Wa `alaykum As-Salamu waRahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
The preferred method for women is to wipe the head from the crown of the head, all the way to the back of the head.
Answering your question, The Fatwa Center at Islam Q & A, states:
The way in which a woman – and a man whose hair is long – should wipe the head when making wudu is what is narrated in the hadith of Al-Rubayyi` bint Mu`awwidh (may Allah be pleased with her).
Imam Ahmad and Imam Abu Dawud narrated from her that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) did wudu in her house, and he wiped his entire head from the crown of the head, all the way to the back of the head, and he did not disturb or ruffle the hair. What is meant by the “crown of the head” is the top of the head, i.e., start wiping from top to bottom.
Al-`Iraqi said: What is meant is that he would start wiping from the top of the head to the bottom, and he did that on each side.
Another well-known way of wiping has also been narrated, which is to wipe the hair with both hands from front to back, then to bring the hands back to the place where one started.
But this method leads to ruffling the hair, and the preferred method for women is to wipe the head in the first manner, or to wipe from the front to the back of the head and not to bring the hands back again.
Ibn Qudamah (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Al-Mughni (1/87): If the one who has hair fears that it may be ruffled if he brings his hands back over his head, then he may not do that. This was stated by Ahmad. It was said to him: How should the one who has hair down to his shoulders wipe (his head) during wudu’? He wiped his head once and said: Like this, so as to avoid ruffling his hair, i.e., he should pass his hands to the back of his head and not bring them forward again.
If he wishes he may wipe his head, as it was narrated from al-Rubayyi` that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) did wudu’ in her house, and he wiped his entire head from the parting on each side to the back, and he did not disturb or ruffle the hair. Imam Ahmad was asked: How should a woman wipe her hair? He said: Like this; and he put his hand in the middle of his head, then drew it forwards, then he lifted it and put it where he had started, then he drew it backwards.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.