The miswak (miswaak, siwak, sewak, السواك) is a teeth cleaning twig made from the Salvadora persica tree (known as arak in Arabic). A traditional alternative to the modern toothbrush, it has a long, well-documented history and is reputed for its medicinal benefits. 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').
- Hadith 1
- Studies 2.1
- Miswak extract vs. oral disinfectants 2.2
- Religious prescriptions 3
- Examples of hadith concerning the miswak 4
- Maintenance 5
- References 6
- Further reading 7
- External links 8
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|“||"Were it not that I might over-burden the Believers I would have ordered them to use Siwak (Miswak) at the time of every Prayer."||”|
|“||"Four things are from among the practices of the Prophets: Circumcision, Perfume, Miswak, and Marriage."||”|
|“||"Make a regular practice of Miswak for verily it is the purification for the mouth and a means of the pleasure of the Lord."||”|
A 2003 scientific study comparing the use of miswak with ordinary toothbrushes concluded that the results clearly were in favor of the users who had been using the miswak, provided they had been given proper instruction in how to brush using it. However, the study's sample size was only fifteen people, calling into question its statistical significance. The oral hygiene concluded that further research was needed to document the effect of the miswak.
Dr. Rami Mohammed Diabi, who spent more than 17 years researching the effects of miswak on health, and especially its anti-addiction effects on smokers (curative and preventive sides), has opened a field of science and research with his last publication: "Miswak Medicine Theory" or Sewak Puncture medicine which led him to what is called Beyond Sewak: World of Science and Research. Miswak also is contributing in the fight against desertification, thereby affecting our environment and global climate.
Miswak extract vs. oral disinfectants
|“||"Mouthrinses containing chlorhexidine was with maximum antibacterial activity, while cetylpyridinium chloride mouthrinses were with moderate and miswak extract was with low antibacterial activity."||”|
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 include, 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 sensitivity of taste-buds and promote cleaner teeth.
Examples of hadith concerning the miswak
From Sahih al-Bukhari:
From Sahih Muslim:
A miswak should be one hand span in length when selected. If it becomes dry, it should be soaked in rose water to soften the end bristles. The end should be cut afresh to ensure hygiene and should never be stored near a toilet or sink. The brush may be created by cutting Salvadora persica's branches instead of its roots; keeping in mind that the tree's roots can retain humidity more so than its branches. This favors more long-term usage.
There is also a toothpaste made from miswak extract that can be purchased in the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe and North America. Use of toothpastes featuring benefits of miswak is, however, not a true alternate practice of using miswak in its original shape and in the masnoon way. Some companies, such as Al Khair and AL Falah, have also taken the initiative to process and preserve miswak. This has the effect of increasing the twig's shelf life to a period of over six months.
- IslamKotob, Muslims and Science, (Islamic Books), p.30.
- "Miswak" at sunnah.com.
- "Siwak" at searchtruth.com.
- Al-Otaibi M, Al-Harthy M, Soder B, Gustafsson A, Angmar-Mansson B. (2003). "Comparative effect of chewing sticks and toothbrushing on plaque removal and gingival health.". Oral Health Prev Dent 1 (4): 301–7.
- Undersøkelse av en aktuell eldgammel munnrengjøringsmetode in Norwegian
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- Miswak Medicine Theory
- Beyond Sewak Worlds Researches Page
- See effects of Salvadora Persica "Miswak tree" on stopping deserts and fixing the soil - Thrust Areas of Research
- Almas, K. (August 2002). "The effect of Salvadora persica extract (miswak) and chlorhexidine gluconate on human dentin: a SEM study.". J Contemp Dent Pract. 3 (3): 27–35.
- Almas, K; Skaug, N; Ahmad, I. (February 2005). "An in vitro antimicrobial comparison of miswak extract with commercially available non-alcohol mouthrinses.". Int J Dent Hyg. 3 (1): 18–24.
- Islamic Research on Miswak (Dr. Al Sahli)
- Khan, Tehmeena, Toothbrush (Miswak), in Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the Prophet of God (2 vols.), Edited by C. Fitzpatrick and A. Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014.
- Article on Miswak
- Miswak Is Ecological
- The Miswaak Page - Guidelines and Information
- Al Khair - Miswak
- Al-Badr Collection - Miswak