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The Preventive and Healing Wonders of Wudhu (Ablution)

Aug 26, 2012

 

By Lamya Tawfik

 

"Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) Desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him" (Chapter 53, Verse 3 & 4).

Fourteen centuries ago, our Prophet SAW gave us a prescription of 26 washing movements to be carried out 5 times a day, a total of 130 daily washing movements, to grant us optimum health.

"O ye who believe! when ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water); and (wash) your feet to the ankles. If ye are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body. But if ye are ill, or on a journey, or one of you cometh from offices of nature, or ye have been in contact with women, and ye find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands, Allah doth not wish to place you in a difficulty, but to make you clean, and to complete his favour to you, that ye may be grateful." (Chapter 5, Verse 6)

Before a Muslim performs his prayers, he carries out the ablution movements mentioned in the above verse as well as others, which Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam has shown us. Thus, the ablution comprises of washing the hands, arms right up to the elbow, face, mouth, nostrils, and feet up the ankle, all three times each. The inside and behind the ears, as well as the part of the head above the forehead is wiped once. Done five times a day, it not only cleanses these vital parts of the body from dust and dirt but also "softens" and refreshes them.

Interestingly enough, Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam also encouraged doing ablution before going to bed. This same ritual is also encouraged by Yoga experts who say that washing important motor and sensory organs such as the hands, arms, eyes, legs, mouth and genitals before sleep using cool water relaxes the body preparing it for a deep sleep. [Avadhuta, Vedprajinananda, Yoga Health Secrets]

Stimulating the Biological Rhythms: In an article titled "Muslims Rituals and their Effect on the Person's Health", Dr. Magomed Magomedov, assistant to the department of the Man's General Hygiene and Ecology in the Daghestan State Medical Academy, speaks about how ablution stimulates the biological rhythms of the body and specifically Biological Active Spots (BASes), very much like the idea behind Chinese reflexotherapy. Presently we know that a man is a complex system of electromagnetic fields, meridians, biological rhythms and so on. Man's internal organs, in their turn, present a no less sophisticated bioenergetical whole; they all have indissoluble multi-channel bilateral connections with the skin, which hosts special spots, whose functions resemble those of buttons on "control" and "recharge boards" responsible for particular organs. These spots are called biologically active spots (BASes). [Magomedov, Magomed, Muslim Rituals & their effect on the person's health]

While pointing out to the similarities between ablution and the science of Chinese reflexology in his fascinating article, Dr Magomedov also states the main different points. To become a doctor in reflexology, he says, one has to take a 15 to 20 year course of study, incomparable with the simple learning techniques of ablution. In another comparison, reflexotherapy was primarily used to cure diseases and very rarely for prevention, while, as we shall see, ablution has many preventive benefits. There was also a negative side to reflexotherapy, he says, one that is not found in ablution; a patient was exposed to traumas since doctors used cauterisation. "The majority of the most powerful BASes are being washed during the Muslim ritual. It is not the doctor, who had studied for many years, who does it, but every Muslim by himself. Besides, praying five times a day obliges a Muslim to take the preventive measures against diseases beforehand."[Magomedov, Magomed, Muslim Rituals & their effect on the person's health]

According to Dr Magomedov, Chinese medicine says that there are more than 700 BASes, and sixty-six of them have quick reflex therapy effects and are named the drastic (or aggression or antique or prime-elements) spots. Out of these sixty-six spots, sixty-one of them are located in zones required for ablution while the other five are located between the ankle and knee. Thus, ablution becomes a kind of treatment complex, which includes the hydromassage of the BAS, their thermal and physical stimulation.[Magomedov, Magomed, Muslim Rituals & their effect on the person's health]

Preventive Cleansing: From a non-alternative medicine perspective, Mukhtar Salem, in his book titled 'Prayers: a Sport for the Body and Soul', speaks about the health benefits of every aspect of ablution. He does not speak about the BASes in one's body, but nevertheless, he describes the preventive benefits of ablution.

SKIN: Ablution, he says, helps prevent skin cancer. This is his explanation… the areas that are washed during ablution are the parts of the body that are most prone to be exposed to pollution, whether it is pollution from the internal secretions of the body on to the skin surface, such as sweat, or whether it is external. Ablution, removes this 'pollution' five times a day, and hence maintains a clean outside layer of skin, which in turn helps the cells underneath to function properly. Also, washing with water helps invigorate the ends of the blood vessels, as well as the nerves and glands that are near the skin surface, and hence helps them perform their functions efficiently.[Salem, Mukhtar, Prayers: A sport for the soul and body, CAIRO, The Arab Modern Centre (1990), pg. 52.]

