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Benefits of using miswak

Benefits of using miswak

This divine dental tool will help your health, imaan and aakhirah

By Umme Aiyman

Abu Dhabi, UAE

You must have heard the hadith, “cleanliness is half of faith”(1). But how often do we appreciate this reality and adopt the right habits?

Doctors emphasise on frequently cleaning our hands to keep them germ-free and our body disease-free. But how many times do we clean our hands? Similarly, how many times do we brush our teeth? Mostly once, hardly twice.

Our beloved Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used to clean his teeth frequently throughout the day.

Do you know why this habit is important? Because we remove the thin coating on the teeth called the plaque. This plaque is the main cause of most dental problems like gingivitis, periodontitis, caries and calculus that lead to bleeding gums and stained and discoloured teeth.

How did Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) clean his teeth? He used miswak. Many of us know about this but very few follow this sunnah. Miswak also called ‘siwak’, ‘tooth stick’, ‘dental stick’, ‘chewing stick’ or ‘datoon’ is a twig mostly of the Araak tree used to clear the teeth. Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) used it very frequently:

  1. After waking up for his nightly prayer. (2)
  2. Before each prayer. (3)
  3. After entering house. (4)
  4. While fasting. (7)
  5. On Friday. (5)
  6. So much so, he even used it before his death. (6)

It is clearly seen that there is a lot of stress given to its use. The reason is not just purification of mouth but it is a means of pleasing the Lord. (7)

Sunnahs of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) bring medical benefits too, so does the use of miswak. In fact it is better than a toothbrush and toothpaste according to Prof. Dr. Muhammad Sa’eed al-Jareedli – Head of the Mouth Disease department at Cairo University.

After carrying out research Dr. Jareedli found that the substance which is in the siwaak kills germs and heals the mouth from disease. By itself it can take the place of the toothbrush and toothpaste because of the numerous substances it contains which are superior to those contained in a toothpaste. Similarly, gentle natural fibres work better than the fibres of the toothbrush and do not damage the gums.

It was found that siwaak contains a lot of effective substances carried in its fibers, including cleansers such as sinigrin and astringents, which strengthen the gums. It also contains gallic acid and volatile oils which give the mouth a good smell.  Substances like sodium chloride, sodium bicarbonate, potassium chloride, calcium oxalate found in miswak clean the teeth. Some substances in the siwaak also kill germs, so it has an effect similar to that of penicillin. (8).

A study also proved the effectiveness of siwaak against that of a toothbrush. (9)

I did my own research about the benefits of using miswak, asking sisters and brothers to share their experiences after using it regularly. Here is what they had to say:

  • It stops bleeding gums
  • It ward off bad breath
  • Makes teeth look bright
  • Removes discoloration from teeth
  • Give fresh feeling
  • Makes teeth firm.

So, how does one use the miswak? A comprehensive guide with authentic Islamic information can be found here: http://islamqa.info/en/2577

Here are some basic steps you can follow:

  1. Select a twig, not too thick nor too thin.
  2. Using your front teeth, try to bite off an inch of the outer, hard layer.
  3. Once the inner bristles are exposed, chew them using the teeth at the back of your mouth.
  4. Wash it with water or leave it dipped in water for a few minutes to allow the bristles to soften and separate.
    That’s it, it’s ready!
  5. Start cleaning your teeth. Use a gentle, downwards motion to clean your teeth (from gum to tip).
  6. Finally, massage your gums with your finger, rinse your mouth, clean the miswak, let it dry, put it back in its cover and keep it in the fridge to have it fresh for use for next time.
  7. Whenever the bristles get rough and tasteless, chop off that part, and you can start anew with the next part of the miswak.
  1. Narrated Abu Malik at-Ash’ari reported, The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:’ cleanliness is half of faith’.[Sahih Muslim, The Book of Purification – 1]
  2. Narrated Hudhaifa, Whenever the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) got up for Tahajjud prayer he used to clean his mouth (and teeth) with siwak.[Sahih Bukhari, Prayer at Night (Tahajjud) – 17]
  3. Narrated Abu Huraira, Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “If I had not found it hard for my followers or the people, I would have ordered them to clean their teeth with siwak for every prayer.” [ Sahih Bukhari, Friday Prayer – 12]
  4. It was narrated from Al-Miqdam – Abu Shuraih – that his father said “I said to ‘Aishah: ‘What did the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)start with when he entered his house?’ She said: ‘The siwak.'[Jamiat Tirmidhi, The Book on Fasting – 44]
  5. It was narrated from ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Abi Sa’eed, from his father, that The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Ghusl should be performed on Friday by everyone who has reached the age of puberty, and using the siwak, and he should put on whatever he is able of using perfume.” [An Nasai, The Book of Jumu’ah (Friday Prayer) – 20]
  6. Narrated `Aisha, `Abdur-Rahman bin Abi Bakr came holding a siwak with which he was cleaning his teeth. Allah’s Apostle looked at him. I requested `Abdur-Rahman to give the siwak to me and after he gave it to me I divided it, chewed it and gave it to Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم). Then he cleaned his teeth with it and (at that time) he was resting against my chest.[Sahih Bukhari, Friday Prayer – 15]
  7. Abdur-Rahman bin Abu ‘Atiq said “My father told me: ‘I heard ‘Aishah say, (narrating) from the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم): “siwak is a means of purification for the mouth and is pleasing to the Lord.”[An Nasai, The Book of Purification – 5]
  8.  http://islamqa.info/en/115282
  9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/25077082/

About Umme Aiyman

The writer is a mother of three, dentist by qualification and homemaker by choice. She is learning Arabic grammar with an aim to understand the Qur'an. Loves painting and graphic design.

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