What is Miswaak?
MISWAAK - twigs of certain trees that are used on a regular basis by Muslims for centuries (and all Prophets Peace upon Them) to maintain oral hygiene and gain the pleasure of Allah SWT. It is a "natural toothbrush." Not only does it provide spiritual benefits, but it is also beneficial to the everyday maintenance of one's mouth, gums, and teeth.
Rasulullah laid great stress on the use of the Miswaak (a tree-twig used for cleansing the teeth). One of the Sunnats of Wudhu is to use a Miswaak. Wherever a Miswaak is available and is not used, the full beauty and complete Sawaab of the Wudhu is not realised. There are numerous benefits and advantages in using a Miswaak.
The Miswaak, a tree-twig, was in use for brushing and cleansing the teeth long before the advent of our Holy Nabi. In fact the records of our Nabi Muhummad's Ahadith indicate that the Miswaak was the "Sunnah" or practice of all the Ambiyaa (Prophets of Allah)—Peace be upon them.
"Abu Ayyub narrates that Rasulullah said:
'Four things are amongst the practices of the Ambiyaa —circumcision, application of perfume, Miswaak and marriage'."
(AHMAD AND TIRMIZI)
Several other Ahadith of our Nabi also mention the Miswaak to have been the practice of the Prophets (Upon Whom Be Peace). Thus, we can safely claim that the practice of using the Miswaak is as old as mankind itself since Mankind's origin on the planet was with the appearance of the first Nabi of Allah, viz. Adam. Therefore, among the many advantages and benefits of using the Miswaak, one of the greatest benefits is the good-fortune of being associated with the Ambiyaa in this holy practice. On the other hand, those who neglect the use of the Miswaak invite upon themselves a great misfortune by being deprived of the tremendous amount of Sawaab (Reward) which this noble practice carries.
Allamah Ibn Ismail says:
"It surprises me how people could forgo such a great Sunnah, the significance of which many Ahadith of our Nabiexplain. Remember that it is a great loss to neglect the Miswaak."
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MISWAAK IN ISLAM
Islam has accorded an elevated status to the Miswaak. Its importance has been stressed in many Ahadith of our Holy Nabi The statements and examples of the Sahaba and the Ulama of Islam regarding this practice bear testimony in abundance of the significance of the Miswaak.
Ibn Umar narrates that the Messenger of Allah 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)'."
It is clear from this Hadith that two types of benefits accrue from the use of the Miswaak. These could be categorised as follows:
(1) UKHRAWI or Benefits which relate to the Hereafter;
The Ukhrawi category comprises the various Sawaabs (Rewards) which the Servant of Allah will obtain in the Hereafter for using the Miswaak. The Dunyawi category comprises the immediate benefits or advantages accruing to the physical human body by the constant use of the Miswaak.
The prime motive of the true Believer in his use of the Miswaak is his desire to obtain the first category of Benefits, i.e. Ukhrawi, the obtainal of the second category being a necessary corollary. This is so, since the only factor which governs the motive and intention of the Believer in his Ibaadat (Worship) is the Pleasure of Allah, our Creator, Nourisher and Sustainer. Hadhrat Ali, the fourth Khalif of Islam said:
"Make the Miswaak (i.e. its use) incumbent upon you, and be constant in this practice because Allah's Pleasure is in it and it increases the Reward of Salat from ninety-nine times to four hundred times."
In fact, the importance of the Miswaak is such that at one stage our Nabi was under the impression that Allah Ta'aala might decree the use of the Miswaak Fardh (compulsory) upon the Ummah (Islamic Nation).
Abu Umamah narrates that the Messenger of Allah said:
'Use the Miswaak, for verily, it purifies the mouth, and it is a Pleasure for the Lord. Jib-ra-eel exhorted me so much to use the Miswaak that I feared that its use would be decreed obligatory upon me and upon my Ummah. If I did not fear imposing hardship on my Ummah I would have made its use obligatory upon my people. Verily, I use the Miswaak so much that I fear the front part of my mouth being peeled (by constant and abundant brushing with the Miswaak)'."
"Abu Hurairahnarrates that Rasulullah said: 'Was it not for my fear of imposing a difficulty on my Ummah I would have ordered that the Miswaak be used for every Salaat'."
Hadhrat Shah Waliullah (R) relates the following
"The Messenger of Allah said:
'I was commanded to use the Miswaak to such an extent that I thought the Miswaak would be made obligatory'."
(AHMAD and TIBRANI)
Ibn Abbas narrates the following Hadith:
'I was commanded so much to use the Miswaak that I thought Wahi of the Qurtaan (Revelation) would be revealed, regarding it (i.e. its use)'."
Although the use of the Miswaak was not made Fardh (compulsory) upon the Ummah, nevertheless its use was Fardh upon our Nabi. This is borne out by the following Hadith:
"Aisha narrates that Rasulullah : said:
'These (practices), viz., Miswaak, Witr Salaat and Tahajjud Salaat, are Sunnat for you and Fardh for me'."
Hadhrat Abu Hurairah narrates:
"The Messenger of Allah would use the Miswaak (regularly) prior to sleeping and after rising from sleep."
Imam Ghazali (R), in his Ihya-ul-Uloom, has enum,erated ten Aadaab (Respects or duties) of sleep. The very first of these being purity and the use of the Miswaak (before sleeping).
Allamah Sha'rani (R) states in the Kitaab, Kashful Ghummah, that Rasulullah : advised:
"Whenever you retire for sleep, use the Miswaak."
Shaikh Abu Hamid (R) has said likewise in his Kitaab known as RAUNAQ.
Hadhrat Ibn Umar says that many a time Rasulullah used the Miswaak as much as four times in a single night. Hadhrat Aishah narrates:
"Verily, the Messenger of Allah would use the Miswaak before making Wudhu (ablutions) whenever he arose from sleep, whether it be during the night or during the day."
Similar Ahadith have been narrated by Imam Ahmad (R) and Abu Yatlaa (R). Imam Ghazali (R] has mentioned in his Ihya-ul-Uloom that a person before sleeping at night should keep his water and Miswaak ready and close at hand. As soon as he wakes from sleep during the night he should immediately use the water and the Miswaak, and engage in the remembrance of Allah. Hadhrat Ibn Abbasstates:
"The Messenger of Allah : would use the Miswaak at night time (i.e. Tahajjud time) after every two Rakaats Salaat he performed."
Allamah Aini (R) has recorded the following in Bunayah
"It is Mustahab to use the Miswaak after every two Rakaats of Tahajjud Salaat (i.e. the Salaat which is performed after midnight), as well as on Fridays, before sleeping, after Witr Salaat and when rising in the morning."
Quick view of benefits
ADVANTAGES OF THE MISWAK:
1. Miswaak strengthens the gums and prevents tooth decay.
TIMES WHEN USING MISWAAK IS SUNNA:
1. For the recitation of the Qur'an.
HOW LONG SHOULD IT BE?
A Miswaak should not be longer than a "span" i.e. the maximum distance between the tips of the thumb and little finger, and it should not be thicker than a finger's breadth.
HOW SHOULD IT BE USED?
A Miswaak should be held in such a manner that the small finger and thumb is below the miswaak and the remaining fingers on its upper side.
MISWAAK UPON ENTERING HOME
"Shuraih narrates that he asked Aisha: 'What was the first thing Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) did upon entering the house?'
Aisha replied: 'Rasulullah would use the Miswaak'."
MISWAAK UPON LEAVING HOME
"Whenever Rasulullah left the house he would use the Miswaak."
MISWAAK BEFORE AND AFTER MEALS
"Abu Hurairah said:
"I have used the Miswaak before sleeping, after rising, before eating and after eating, ever since I heard the Nabi advising so'."