Salem adds that research has proven that one of the main reasons behind skin cancer is that the skin is exposed to chemicals, especially petrochemicals, and that the best way to prevent skin cancer is by constantly removing these chemicals.

MOUTH: The obvious reason behind washing the mouth during ablution, Salem says, is to remove the food particles, which could cause teeth and gum problems. That is also one of the reasons why siwak (brushing one's teeth) is also encouraged before ablution.

NOSTRILS: When washing one's nostrils, one is also performing a preventive health measure as the germs trapped in the nostrils are removed and do not pass on to the respiratory system. According to a study conducted by a team of doctors in Alexandria University, the Prophetic tradition, which urges the exaggeration of washing the nostrils by introducing the water in the nostril then blowing it out, positively affects the inner coating of the nostrils. Those who carried out the washing in the correct form had clean, shiny nostrils with no dust clinging to the small hair inside. However, those who did not perform ablution had light coloured, greasy nostrils and their nostril hairs fell off easily.

FACE: Repeated washing of the face invigorates the facial skin cells and helps prevent early wrinkles as well as having a cleansing effect on the inside of the eyes, which prevents eye infections, says Salem. Washing the ear helps rid them from wax accumulation, which may cause ear infections as well as affecting the inner ear, which eventually causes body imbalances.

FEET: The Prophetic tradition of encouraging one to wash between the toes while washing the feet, is also extremely important, says Salem, as it prevents the foot, which in our modern times is trapped most of the day inside shoes, from acquiring athlete's foot. Over all, he adds, ablution also has an exercising effect on all the muscles involved in its movement, which are thus being stimulated five times a day or even more according to repetition.

Extinguishing the Fires of Anger: Prophetic tradition, with regards to ablution, is also ecologically friendly, as Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam repeatedly encouraged water conservation, even if abluting from a running river. Ibn Majah related that Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said, "There is a Shaytaan (devil) for ablution called `walhan', meaning greedy, avoid the waste of water." We are also encouraged to make ablution while being in a state of anger for the cooling and refreshing effect of the water, as we are told that anger is from the devil who is made out of fire and can therefore be put off by water.

Finally, there is a moral to this article, besides understanding the benefits of ablution. One should never take things at face value, and must have strong faith that everything that Allah prescribes has wisdom behind it that we may or may not know. " And they say: 'We hear, and we obey: (We seek) Thy forgiveness, our Lord, and to Thee is the end of all journeys. '" (Chapter 2, Verse 285). " Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) Desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him " (Chapter 53, Verse 3 & 4).

 

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Siwak: An Oral Health Device

 

Preliminary Chemical and Clinical Evaluation


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Kuwait

 

A variety of oral hygiene measures have been used since the dawn of time. This has been verified by various excavations done all over the world, in which toothpicks, chewsticks, tree twigs, linen strips, birds' feathers, animal bones and porcupine quills were recovered.

 

1. Those that originated from plants are tasty twigs and although primitive they represented a transitional step towards the modern toothbrush. It has been stated that about seventeen plants could be enumerated as natural sources for several of these oral hygiene devices.

 

2. The most widely used tree twigs since early times is the “Siwak" or “Miswak".

 

3. The stick is obtained from a plant called Salvadore Persica that grows around Mecca and the Middle East area in general.

 

4. It is widely used among Muslems after Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) realised its value as a device which should be used by Moslems to clean their teeth. In this respect our Prophet (pbuh) is considered the first dental educator in proper oral hygiene.

 

Although there is no reference to the use of Siwak in Al-Quran, yet several quotations could be read in the compendium of the sayings of Mohammed (pbuh) as to the benefits of Siwak in mouth cleanliness.

 

One saying reads as follows: "IF IT WERE NOT TOO MUCH A BURDEN ON THE BELIEVERS, I WOULD PRESCRIBE THAT THEY USE THE SIWAK BEFORE EACH PRAYER".

 

Several anecdotes, incidents, poems and rules of ethics in using Siwak were mentioned in various references talking on the subject of cleanliness of the mouth.

