Daily Archives: January 10, 2012
The miswak is a twig from the salvadora persica tree, and is also known by the words arak, peelu and siwak. It is used to clean the teeth, and holds an important place in Islam. The reason for this is that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), along with all the other prophets, used it regularly, and strongly advised his followers to do the same.
Here we present some of the evidence for this, the benefits of using miswak, and how to do so.
Evidence from Hadith
There are many statements from the Prohpet (pbuh) which make it clear that the miswak is of great benefit; nobody contests them.
He said, “Had I not feared hardship for my Community, I would have ordered them to brush their teeth for every prayer.” [Bukhari and Muslim], and “Brushing one’s teeth cleans the mouth and pleases the Lord.” [Bukhari]. One of the reasons for the miswak’s high status in Islam is the importance given to hygiene generally; according the Prophet (pbuh), “Cleanliness is half of faith.” [Sahih Muslim].
Research shows that the bark of the miswak contains an antibiotic which suppresses the growth of a bacteria and the formation of plaque in the mouth. Regular use also reduces plaque, gingivitis, and the growth of carcinogenic bacteria. Miswak naturally contains fluoride, astringents, resins (which protect enamel) and abrasives.
A 2003 study comparing the use of miswak with ordinary toothbrushes concluded that the results clearly were in favour of the users who had been using the miswak. The World Health Organisation recommends the use of the miswak.
Use of the Miswak
The miswak is a hard twig, and must be prepared before use.
About 2cm of bark at one end should be cut away using a knife, to expose the fibres beneath. This exposed section then needs to be chewed, to soften the fibres enough for brushing. When the fibres become worn and the taste diminishes, they should be cut off and a new ‘head’ cut. Store it upright.
Before using the miswak, make a short du’a (supplication). It is better to learn this in Arabic, but in English it is “O Allah, purify my mouth, enlighten my heart, purify my body, and make my body unlawful to the Fire.” The miswak should be held in such a manner that the small finger and thumb are below the miswak and the remaining fingers are on its upper side. When brushing, brush each area three times, or any odd number of times greater than three. Brush horizontally to avoid damage to the gums.
Using the miswak is beneficial at any time, but there are specific times at which its use has been recommended. Before entering one’s house, before and after going on a journey, on Fridays, before reciting Qur’an, before sleeping and after waking up, when experiencing hunger or thirst and before entering any good gathering. Do not use it in the bathroom, or when lying down.
Hudaifah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: Whenever the Messenger of Allah woke up, he would rub his teeth with miswak. [Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Hadhrat Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported: We used to prepare for the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) a miswak and the water for making wudu. Whenever Allah wished to awaken him from sleep at night, he would brush his teeth with miswak, make wudu, and perform Salat. [Sahih Muslim]
Shuraih bin Hani (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: I asked Aishah: “What was the first thing the Prophet (pbuh) would do when he entered his house?” She replied: “He would use miswak.” [Sahih Muslim]
Islamic scholars suggest that when using miswak, a person should start on the right of the mouth, and use a side-to-side motion rather than up-and-down, as the latter may harm the gums.
It is also said that a person should not use the miswak in front of others or in public, because this is impolite. It should be washed after use, to get rid of any dirt that may be on it. Hadhrat Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “The Prophet (pbuh) used to use miswak, then he would give it to me to wash it. I would use it first, then wash it and give it back to him.” (Reported by Abu Dawood).
The Prophet’s method of holding the miswak, according to what Hazrat Abdullah Ibn Masood has narrated, is as follows: “Place the small finger of the right hand below the miswak. Place the thumb below the head of the miswak. The remaining three fingers will be placed above.”
Revive A Sunnah
• Ibn Umar [R.A] narrates that the Messenger of ALLAH [PBUH] said: “Make a regular practice of the Miswaak, for verily, it is healthy for the mouth and it is a Pleasure for the Creator (i.e. Allah is pleased with the Muslim who uses the Miswaak)”.
Shuraih [R.A] narrates that he asked Aisha [R.A]: ‘What was the first thing the Messenger of ALLAH [PBUH] did upon entering the house?’ Aisha [R.A] replied: ‘The Messenger of ALLAH [PBUH] would use the Miswaak’. [Sahih Muslim]
• ‘Aisha said, “The Prophet [PBUH] said, “It (i.e. Siwak) is a purification for the mouth and it is a way of seeking ALLAH’s pleasures.” [Bukhari, Vol 3, Book 31, #154]
• And narrated Abu Huraira, “The Prophet [PBUH] said, ‘But for my fear that it would be hard for my followers, I would have ordered them to clean their teeth with Siwak on every performance of ablution.” The same is narrated by Jabir and Zaid bin Khalid from the Prophet [PBUH] who did not differentiate between a fasting and a nonfasting person in this respect (using Siwak).
_The fasting person can also use miswak throughout the day.
• Narrated ‘Amir bin Rabi’a, “I saw the Prophet [PBUH] cleaning his teeth with Siwak while he was fasting so many times as I can’t count.”
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: When a person awakes from sleep, he has an unpleasant breath because of the smell in his mouth. For this reason, the Prophet (Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) would cleanse his teeth with Miswak. We should also follow him and make this Sunnah a routine.
1198. `Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported: We used to prepare for the Messenger of Allah (Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) a Miswak (tooth-stick) and the water for making Wudu’. Whenever Allah wished to awaken him from sleep at night, he (Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) would brush his teeth with Miswak, make Wudu’, and perform Salat.
Commentary: This Hadith shows how particular the Prophet (Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) was about using Miswak. Besides pointing out the importance of Miswak, it also throws light on the noble conduct of the wives of the Prophet (Shallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) as it shows how keen they were about his needs, habits and temperament.
- Kills Gum disease causing bacteria
- Fights plaque effectively
- Fights against caries
- Removes Bad breath and odor from mouth
- Creates a fragrance in the mouth
- Effectively clean between teeth due to its parallel bristles
- Increases salivation and hence inhibits dry mouth