Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ramadhan Mubarak And Brushing Teeth

Ramadhan Mubarak everyone!
Ramadhan is indeed the month of Quran. I hope you all are not wasting the bonus and extra reward that He has promised if you were to read the Quran!
You know, when I was a school boy, I remember being taught that one is discouraged from brushing one’s teeth when one is fasting. 

This act of not brushing one’s teeth is derived from the hadith when the Prophet saw said, “I swear by Him in whose hand is my soul, the Khaluf (I will explain what Khaluf later on in this post) of a fasting person is more pleasant to Allah (SWT) than the scent of musk." [Sahih al-Bukhari (1893) and Sahih Muslim (1151)].
Speaking to Muslim friends back then was about controlling my breath so that I do not inhale when he is exhaling so that I do not have to breath in his bad breath.
This got me thinking, if Islam is a religion of cleanliness, why does it discourages people to be clean and have good breath when one is fasting? At the same time, the Prophet (saw) also said: "Were it not for the hardship that I would be placing upon my people, I would have ordered them to engage in Siwak for every prayer." [Sahih al-Bukhari (887) and Sahih Muslim (252)]. The word "Siwak" does not just refer to the tree branches that are used as tooth sticks, but to the act of brushing the teeth itself. It is derived from the verb sak, meaning to rub, clean, buff, or polish. This hadith clearly includes the act of brushing one’s teeth EVEN during Ramadhan!
Imagine how a non-Muslim would feel when speaking to a bad breath Muslim? I’m sure they would be completely turned off to even learn about Islam if the general practice of sustaining a bad breath is considered encouraged during Ramadhan!
Coming back to the first hadith above, according to this website, the meaning of khaluf is the smell that comes from the stomach when it is empty of food and not the smell emanating from the mouth. In my honest opinion, I believe that the hadtih that Allah regards the khaluf of a fasting person also as a way to discourage other people from embarrassing the fasting’s person’s bad breath.
But that does not mean that the fasting person must continue to not care for his bad breath. If you look at it in one way, the khaluf of a fasting person is more pleasant than the scent of musk to Allah, but not to Allah’s creatures (especially me!)
This makes me conclude that my teacher was inaccurate in saying that it is discouraged to brush one’s teeth when one is fasting. Actually, I think that it is wrong to say so because there are no authorities indicating that the brushing of one’s teeth is discouraged! However, I stand to be corrected.
So, don’t forget to brush your teeth this month!
Better yet, reduce talking and read the Quran instead!
Blog adjourned!

0 obiter dictum: