Meswak (twig tooth brush) cleared for use in Ramadan, Dubai Metro stocks it

Meswak on sale at a Zoom kiosk. (Majorie Van Leijen)

This month a special item is sold in the Zoom market at Dubai Metro stations: The meswak.

Some people might wonder how this tree twig could add to their lives. For people who are fasting, the meswak can prove a great attribute.

During the Holy month of Ramadan, anything a person swallows would make the fast invalid. In that light, brushing teeth during fasting hours becomes a little difficult.

"The use of a tooth brush is allowed, but when any of the tooth paste is swallowed, the fast becomes invalid," commented the Central Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (Awqaf).

"We cannot tell people not to brush their teeth during the fasting hours, but we advise them not to use the tooth brush, or to use the tooth brush without tooth paste," said the center.

Refraining from any form of consumption while not brushing one's teeth can leave an unpleasant odor in the mouth. This is where the use of meswak comes in handy.

The use of meswak is hundreds of years old. Before there were not any toothbrushes or toothpastes, the tree twig was used to frequently take care of the teeth. The twig is split at one end and used to 'brush' the teeth. It is known to maintain oral health while releasing a pleasant odor in the mouth.

In Islam the use of meswak is highly recommended. Not only are there many records of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) using meswak and encouraging others to do the same, the Prophet was seen using meswak throughout the Holy month of Ramadan.

"The Prophet was seen on many occasions using meswak throughout the Holy month of Ramadan. Following our hadith, it is permitted to use meswak during Ramadan and this will not break the fast," confirmed Awqaf.

However, some care is required. "Sometimes meswak produces some liquids, especially when it is a new piece. When you swallow such liquid, the fast becomes invalid," said the center.

A piece of meswak can be purchased for Dh5 at the Dubai Metro Zoom stores.

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