Q. If a man wears his trousers (pants) below his ankles, does this invalidate his prayers in the Hanafi Mazhab? Is it the same rule for the muqtadi who follows an imam who offers namaz with the pants below his ankles?
A. Wearing one’s trousers below the ankles has been prohibited in the traditions of the Prophet (S.A).
In the Sunan of Abu Dawood, the Prophet (S.A) said, ‘There are three people to whom Allah will not speak on the day of Judgement. He will not look to them with mercy and will not forgive their sins, and for them will be a severe punishment’. Then while speaking about the three people, the Prophet (S.A) said, ‘and he who wears his garment (trousers) below the ankles’. (Sunan Abu Dawood – Chapter which comes about Isbal of the trousers)
In another tradition, the Prophet (S.A) said to a person, ‘Beware of wearing the trousers below the ankles, for this is from the boastful and arrogant people’. (Abu Dawood, Nasai, Tirmizi)
On account of this, as well as other traditions, it is generally prohibited to wear one’s trousers below the ankles. It is for this reason, the scholars have mentioned that it is Makrooh (reprehensible). If this is done out of pride and arrogance, then the ruling will be Makrooh Tahreemi (reprehensible to a grave extent). (Bazhul Majhood –Commentary of Abu Dawood)
With respect to the references of the books of Hanafi Fiqh, one will see that they have given the ruling that it will be Makrooh Tanzihi (reprehensible to a light nature) for matters that are lighter than this. For example, in the famous book Ghunyat Al Mutamalli-Commentary of Munyat Al Musalli (known as Ash Sharhul Kabir), the author, Ash Shaikh Ibraheem Al Halabi Al Hanafi (d. 956 A.H) has written, ‘It is Makrooh to do ‘Sadl’, that is, to throw one’s clothing loosely on himself for Salaah without wearing it properly. ‘Sadl’ also refers to throwing a cloth on the head or shoulders and leaving its ends to fall loosely. These acts are known to be Makrooh in Salaat. (Ghunyat Al Mutamalli pg.347, Raddul Mukhtar (Shami) vol.1 pg.739)
‘It is also mentioned that it is Makrooh to perform Salaah with one’s head uncovered out of laziness. It is also Makrooh to perform Salaah with clothing which people normally wear to do their daily work and chores (since these are normally dirty). (Ghunyat Al Mutamalli pg.349, Raddul Mukhtar (Shami) vol.1 pg.740)
There are many more Mas’alas (laws) recorded in these authentic books of Hanafi Fiqh which show the different things which are Makrooh in Salaah. When we look at some of these, we will see that they are lighter than the act of wearing one’s trousers below the ankles. In fact, this act brings about severe punishment from Allah. It is for this reason the great Hanafi Scholar, Al Imam Al Muhadith Ash Shaikh Khaleel Ahmad (d.1346 A.H) has written, ‘The scholars have stated, ‘it is Mustahab to wear one’s trousers or clothing to half of the shin. And it is permissible without dislike, to wear it beneath the shin, but above the ankles. Whatever is below the ankles, this is prohibited. As such, if one wears it out of pride and arrogance, then it is prohibited with the prohibition of unlawfulness, and if it is not for this reason, then the prohibition is lighter’. (Bazhul Majhood vol.12 pg.113)
Due to the severity of wearing one’s trousers below the ankles, the scholars have written that one who violates the ruling of the Prophet (S.A), and wears the trousers below the ankles, then he is guilty of committing an act of transgression/sin, and will thus be termed a Fasiq. As such, when an Imam does this act while leading Salaah, it means that a Fasiq Imam is leading Salaah, and in the books of Hanafi Fiqh, his Imamat (leadership) will be deemed as Makrooh Tanzihi (reprehensible to a light degree).
In the famous book on the Fiqh of Abu Hanifa (RA) known as Al Muktasar Al Qudoori, written by the great Hanafi Jurist As Shaikh Abul Hasan Ahmad bin Muhammad Al Baghdadi ( Died 428 A.H), it is recorded, ‘It is Makrooh (reprehensible) to put as the Imam (one to lead the Salaah), a slave, a desert Arab, a Fasiq (sinner, transgressor), a blind man and one born out of adultery/fornication. However, if any of them lead the Salaah, then it will be valid, (Al Muktasar Al Qudoori pg. 39- Chapter on Salaah in Jamaah).
