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Miswak: A Cultural, Religious And Scientific Heritage

Dear Fellows I will post a series of articles comprising different aspects of MISWAK/SIWAK/ARAK sticks. My articles will comprise the h...

Dear Fellows

I will post a series of articles comprising different aspects of
MISWAK/SIWAK/ARAK sticks. My articles will comprise the historical
background, islamic relevance and scientific importance including the
composition, pharmacological activity, medical uses and proper way to use
miswak. My primary objective is to promote the usage of Miswak globally as
the matchless alternate to toothbrushes and toothpaste
. i supply miswak

sticks in fresh moist vacuum sealed hygienic packaging. Brothers who are
interested to start the Sunnah business of Miswak can contact me. My
contact details are mentioned below as well as you can contact me through
brother Shami sb.

Miswak: A Cultural, Religious And Scientific Heritage

Dental caries and periodontal diseases are the two main afflictions to
mankind. Bacterial plaque is solely responsible for the initiation and
progression of periodontal diseases. The methods available for the
maintenance of oral health are mainly mechanical and chemical. Toothbrushes
and dentifrices are widely used for cleaning teeth. The traditional
toothbrush or chewing stick is deeply rooted in Islamic culture. This
article gives a brief cultural and historical background of the subject and
review current literature on Miswak.


Pencil-sized sticks of various plants are fashioned from certain plant -
parts and are chewed on one end until they become frayed into a brush. The
brush-end is used to clean the teeth in a manner similar to the use of a
toothbrush. When used in this manner, they are commonly referred to as
chewing sticks or Miswak. The conventional meaning of Miswak is 'stick used
on teeth and gums to clean them.' Its various names are Miswak and Siwak as
used in the

Middle East,

Mswaki in Tanzania,

Mefaka in Ethiopia and

Datun in India and Pakistan.

Although Siwak or Miswak is used to describe Arak *(Salvadora persica), *
the stick which the Prophet Muhammad - Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon
Him (PBUH) - used to clean his mouth with, miswak is a more general term which includes all types of sticks used as tooth cleaning aids.

*Types of Miswak*
In the Middle East, the most common source of chewing sticks is Arak *(Salvadora persica). *In West Africa, the lime tree *(Citrusaurantafolia) *and the orange tree *(Citrussinensis) *are used. The roots of senna (*Cassia
vinnea) *were used by Black Americans, and those of African laburnum *{Cassia sieberianba) *were used in Sierra Leone. Neem *(Azadirachta indica) *is widely used in the Indian subcontinent.

Arak, a tree used for Miswak, is also known as "tooth brush tree" and
"mustard plant". Although the miswak is usually obtained from the roots of
the Arak tree, some sticks are made from its branches and bark.

*Salvadora persica *is an upright evergreen small tree or shrub, seldom
more than one foot in diameter reaching maximum height of three meters. The leaves are small, oval, thick and succulent with a strong smell of cress or
mustard. The fresh leaves are eaten as salad and are used in traditional
medicine for cough, asthma, scurvy, rheumatism, piles and other diseases.
The flowers are small and fragrant and are used as a stimulant and are
mildly purgative. The berries are small and barely noticeable; they are eaten
both fresh and dried.

*Historical and Cultural Background of Miswak*
The use of Miswak is a pre-lslamic custom, which was adhered to by the
ancient Arabs to get their teeth white and shiny. It also contributed to
ritual purity. This custom was adopted and Islamized by Prophet Muhammad
(PBUH) around 543 AD. This kind of toothbrushing has been used by the Arabs, the Babylonians some 7000 years ago,2 the Japanese called it Koyoji, while the Romans used mastic to rub their teeth and as a toothpick. Ancient
Egyptians and the Jews also used it.3 It is in use throughout the Islamic

*Religious Background*
Islam introduced basic oral hygiene by incorporating it as a religious
practice. Islam teaches the importance of cleanliness of the body as well
as of the mind. Several quotations are found in the compendium of the
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), as to the benefits of Miswak in oral hygiene.

For example: *Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), said: "Siwak purifies the mouth and
pleases Allah'and said:*

*Were it not to be a hardship on my community, I would have ordered them to
use Siwak for every **ablution.'*