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Verses from Surah Ta-Ha (9-23)

11. Majid quotes: “Among the Hebrews, ‘it was a mark of reverence to cast off the shoes on approaching a sacred person or place’ (ERE. XII. p. 149).”

The earliest scholars differed between themselves over why Musa was asked to remove his shoes. Quite a few said that they were made of a dead donkey’s leather and so unclean. But Ibn Jarir distrusts the Prophetic report in this regard and prefers the reason that Musa was asked to do so for his feet to draw spiritual blessing (barakah) by touching the soil of the Holy Valley.

Qurtubi adds: Musa (asws) was possibly asked to remove his shoes for reasons of humility due at the time of devotional acts. The Salaf used to remove their shoes while circumambulating the house. Indeed, Imam Malik would not ride upon a camel within Madinah out of respect for the Prophet’s body buried there. Nevertheless, it is allowed in our Shari`ah to Pray with the shoes on. In fact, someone has said that it is preferable to do so in view of Allah’s instruction (7: 31), “Put on your adornment at every Prayer.” But the condition is that they should be free of filth. It is reported that:

Once the Prophet removed his footwear, placed them on the left hand side and then entered into Prayers. The Companions behind him followed him. After the Prayers he asked them why they had done that. They said they did in his imitation. He said, “Jibril came to me to say that my footwear was unclean.” Then he added, “When one of you comes to the Prayers, let him look at his shoes. If unclean, let him rub off the dirt and then Pray in them.”

Abu Da’ud narrated this hadith and Muhammad Abdul Haq rated it as Sahih.

In fact, Ibrahim al-Nakha`i used to say, “I would like to see the shoes of those who Pray without them taken away by a needy person!” However, according to a report in Nasa’i, the Prophet himself was seen on the day he entered Makkah triumphant removing his shoes and placing them on the left side before Prayers. He placed them on the left side because he was the Imam. As for others, they should put them in a place where they do not inconvenience others. Further, if the dirt is say urine, excrement, etc., then, according to most scholars, rubbing them off is not sufficient. They must be washed. According to Abu Hanifah, if the impurity is dry it may be rubbed off, but if wet, the shoes must be washed.

Qurtubi’s commentary ends here.

Finally, the fact must not be lost sight of that Arabia is a dry place, sandy, craggy, and rocky, with no rains and no mud. There is little or nothing to dirty one’s shoes in complete contrast with wet places, where streams, open sewages, and pools of water dotting the landscape help spread the dirt by feet. Thus, what is applicable to Arabia is not applicable to every other place (Au.).

12. Commentators are divided between the majority accepting Tuwa as the name of the valley and a minority, as meaning “twice,” i.e., a valley twice blessed.

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