In Islamic cultures, the miswak is considered to be sunnah, referring to the daily practice of Our Beloved Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), who recommended it as part of a daily health regimen.
The Miswak is a teeth cleaning twig made from the tree (known as arāk, أراك, in Arabic). It is reputed to have been used over 7000 years ago.
The Miswak’s properties have been described thus: “Apart from their antibacterial activity which may help control the formation and activity of dental plaque, they can be used effectively as a natural toothbrush for teeth cleaning.
Such sticks are effective, inexpensive, common, available, and contain many medical properties”.It also features prominently in Islamic hygienical jurisprudence.
The miswak is predominant in Muslim-inhabited areas. It is commonly used in the Arabian peninsula, the Horn of Africa, North Africa, parts of the Sahel, the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia and Southeast Asia. In Malaysia, miswak is known as Kayu Sugi (Malay for ‘chewing stick‘).
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended the use of the miswak in 1986.
Some of this further research has been done on a population of 203, and concluded, in turn, “that the periodontal status of miswak users in this Sudanese population is better than that of toothbrush users”.
Yet another comparative study conducted on a sampling of 480 Saudi Arabian adults found that “the level of need for periodontal care in the sample chosen is low when compared with the findings of similar studies undertaken in other countries.
The frequent use of the ‘Maswak’ was associated with a lower need for treatment”
Miswak in Religion.
The use of the miswak is frequently advocated in the hadith (the traditions relating to the life of Muhammad).
Situations, where the miswak is recommended to be used, including before religious practice, before entering one’s house, before and after going on a journey, on Fridays, before sleeping and after waking up, when experiencing hunger or thirst and before entering any good gathering.
In addition to strengthening the gums, preventing tooth decay and eliminating toothaches.
The miswak is said to halt further decay that has already set in. Furthermore, it is reputed to create a fragrance in the mouth, eliminate bad breath, improve the sensitivity of taste-buds and promote cleaner teeth.
Hadith concerning the Miswak
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]
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]
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]
Toothbrushes vs miswak in oral health
Bristle toothbrush, which is the most common and widely used aid for oral hygiene, was first time patented in America in 1887 and has since then undergone little change.
toothbrushes are usually used with dentifrices( tooth Pastes) which aid in cleaning and polishing the tooth surfaces.
Dentifrices are made up of polishing agents, thickening agents,detergents, humectants, antibacterial agents, flavouring agents and therapeutic agents (as fluoride and pyrophosphates).
They also suggested that 5 times a day use of miswak might offer a suitable alternate for tooth brushing in reducing plaque and gingivitis.
Darout IA et al. conducted a study on 213 males, aged 20 to 65 years, to evaluate the periodontal status of miswak and toothbrush users. They reported that periodontal status of miswak users in Sudanese population is better than that of the toothbrush.
In a single-blind cross-over clinical study, after professional instruction of the proper use of miswak and toothbrush, miswak was found to be more effective than use of a toothbrush for reducing plaque and gingivitis in a sample of male Saudi Arabians.
TYPES OF MISWAAKS
It is permissible to take organic toothbrush from 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 :
- Raihaan (TULSI)
The following are the types of Miswaak are recommended:
- Peelo ( Arak tree )
- Zaitoon or Olive tree
- Bitam or Any bitter tree
- Walnut tree
- Neem ( Margosa Tree )
- bead-tree ( dharek )
- Rosewood tree (
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