Assalamualaikum ustaz. Is it permissible for me to dry or wipe off the water from my ablution with tissues or others because it made me uncomfortable when the water wets my clothes? Thank you.
Waalaikumussalam wrt. wbt.,
Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.
We begin with Allah SWT’s statement:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُوا بِرُءُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَيْنِ
“O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles.” 
Al-Maraghi stated the meaning of the above verse is for a person who wants to perform the prayer – and he is still in hadas (impure state). The reason is all Muslims agreed that purification (ablution and obligatory bath) isn’t obligatory for a person who wants to pray except if he is in hadas. 
Likewise, al-Sa’di said that there are numerous rulings that can be answered from this verse. Among them is the commandment to pray, setting an intention for prayer, a condition of being purified (from hadas) to perform prayer and that purification isn’t obligatory when the time of prayer begins but it is obligatory when one wants to pray and others. 
Drying or wiping off the water from ablution
There is a hadith from Maimunah R.Anha, she said:
وَضَعَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَضُوءًا لِجَنَابَةٍ، فَأَكْفَأَ بِيَمِينِهِ عَلَى شِمَالِهِ مَرَّتَيْنِ أَوْ ثَلاَثًا، ثُمَّ غَسَلَ فَرْجَهُ، ثُمَّ ضَرَبَ يَدَهُ بِالأَرْضِ أَوِ الحَائِطِ، مَرَّتَيْنِ أَوْ ثَلاَثًا، ثُمَّ مَضْمَضَ وَاسْتَنْشَقَ، وَغَسَلَ وَجْهَهُ وَذِرَاعَيْهِ، ثُمَّ أَفَاضَ عَلَى رَأْسِهِ المَاءَ، ثُمَّ غَسَلَ جَسَدَهُ، ثُمَّ تَنَحَّى فَغَسَلَ رِجْلَيْهِ» قَالَتْ: فَأَتَيْتُهُ بِخِرْقَةٍ فَلَمْ يُرِدْهَا، فَجَعَلَ يَنْفُضُ بِيَدِهِ
“Water was placed for the ablution of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) after Janaba. He poured water with his right hand over his left twice or thrice and then washed his private parts and rubbed his hand on the earth or on a wall twice or thrice and then rinsed his mouth, washed his nose by putting water in it and then blowing it out and then washed his face and forearms and poured water over his head and washed his body. Then he shifted from that place and washed his feet. I brought a piece of cloth, but he did not take it and removed the traces of water from his body with his hand.” 
Regarding this matter, Ibn Qudamah said that it is fine for a person to wipe his wet body parts due to ablution or bath with a cloth. This is the opinion cited by Imam Ahmad. Furthermore, it is also narrated from Uthman, al-Hasan bin Ali, Anas and most scholars that they use a cloth to wipe themselves after ablution and this is the most sahih opinion for the original ruling for something is its permissibility. 
Other than that, Syeikh Muhammad bin Soleh al-Uthaimin was also once asked about the act of wiping ablution body parts after ablution. He answered it is fine because its original ruling is permissible and there isn’t any evidence that restricted this matter. Likewise, the original ruling for anything other than worship such as akad and actions is permissible until there is evidence that prohibits or restricts it.
Next, how should one answer – or understands – the hadith of Maimunah R.Anha who narrated that after the Prophet PBUH performs the obligatory bath and a cloth is brought to him but he refused it. He then proceeded to remove the traces of water on his body with his hand.
Syeikh answered saying, for the action made by the Prophet PBUH, there are several possibilities (ihtimalat) such as the Prophet PBUH may have refused the cloth because of the cloth itself, maybe the cloth is dirty or he’s concerned that he would wet the cloth and wetting the cloth isn’t suitable. Thus, there are many possibilities as to why the Prophet PBUH didn’t use the cloth. However, the action of Maimunah bringing a cloth to the Prophet PBUH can also be evidence that usually the Prophet PBUH wipes his body dry – after obligatory bath and ablution – for if this isn’t so, then she wouldn’t have brought a cloth for the Prophet PBUH. 
