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MISWAK: A FORGOTTEN SUNNAH

Islam taught us 14 centuries ago treatment methods regarding dental health that modern medicine has only recently started to introduce. The miswak, which has a great effect on dental health, is the best teeth-cleaning tool with its easy-to-use quality. Using a miswak is highly beneficial for the prevention of tooth decay. The medical book entitled Larousse Illustré Medical says:

“All kinds of toothpaste and powder are harmful to the teeth. The best method for cleaning them is with a hard brush. Initially it makes the teeth bleed. But you should not fear that. It will strengthen the gums, so that they will no longer bleed.”

The best tool that cleans the teeth in the above-mentioned way is a miswak. Dentifrices kill all oral bacteria, regardless of whether they are harmful or helpful. But the miswak kills only harmful ones. Using it is one of the sunnats of wudu’. It is one of the sunnats of salat according to the Shafi’i Madhhab. The following hadith-i sharifs state:

(A salat offered after one has used a miswak is 70 times superior to the salat offered without it.) [Ibn Nejjar]

(Jabrael alaihis-salam recommended using a miswak so much that I feared that it would be made obligatory [fard].) [Ibn Majah]

(If I had not found it a hardship for my Ummah, I would order them to make wudu’ for every salat and to use miswak in every wudu’.) [Bukhari, Muslim]

(When you get up for Salat al-Layl, clean your mouth with a miswak because an angel comes close to the mouth of the person reciting the Qur’an in salat and listens to his recitation.) [Daylami]

(Your mouths are the pathways of the Qur’an, so clean them with a miswak.) [Abu Nu’aym]

(The five sunnats of prophets are as follows: haya [shame, modesty, bashfulness], mildness, blood-letting [hijamah], miswak, and fragrant scent.) [Tabarani]

(The miswak increases the eloquence of a man’s speech.) [Ibn Adiy, Hatib]

(Miswak cleans the mouth, sharpens eyesight, strengthens the gums, whitens the teeth, prevents tooth decay, facilitates digestion, restores the stomach to health, brings an end to the phlegm, and multiplies good deeds. A person using a miswak pleases Allahu ta’ala and delights angels.) [Abu Nu’aym]

The miswak has more than 30 benefits, the lightest of which is that it dispels distress. The best of them is that it reminds its user to say the Kalima-i Shahadat (Word of Testimony) at the time of death. In the miswak is a cure for every illness except death. The use of the miswak makes it easier to walk on the Sirat Bridge. Besides, it slows the aging process.

The miswak cleans the mouth, polishes the eyes, removes bad breath and dirt in the mouth, whitens the teeth, gives vigor to the gums, promotes digestion, stops phlegm production, and increases the rewards of salat. It purifies the mouth, which is the pathway of the Qur’an al-karim, gives the mouth a nice smell, increases the eloquence of one’s speech, adds strength to the stomach, makes the Devil distraught, multiplies one’s rewards (thawab), cures the bile, relieves the veins in the head, soothes a headache, and causes the soul to leave the body easily.

Our master the Prophet always carried with him a mirror, comb, and miswak. His blessed companions did not neglect to use their miswaks even in battle. It is mustahab to use the miswak when the teeth turn yellow, when the smell of the mouth changes, when one wakes up, when one stands up for salat, when one enters one’s home, when one goes to join gatherings, when one starts to recite the Qur’an, and when one is performing wudu’.

Hadrat Imam-i A’zam stated, “Using a miswak is one of the sunnats of the religion.” Rubbing it on the upper teeth three times and then the lower teeth three times is the minimum act required. It should be rubbed on their inner and outer faces as well as biting/chewing faces and their lower parts. It should be used with the right hand. One should not hold it in a fist, nor should one suck on it. It should be held in such a way that the little finger and the thumb of the right hand are under the stick and the remaining three fingers are on it