Only A Miswak Stops Tooth Decay
Siwak (ph. siw'aark ) is the traditional toothbrush invented either by Middle Easterners or those pre-dating them as the original plaq...
(Picture shows toothbrush before use. Bristles exist here just as a modern toothbrush would have).
WHAT IS THE SIWAAK?
Prophet Muhammad, Allah's peace and blessings be upon him, told his Companions to use the twigs of the araak tree as their toothbrush. It has a clean aroma, the fibres can easily be moulded into bristles and it was commonly known as an effective tool to keep teeth clean.
Today, Muslims can pop into an Islamic gift store to find plastic sealed twigs of this Siwaak at a reasonable price. A few years ago I gave a Siwaak out to each of my Madrassah class students. They were aged 12-13 at the time and got a kick out of using something "only their grandmother's used before Wudhu" (ablution before prayer).
SIWAAK IN ISLAM
There's no explicit Qur'an quote on using the Siwaak. But the in the second most authoritative source, that is, Prophet Muhammad's Sunnah, there are loads of Ahadith (factual narrations) emphasising why Muslims should try to use it regularly.
“Had I not thought it difficult for my nation, I would have commanded them to use the Miswak (tooth-stick) before every Salat.” - Prophet Muhammad, Allah's peace and blessings be upon him. Narrated by Abu Hurairah (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)Having excellent oral hygiene is therefore an integral part of Islamic faith for Muslims. A note for our Muslim readers too: What was the last physical action of Prophet Muhammad before he passed away? ... He used the Siwaak. But now you can register with any dentist and tend to find that Muslims are amongst those with the poorest oral health.
Having clean teeth means having healthy gums. Strong gums means good blood circulation, and good blood means no infection, no heart problems, no headaches and no swellings. A small act therefore has massive impact on the entire body.
That is why it's a Sunnah. So how many times did the Prophet Muhammad use the Siwaak? His wife `Aisha told us in another Hadith: "We used to prepare for the Messenger of Allah a Miswak (tooth-stick) and the water for making Wudhu. Whenever Allah wished to awaken him from sleep at night, he would brush his teeth with Miswak, make Wudhu, and perform Salat" (Reported in Muslim).
So, Siwak is not a Fard - compulsory act, it's not Waajib - an obligation (although you could argue for your health you should be obliged!), but it's a Sunnah act for every Wudhu. An emphasised one at that.
HOW TO USE IT
Scholarly opinions teach Muslims the nitty gritty rulings on how to hold it, where to start brushing from and so on. As a general introduction, once you grab yourself a Siwaak, begin by scraping off the outer bark off one end to expose the inner fibres. I use a craft knife with mine. Much faster.
The modern world has made us more fussy with our lifestyles so if using toothpaste, mint oil or the like is something you can't live without, dollop the smallest amount onto the Siwaak like a regular brush and start brushing away.
Begin on the outer sides of all teeth and move the Siwaak either side-to-side or top-to-bottom; scholarly opinions tell us the Sunnah is to move it up and down, while others say doing this may cause more harm to the gums. But you do what works for you. Once you've covered the outside of all teeth, spit, and you're done. The beauty of the Siwaak is you don't need to brush every single side of each tooth because the Siwaak releases its natural juices that help clean in-between teeth and below the gum line.
Make a habit out of this and you'll find insha-Allah, God willing, that this simple little tree from God, may give you healthier, happier teeth. And on that note, #my shiny teeth and me!
+ Ahadith on Miswak