Fasting person using the Siwaak (tooth-stick)

The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “Were it not that it would cause hardship to my ummah, I would have commanded them to use the siwaak (tooth-stick) for every prayer.”

[Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim]

In another narration, “The siwaak purifies the mouth and is pleasing to the Lord.”

[Al-Nasaa’i - Classed as Sahih by Shaykh al-Albaani]

Commentary:

As the above ahadith indicate, it is mustahabb (recommended) to use the siwaak at all times, when fasting and when not fasting, at the beginning of the day and at the end.  The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) did not make an exception in the case of one who is fasting, rather the general meaning of the Hadith includes both those who are fasting and those who are not fasting.

It is permissible to swallow the saliva after using the siwaak, but if anything comes out of the siwaak in the mouth, you should spit it out and then swallow the saliva, just as the fasting person is allowed to do wudoo’ (ablution), then he should spit out the water from his mouth and then swallow his saliva. He does not have to dry his mouth completely from the water used for rinsing.

Imam Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy upon him) said in ‘Al-Majmoo’: “Al-Mutawalli (may Allah have mercy upon him) and others said: When the fasting person rinses his mouth, he has to spit out the water; he does not have to dry out his mouth using a cloth or the like. There is no difference of scholarly opinion on this point.”

Imam Al-Bukhari (may Allah have mercy upon him) said: “Chapter: Using fresh or dry siwaak for one who is fasting … Abu Hurayrah (radi Allahu anhu) said, narrating from the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam): “Were it not that it would cause hardship for my ummah, I would have commanded them to use the siwaak for every wudoo’” Imam Al-Bukhari (may Allah have mercy upon him) then said:  There is no difference between one who is fasting and one who is not. Aa’isha (radi Allahu anha) said, narrating from the Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam): “The siwaak purifies the mouth and is pleasing to the Lord.” ‘Ata’ and Qutaadah (may Allah have mercy upon them) said: he may swallow his saliva.”

Al-Haafiz ibn Hajr (may Allah have mercy upon him) said in ‘al-Fath’ (his commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari): “By using this title, he refuted those who say that it is makrooh for a fasting person to use a fresh siwaak. This was preceded by Ibn Sireen’s (may Allah have mercy upon him) likening the fresh siwaak to the water used for rinsing the mouth (in wudoo’).

“There is no difference between one who is fasting and one who is not” means also that there is no difference between fresh and dry. By stating this it becomes clear that everything narrated in this chapter fits the title. This is all summed up in the Hadith of Abu Hurayrah (radi Allahu anhu), “Were it not that it would cause hardship for my ummah, I would have commanded them to use the siwaak for every wudoo’.” This implies that it is permissible at all times and in all situations.

“‘Ata’ and Qutaadah (may Allah have mercy upon them) said: he may swallow his saliva.”This comment suits the title in the sense that the worst thing that may be feared from using a wet siwaak is that something may come out of it in the mouth. This is like the water used for rinsing the mouth; if the person spits it out from his mouth, it does not matter after that if he swallows his saliva.

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy upon him) said in ‘al-Fataawa al-Kubra’ regarding using the siwaak whilst fasting: “As for the miswaak (tooth-stick), it is permissible and there is no difference of opinion concerning that. But they differed as to whether it is makrooh (disliked) after the sun has passed the meridian, and there are two well known views, both of which were narrated from Ahmad. But there is no shar’i evidence suggesting this to be makrooh which can be regarded as an exception from the general meaning of the texts about the miswaak.”

Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy upon him) said in ‘Fataawa Arkaan al-Islam’: “The correct view is that use of the siwaak by one who is fasting is Sunnah at the beginning and at the end of the day.”

So using the siwaak is Sunnah for one who is fasting throughout the day, even if it is fresh. If a person uses the siwaak whilst fasting and finds that he can taste it, and he swallows it or spits it out from his mouth and there is saliva on it, then he swallows it that does not affect him. He should avoid that which contains something that could come out of it, such as the fresh siwaak and those which have added flavours that come out, such as lemon and mint. He should spit out anything that breaks off in the mouth, and it is not permissible to swallow it deliberately, but if he swallows it accidentally it does not matter.

What about toothpaste and brushing your teeth using a toothbrush?

Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy upon him) was asked about using toothpaste whilst fasting. He said: there is nothing wrong with that so long as one is careful to avoid swallowing any of it, just as it is prescribed in Islam for the fasting person to use the siwaak (tooth-stick). [Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz, 4/247]

Shaykh Muhammad al-Saalih ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy upon him) said: “… This leads us to the question: Is it permissible to use a toothbrush and toothpaste whilst fasting or not? The answer is that it is permitted, but it is preferable not to use them because the toothpaste is too strong and may go down into the throat. Instead of doing that during the day, one should do it at night. [Sharh al-Mumti 6/407-408]

And Allah knows best!

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