MISWAAK BEFORE RECITING THE HOLY QUR'AAN
"Hadhrat Ali said:
'Verily, your mouths are the pathways of the Qur'aan (i.e. you recite with your mouth), therefore cleanse your mouth with the Miswaak thoroughly'."
"The use of the Miswaak has greater emphasis when one intends to perform Salaat, Wudhu and reciting the Qur'aan."
MISWAAK ON FRIDAYS
"Ibn Sabaaq narrates that Rasulullah said on one Friday:
'O Gathering of Muslims, Allah has made this Day (Friday) a Day of Eid for Muslims, therefore, bathe (on this day), use perfume and regard the use of the Miswaak (on this day) as an obligation upon you'."
(MUATTA IMAM MUHAMMAD)
'Suhail Bin Hanief states that Rasulullah said that to bathe and use the Miswaak on Fridays are of the Hugooq (Rights or Duties) of Friday."
MISWAAK DURING FASTING
"Aamir Bin Rabiyah narrates:
'I have seen Rasulullah using the Miswaak many a time while fasting'."
In another Hadith our Nabi said that one of the best characteristics of a fasting person is his use of the Miswaak.
The majority of the Ulama have opined that it is Sunnat to use the Miswaak while fasting. It is recorded in Fataawa Siraajiah that a fasting person may use a dry or a moist (i.e. fresh, green) Miswaak.
It is recorded in many Ahadith that the Messenger of Allah and his Sahaba were in the habit of having their Miswaaks on their persons while on a journey or during battles. In the Kitaab, Kashful Ghummah it is mentioned that during battle the Companions of Rasulullah would store their Miswaaks in the scabbards of their swords for use at the time of Salaat.
Allamah Sha'rani (R) states in Kashful Ghummah that the Messenger of Allah said:
"Whoever spurns or rejects the Miswaak is not of us (Muslims)."
Hadhrat Ibn Mubarak (R) said:
"If the inhabitants of a city spurn and reject the use of the Miswaak, the Ruler should wage battle against them like he would wage war against the renegades or murtad-deen."
All the aforegoing Ahadith of our Nabi and the statements of the learned jurists of Islam point clearly to the tremendous importance of the Miswaak in Islam. However, despite its elevated status, significance and importance, this noble practice is neglected and generally discarded by present day Muslims. Needless to say, this is one of the examples of the spiritual and worldly decadence that have set into the Muslim Nation.
The revival of the practice of using the Miswaak instead of the various substitutes is of utmost importance to Muslims. In times such as the present age when we are confronted and surrounded by the satanic forces of irreligiosity, materialism, atheism, vice and immorality, it is of greater importance that Muslims strive most ardently to re-instate the practices or the Sunnah of our beloved Nabi it;. And, of these is the Miswaak. Substitutes, e.g. toothpowders, brushes, etc., should only be resorted to in the event of the non-availability of the Miswaak. To revive a "lost" or a forgotten Sunnah of our Nabi it:—a Sunnah which the followers of Islam have murdered—carries a great and mighty Thawaab (Reward). In this regard our Nabi said:
"He who holds on firmly to my Sunnah at a time when my Ummah are (grovelling) in corruption will receive a reward of a hundred martyrs."
And, indeed the MISWAAK IS A GREAT SUNNAH.
THE SAHABAS (COMPANIONS)AND THE MISWAAK
The Sahabaswho were the best and the noblest examples and teachers of the Sunnah of our Nabi viewed the Miswaak in a very serious light and regarded it as a practice of supreme holiness. Their constant use of the Miswaak, their continuous exhortations to use the Miswaak and their warnings to those who neglect the Miswaak are ample evidence of the nobility and the importance attached to this practice of using the Miswaak.
Ibn Abbas, Ali and Ataasaid:
"Regard the Miswaak as an obligation on you, and do not be neglectful of it. Be constant in using it, for verily, in it lies the Pleasure of Allah, The Merciful, and in it is greater reward for Salaat . . ."