 

Salvadora Persica is in fact a small tree or shrub with a crooked trunk, seldom more than one foot in diameter, bark scabrous and cracked, whitish with pendulous extremities. The root bark is light brown and the inner surfaces are white, odour is like cress and taste is warm and pungent. Chemically the air dried stem bark of S. Persica is extracted with 80% alcohol and then extracted with ether and run through exhaustive chemical procedures. This showed that it is composed of:

Trim ethyl amine
An alkaloid which may be salvadorine
Chlorides
High amounts of fluoride and silica
Sulphur
Vitamin C
Small amounts of Tannins, saponins, fiavenoids &
sterols

 

PURPOSE OF THE PRESENT INVESTIGATION:

Because of the great quality of oral cleanliness noticed in individuals who use Siwak as the sole device to brush their teeth and because of the low incidence of dental decay of those individuals this work was undertaken.

 

It is intended to study the following:

1 .The mechanical ability of Siwak as a cleaning device to the mouth and its ability to rid the mouth of bacterial plaque (aggregates harmful to the gum)

2. If Siwak is powdered and used with a toothbrush, could it act as an efficient mouth cleaner?

3. As compared to other strongly abrasive toothpowders, could Siwak rank as highly efficient as to the used material?

 

DISCUSSION

Oral hygiene and patient motivation towards a clean mouth owe their birth to the teachings of Mohammed (pbuh). Due to the repeated use of Siwak during the day, the users showed an unusually high level of oral cleanliness. It is a well known fact that plaque formed immediately after meticulous toothbrushing. By the end of 24 hours the plaque is well on its way towards maturation and hence starts its deliterious effects on the gingiva.

 

Proper oral hygiene should be maintained through intensive instructions by the periodontist as well as by a great expenditure of time and dexterity on part of the patient. This item is self corrected in Moslems because Siwak users take Siwak as a device that should be used as part of their religious ritual regimen.

 

The results obtained in this investigation have proved that Siwak and other tree twigs 9 could act as an effective tool in removing soft oral deposits. It could be even used as an effective device in preventive dental programmes in mass populations. The indices used in this investigations were simple and adequate as they discriminated between experimental stages as well as between experimental groups.

 

Using starch is not quite accurate but it was meant to evaluate the degree by which Siwak and powdered Siwak could rid teeth of deposits as compared to the best abrasive viz. commercial powder.

 

It is noticed that the difference between first and fifth week of the mean score of plaque percentage for powdered Siwak is the highest (-11.2%) of all readings. This indicates that powdered Siwak is used with t mechanically proper device i.e. tooth brush will give a great deal of oral cleanliness.

 

It has been reported that Salvadora Persica contains substances that possess antibacterial properties. Some of the other components are astringents, detergents and abrasives.

 

Those properties encourage some toothpaste laboratories to incorporate powdered stems and/or root material of Salvadora persica in their roducts (Beckenham U.K. Sarakan Ltd.).

 

Although the commercial powder gave a high degree of efficiency in plaque removal yet its use over the experimental period gave a high score of gingivitis percentage within the group using the powder. It is true that plaque eradication is essential but this should not be on the expense of deleterious side effect on other tissues.

 

It could be concluded that Siwak and powdered Siwak are excellent tools for oral cleanliness. Because of its availability in this part of the world, being inexpensive and readily adopted by Muslims as part f their religious regimen, it is highly recommended in implementing a preventive dental health program Islamic countries. Also recommendations should be directed to manufacturers of toothpastes to include the powdered form of Siwak in highly sophisticated toothpaste.
read more

Siwak: An Oral Health Device

 

Preliminary Chemical and Clinical Evaluation


Dr. M. Ragaii EI-Mostehy, Dr. A.A.AI-Jassem, Dr. I.A.AI-Yassin, Dr.A.R EI-Gindy and Dr. E. Shoukry

 

Kuwait

 

A variety of oral hygiene measures have been used since the dawn of time. This has been verified by various excavations done all over the world, in which toothpicks, chewsticks, tree twigs, linen strips, birds' feathers, animal bones and porcupine quills were recovered.

 

1. Those that originated from plants are tasty twigs and although primitive they represented a transitional step towards the modern toothbrush. It has been stated that about seventeen plants could be enumerated as natural sources for several of these oral hygiene devices.

 

2. The most widely used tree twigs since early times is the “Siwak" or “Miswak".

 

3. The stick is obtained from a plant called Salvadore Persica that grows around Mecca and the Middle East area in general.

 

4. It is widely used among Muslems after Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) realised its value as a device which should be used by Moslems to clean their teeth. In this respect our Prophet (pbuh) is considered the first dental educator in proper oral hygiene.

 

Although there is no reference to the use of Siwak in Al-Quran, yet several quotations could be read in the compendium of the sayings of Mohammed (pbuh) as to the benefits of Siwak in mouth cleanliness.

 

One saying reads as follows: "IF IT WERE NOT TOO MUCH A BURDEN ON THE BELIEVERS, I WOULD PRESCRIBE THAT THEY USE THE SIWAK BEFORE EACH PRAYER".

 

Several anecdotes, incidents, poems and rules of ethics in using Siwak were mentioned in various references talking on the subject of cleanliness of the mouth.

 

Salvadora Persica is in fact a small tree or shrub with a crooked trunk, seldom more than one foot in diameter, bark scabrous and cracked, whitish with pendulous extremities. The root bark is light brown and the inner surfaces are white, odour is like cress and taste is warm and pungent. Chemically the air dried stem bark of S. Persica is extracted with 80% alcohol and then extracted with ether and run through exhaustive chemical procedures. This showed that it is composed of:

Trim ethyl amine
An alkaloid which may be salvadorine
Chlorides
High amounts of fluoride and silica
Sulphur
Vitamin C
Small amounts of Tannins, saponins, fiavenoids &
sterols

 

PURPOSE OF THE PRESENT INVESTIGATION:

Because of the great quality of oral cleanliness noticed in individuals who use Siwak as the sole device to brush their teeth and because of the low incidence of dental decay of those individuals this work was undertaken.

 

It is intended to study the following:

1 .The mechanical ability of Siwak as a cleaning device to the mouth and its ability to rid the mouth of bacterial plaque (aggregates harmful to the gum)

2. If Siwak is powdered and used with a toothbrush, could it act as an efficient mouth cleaner?

3. As compared to other strongly abrasive toothpowders, could Siwak rank as highly efficient as to the used material?

 

DISCUSSION

Oral hygiene and patient motivation towards a clean mouth owe their birth to the teachings of Mohammed (pbuh). Due to the repeated use of Siwak during the day, the users showed an unusually high level of oral cleanliness. It is a well known fact that plaque formed immediately after meticulous toothbrushing. By the end of 24 hours the plaque is well on its way towards maturation and hence starts its deliterious effects on the gingiva.

 

Proper oral hygiene should be maintained through intensive instructions by the periodontist as well as by a great expenditure of time and dexterity on part of the patient. This item is self corrected in Moslems because Siwak users take Siwak as a device that should be used as part of their religious ritual regimen.

 

The results obtained in this investigation have proved that Siwak and other tree twigs 9 could act as an effective tool in removing soft oral deposits. It could be even used as an effective device in preventive dental programmes in mass populations. The indices used in this investigations were simple and adequate as they discriminated between experimental stages as well as between experimental groups.

 

Using starch is not quite accurate but it was meant to evaluate the degree by which Siwak and powdered Siwak could rid teeth of deposits as compared to the best abrasive viz. commercial powder.

 

It is noticed that the difference between first and fifth week of the mean score of plaque percentage for powdered Siwak is the highest (-11.2%) of all readings. This indicates that powdered Siwak is used with t mechanically proper device i.e. tooth brush will give a great deal of oral cleanliness.

 

It has been reported that Salvadora Persica contains substances that possess antibacterial properties. Some of the other components are astringents, detergents and abrasives.

 

Those properties encourage some toothpaste laboratories to incorporate powdered stems and/or root material of Salvadora persica in their roducts (Beckenham U.K. Sarakan Ltd.).

 

Although the commercial powder gave a high degree of efficiency in plaque removal yet its use over the experimental period gave a high score of gingivitis percentage within the group using the powder. It is true that plaque eradication is essential but this should not be on the expense of deleterious side effect on other tissues.

 

It could be concluded that Siwak and powdered Siwak are excellent tools for oral cleanliness. Because of its availability in this part of the world, being inexpensive and readily adopted by Muslims as part f their religious regimen, it is highly recommended in implementing a preventive dental health program Islamic countries. Also recommendations should be directed to manufacturers of toothpastes to include the powdered form of Siwak in highly sophisticated toothpaste.
read more

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