophet (peace be upon him) also told us the importance of keeping the houses of Allah (mosques) clean and tidy. He praised actions of people who cleaned and perfumed the mosques.
“The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saw some sputum in the Qiblah of the Masjid. He became so angry that his face turned red. Then a woman from the Ansar went and scratched off, and put some perfume in its place. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: ‘What a good deed this is.’”
[Collected by Sunan an-Nasa’i • Vol. 1, Book 8, Hadith 729 • Graded Sahih]
In another narration we learn about a woman who used to sweep the mosque of the Prophet and keep it clean. Most of the community probably didn’t even notice her. But Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) noticed her and appreciated her good deed.
When she passed away the Prophet (peace be upon him) was saddened and offered her funeral prayer. This shows to us the importance of keeping the houses of Allah (mosques) clean. And the great appreciation in our religion for those that clean the mosques.
A black man or a black woman used to sweep the mosque and he or she died. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked about her (or him). He was told that she (or he) had died. He said, “Why did you not inform me? Show me his grave (or her grave).” So he went to her (his) grave and offered her (his) funeral prayer.”
[Collect by Sahih al Bukhari • Vol. 1, Book 8, Hadith 448 • Graded Sahih]
This is why ‘wearing shoes in a mosque’ is not allowed. You will find many mosques that have a sign “take your shoes off before entering the mosque”. So that the mosques can remain clean and pure.
Can you Pray with your Shoes on Outside?
Yes, when you are outside you can pray with your shoes on. Since you cannot pray with your shoes on in most mosques due to cleanliness. When you are outside this is the ideal time to revive a forgotten Sunnah of the Messenger (peace be upon him) and pray with your shoes on.
The previous nations were restricted to only praying in their houses of worship. But in Islam Allah has made the entire earth a place of worship for us. So praying outside is permitted and if you happen have your shoes on then you can pray in your shoes.
Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: “The entire earth has been made for me clean and a place of worship.”
[Collected by Sahih Muslim • Book 4, Hadith 1062 • Graded Authentic]
The best and most rewarding time to pray is at the starting time of the prayer. So if you happen to be travelling and the time for prayer starts. You can pray anywhere that is clean and dry and can pray with your shoes on.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “And whenever the time comes for prayer, pray there for that is a mosque (for you).”
[Collected by Sahih Muslim • Book 4, Hadith 1056 • Graded Authentic]
Can you do Wudu with Shoes on?
Yes, you can do wudu with your shoes on. Providing the shoes cover the entire foot up till the ankle and you put the shoes on after doing wudu or taking a bath.And as long as you haven’t invalidated your wudu before you put your shoes on.
The Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is to wipe over your shoes instead of washing your whole feet. The Prophet (peace be upon him) would have his Khuff (leather socks) on and do wudu over them. In Arabic the word Khuff refers to any sort of footwear that covers up till the ankle. So leather socks, shoes, trainers are all acceptable as footwear you can wipe over in wudu.
The evidence for doing wudu with shoes on and wiping over them is found in the authentic Sunnah.
Mughira b. Shu’ba reported: I was with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) one night. He came down (from his ride) and relieved himself. He then came and I poured water upon him from the jar that I carried with me. He performed ablution (wudu) and wiped over his khuff (socks).
[Collected by Sahih Muslim • Book 2, Hadith 526 • Graded Authentic]
Conclusion and Important Disclaimer for Praying with Shoes on
In this article we have learned from the authentic sources of Islam about ‘praying with shoes on’. We also learned that praying with shoes on is a forgotten Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah. And we should try and revive this Sunnah where we can.
However, I must mention a very important disclaimer. The Sunnah of wearing shoes in prayer should only be practiced where people normally would pray with their shoes on. This is usually outside and not in the mosque. The reasons for this have been discussed above.
It is not as if it is haram (forbidden) to take off your shoes when you pray. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prayed both ways; with his shoes on and his shoes off. The evidence for this is found in books of hadith.
The companion Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-‘As (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated. I saw the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) praying both barefooted and wearing sandals.
[Collected by Sunan Abi Dawud • Book 2, Hadith 653 • Graded Hasan]
So do not argue with people and insist on wearing your shoes when you pray in a mosque or clean area. And then claim you are “reviving a Sunnah of the Messenger”. Arguing with people defeats the purpose of reviving a Sunnah.
Always remember our Prophet (peace be upon him) was sent as a mercy to all the worlds. Allah does not show mercy to the one that does not show mercy to the people and Allah commands mercy in everything. So be gentle with the people and explain to them with mercy and respectfully. If they do not understand then pray with your shoes off and avoid argumentation.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said. “I guarantee a house in Jannah for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right.” – [Sunan Abi Dawud]
[Collected in Riyad as-Salihin • Book 1, Hadith 630 • Graded authentic by Imam Al-Nawawi
Share this resource with others so they can also learn about this forgotten Sunnah of the Messenger.
All evidence provided are from authentic (sahih) and reliable (hasan) sources.