The Siwaak which is sometimes called the 'Miswak' is a cleaning tool taken from the Arak tree. The Messenger r used to stress its use for numerous benefits, some of which are mentioned below. The Siwaak is used as a natural medical tool to clean the teeth, remove plaque and bacteria. It also strengthens the gums.
The Messenger r said, "The siwaak is a purification for the mouth and pleasing to the Lord." [Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree, Saheeh Al-Jaami' (3696) Sheikh Albaani rahimahullaah said it is saheeh].
The Messenger r said, "If it wasn't to cause difficulty to my nation I would have ordered them to use the Siwaak for every ablution." [Saheeh Al-Jaami' (5319) – Sheikh Albaani rahimahullaah said it is saheeh].
The Messenger r said that the Siwaak is from the fitrah (natural state)[Saheeh Al-Jaami' (4009) Sheikh Albaani rahimahullaah said it is hasan].
The Messenger r never used to sleep except that the Siwaak was by his head and when he woke up he began with the Siwaak. [See Saheehah (2111) and Saheeh Al-Jaami' (4872) Sheikh Albaani rahimahullaah said it is hasan].
Hudayfah ibnul Yamaan t said, "The Messenger r used to purify his mouth with the Siwaak when waking up for Tahajjud (night prayer)." [Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree and Saheeh Muslim].
‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said, "When the Messenger r would enter the house he would begin with the Siwaak." [Saheeh Muslim].
The Messenger r said, "Purify your mouth with the siwaak because it is the path where the Qur'an emanates from." [Saheeh ibn Maajah].
Narrated ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said that from the favours of Allah that He bestowed upon me was that the Messenger r died in my house on the day of my turn while he was leaning on my chest. Allah made my saliva mix with his at his death. When ‘Abdulrahman t (my brother) entered upon me with a Siwaak in his hand and I was supporting (the back of) Allah's Messenger r on my chest. I saw the Messenger r looking at it(i.e the Siwaak) and I knew he rloved the Siwaak, so I said to him, "Shall I take it for you?" He r nodded in agreement. So I took it and it was too stiff for him to use, so I said to him, "shall I soften it for you?" He r nodded showing his approval. So I softened it and cleaned his teeth with it. [Saheeh al-Bukhaaree (4449)].
Sheikh Saalih Al-Fawzan says regarding the hadeeth, “If It wasn’t for causing difficulty to my nation, I would have ordered them with the Siwaak” He said:
This hadeeth shows that the Messenger r was merciful to his nation. He r didn’t want any difficulty for them. Rather, he r wanted ease for them and he r would do actions (of worship) and not order others with them for fear that it would be difficult for them but sufficed with just encouraging them with it.
Siwaak is to use the tooth stick in the mouth to remove the smell and what may be left of food because the mouth could have bad breath due to the food getting stuck in the mouth. Also, it is used to remove smells emanating from the stomach rising to the mouth. Islam is a religion of cleanliness.
The explainer of ‘Subul sallam’ said number of hadeeth on the Siwaak has reached about 100.
Using the Siwaak is from the traits of the Messenger r and it is from the fitrah (natural state) of a person. It is a stressed Sunnah and it is used in all times but especially for five occasions:
1. While doing wudu (ablution).
2. While beginning to pray.
3. When waking up from sleep
4. The Messenger r would use the Siwaak when reading the Qur’an due to it being the speech of Allah and due to the presence of the angels.
5. When the person senses the change of smell in their mouth.
It is preferable to use the Siwaak all the time even for the fasting person and for the one who is not fasting.
The best type of Siwaak comes from the Arak tree because it is soft and has a good smell.
It is preferable to use the Siwaak to remove bad smells when going to the mosque. This is why the Messenger r ordered that a person should not eat garlic while going to the mosque.