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miswaakThe Sister walks down the aisle and to her amazement, she sees the racks full of various items for oral hygiene, ranging from mouth- fresheners to teeth-whiteners…she smiles as she thinks back in time, when the Prophet [saws] said:, “Siwaak [1] is a way of purifying the mouth and satisfying the Lord”[2]. As women grapple to find a solution for their debilitating oral condition, she has learnt that the Siwaak [which is also referred to as Miswaak] not only contains an immediate antimicrobial effect on bacteria [3] but most importantly it is a means by which to satisfy her Lord, the Most High.

As she sits, vigorously using the Miswaak to clean her teeth [starting from the right side to the left [4]], many raise their eyebrows, conveying inaudible questions of both worry and dismay. She smiles towards them politely, and makes excuses for them; she wonders whether it’s because they don’t know what the Miswaak is or whether they think it’s only for brothers? If she gets a chance, she speaks to them with wisdom, although confidently continuing to use her Miswaak. By Allah it’s well worth it! Since her intention is to please the Lord of the heavens and the earth and tread the path of the Prophets.

Such was Allah’s Messenger’s love for the Miswaak that he said: “Had I not feared burdening my Ummah [followers], I would have commanded them to use Siwaak before every Salaat."[5] In this hadeeth we find the pertinent mention of Ummah [followers], which includes both brothers and sisters. Further, we see the love the Prophet [saws] had for the Miswaak, as well as his desire for his Ummah [followers] to use it with every wudhoo’ [ablution] before their prayers.

The Anbiyaa’ [Prophets] were people who Allah [az] chose from amongst mankind, endowing them with the best of manners and characteristics by which to propagate this deen [religion] and please their Lord - to whom they were sincere.  My dear Sister, let’s ask Allah to make us strong in following the way of the Prophets [may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon all of them] and to permeate in our hearts the strong conviction of adopting the usage of the Miswaak, since the Prophet [saws] said: “Miswaak is from among the practices of the Anbiyaa' [Prophets].”[6]

Indeed this life is short; let’s seek our Lord’s pleasure, even in things which may seem minute to us, yet on the scales are heavy. Let’s join the ranks of Sisters who, in the past as well as in the present, adopted this Sunnah of the Prophets - especially during the various recommended timings, such as: before the prayer, after eating, when awaking from sleep and before reciting the Qur’aan. Let our days and nights not pass without using the Miswaak, since even during the darkness of the night the Prophet [saws] was seen using the Miswaak. Ibn Abbas said:

“I stayed overnight in the house of my aunt Maymoonah. Allah's Apostle spoke with his wife for a while and then went to bed. When it was the last third of the night, he got up and looked towards the sky and said: "Verily! In the creation of the Heavens and the Earth and in the alteration of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding."[7] Then he stood up, performed ablution, brushed his teeth with a Siwaak, and then prayed eleven Rakat [units of prayer].”[8]

In fact, when the last day of the Prophet [saws] came on this earth even during his last moments as he was preparing to meet his Lord, he used the Miswaak in a way that he had never used it as he did that day, Aishah [rah] said:

'Abdur-Rahman bin Abu Bakr entered upon the Prophet while I was supporting the Prophet on my chest. 'Abdur-Rahman had a fresh Siwaak then and he was cleaning his teeth with it. Allah's Apostle looked at it, so I took the Siwaak, cut it (chewed it with my teeth), shook it and made it soft (with water), and then gave it to the Prophet who cleaned his teeth with it. I had never seen Allah's Apostle cleaning his teeth in a better way. After finishing the brushing of his teeth, he lifted his hand or his finger and said thrice, "O Allah! Let me be with the highest companionship," and then died. 'Aisha used to say, "He died while his head was resting between my chest and chin."[9]

Let’s help our husbands also adopt the Miswaak, as did A’ishah [rah], the righteous and beloved wife of Rasoolullah [saws]. Let it be that when our last moments come in this world – as were the Prophet’s [saws] – we also prepare to meet our Lord with mouths that are fragrant due to the Miswaak. Ameen.

______________

[1] Siwaak, or what is also referred to as Miswaak, is a soft twig-like tooth-stick used for brushing the teeth and gums.

[2] Related by Imam Ahmad and others.

[3] A Clinical Study on the Miswaak: ‘The Immediate Antimicrobial Effect of a Toothbrush and Miswak on Cariogenic Bacteria’, which can be accessed here.

[4] It is Sunnah to start noble and good actions with the right. Aishah [rah] reports: “The Prophet always used his right hand for purification and eating, but he used his left hand in the toilet and to remove anything dirty.” (Related by Abu Dawood, while Al-Bukhari and Muslim relate a Hadith with similar meaning but in different wording).  She also said: “The Prophet loved to start with his right side in all matters: Ablution, walking and wearing his shoes.” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.)

[5] Reported by Maalik, Ahmad and an-Nasaa’i.

[6] Related by Ahmad (23470) and at-Tirmidhi (1081)

[7] Surah Aal Imraan [3]: 190

[8] Related by Al Bukhari: Volume 6, Book 60, Number 93

[9] Related by Al Bukhari: Volume 6, Book 60, Number 93

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