The Manners And Sunnah of Miswak
A Miswak, or siwak, is a natural tooth-stick made from a twig of a tree. Typically made from peelu, olive, or walnut trees. It is used to clean the teeth and holds an important place in Islam. The reason for this is that our blessed and beloved Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam), along with all the other prophets (Ala Nabiyyina wa Alayhim as-Salat wa as-Salam), used it regularly, and strongly advised his followers to do the same. Unfortunately! Today, most perhaps this beautiful sunnah of using Miswak is almost a ‘Forgotten’ Sunnah (May Allah forbid). Whereas, this is definitely one of the most favorable and easiest Sunnah of all. Instead, we were embarrassed to practice it in public. May Allah give us a better understanding. Here we present some of the sacred traditions of the beloved Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) on the excellence and benefits of using miswak.
Ahadith on the Excellence of Miswak
Hadith 1: The Beloved Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) states, “Miswak is a thing that pleases the Merciful Lord.” [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 1, Page 637, Hadith 1933]
So it is obvious that one will reap endless bounties when the Lord Almighty is pleased.
Hadith 2: The Noble Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) has stated, “When any one of you stand at night to offer Salah, you should clean your teeth with a Miswak because when you recite the Quran, an angel places his mouth on yours and anything coming out of your mouth enters the mouth of that angel.” [Shu’ab al-Iman, Vol. 2, Page 381, Hadith 2117]
Hadith 3: Sayyiduna Abu Umamah (Radi Allahu Anhu) has narrated the following saying of the Holy Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam), “Miswak is a means of the purification of your mouths and the pleasure of your Rabb.” [Sunan Ibn Majah, Page 2495, Hadith 289]
Hadith 4: Tabrani narrates a Hasan narration on the authority of Hadrat Ali (Radi Allahu Anhu), citing that Rasoolullah (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said, “If I did not feel that it would be difficult upon my Ummah, I would have commanded them to perform miswak with every Wudu.” [Mu’jam al-Awsat, Vol. 1, Page 341, Hadith 1238]
Hadith 5: In other words, I would have made it Fard. In some narrations, the term Fard has also appeared. [Mustadrak lil Haakim, Vol. 1, Page 364, Hadith 531]
Hadith 6: It is also mentioned in one narration of Tabrani that Rasoolullah (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) never went for any Salaah without performing Miswak (cleaning the teeth). [Mu’jam al-Kabeer, Vol. 5, Page 152, Hadith 253-44]
Hadith 7: Imam Ahmed narrates from Ibn Umar (Radi Allahu Anhuma) that Rasoolullah (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said, ‘Make it a habit to perform Miswak, as it is a means of cleansing the mouth and a means of attaining the pleasure of Allah.’ [Musnad Ahmad, Vol. 2, Page 438, Hadith 5869]
Hadith 8: Abu Nu’aym narrates on the authority of Hazrat Jaabir (Radi Allahu Anhu) that Rasoolullah (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said, ‘To perform 2 Raka’ats after performing Miswak is more exalted than 70 Raka’ats which is performed without performing Miswak.’ [Al-Targhib wa at-Tarheeb, Vol. 1, Page 102, Hadith 18]
Hadith 9: It has been mentioned in one narration that the Namaaz which is performed after Miswak is 70 folds more exalted than the Namaaz which is performed without making Miswak. [Shu’ab al-Iman, Vol. 3, Page 26, Hadith 2774]
Hadith 10: It is narrated in Mishkaat Shareef from Hadrat Sayyidah A’isha (Radi Allahu Anha) that there are 10 actions which are of Fitrat (inherent qualities) [In other words these actions were commanded in every Shariat]:
1. To trim the mustache
2. To lengthen the beard
3. To perform Miswak
4. To put water into the nostrils (cleansing the nostrils)
5. To clip the nails
6. To wash between the toes
7. To remove the hair from under the arms
8. To remove the pubic hair
9. To perform Istinja (to clean oneself after answering the call of nature)
10. To rinse the mouth. [Sahih Muslim, Page 154, Hadith 261]
