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Section II: Siwak

Firstly: Defining Siwak [110] Siwak is the process of cleansing, and a miswak is the tool.
Siwak is the use of a twig or the like to clean one's teeth and get rid of bad breath.
Secondly: The Ruling of Siwak
Siwak is a liked act of worship and is one of the sunan of the fitrah. This is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence.
Thirdly: What is Used for Siwak
The best thing to use for siwak is a wooden stick, [111] Regardless whether it is made from Arak (Salvadora persica tree), or any other tree. It is mustahabb to use a miswak especially from Arak, except for the Hanbalis, as they believe any type of tree is equally acceptable. Ibn `Uthaymin said: “What is most correct is that it is also valid with cloth or one’s finger, but a stick is better.” Sharh Riyad al-Salihin (226/5). A toothbrush with toothpaste fulfils this role today and removes bad breath. and this is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence. [112] As mentioned, the position of Hanbalis is equivocating between all types of stick mouth cleaners, with the opinion of preferring Arak also within the school.
Fourthly: Where Siwak is Appropriate
1. Siwak in ablution
- The ruling of siwak in ablution
It is a sunnah to perform siwak in ablution, and this is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence.
- Where siwak is appropriate during ablution
Siwak is to be performed after washing the hands and before gurgling. This is the position of the majority: Hanafis, Shafi`is, and Hanbalis.
2. Siwak before prayer
Siwak is a sunnah for prayer, regardless whether it is wajib or additional, and regardless of how clean the mouth is. This is the position of the majority: Malikis, [113] Malikis add the stipulation that, for siwak to be a sunnah before prayer, it should be a while since the person used siwak last, such that, for a person who has recently performed siwak, it is not a sunnah to redo it. Shafi`is, Hanbalis, an opinion among the Hanafis, and the choice of Ibn Hazm al-Zahiri.
3. Siwak for jumu`ah prayer
It is a sunnah to perform siwak for the jumu`ah prayer, [114] Ibn Rush said: “The etiquettes of jumu`ah are three: perfuming oneself, siwak, and good clothing, and there is no disagreement in this regard due to there being accounts supporting it.” Bidayat al-Mujtahid (166/1) and this is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence.
4. Siwak in the mosque
There is no harm in performing siwak in the mosque, and this is the position of the Shafi`is, Hanbalis, and the choice of Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Baz.
5. Siwak for the remembrance and mention of Allah and reciting Qur'an
It is mustahabb to perform siwak for mentioning Allah in remembrance as well as reciting Qur'an. This is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence.
6. Siwak for the fasting person
It is not makruh for the fasting person to use siwak at any time during his fast, be it before or after the sun’s zenith. This is the position of the Hanafis, an opinion attributed to al-Shafi`i, a narration from Ahmad, and a view from a group of the Salaf. It is also the choice of Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Shawkani, Ibn Baz, and Ibn `Uthaymin.
7. Siwak upon entering a household
It is mustahabb to perform siwak upon entering a household, and this is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence.
8. Siwak upon waking up from sleep
It is mustahabb to perform siwak upon waking up from sleep, and this is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence.
9. Siwak when one's mouth has denatured
It is mustahabb to perform siwak to remove bad breath when it develops. This is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence.
10. Performing siwak in the presence of other people
Siwak is a sunnah regardless whether or not one is in the presence of people. This is the position of the majority: Hanafis, Shafi`is, and Hanbalis.
Fifthly: How to Perform Siwak
1. Which hand to use
It is better to use the right hand for siwak. This is the position of the majority: Hanafis, Malikis, Shafi`is, and an opinion among the Hanbalis.
2. Starting with the right side of the mouth
It is mustahabb to start the process of siwak with the right side of the mouth, and this is by agreement of the four schools of jurisprudence.


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