Q: When does ghusl become obligatory for women? Many scholars such as Sheik Saleh Al-Munajjid say that ghusl becomes obligatory for women when they discharge semen from their private part. They base their views on the hadith: Hence it was narrated from Umm Salamah the Mother of the Believers that she said: “Umm Sulaym the wife of Abu Talhah came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, verily Allah is not shy of (telling you) the truth. Is it necessary for a woman to take a bath (ghusl) after she has a wet dream?’ The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Yes, if she notices a discharge.’” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, al-Ghusl, 373; Muslim, al-Hayd, 471). But it is a scientific fact that women do not discharge semen, only men do. I am confused over this.
A: It has been scientifically proven that many women experience an orgasm or ejaculation when they reach a climax during sexual intercouse. An orgasm is the release or discharge of a liquid that sometimes squirts out with force. This is what is referred to as "semen" although in science this is not actually semen. In modern, scientific terminology semen is what a man discharges. Apparently there is no scientific or technical name for the discharge a woman experiences when she ejaculates or has an orgasm.
For this reason in the hadith you quoted, the Messenger of Allah (alayhis-salaam) did not use the word MANI (semen) but he said: MAA, which means liquid. In other words, a female should make ghusl if she experiences a liquid discharge while sleeping. The same will apply when she has sexual intercourse with the husband or she masturbates (although masturbating is haraam).
In Shariah the difference in the semen of man and the liquid of a woman is that the former is thick and whitish, while the latter is thin (almost transparent) and slightly yellowish.
In any case, if a woman experiences sexual pleasure followed by ejaculation, it is compulsory on her to bath.
And Allah knows best
Mufti Siraj Desai