Is it permitted for a husband and wife to go to sleep after sexual relations without taking a Ghusl? I have been told that it is sinful and that the angels do not enter a house where there is a person in an impure state.
It is recommended for the spouses to haste in having a ritual bath of purification (ghusl) after sexual relations. They should endeavour to end their state of ritual impurity (janaba) as soon as possible, as it will release them from restrictions such as offering Salat and reciting the Qur’an. However, it is not necessary for them to take a Ghusl before retiring to bed, and thus, if they went to sleep without it, they are not sinful.
Sayyida A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) relates: “The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) would sleep in a state of major ritual impurity (janaba) without touching water.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi 118, Sunan Abi Dawud 230 and Sunan Ibn Majah 581)
Ghudayf ibn al-Harith relates that “I asked A’isha, “Have you seen the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) having a ritual bath at the beginning of the night or at the end?” She replied, “Sometimes he would have a bath at the beginning of the night and sometimes at the end.” And so I said, “Allah is Most Great. All Praise be to Allah Who put ease in the matter…” (Sunan Abi Dawud 228 and others)
As for the Hadith related by Sayyiduna Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “The angels do not enter a house in which there is a picture, a dog, or a person in a state of major ritual impurity” (Sunan Abi Dawud 229), it refers to an individual who unnecessarily remains in a state of major ritual impurity for a considerable length of time to the extent that the obligatory (fard) prayers are delayed. In such a case, one is sinful; otherwise it is permitted, without dislike, to go to sleep in a state of impurity, even though having a bath is superior.
If one is not able to take a ritual bath, then the next level is to perform a ritual ablution (wudu).
Sayyida A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) relates: “Whenever the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) intended to sleep in a state of major ritual impurity, he would wash his private parts and perform ablution like that for the prayer.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 284 and Sahih Muslim 305)
Performing a Wudu is also recommended and encouraged but not obligatory per se. As such, one would be rewarded for performing an ablution but not sinful for omitting it.
If performing a Wudu is also not possible, then one should, at least, wash one’s private parts. This is the last of the three stages.
Sayyiduna Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said to him: “Perform ablution and wash your private parts, then go to sleep.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 286 and Sahih Muslim 306)
In this case also, there is no sin for not washing one’s private parts, since it is reported that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) retired to bed “without touching water”. (Sunan al-Tirmidhi 118)
In conclusion, there are three stages here: The optimum is to perform the ritual bath (ghusl) and then sleep. If that is not possible, a ritual ablution (wudu) should be performed; and if that is also not possible, one should at least wash one’s private parts. However, if none of the above three actions are performed, one will still not be guilty of committing a sin. This is more or less agreed upon by the majority of Sunni Schools of Islamic law. For more details, please refer to my recently published work, “Islamic Guide to Sexual Relations” Insha Allah.
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK