The Prophet said: “If one of you comes to the masjid, he should look at the bottom of his shoes. If he sees any impurity on them, he should rub them on the ground. Then he may enter with them (i.e, the shoes) and pray with them on.”
This is one of the acts of the Sunnah that has been abandoned today. in fact, it is one of the acts of the Sunnah that is fought against by many people. It is even considered a crime in some regions — Entering the masjid with sandals and shoes. If I were to go today and buy a pair of shoes from a store and then put them on and enter the masjid with them -this would be regarded as a crime and considered disrespectful to the mosques and houses of Allaah. The Sunnah has become innovation and innovation has become Sunnah! Praying in shoes was something well established at the time of the Salaf – they would not differ over it.
As a matter of fact, everything found in this command (of the Prophet) Should be observed by an individual. So he should check if his shoes are clean upon entering the masjid, acting upon the hadeeth which we just mentioned: “Then he may enter with them (i.e. the shoes) and pray with them on.”
If he takes his shoes off, he should place them between his legs, not in front of him or behind him nor to his right or left, so as to disturb the people around him. Rather he should place them between his legs, in between his feet. This is what has been reported in the Sunnah and this is what the Salaf of this ummah have followed. This aspect of the Sunnah continues to be practiced in some areas of this country (i.e. Saudi Arabia). However, in some of the other areas of the country as well as some regions abroad, the reaction towards this Sunnah is bad.
Nevertheless, we must emphasize here that praying in shoes is Sunnah, i.e. recommended. It is neither obligatory nor is it a condition or requirement for the validity of one’s prayer. So if this aspect of the Sunnah conflicts with another good that is found in some masaajid, or if opening the door to entering the masaajid with shoes on leads to squandering money, then this aspect of the Sunnah should be left off temporarily and restrictedly – to this confined area – until it is revived in other places similar to these masaajid.
The youth should not hasten to enter the masaajid with their shoes on for they will open the door for everyone to do so, and this will lead some people who are in a rush to enter the masjid before checking under their shoes. This will then lead to a squandering of the masjid’s carpet and we have been prohibited from squandering money.
Squandering money is forbidden while entering the masjid and Praying with shoes on is recommended. So when there exists a conflict such as this, we should work to revive the Sunnah of praying in shoes in masaajid other than these – i.e. in masaajid that have remained in their pure original state with floors that are covered by dirt and sand – or in our homes, or in some open land when we go out on a journey or camping. There are many places.
This means that we should not fight against the act of praying in shoes, nor should we go to the extreme of entering these carpeted masaajid with shoes on thus causing the money spent on them to be squandered. Rather, we should combine between these advantages and those ahaadeeth, and that is by reviving the Sunnah of praying in shoes in other than these types of masaajid.
There are many masaajid and many places (to pray with shoes on). So we must have a good and proper understanding of the Religion and bring together all of the texts. A person should not take one portion or one text or one hadeeth and leave off all of the other texts. Rather, he must always try to reconcile and bring together all of the texts, as much as he is able to.
Taken from the Book “An Explanation of ‘The Conditions, Pillars and Requirements of Prayer” Published by al-ibaanah – Explained by Shaykh Muhammad Amaan al Jaami (rahimahullaah) and Shaykh Abdul Muhsin al-Abbaad (hafidhahullaah)