While commenting on this statement, the great scholar and Hanafi jurist, As Shaikh Abdul Ghani Al Ghunaimi Al Maidani (Died 1298 A.H) writes in his famous and renowned commentary of Al Muktasar Al Qudoori: – (It is Makrooh), that is, Tanzihi (reprehensible to a light degree) (to put a slave as an Imam) because of the dominance of ignorance that is, the lack of knowledge since he has no time to seek knowledge. It is Makrooh Tanzihi to put (a desert Arab as an Imam) because of the fact that ignorance is dominant amongst them. It is also Makrooh Tanzihi to put a sinner/transgressor as an Imam because he is accused in the matter of his Deen. (Al Lubaab Fi Sharhil Kitaab vol.1 pg. 90). The same (above mentioned) ruling is mentioned in Al Hidaya vol.1 pg.122- Chapter of Imamat.
The reputed jurist, Allama Shami has also mentioned that it is Makrooh Tanzihi to put as an Imam, a slave, a desert Arab, a fasiq (sinner transgressor), a blind man and an innovator, he further mentions that a fasiq ( sinner) is one who transgresses, and he comes out of that which is right (correct). It refers to one who commits major sins like consuming intoxicants, committing adultery or fornication, consuming Riba (interest/usury) and other similar sins.
Allama Shami has also explained that the word ‘Makrooh Tanzihi’ which has been used for a Fasiq Imam means that performing Salaah behind another person (besides the Fasiq Imam) is preferred and more virtuous, however, performing salaah behind him will be better than performing it individually. (Raddul Muhtar vol.1 pg. 559,560).
The above ruling was also clearly given by the great Hanafi Jurist Ash Shaikh Mufti Al Azam Azizur Rahman of India.
In response to a question asked, regarding the Imamat (leading) of an Imam who wears his trousers below the ankles (and leads Salaah), the great Mufti wrote, ‘The Imam should not do this. Wearing the trousers below the ankles outside Salaah is haram and prohibited. (For Salaah it will be worse). This act of the Imam brings about transgression (Fisq) on his part, and performing Salaah behind a Fasiq Imam is Makrooh. It is also Makrooh to make a Fasiq person an Imam when he did not make Taubah (repentance). (Fatawa Darul Uloom vol.3 pg.117)
The great Hanafi jurist of the 10th century Al Halabi has also mentioned a general principle in his book, indicating to the acts and practices that bring about dislike/reprehensibility in one’s Salaah. In this regard, he wrote, ‘And it is Makrooh for one performing Salaah to do such things which are from the habits and practices of the proud/arrogant/tyrant people. It is so because Salaah is a place for humility, submissiveness and surrendering to Allah, and this negates the conduct of pride, arrogance and haughtiness’. (Ghunyat Al Mutamalli pg.348)
It is clearly known/understood that wearing one’s trousers below the ankles is the act of the proud and arrogant ones, and it is the custom of the tyrants and unbelievers. Hence, based on the above mentioned principle, this practice will definitely fall into the category of Makrooh acts in Salaah.
The great Hanafi Jurist, Allama Khalid Saifullah who is a well known contemporary scholar has also answered a question in this manner. While responding to the question, he wrote, ‘Wearing one’s trousers beneath the ankles is reprehensible (Makrooh) in general conditions (in all states)’. He quoted the hadith of Abu Dawood at this point and then wrote, ‘Salaah is a place of expressing one’s humility and submission to Allah, hence, wearing one’s trousers below the ankles is Makrooh (reprehensible) and detestable’. (Kitabul Fatawa vol.2 pg.214-216)
The same rule will be applicable to the Muqtadi, except that the act of the Imam is more grave/serious than that of the Muqtadi, since he (the Imam) is in charge and is responsible for the entire congregation.
As you have asked, leading/performing Salaah in this manner (Isbal) would not invalidate the Salaah. However, the rewards will be decreased due to the Makrooh act.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan