Question: Is it permissible for a woman to perform salat without covering her feet?
If her lower garment is long enough to cover her feet, it is okay.
All parts of women, except their hands and faces, including their wrists, hanging parts of their hair, and under their feet are awrah (parts of the body that must be covered) for salat in the Hanafi Madhhab. There were also scholars saying that outer parts of their hands were not awrah. According to them, it is permissible for women to perform salat while outer parts of their hands up to their wrists are bare. However, for having followed all of the fiqh books, it is better for women to perform salat wearing a garment with sleeves long enough, or a head cover large enough, to cover their hands. There were scholars who said that women’s feet were not awrah in salat, but those same scholars said that it was sunnat to cover and makruh to uncover them in salat. (Se’adet-i Ebediyye)
There are two qawls (scholarly reports) regarding a woman’s not covering her feet in salat. According to the first qawl, it is makruh. According to the second one, it invalidates her salat. Women should perform salat wearing socks, or a skirt or a dress long enough to cover their feet. (Al Fiqh ‘Ala al-Madhahib al-Arba’ah)
A woman’s salat which she performed with bare heel bones, ankle, neck, or hair is not valid. Thin cloth that lets the shape or color of the thing under it be seen is equal to none. (Umdat-ul-Islam)
In the Shafi’i Madhhab, a woman’s whole body, except her two hands and her face, is awrah all the time.
All of a free woman’s body, except her palms, face, and feet, is awrah. There were scholars who said that her feet were awrah, too. (Halabi al-kabir)
As for covering her feet outside of salat [in the presence of non-mahram men], some scholars said that they were awrah and some said that they were not awrah. Therefore, a woman should cover her feet in salat and outside of salat, but at the same time we should not say that those women who go out without covering their feet are committing haram.
Question: Women cannot perform salat with bare feet because their feet are awrah. As the feet of men are not awrah, is it makruh in the Hanafi Madhhab for them to perform salat barefoot? What if a man performs salat by covering only the region between his navel and knees?
If a man performs salat covering only the region between his navel and knees, his salat will be valid, but it will be makruh. He is counted as having performed the fard obligation, but he cannot earn the great rewards promised in return for salat. It is written in fiqh books:
1. It is much better [for men] to perform salat with clean khuffs or shoes on than to perform it with [their] bare feet. It was ordered in a hadith-i sharif that salat be performed with the feet covered. (Durr-ul-mukhtar)
2. The Messenger of Allah and his Blessed Companions used to perform salat with na’ls (a type of shoe like a khuff) on. A man should perform salat wearing socks or khuffs and thus avoid being like Jews performing salat barefoot. (Radd-ul-mukhtar)
3. It brings much thawab (reward) to perform salat by covering the feet. (Halabi, Bariqa, Hadiqa)
4. It is makruh for a man to enter into salat barefoot. If his shoes or khuffs are dirty, it becomes sunnat on him to cover his feet with clean socks. Just as it is makruh to omit one of the wajib elements of salat, so it is makruh to omit one of its sunnat elements. (İslam Ahlakı)
5. The hadith-i sharif“Perform salat with na’ls [a type of shoe like a khuff] on, lest you be like Jews” shows that it is makruh to perform salat barefoot. (Se’adet-i Ebediyye)
Question: It is written in fiqh books, “To cover the feet with the hands in sajda is makruh.” Why is it makruh to cover them?
It is makruh for a man to enter into salat barefoot. If a man who has started salat barefoot tries to cover his feet in order to avoid committing makruh, he has committed a second makruh.
Since it is makruh to take one’s hands away from one’s thighs while sitting, one should not commit a second makruh in order to make up for the makruh of being barefoot. As written in Halabi al-kabir,it is makruh not to keep the hands in accordance with the sunnat method when standing, in the ruku’, in the sajdas, and when sitting. And it is for this reason that it is written in Maraqi al-falah: “It is makruh to omit a sunnat element. Therefore, it is makruh for men to cover their bare feet with their hands while in the sajda.” (Se’adet-i Ebediyye)
Question: In the Shafi’i Madhhab, it is sunnat for men to perform salat barefoot, while it is makruh in the Hanafi Madhhab. Should everyone act upon the ruling of whichever madhhab s/he follows?
Yes, s/he should. There are a lot of such divergent rulings among madhhabs. For example, in the Shafi’i Madhhab, it is fard (obligatory) to recite Surat al-Fatiha behind the imam, but it is makruh tahrimi in the Hanafi Madhhab. Every person should act upon the ruling of whichever madhhab he or she follows. When we talk about, for example, one of the ruling of the Hanafi Madhhab, those who follow the Shafi’i Madhhab do not have to act upon it.