In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Dear Muslim brothers and sisters, it is pleasing to let you know that in Islam, purification is of high esteem to the extent that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) regarded it as a half of one's iman (faith), saying, "Purification is half of the Faith."
Meanwhile, Islam calls for beautification and adornment. When going to the mosques, Muslims are recommended to wear the best of their clothes. Allah, Most High, says:
يَا بَنِي آَدَمَ خُذُوا زِينَتَكُمْ عِنْدَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا وَلَا تُسْرِفُوا إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ (31)
What can be translated to mean: "O Children of Adam! wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters.” (Q. 7: 31)
Islam calls upon Muslim to beautify their bodies, clothes, houses, offices, streets, etc. It is reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Cleanse yourself, for Islam calls to cleanliness." (Reported by ibn Hayyan). He also says, "Cleanliness enhances one’s faith, and faith leads its possessor to the Garden." (Reported by At-Tabarani)
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) placed a great emphasis on keeping the body, clothing, houses, and streets clean, and he laid special stress on cleaning the teeth, hands, and hair. This emphasis on cleanliness must not be a cause of wonder for a religion which makes cleanliness the key to its main pillar of worship, salah (the daily prayers), for the Muslim's daily prayers are not acceptable unless his body, clothing, and the place where he performs his prayer are all clean. In addition to this requirement, there are the obligatory types of cleansing, either of the entire body in the form of ghusl (purificatory bath), or of those parts of the body which are exposed to dirt, in the form of wudu' (ablution).
As regards siwak, Sheikh Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi Islamic scholar, lecturer and author states:
"Siwak means cleaning the mouth with a stick or twig called siwak, from which the act derives its name".
So the word siwak also refers to a method of cleaning the mouth, which is something that earn one the pleasure of Allah, as it is proven in the hadith of `A'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) who quotes Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying, "Siwak cleanses the mouth and earns one the Lord's pleasure." (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
Use of the siwak is repeatedly encouraged, as in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Were it not for the fact that I did not want to make things difficult for my Ummah, I would have commanded them to use the siwak at every time of Salah.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
According to another report narrated by Al-Bukhari, he said: "… at every time of making wudu'."
Imam An-Nawawi reported that the respectable scholars agreed that the use of the siwak is Sunnah and is encouraged. One of the signs of its importance is the fact that some of the salaf (early pious Muslims), such as Ishaq ibn Rahawayh, thought that it was obligatory.
Times when use of Siwak is recommended:
Siwak is recommended at all times of night and day, because of the general sense of the hadith quoted above from `A'ishah, “Siwak cleanses the teeth and pleases the Lord.” The scholars have also mentioned situations where use of the siwak is even more strongly encouraged; these include:
1. When making wudu' and at times of salah: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Were it not for the fact that I did not want to make things too hard for my Ummah, I would have commanded them to use the siwak at every time of salah”, according to another report he said: “… at every time of making wudu'.”
2. When entering one's home to be with one’s family: `A'ishah was asked what the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) used to do whenever he first arrived home. She said, “Whenever he entered his house, the first thing he would do was to use the siwak.” (Reported by Muslim)
3. When getting up from sleep: Hudhayfah ibn Al-Yaman (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) got up during the night, he would clean his mouth thoroughly with the siwak. (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
4. When the smell of one’s mouth changes, whether this is because of eating food with a strong odor, or because of not eating or drinking for a long time, etc.: Siwak is means of cleansing the mouth, which means that it should definitely be used when the mouth needs cleaning.
5. When going to the mosque: Using siwak is part of the adornment which is greatly recommended for Muslims for every Prayer, as Allah says, "O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters.” (Al-A`raf: 3)
6. When reading the Qur’an and joining gatherings in which Allah is remembered (dhikr) because the angels are present on such occasions.
Using Siwak when fasting:
The Muslim scholars agreed that there is nothing wrong with using siwak during the day when one is fasting, but they differed with regard to using it afternoon, which some of them disliked (makruh). The correct view is that it is Sunnah for one who is fasting, just as it is for anyone else, because of the general sense of the reports which prove that it is Sunnah. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not make any exceptions or state any specific time, and a statement that is general in nature should be construed as denoting a general implication unless there is evidence to indicate that it is specific in application.