According to the jurists of madhhab al-Syafi’I, there are several opinions as stated by Imam al-Nawawi:
- The first opinion, the act of wiping or drying the ablution body parts is not makruh but sunnah to leave it. This is the opinion held by the jumhur of scholars from Iraq, al Qadhi Husain, al-Baghawi, al-Haramain, and the tarjih of al-Rafi‘i.
- The second opinion states that it is makruh as stated by Syeikh al-Mutawalli.
- The third opinion is it is permissible, which means the ruling for doing or leaving it is the same. This is the opinion of al-Syeikh Abu Ali al-Tabari and Al-Qadhi Abu al-Tayyib.
- The fourth opinion is that the action of wiping it off is sunnah, for it can protect him from najis dirt and others. This is the opinion stated by al-Syeikh al-Furani, Imam al-Ghazali, al-Ruyani, and al-Rafi‘i.
- The fifth opinion said that if it is in the summer then it is makruh to wipe or dry off the ablution. However, in winter or cold seasons, then it isn’t makruh, for there is a debility due to the cold. This is the opinion presented by al-Rafi’i.
Al-Mahamili and other scholars said that Imam al-Syafi’I didn’t have any evidence – which means opinion – regarding this matter. Scholars of madhhab al-Syafi’I said that the act of wiping whether for the ablution of obligatory bath, if there isn’t a need for it, such as fearing the cold or najis will be attached to him and others. If there is no such concern – there isn’t a need – then it is absolutely ruled not makruh and it is said the act is khilaf mustahab (contradict a sunnah matter).
Next, Imam al-Nawawi said the sahih opinion in our madhhab – which is madhhab al-Syafi’I – it is sunnah to leave the act and it is said to be makruh. Moreover, Ibn al-Munzir cited the permissibility of wiping the ablution body parts after ablution from Uthman bin ‘Affan, al-Hasan al-Basri, Ibn Sirin, ‘Alqamah, al-Aswad, Masruq, Dhahhak, Malik, Thauri, scholars from the ra’yi, Imam Ahmad and Ishaq.
Whilst among the scholars who ruled it makruh are Jabir bin Abdullah, ‘Abd al-Rahman bin Abu Laila, Sa‘id bin al-Musayyib, al-Nakha‘i, Mujahid and Abu al-‘Aliyah. It is cited from Ibn Abbas R.Anhuma, who said that the act is makruh for both ablution and obligatory bath. Then Ibn al-Munzir concluded by saying that all of them are permissible. Whereas al-Mahamili said the scholars have agreed that the act is prohibited and there are differences of opinions as to whether it is makruh or not. 
According to the above arguments and discussion, in our opinion, the act of drying or wiping water from ablution using a towel or others is permissible. Especially if there is a need to wipe the body parts such as to avoid discomfort in worship and others. The reason is there isn’t any clear evidence that shows that it is prohibited or restricted. Likewise, considering that the Prophet PBUH remove any traces of water using his hands shows that there may be other reasons why he refused the cloth brought by Maimunah.
Furthermore, the act of Maimunah bringing a cloth to the Prophet PBUH after he completed his obligatory bath, shows that it is the norm for him to wipe his body parts – after the obligatory bath and ablution – because if it isn’t so, surely, she wouldn’t have brought it to the Prophet PBUH.
May Allah SWT grant us all a clear understanding of religion. Amin.
 Surah al-Ma’idah: 6
 See Tafsir al-Maraghi, 6/61
 See Tafsir al-Sa‘di, pg. 222
 Narrated by al-Bukhari (274)
 See al-Mughni, 1/195.
 See Majmu‘ Fatawa Ibn Uthaimin, 11/93.
 See al-Majmu‘ Syarh al-Muhazzab, 1/462.