When was the last time you used a miswak? Was it a couple of weeks ago? Months, or even a couple of years ago?
It’s strange that few Muslims use a miswak these days, especially since it is an established sunnah and moreover there are so many products marketed as being derived from “miswak”. I’ve seen miswak toothpaste, miswak candy, and miswak chewing gum. I’ve seen lots of stores selling miswak. But it is rare that I actually see a Muslim with a miswak in his or her mouth.
This is a shame since Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) was very keen on using them himself and encouraged his companions to do the same.
Were it not for overburdening my Ummah, I would command them to use Siwak (miswak) at every prayer. (Muslim)
Now just in case you don’t know what a miswak is (sometimes called siwak), let me explain.
It is a small stick used to brush the teeth, it most commonly comes from the roots of the Salvadora Persica plant (also known as the mustard tree). It is called Arak in Arabic and Peelu in Urdu.
It makes an excellent toothbrush as its fibers become abrasive and bristly when moistened and chewed, similar to modern day toothbrushes. Recent studies have shown that using miswak promotes good oral hygiene. Using miswak may even bring some digestive benefits.
For Muslims, this only multiplies the benefit of using them. You’ll get the reward for following the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), and you’ll get the health benefits as well.
But here’s the dilemma: it’s not so easy to make a habit of using miswak.
I’m guilty of this also. I buy a miswak, use it for a week or so, then gradually cease over the next several days. Soon my miswak joins my socks and keys on the list of missing items.
Therefore, I’ve come up with a few methods to help make using miswak a habit.
1. Use it for Thirty Days
You’ve probably heard it before, but I’ll say it again: It’s been said that anything you do for 30 days straight becomes a habit. If that’s the case, this should be your first step in making the use of miswak a habit.
Starting today, commit to brushing your teeth with miswak every morning and evening and/or before certain prayers for 30 days straight. Perhaps you can keep your miswak stick right next to your toothbrush.
After thirty days, it will become a habit, insha’Allah, and will be routine.
2. Take it With You
A miswak is just a stick. It really isn’t anything big or bulky. It’s smaller than the average highlighter in fact. A good way to make it a habit is to just bring it with you everywhere you go.
Stick it in your pocket or your purse. When you eat something outside the home, just whip out your miswak and give it a quick scrub.
Pretty soon, insha’Allah your miswak will become as essential as your car keys or cell phone.
And speaking of cell phones…
3. Digital Reminders
I love digital reminders. In fact, I’ve used them to memorize several du’as. Chances are you’re probably surrounded by gadgets with screens. You probably have a cell phone. Maybe even a tablet. And if you’re reading this article, you most certainly have access to at least one computer. Post digital reminders to use your miswak on all of your gadgets by setting pop-up alerts or setting an image with the reminder as your background!
Now every time you answer your phone, or go on your computer, you’ll see the same reminder: “BRUSH TEETH WITH MISWAK.”
4. Keep More Than One
This is a no-brainer. Like I mentioned in the beginning, I have a habit of losing my miswak or forgetting to bring it with me when I go out.
And an easy way to solve this problem is to have several miswak sticks in every place you’re likely to frequent:
One in your coat or jacket pocket.
One in your car.
One in your office.
One in your bathroom.
Just make sure you don’t keep your miswak where other people are keeping theirs. That might lead to some very awkward situations.
5. Use Flavored Miswak
Miswak has a unique taste, but it’s not bad. However, if you’re not too keen about the taste there are flavored miswak available.
It should be noted that you should not use a flavored miswak while fasting though it’s fine to use a regular one.
There are too many benefits to using miswak for you to miss out on this opportunity, both spiritual and worldly. Even if there were no health benefits, the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) used them and that’s good enough for me. If that’s a good enough reason for you also, let’s try to make this wonderful Sunnah a part of our daily lives, insha’Allah.
By Abu Ibrahim