What is the meaning of the hadith “make khilal between your fingers”?

The Details of the Question

- Make khilal between your fingers so that Allah will not make khilal between them with fire. (Ahmed ibn Hanbal, al-Musnad no: 1783, 6/256) How should we understand this hadith?
- There is a hadith like that but it is written in fiqh books that it is sunnah to make khilal between the fingers. How should we understand this hadith?
- Sometimes we make wudu without making khilal between the fingers; is it acceptable?
- My toes are not completely attached, but they are not very separated either; they are slightly attached. I do not notice whether water runs between the toes; is it fard to make khilal in that case?
- In fact, some people do not touch their feet with their hands; they just make water flowing from the tap run over the feet. Is such a wudu valid?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- We could not find the information in question in the source given in the question (no: 1783, 6/256).

- We could not find the second sentence of the hadith in the question in Musnad. Only the following statements exist there: “Make khilal between the fingers and between the toes.” (Ibn Hanbal, h.no: 2604), “When making wudu, make khilal between your fingers!” (Ibn Hanbal, h.no:16381)

- For the source of the narration in the question, see Sunanud-Daraqutni, no: 317, 318.

As it is known, “making khilal” means to wash between the fingers by putting the fingers of one hand into the fingers of the other hand and not to prevent them from remaining dry. Such expressions in verses or hadiths are a style of guidance aiming targhib or tarhib (encouragement or prohibition). Whether the deed is fard or sunnah does not change anything. What matters is to warn the listeners or readers with an impressive style and to attract attention to the issue.

- For example, the following is stated in a sound hadith: “Woe to the heels because of the fire!” (Ahmad b. Hanbal, h.no: 6911)

It is not stated that all of the heels will burn in the fire. However, the heels of those who will burn in the fire will also burn. The following is stated in the hadith. “Woe to the heels of those who enter Hell, which burn (like their other organs) in the fire.” The phrase “Woe to the heels because of the fire!” is used absolutely as a warning to those who do not wash their heels carefully and leave them dry while making wudu so that everyone can learn their own lesson.

- Similarly, an expression is used to warn those who leave their fingers dry in the hadith in the question. The expression in the hadith is not general, but absolute. It does not mean "Anyone who does not make khilal between his fingers will go to Hell"; it means "Fire will enter between the fingers of everybody who goes to Hell." People were warned in an effective way so that they will pay attention to washing between the toes while making wudu.

The common point in both hadiths is as follows:

“Wudu will not be valid if a dry spot remains on the organs of wudu. The prayer of a person whose wudu is not valid will not be valid either. Unless Allah forgives, the penalty of those whose prayers are not valid will be severe."

"The information about making khilal being sunnah" in books of fiqh is not contrary to the expression of the hadith above because it is not in question for everyone who does not it to have dry parts between the toes.

- We are not in a position to deduce Islamic decrees directly from verses and hadiths. Our knowledge and research will not be enough to do it. Therefore, we will learn those decrees from the information shown by Islamic scholars in fiqh sources.

- It is sunnah - not fard or wajib - to make khilal between the fingers and between the toes based on the agreement of the four madhhabs. (see W. Zuhayli, al-Fiqhul-Islami, 1/347)

Accordingly, the answers to the questions in the question (such as making khilal of the fingers and rubbing of the wudu organs) are the information given by those sources and similar ones.

However, it is definitely very important for those who are not sick to act in accordance with those important sunnahs.

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