Answered by Shaykh Munawwar Ateeq Rizvi
My question is, do a wife and husband have to take a shower after sex? If so, what if the wife has a physical ailment such that taking excessive showers results in hair loss. Is it possible for her to take a shower but not wet her hair?
To perform ghusl after sexual intercourse, even if one does not ejaculate during penetration, is obligatory (fard).
Ghusl is also as incumbent on the wife. However, if washing the head during ghusl is genuinely physically harmful [f: through reasonable surety established by past experience, clear signs, or expert opinion) it is compulsory to wipe (masah) the head. Similarly, if wiping is harmful, one is permitted to leave the hair dry and the ghusl will be regarded valid. Thus, all prayed salah will be valid.
Allamah Ibn Abideen and Allamah Tahtawi, both mention that if washing the head is harmful for the woman, she should not wash it and should not disallow the husband from sexual interaction [in fear of washing afterwards], because that is the husband’s right. [Radd al-muhtar 1: 143, al-Tahtwai ala al-Maraqi pg 84. see also: al-Uqud al-Durriyah]
There are two opinions amongst the scholars of Hanafi Madhab regarding the ruling of mas’hah itself at time of difficulty:
1- It is not compulsory (wajib).
2- It is compulsory (wajib); if not harmful.
The flow of the majority is with the second opinion as stated by Allamah Ibn Abideen (Allah have mercy on him). (Raddul Muhtar, al-Bahr, al-Nahr)
Additionally, the scholars of Islamic legislation mention that, “Difficulty is followed by/entails ease.” This rule is understood from many ayahs of the Qur’an. Thus, in situations of genuine difficulty and hardship (by the standards of the Shariah), one is legally excused from the specific practice he/she is not able to carry out. In this case, the ghusl itself will not be excused, though, the washing or wiping will be excused.
(See: Durrar al-Hukkam sharh Mujallat al-Ahkam, Hashiyat al-Hamawi)
How many times does one wipe?
Imam Ja’far in Ghareeb al-riwayah added that the wiping of the head, in this situation, is 3 times. It is mentioned in al-Fayd that this was a strange (ajeeb) condition, as mentioned in Minhat al-Khaliq.
(Jaddul Mumtar, Imam Ahmad 1:153)
Besides, three wipes are regarded as washing, and that is lifted [as mentioned above]. Therefore the fear of three wipes is equal to the fear of washing which will not be considered.
Hence, the unreliability of this condition is apparent to those who understand the legal reasoning (ta’lil) of this dispensation.
And Allah alone gives health.