Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher
In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful.
I pray this message reaches you in good health and firm iman.
Normally, a complete ablution requires that you wash both feet.
However, you also have the choice of wiping over your footgear provided that,
1. you have made a complete ablution before donning the footgear, including thorougly washing your feet, and
2. the footgear cover your ankles, that is, they are more akin to boots than regular shoes
It sounds as if your ablution did not meet the above criteria. I would definitely consult a local scholar who can advise you further.
Insha'Allah, from now on, you need to either remove your shoes and wash your feet, or wipe over your shoes, provided that you meet the above conditions.
Finally, you definitely raised a concern many of us have when making ablution in public bathrooms. Many public bathrooms have sinks that are so high up off the ground that it's difficult to wash our feet correctly. Then there's the added bonus of having co-workers and strangers walking in while we've still got our feet in the sink!
In dealing with "foot-in-the sink" embarrassment, you may want to apply the advice of one of my teachers who said that it's better to suffer a little embarrassment in front of our fellow human beings rather than neglecting the command of Allah Ta'ala. After all, which takes priority? Our prayer, or the brief discomfort we might experience in a public bathroom?
One way you might handle this is to simply explain to curious co-workers that you are refreshing your mind, body, and spirit! Who doesn't appreciate the idea of a little rejuvenation?
Insha'Allah, I'm confident that you can handle this situation from now on if you simply ask Allah Ta'ala to make it easy for you.
And Allah knows best.
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