Last week we were in a small group of women and the discussion started about Ghusl for Janabah (major impurity). One of the girls suggested that it is not necessary to open braids. She pointed out that if the scalp of the head is wet during ghusl, that will be sufficient. Is this ruling correct? Is this exclusively for women or men also? Please help us remove the confusion. Please provide hadith as your references.
Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh
Thank you for your question.
The ruling regarding the hair of women during ghusl (ritual bath) is as follows:
Imam Sharunbulali (ra) writes in Nur Al Idah “It is fardh (mandatory) for men to wash the internal portions of braided (or plaited) hair without question. Washing the internal portions of the braided hair of women is not necessary provided water reaches the roots of the hair”
Ommo Salamah (ra) says I asked, “O Prophet of Allah (pbuh), I am a woman who ties braids in my head. Shall I break them open for ghusl of janabah (islamic bath to be free from major impurities)?” The Prophet (pbuh) said, “No, it is sufficient for you to throw water over your head three times. Thereafter, you are to pour water over your body and thus obtain the state of purity” (Muslim)
Obaid ibn Omair (ra) states, the news came to Aisha (ra) that Abdullah ibn Omar (ra) was instructing women to open the hair of their heads when taking a ghusl. Aisha (ra) stated (in disagreement), “Why does he not instruct the women to shave the hair of their heads? The Prophet (pbuh) and I would use the same basin to take a ghusl and I would not pour water more than thrice on my head” (Muslim)
This exemption of leaving the braids tied, as mentioned by the fuqaha, is exclusively for women. It should also be noted that women whose hair is not braided must wash the hair for the ghusl to be valid.
And Allah knows best.
Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Badat
Hadith of the Day Imam
Imam of the Islamic Foundation of Toronto and Director of Mathabah institute