In addition to giving religious instructions to Muslim on how they should perform their religious duties such as performing Salaat, fasting in the Month of Ramadan, and Paying Zakaat, Islam also tells to Muslims the things that are besides their religious obligations which are good for their life. The Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the prime example for Muslims in this regard and through his Sunnah Muslims find different habits and traditions which they can incorporate in their lives to live it in a better way.
Out of the numerous Sunnahs of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), one of the most commonly observed Sunnah is Miswaak. It refers to using the stick from a tree for the purpose of cleaning teeth. It was what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to do and there are various hadiths regarding Miswak as well. The lines below discuss the importance of Miswaak as a Sunnah in Islam.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“Four things are amongst the practices of the Ambiyaa – circumcision, application of perfume, Miswaak and marriage.” (Tirmidhi)
From this hadith it is evident that Miswaak is not only the Sunnah of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), rather it is the Sunnah of all the Prophets that have come to pass, therefore, a Muslim must also ensure Miswak and revive the Sunnah of all the Prophets in addition to Muhammad (PBUH).
At another place, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said in His hadith:
“Make a regular practice of the Miswaak, for verily, it is healthy for the mouth and it is a Pleasure for the Creator (i.e. Allah is pleased with the Muslim who uses the Miswaak).’” (Bukhari)
This hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) gives two benefits of Miswaak. The first one is the obvious one as Miswaak helps keep the mouth clean, therefore, it is healthy for the mouth and for the body as well. The second thing mentioned in hadith, that supersedes the first benefit is that Allah Almighty gets pleased from those who use Miswaak. Therefore, if not for the oral health, a Muslim must Miswaak for pleasing Allah Almighty.
At another place, Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Use the Miswaak, for verily, it purifies the mouth, and it is a Pleasure for the Lord. Jibraeel (AS) exhorted me so much to use the Miswaak that I feared that its use would be decreed obligatory upon me and upon my Ummah. If I did not fear imposing hardship on my Ummah I would have made it obligatory upon my people. Verily, I use the Miswaak so much that I fear the front part of my mouth being peeled (by constant and abundant brushing with Miswaak).’” (Ibn Majah)
No other hadith explains and emphasizes upon the importance of Miswaak other than this hadith. This hadith clearly shows that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) would use Miswaak to such an extent that the front of His mouth would feel peeled off to Him. Therefore, if Prophet (PBUH) did something with such intensity and passion, then it becomes more than imperative for a Muslim to follow His footsteps as well and make Miswaak a part of daily life.
At another place in another hadith, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“Was it not for my fear of imposing a difficulty on my Ummah I would have ordered that the Miswaak be used for every Salaat.” (Bukhari)
This hadith shows that Prophet (PBUH) was so in favor of Miswaak that H would have made it compulsory if it were not for making things difficult for Ummah. Therefore, although Prophet (PBUH) did not order use of Miswaak, however, for a sensible Muslim the indication is enough that He has stressed upon it to such an extent.
In short, Miswaak is one of the health related Sunnahs of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). However, Islam has not made it only health related, rather by making it the Sunnah of Prophets and associating it with pleasing of Allah Almighty, Islam has attributed dual benefits with Miswaak. Hence, those who use Miswaak, they stay healthy in addition to earning rewards against this act as well.