Hadith 11: It is on the authority of Hazrat Ali (Radi Allahu Anhu) that Rasoolullah (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said, ‘When a servant (believer) performs Miswak and then stands for Salaah, an Angel stands behind him and listens to his Qir’at (recitation). The Angel then comes so close to him, that it places its mouth against the mouth of that person (the Namaazi).’ [Musnad al-Bazzar, Vol. 2, Page 614, Hadith 603]
Hadith 12: Whenever the Holy Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) would enter his blessed home, he would use the Miswak first. [Sahih Muslim, Vol. 1, Page 152, Hadith 152]
Hadith 13: Whenever the Exalted Prophet (SallAllahu Alayhi wa Sallam) would wake up from his sleep, he would use the Miswak. [Sunan Abu Dawud, Page 54, Hadith 57]
Hadith 14: Make use of Miswak necessarily because it cleans your mouth and pleases Allah. [Musnad Imam Ahmad, Vol. 2, Page 438, Hadith 5869]
Hujjatul Islam Imam Muhammad al-Ghazali (Alayhir Rahmah) says, “Whilst using a Miswak, make intention to clean mouth for the recitation of the Holy Quran and for the Zikr (Remembrance) of Allah.” [Ihya al-Uloom, Vol. 1, Page 182]
It is quoted in the margins of Tahtawi: “Use of Miswak strengthens memory and eyesight, cures headaches and relieves the veins in the head, eliminates sputum, improves digestion, increases brainpower, increases birth rate, delays aging and strengthens the back.” [Hashiya al-Tahtawi Ala Maraqil Falah, Page 69]
Sadr al-Shariah Allama Amjad Ali Al-Aazami stated: The Masha’ikh (Pious Grandmasters) have mentioned that a person (believer) who is habitual of making Miswak, will be blessed with the opportunity of being able to recite the Kalima at the time of his death and that person who uses opium, will not be blessed with the opportunity of reciting the Kalima at the time of his death. [Bahar-e-Shari’at, Vol. 2, Page 288]
Important Notes pertaining to Miswak:
- Miswak should be as thick as the little finger.
- Miswak should not be longer than one’s hand span (the distance between the tip of the thumb and that of the little finger when the hand is fully extended) as Satan is on the Miswak longer than this.
- The strands of Miswak should be soft; otherwise, they might cause space between teeth and gums.
- Use a fresh Miswak, if available. Otherwise, place it in a glass of water to make it soft.
- Trim the strands of Miswak every day as they are beneficial so long as they have some bitterness.
- Brush your teeth horizontally with Miswak.
- Always brush your teeth with Miswak at least thrice.
- And wash it after every use.
- Hold the Miswak in the right hand in such a manner that the little finger remains at the bottom, and the middle three fingers remain on it while the thumb remains at the top (near the soft strands that are used to brush the teeth).
- Brush (with Miswak) the upper teeth of the right side first and then the left. Thereafter, clean the lower teeth again starting from the right and then the left.
- To use Miswak while one is lying on his back can cause the spleen to enlarge.
- To use Miswak when held in fist can cause piles.
- Miswak is a pre-Wudu Sunnah. However, it becomes Sunnah al-Mu’akkadah when a foul smell emanates from the mouth. [Fatawa Razawiyyah, Vol. 1, Page 223]
- Don’t throw away the used bristles or used Miswak. Instead, place it at a safer place e.g. bury under the ground or sink into the sea, etc. as it is sacred, being a tool for acting upon a Sunnah. [Bahar-e- Shari’at, Vol. 1, Page 294, Durr-e-Mukhtar wa Radd al-Muhtar, Vol. 1, Page 250]
Other times when the usage of Miswak is Sunnah
- For the recitation of the Holy Qur’an.
- For the recitation of Hadith.
- When the mouth emits a bad odor.
- For teaching or learning the virtues of Islam.
- For making remembrance of Allah (The Exalted).
- Before intercourse.
- After entering one’s home.
- Before entering any good gathering.
- When experiencing pangs of hunger or thirst.
- After the time of Suhoor.
- Before meals.
- Before and after a journey.
- Before and after sleeping.
May Allah Almighty give us the ability and strength to practice and revive this beautiful Sunnah with sincerity, Ameen!!