While on his cellphone store showroom floor catering to customers, Long Island native Fahad Tirmizi found himself having to answer another call—his daily prayers.
He excused himself from the floor, punched in the code on the lock, and made his way through the Employees Only door to begin his routine.
It went like this: go to office, remove socks, remove shoes, wear flip flops, walk to bathroom, make wudu, put foot in sink, go back to office, dry feet—and finally—pray. The post prayer routine consisted of ensuring his feet were absolutely dry before wearing his socks and shoes and returning to the sales floor.
This is a struggle many Muslims face in the workplace. Aside from the awkward encounter that ensues when a non-Muslim sees a Muslim with a foot in the sink, the entire process of only preparing for the prayer can be quite time consuming.
Tirmizi came across potential solutions, but they all fell short. When he finally designed a sock that was lighter, more affordable, and more comfortable than its counterparts while still meeting Shariah requirements for masah (wiping over), he knew he found his answer.
“I thought it was the most useful thing in the world,” Tirmizi says.
The sock work on two technologies. The first is a waterproof layer that, despite its impermeability, is still breathable. This material is then flanked by a comfortable inner material against the skin and a durable outer material that withstands the elements. The second technology, a patented lamination, seamlessly combines all three layers to create a waterproof sock that can be wiped over instead of removed when performing wudu.
“We did a lot of the legwork on our own, talking to scholars about what the requirements are and making sure quality wasn’t sacrificed by meeting those criteria,” Tirmizi says. “We also didn’t want to sacrifice comfort.”
Tirmizi reached out to scholars in Durban, South Africa about the socks he designed. In order to be used as an alternative to leather socks for masah, the scholars said the socks had to meet five requirements: cover the ankles entirely, be durable enough that a person can walk in them for three miles without tearing, be free from holes to the extent of three small toes, remain on the leg without being tied or fastened, and not allow water to seep through them. The WuduGear socks meet all of these requirements.
After consulting one of his teachers about possibly expanding the endeavor to beyond family and friends, Tirmizi received a green light. WuduGear.com officially launched.
So how can one use the sock? After performing full wudu (including washing the feet), wear the socks. Later if wudu needs to be remade, one can now wipe over the socks instead of removing them and washing the feet according to this method as outlined on WuduGear’s website: “Draw the fingers of the right hand on the upper surface of the socks starting from the toes and ending at the foreleg just above the ankle. The masah should be done once only on each sock. The right hand should be used for the right sock and the left hand for the left sock.”
With his team made up of his wife, brother Samad, and others, Tirmizi opens shop at Muslim conventions around North America explaining to consumers why the Fuqaha are unanimous that wiping over regular thin socks is impermissible and how WuduGear’s Shariah compliant waterproof socks help revive the sunnah of masah.
At one ISNA convention, a man came up to Tirmizi and offered feedback. He had many pins in his foot due to a surgery and experienced difficulty removing his socks for wudu.
“[The man] said, ‘You have no idea how much you helped me!’” Tirmizi recalls. “He thought our product especially helped him from some suffering, and he actually gave me a hug.”
It’s moments like this that Tirmizi considers especially fulfilling—interacting with so many Muslims and knowing he can leave an impact on their lives.
“I would attribute our success to two main things,” Tirmizi says. “1) The help of Allah and duas of scholars, and 2) the sincere intention when we started the company of what we were trying to achieve. We simply wanted to make wudu easier.”
A version of this article appeared in the March/April 2018 issue of Islamic Horizons Magazine, page 42.