How strong is the Hadith about using Miswak whilst fasting?

ⓘ Supported by Al Medina 313.



Islamic Text

Imam al-Tirmidhi considered the Hadith about using Miswak whilst fasting to be Hasan. However, major Hadith scholars have disputed this and considered it to be weak.

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ بَشَّارٍ قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنُ مَهْدِيٍّ قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ، عَنْ عَاصِمِ بْنِ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَامِرِ بْنِ رَبِيعَةَ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ قَالَ: «رَأَيْتُ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مَا لَا أُحْصِي يَتَسَوَّكُ وَهُوَ صَائِمٌ» وَفِي البَابِ عَنْ عَائِشَةَ. «حَدِيثُ عَامِرِ بْنِ رَبِيعَةَ حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ»،  وَالعَمَلُ عَلَى هَذَا عِنْدَ أَهْلِ العِلْمِ: لَا يَرَوْنَ بِالسِّوَاكِ لِلصَّائِمِ بَأْسًا

Abdullah bin Amir bin Rabi’ah narrated from his father who said, ‘I saw the Prophet ﷺ using the Siwak while he was fasting so often that I am not able to count (how many times it happened).’ There is also a Hadith from (Sayidah) Ayeshah on the same subject. The Hadith of Amir bin Rabi’ah is Hasan. This is acted upon according to the people of knowledge, they do not see any harm in a fasting person using the Siwaak. (Sunan Tirmidhi, 725).

Similar narrations are as found in Abi Dawood (2364), Ahmad (15678), Ibn Khuzaymah (2007) and others. However, all of these narrations have Asim bin Ubaydillah in the Sanad. Asim has been considered weak by many Hadith scholars. Which is why some leading Hadith scholars disagreed with Imam al-Tirmidhi and considered the Hadith to be weak not Hasan.

Some argue that the Hadith is in Sahih al-Bukhari, so there should be no discussion regarding the authenticity, as all Hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari are Sahih.

وَيُذْكَرُ عَنْ عَامِرِ بْنِ رَبِيعَةَ، قَالَ: رَأَيْتُ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ «يَسْتَاكُ وَهُوَ صَائِمٌ» مَا لاَ أُحْصِي أَوْ أَعُدُّ

And it has been mentioned that Amir bin Rabi’ah from that he said, ‘I saw the Prophet ﷺ using the Siwak while he was fasting so often that I am not able to count (how many times it happened).’ (Sahih al-Bukhari).

It is correct to say that this has been mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari. However, it has not been narrated as a complete Hadith (Musnad). Rather it is a partial narration (Mualaq). The scholars of Hadith clarified that such narrations in Bukhari are not included in the general statement that all the Hadith in Bukhari and Muslim are Sahih. Rather that refers to all Musnad Hadith narrations. Since this is not a Musnad narration then we cannot conclude that it is Sahih.

Some scholars tried to reconcile by suggesting it is Hasan Lighayrihi:

وَقَالَ النَّوَوِيّ فِي (الْخُلَاصَة) بعد أَن حكى عَن التِّرْمِذِيّ أَنه حسنه: لَكِن مَدَاره على عَاصِم بن عبيد الله وَقد ضعفه الْجُمْهُور، فَلَعَلَّهُ اعتضد. انْتهى. (عمدة القاري شرح صحيح البخاري)

And (Imam) al-Nawawi said in al-Khulasah (after narrating from (Imam) al-Tirmidhi that it is Hasan) but it is reliant upon Asim bin Ubaydillah and most scholars considered him to be weak. Thus, it may be the case that it is supported. (Imam Badr al-Deen al-Ayni, Umdatu al-Qari).

This argument may be further supported by the fact Imam Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani said the Sanad in Hasan in Talkhees al-Habeer. However he mentioned it is weak in Fath al-Bari. Both of these statements can be reconciled if we say the Hadith is Hasan Lighayrihi, because a Hadith that is Hasan Lighayrihi may be correctly referred to as weak when referring to a particular chain. In any case, such a claim would have to be substantiated by presenting narrations that do not have Asim bin Ubaydillah in the chain.

Even if the Hadith about using Miswak whilst fasting is weak, it does not mean there is no evidence for the permissibility of using Siwaak whilst fasting. Rather, the permissibility of using Miswak whilst fasting is established through authentic narrations. See the link below for details.

And Allah Most High Knows Best.

-Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (05.04.2022)

See also:
Is it permitted to use Miswaak (a tooth-stick) whilst fasting?
Are all Hadith in Bukhari and Muslim Sahih.
Brushing the teeth whilst fasting

See also video: