Is it allowed to brush teeth with toothpaste or Miswak while one is Fasting?
A Sahih Hadees that has been reported by Imam Bukhari and Muslim is highly misinterpreted wherein the Prophet (ﷺ) said :
“By Allah in whose hands the life of Muhammad (ﷺ) is,the breath of the observer of fast is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk.”
Based on this Hadees, people believe that they have been ordered to keep their mouths unclean throughout the day.
Many Ai’mma including Imam Mulla Ali Qari al Hanafi and Imam Abu Bakr ibn e Arabi al-Maliki said that the above hadees doesn’t in any way convey that one should keep one’s mouth unclean and stinky throughout the day and neither does this Hadees urge one to do so. In fact, in the above Hadees the importance and closeness of the Fasting person near Allah is conveyed.
As an example, there is a Hadees in Sahih Bukhari that the Prophet (ﷺ) said “The one who’s feet are soiled with dust while (he) is in the way of Allah, will not be touched by the fire (of Hell).”
In this Hadees, it is not at all meant that one is literally supposed to soil one’s feet with dust but it conveys the importance and virtues of struggling for the cause/sake of Allah.
Moreover, Cleanliness is half of Faith and the Prophet (ﷺ) said that the best of Muslim is one with whose hands and tongue the other Muslims are safe (i.e., he is the one who doesn’t cause trouble/uneasiness to others).
A person who is Fasting has to meet and converse with a lot of people throughout the day so it must be ensured that (other) people do not feel uneasy and unpleasant during a conversation due to the stink emitting from one’s mouth!
Imam Bukhari, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi and Imam Ahmed report that: It is narrated from Amer bin Rabi’aa that he said ” I have seen the Prophet (ﷺ) using Miswak many times while he (still) used to be in the state of Fast.” Imam Tirmidhi said this Hadees is Hasan.
Imam ibn e Majah and Tabrani have reported that Hazrat Aisha RadhiAllahu Anha said: “The Prophet said that one of the best characteristics of a fasting person is his use of the Miswaak.”
Hanafi and Maliki Ulema allow the use of Miswak and toothpaste to brush one’s teeth during the state of Fast and they consider it a Sunnah given the condition that the Toothpaste (and its likes) should not be passed down the throat whereas cleaning one’s teeth with Miswak(particularly) is Sunnat and it doesn’t really matter whether the Miswak is dry or wet and The majority of Muslims of Pakistan are Hanafis.
Whereas the act of using Miswak and toothpaste to clean one’s teeth after the time of Zuhr prayer (during a fast) is disliked near Shafi’i and Hambali Ulema.
Wallahu Wa Rasooluhu A’alamu
Wajahat Hussain Al Hanafi