The hadith quoted as evidence to forbid using siwak afternoon is attributed to `Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) who quotes the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying, “When you fast, use siwak in the morning but do not use it in the afternoon.” (Reported by al-Daraqutni) This is a da`if (weak) hadith. There is no proof that this can be attributed to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). With regard to the use of the hadith: “The odor that comes from the mouth of the fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the scent of musk” (reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) as evidence, this mouth odor will not be dispelled by use of siwak because it is caused by having empty stomach, and this could occur early in the day if a person has not eaten suhur. All the scholars are agreed that it is permissible for a fasting person to use siwak early in the day. This shows that use of siwak is encouraged even when fasting, and there is no difference between using it early in the day or later on.
What should be used for Siwak (cleaning the mouth):
The scholars agreed that the best thing for cleaning the mouth is the twigs of the Arak tree, because of its good smell, and because it has brush-like fibers which are effective for cleaning food particles from between the teeth, and because of the hadith of `Abdulallah ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: “I used to gather siwak sticks from the Arak tree for the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him.” (Reported by Ahmad)
If Arak twigs are not available, the scholars recommend using palm-leaf stalks, or twigs of the olive tree. The hadiths that have been narrated concerning this, however, are not authentic.
The correct view is that any kind of sticks that are good for cleansing and not harmful to teeth may be used instead of the famous siwak, if it is not available, to clean the mouth and remove dirt from the teeth. This includes modern toothbrushes which are known to be beneficial in this regard. However, the scholars have stated that it is forbidden to use poisonous sticks, things that are not tahir (pure), and anything that may cause bleeding, illness or any other harm.
Other acts of natural disposition which Islam, through the acts of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) taught us how to take care of include:
· Circumcision of the male child,
· Shaving the pubic and armpit hair whenever they over grow,
· Cutting the nails
· Trimming the moustache,
· Leaving the beard and the hair underneath the lower lip to grow, and so on. Below are evidences to support some of these practices:
It was narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him), said: "Five practices are characteristics of the Fitrah (basic human nature): circumcision, shaving the pubic hair, cutting the moustaches short, clipping the nails and plucking the hair of the armpits. [Al-Bukhari, Muslim and Ahmad]
It was further narrated on the authority of Anas may Allaah be pleased with him that he said: We have been given a forty-day respite maximum and no more, by the Prophet , to leave cutting the mustaches short, clipping the nails, plucking the hair of the armpits and shaving the pubic hair. [Muslim]
An-Nawawi may Allaah have mercy upon him said that this means that none of those things should be left for more than forty days.
Mind you, to shave the pubic hair and also to pluck the hair of the armpits are commanded and encouraged by Sharee‘ah.
However, to remove the hair of those parts in the body totally, once and for such that it does not grow again with the aid of any substance entails several violations of Sharee‘ah including:
First: this is included in changing the Creation of Allah Almighty. Allah Almighty Says about Satan the accursed
وَلَأُضِلَّنَّهُمْ وَلَأُمَنِّيَنَّهُمْ وَلَآَمُرَنَّهُمْ فَلَيُبَتِّكُنَّ آَذَانَ الْأَنْعَامِ وَلَآَمُرَنَّهُمْ فَلَيُغَيِّرُنَّ خَلْقَ اللَّهِ
(what means): "And I will mislead them, and I will arouse in them [sinful] desires, and I will command them so they will slit the ears of cattle, and I will command them so they will change the Creation of Allah..." (Q. 4:119). What is intended by changing the Creation of Allah, as stated by Al-Baydhaawi may Allah have mercy upon him is to transform it from its real form or make changes in its attributes. This includes killing or removing the cells which produce that hair.
Second: doing this goes against the wisdom for which Allah Has Created the hair of those parts. Allah did not Create them but for a certain wisdom, even if it is hidden from us.
Third: to remove the hair of those parts totally and finally causes the one competent for religious assignments to miss an act of worship that he was commanded to do, i.e. removing the hair of those parts once they grow.
Fourth: doing this might lead to harm, either because of killing and removing the cells which produce the hair of those parts, or because of the instruments used to do that.
Allaah Knows best.