Should miswak be washed after being used?

The Details of the Question

- ​ The following was written on a website: “If the miswak is not washed after being used, Satan will use it.” Is it true?
- Should we not use miswak if we do not have water to wash it at that moment?
- When should the miswak be used?
- What is the sunnah regarding the issue?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Answer 1:

The following information exists in some fiqh books: “After using the miswak, one should wash it. Otherwise, Satan will use the miswak.” However, we could not find any explanation showing that this is a hadith narration in the places where this information is included. (see Ibn Abidin, Durrul-Muhtar, Taharah Section)

In addition, in the hadith sources that we checked, we could not find a hadith narration meaning, “After using the miswak, one should wash it. Otherwise, Satan will use the miswak.”

It is good in terms of health to wash a miswak or a toothbrush after using it. However, there is no harm in washing it later or washing it when it will be used again.

What matters is that the miswak and toothbrushes used in dental and oral health should be clean, be kept clean and protected from things that will harm our health. It is necessary to take care to do what is necessary for it.

Thus, attention is paid to oral hygiene, which is important both in terms of health and in terms of worship and reward.

Answer 2:

Although it is known that miswak has been used since ancient times in the regions where it grows, its use has gained prevalence and continuity as a religious duty with the advent of Islam, and Muslim medical and botanical scholars have included information on the characteristics of miswak tree in their works.

According to Hanafi, Shafii, Maliki and Hanbali madhhabs, it is sunnah (mustahab, mandub) to clean the teeth with a miswak.

Although it is written in some sources that it is fard to use miswak according to, Dawud az-Zahiri and Ishaq b. Rahuya and that using miswak is wajib (fard) and Ishaq b. Rahuya said a prayer performed without a miswak would not be valid, and on the other hand, Dawud az-Zahiri did not consider that not using miswak would prevent the validity of the prayer (Mawardi, I, 83; Ibn Qudama, I, 133; Abu Shama al-Maqdisi, p. 50; Badruddin al-Ayni, V, 262), it is understood that this report is not true. (Nawawi, I, 271; Shawkani, I, 124)

As a matter of fact, Ibn Hazm, one of the Zahiri scholars, states that miswak is mustahab. (al-Muhalla, II, 218, 219)

It is understood from the hadith narrated by many Companions stating, “If I did not want to cause difficulties for my (ummah) believers, I would order them to use miswak in every prayer” (Bukhari, Jumua, 8; Muslim, Taharah, 42; Abu Dawud, Taharah, 25) that the Messenger of Allah did not give a definite order; therefore, using miswak is not regarded as wajib, but sunnah.

However, due to the constant practice and insistent advice of our Prophet (pbuh), our scholars agree unanimously that miswak is considered a sunnah muakkadah, though not wajib. As a matter of fact, it is stated in another narration that when some of the Companions entered into the presence of the Messenger of Allah without using the miswak, he said to them:

“You come to me with yellowed teeth. Use miswak. If I did not want to cause difficulties for my ummah, I would render to use miswak in every prayer fard just as I rendered it fard for them to make wudu in every prayer.”  (Musnad, I, 214; III, 442; Hakim, I, 146)

Some other hadiths that emphasize the importance of miswak:

The Prophet (pbuh) said,
- “I received so many orders about miswak that I thought a verse would be revealed in the Quran about it.” (Musnad, I, 237, 307)
- In the hadith, in which he states that ten things are of fitrah (human nature), he mentions using miswak among the issues that are generally related to cleanliness. (Muslim, Taharah, 56; Abu Dawud, Taharah, 29)
- He states that the sense of modesty, wearing perfume, marriage and using miswak are regarded among the sunnahs of the previous prophets (Musnad, V, 421; Tirmidhi, “Nikah”, 1);
- When Aisha (ra) was asked what the first thing the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did when he came home, she said that he cleaned his teeth with a miswak. Muslim, Taharah, 43-44; Abu Dawud, Taharah, 27)

The miswak is specifically requested to be used in certain situations:

The Prophet (pbuh) said,

- A prayer performed using the miswak is more virtuous than seventy prayers without the miswak. (Musnad, VI, 272; Hakim, I, 146) Therefore, it is sunnah muakkadah to use miswak before every prayer.
“If I did not want to cause difficulties for my ummah, I would order them to use miswak in every prayer.” (Musnad, II, 460, 517) Therefore, it is sunnah muakkadah to use miswak in every wudu.
The Prophet used a miswak every time he woke up at night. (Bukhari, Wudu, 73; Muslim, Taharah, 46-48) Based on this narration, it is sunnah muakkadah to use miswak when one wakes up.
- “Your mouths are the way of the Quran; clean them with miswak” (Ibn Majah, Taharah, 7) Therefore, it is sunnah muakkadah to use miswak while reading the Quran.
- Miswak cleans the mouth and pleases Allah; Jibril recommended miswak every time he came. (Musnad, VI, 47, 62, 124, 238; Ibn Majah, Taharah, 7) Therefore, it is sunnah muakkadah to use miswak after eating food that makes the mouth smell and during hunger.

Based on the expressions in the hadiths, the four madhhabs agree that it is sunnah to use the miswak while making wudu, but Hanafis, Malikis and, according to one view, Shafiis consider it a sunnah of wudu, while Hanbalis and, according to the stronger view, Shafiis consider it a separate sunnah other than wudu. Accordingly, miswak is used after bismillah according to the first view and before bismillah according to the other.

Some scholars also state that use of miswak is sunnah in every fard, wajib or supererogatory (nafilah) prayer, but some scholars say that if it is used in the fard prayer, it is not necessary to use it in the sunnah prayers while others say that if it is used in wudu, it is not necessary to use miswak in prayer; and some others say that miswak can be used if there is a long time period between the wudu and the prayer.

According to the majority of fiqh scholars, based on the practice of the Prophet and the absolute expression of the related hadiths, the decree on using the miswak is the same for the fasting person. On the other hand, according to a narration, Ahmad b. Hanbal, Shafii and some other scholars say that it is makruh for a fasting person to use a miswak after the noon prayer or after the afternoon prayer and according to Imam Malik it is makruh for a fasting person to use a wet miswak.

Acting upon the hadith that the first thing the Messenger of Allah did when he came home was to clean his teeth with a miswak, Qadi Iyad states that the Messenger of Allah used miswak frequently, that he did not regard it enough to use it only once during the day and night, and that it was understood from his practices that it was necessary to use the miswak at home, not in places where people came together. Abu Shama includes this interpretation to support his opinion that it is not pleasant for some people to bring miswak to the mosque and use it every time they pray. (as-Siwaq, p. 72)

In works related to education and good manners, attention is drawn to the following:

- On the one hand, it is important to use miswak within the framework of taking care of cleanliness (Abdulhayy al-Kattani, II, 402-403)
- On the other hand, it is not appropriate for a person to clean his teeth with a toothpick in public (Ghazzali, p. 311)

Fiqh scholars
- consider it more virtuous to use the miswak made from the Arak tree, but they state that it is permissible to use tooth cleaning tools made from other things such as herbs
- and that fingers can be used for this purpose as it is mentioned in some hadiths.   (see Ibn Qudama, I, 138; Badruddin al-Ayni, V, 263; Diyanet İslam Ansiklopedisi, Misvak item)

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