Hassaan Bin Atiyyah (R) said:
Abdul Aziz Abu Dawood (R) said:
"Two things of a Muslim are among the best of practices—
(1) Performing Tahajjud Salaat, and
(2) Constancy in the use of the Miswaak."
THE ULAMA AND MISWAAK
Hadhrat Shaukani (R) said:
"Miswaak is one of the Laws of Shariah. And, this fact is as clear as daylight. This has been conceded by the peoples of the world."
( NAILIL AUTAAR)
Hadhrat Sha'rani (R) said:
"A pledge has been taken from us on behalf of Rasulullah that we be steadfast in the use of the Miswaak at the time of making Wudhu. Should any of us be forgetful then he should tie the Miswaak with a string and hang it around his neck or keep it in his turban (so that it will be at hand when making Wudhu). The general public has broken this pledge . . . It (constancy in the use of the Miswaak) is indicative of the strength of one's Imaan and the degree of respect one has for the Laws of Allah and His Rasool . The Messenger of Allah emphasised the use of the Miswaak. And, Rasulullah was not satisfied merely with issuing an order once, but repeatedly exhorted his followers (regarding its use).
"O my Brother. Be constant in the Sunnah of Muhammad if: so that you may attain the great rewards of the Hereafter. Verily, for every Sunnah there is a rank in Jannat and this rank is obtained only by fulfilment of that Sunnah.
"To the indolent and neglectful people who say that it is
permissible to leave this practice (Miswaak) it will be said on the Day of Qiyamah: 'Today, it is permissible to deprive you of this Rank in Jannah.'
"Abul Qaasim Ibn Qasi (R) has stated this in his Kitaab. Khulun Na'lain."
Allamah Aini (R) says:
"Abu Amr (R) said that upon the significance of the Miswaak concensus of opinion exists. There is no difference of opinion on this score. According to all learned men of Islam, Salaat performed after using the Miswaak is far nobler than a Salaat without Miswaak. Auzaai (R) said that Miswaak is half of Wudhu."
Shaikh Muhammad (R) said:
"Verily, over a hundred Hadith have been narrated regarding the significance of the Miswaak. Therefore, it is a great astonishment to behold that so many among mankind as well as among the learned neglect such an important practice which has been emphasized to such an extent. This is a great loss."
AADAAB OR RESPECTS TO BE OBSERVED REGARDING THE MISWAAK
The majority of the Ulama hold the view that the use of the Miswaak is not Fardh (compulsory). Howeyer, despite it not being decreed Fardh by the Shariah, it is of utmost importance. It is likewise essential that all the Aadaab pertaining to the Miswaak be observed. Neglect of the Aadaab is a sign of spiritual indolence and weakness of Imaan. In order to achieve the Sawaub of a particular practice in full measure it is necessary that the Aadaab relating to the practice be observed. If neglect is shown towards the Aadanb, the final result will be the neglect of that very practice. In the Kituab, Ta'leemul Muta-allim the following is stated:
"He who becomes neglectful about the Aadaab is deprived of the Sunnats; and he who becomes neglectful of the Sunnats is deprived of the Faraa-idh (compulsory acts); and he who becomes neglectful of the Faraaidh is deprived of the Hereafter."
Faqih Abu Laith Samarqandi (R) states:
"As long as the Servant of Allah safeguards the Aadaab Satan does not attempt to assault him (i.e. mislead him). However, when he neglects the Aadaab Satan makes advances into the Sunnats (i.e. misleads the Servant from the Sunnats). Thereafter follows Satan's assault on the faraa-idh (compulsory duties). This is followed by Satan's assault on Ikhlaas (sincerity), and finally on Yaqeen (Faith). Hence, it is necessary for a
TYPES OF MISWAAKS
It is permissible to take for a Miswaak all types of tree twigs provided these are not harmful or poisonous. It is forbidden to use a Miswaak from a poisonous tree. Miswaaks from the following trees are not permissible:
Rasulullah FORBADE THE USE OF Raihaan as Miswaak because it causes the sickness, Juz-zaam
The following are the types of Miswaak are recommended:
(1) Peelo tree
Miswaak of the Peelo Tree
"And, the best of Miswaaks is the Peelo, then the Olive."
The best type of Miswaak is that which is taken from the Peelo tree. In the Kitaab, Ta-heelul Manaa-fi' it is mentioned that the miswaak of the Peelo tree is excellent for obtaining the glow or glitter of the teeth.
Our Nabi also praised and recommended the Peelo tree for Miswaak purposes. Besides recommending the Peelo tree, Rasulullah as well as the Sahaabasused Miswaaks of this tree. Ibn Sa'd (R) narrates that Abu Khabrahsaid:
"Nabi presented me with a Miswaak of the Peelo tree, and he said:
'Use the Miswaak of the Peelo tree'."
Ibn Masood said:
"I always kept a stock of Peelo Miswaaks for Rasulullah "
In the Kitaab, Mawaahib, it is stated that the Companions of Imam Shafi (R) have recorded Concensus of Opinion among them on the fact that the use of the Peelo Miswaak is Mustahab (i.e. an Islamic practice which carries much Sawaab (Reward) if upheld, and in the event of not fulfilling it no punishment will be meted out).
Miswaak of the Olive Tree
Rasullulah has spoken highly of the Miswaak of this tree as well. The following Hadith brings out the significance of the Olive tree Miswaak:
"Use the Miswaak of the Olive tree. It is the Miswaak of a Mubarak (auspicious or gracious) tree. It purifies and makes wholesome the mouth. It removes the yellowishness of the teeth. It is my (i.e. Rasulullah's Miswaak and the Miswaak of the Ambiyaa (Prophets) who came before me."
Miswaak of the Bitam Tree
In another Hadith it is stated that in the absence of the Peelo tree the Olive tree should be used, and in the absence of the Olive Miswaak, the Bitam tree Miswaak should be used.
Miswaak of some bitter tree
If none of the three abovementioned types of Miswaak is available, a Miswaak of any bitter tree should be used
" . . Thereafter it is Mustahab to use a Miswaak of a bitter tree because the Miswaak of a bitter tree removes odor of the mouth to a greater extent."
In Alamgiri it is stated that the Miswaak of a bitter tree makes the mouth wholesome, strengthens the teeth and the gums.
Mlswask of the Walnut Tree
Mistwaak of the Walnut tree has been recommended in the Kitaab, Taise.
NIYYAT OR INTENTION OF USING THE MISWAAK
"Niyyat of using the Miswaak should be made prior to its use."
The following duaa should also be recited at the time of using the Miswaak:
Translation: "O Allah, Purify my mouth: Enlighten my heart: Purify my body; And make my body unlawful to the Fire."
AADAAB (Etiquette) OF THE MISWAAK(1) The Miswaak should be a straight twig, devoid of roughness.
(2) The Miswaak should be clean.
(3) The Miswaak should not be too hard nor too soft.
(4) The Miswaak should not be used while one is lying down.
(5) The new Miswaak should be approximately 8 inches (a hand-span) in length.
(6) The Miswaak should be the thickness of the forefinger.
(7) Before using the Miswaak, it should be washed.
(8) After use it should be washed as well.
(9) The Miswaak should not be sucked.
(10) The Miswaak should be placed vertically when not in use. It should not be thrown onto the ground.
(11) If the Miswaak is dry it should be moistened with water prior to use. This is Mustahab. It is preferable to moisten it with Rose water.
(12) The Miswaak should not be used in the toilet.
(13) The Miswaak should be used at least thrice (brush three times) for each section of the mouth, e.g. brush the upper layer of teeth thrice, then the lower layer thrice, etc.
(14) The Miswaak should not be used at both ends.
(15) The Miswaak should not be taken from an unknown tree as it may be poisonous.
ADVANTAGES AND BENEFITS OF THE MISWAAK
(1) Eliminates bad odour and improves the sense of taste
Allamah Ibn Daqiq (R) says: "The wisdom underlying the use of the Miswaak after rising from sleep is that during sleep bad vapours rise from the stomach towards the mouth. This causes bad odour in the mouth as well as a change in the sense of taste. Use of the Miswaak eliminates the bad odor and rectifies the change which occurred in the taste."
(NALE WA TA'LEEQ)
(2) Sharpens the Memory
Hadhrat Ali said that "Miswaak sharpens the memory.
(3) Sharpens the Intelligence
"Four things increase the Intelligence—
(4) Eliminates Slime
Hadhrat Ali said that "Miswaak removes slime."
(5) A Cure for Illness
Hadhrat Aisha said that "Miswaak (its constant use) is a cure for all illness excepting Death."
(6) Miswaak creates fragrance in the mouth.
Abu Hurairah (R) said that "Miswaak increases the eloquence of a person." (AL-JAAMI')
(22) Miswaak (i.e. its constant use) will be ~ factor to ease the pangs of Death. The continuous use of the Miswaak makes it easy for the Rooh (Soul) to depart from the body when its appointed time arrives. (SHARHUS SUDOOR)
(23) Miswaak increases the Thawaab (reward) of Salaat (prayer) from seventy times to four hundred times. (HADITH)
(24) Miswaak is a factor which will earn higher ranks in Jannat for the one who uses it
(25) The Angels sing the praises of the one who uses the Miswaak.
(26) Use of the Miswaak displeases Shaitaan.
(27) Use of the Miswaak graces one with the companionship of the Angels.
(28) And, the greatest benefit of using the Miswaak is the attainment of Allah Ta'ala's Pleasure.
SUBSTITUTES FOR THE MISWAAK
(1) The Fingers
In the case of the non-availability of the Miswaak the fingers should be used to cleanse the teeth. This method will serve the purpose of the Miswaak as far as the
Sawaab is concerned, i.e. if a Miswaak is not availa e the Sawaab (Reward) attendant to the Miswaak will be realised by using the fingers as a substitute provided that Niyyat (intention) of Miswaak be made when the fingers are used for this purpose.
"Rubbing the teeth with the forefinger and the thumb
Hadhrat Amr Bin Auf Muzni (R) states that the fingers could be used as an adequate substitute for the Miswaak in the case of the latter's absence.
"Imam Tahtaawi (R) says: 'The promised Reward (of using the Miswaak) shall be obtained in the event of the non-availability of the Miswaak, and not in the event of its availability'."
In other words, if a Miswaak is available and you are able to use same then the Sawaab of it will not be realised by using a substitute.
A coarse piece of cloth may also be used in case of the non-availability of a Miswaak. Those who have no teeth should use the fingers or a cloth as substitutes for the Miswaak, and they will obtain the Sawaab. But Niyyat of the Miswaak should be made.
"And, the significance of the Miswaak shall be obtained even though the finger or a cloth be used in the event of the non-availability of the Miswaak."
If the toothbrush is made of bristles (pig's hair) then its use is not permissible. If bristles are not used, the use of the toothbrush is permissible. However, the toothbrush will not serve as a substitute in the case of the Miswaak being available. If a Miswaak is available Reward will not be realised by using the toothbrush. The same applies to toothpowder or any other means of cleansing the teeth. It should be remembered here that during the time of our Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) substitutes, e.g. toothpowder, etc., existed, but our Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) never equated these with the Miswaak. Therefore, the argument of the modernist that the toothbrush today takes the place of the Miswaak is fallacious and a good example of the apologetic attitude adopted by modern Muslims of today.
Further Reading:1) http://www.slideshare.net/