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Ithmid (antimony) Kohl : what is it and why it is special ?

If you have never heard of Ithmid (antimony) Kohl, then reading this article aims to introduce you to Ithmid (antimony) kohl to you, making understand what it is and why it is important in Islam.
Kohl in Arabic is anything that is applied to the eye and/or its surroundings such as eyelashes and eyebrows.
Ithmid (antimony) is a type of a natural stone which when powdered is called Ithmid (antimony) Kohl and is used as a kohl for the eyes and the surrounding hair.

A special Kohl

Ithmid (antimony) Kohl is special because unlike other types of Kohl it carries enormous health benefits for the eyes. As an added bonus, Ithmid (antimony) Kohl also beautifies the eyes in a unique and different way.
Ithmid (antimony) kohl has been used for over 15 centuries to enhance eyesight and maintain overall eye health. Even before the dawn of Islam and at the time of Jahilyah, Ithmid (antimony) kohl was famous for its unique benefits.
Other types of kohl (stuff applied to eyes and its hairs) only carry beauty benefits and ,contrary to promoting health as Ithmid (antimony) kohl does, often contain harmful substances.

The only kohl approved by the prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم

What makes Ithmid (antimony) kohl truly special is that it is the only type of kohl the prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم has praised and affirmed its benefits.

Ibn Al-Abbas (رضي الله عنهما ) narrated that the prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم said : “The best of your kohl is ithmid (antimony), for it makes the vision clear and makes the hair grow.”

Not only did the prophet ( صلي الله عليه وسلم ) praised Ithmid kohl but he also commanded it to be used.

Ibn Al-Abbas (رضي الله عنهما) narrated that the prophet ( صلي الله عليه وسلم ) said : Apply ithmid (antimony) to your eyes, for it makes the vision clear and makes the hair grow”

This hadeeth, classed saheeh by Al-Albaani, reflects the importance and specialness of Ithmid (antimony) kohl as the prophet (صلي الله عليه وسلم ) would not have felt the need to order it to be used unless if it was of such a high significance and benefit.

Because of the incredible benefits of Ithmid (antimony) kohl, the prophet صلي الله عليه وسلم himself used to apply Ithmid kohl to his eyes when going to sleep, to maintain his eye health and set an example for us to follow.

Aisha رضي الله عنهما)ا) has reported that the prophet ( صلي الله عليه وسلم ) “used to have an Ithmid (antimony) from which he used to apply kohl three times in his eyes when going to sleep”
Ibn Al-Abbas (رضي الله عنهما) also said: “The Prophet ( صلي الله عليه وسلم ) used to have a Kohl container and used to apply Kohl 3 times in each eye”

This article has hopefully made you aware about this little known sunnah and realise the significance of Ithmid (antimony) kohl in Islam.

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A look at Hadith : Is Kohl really a Sunnah ?

As discussed previously , it is observed that Hadiths found within the Sunnah refer specifically to one type of Kohl: Ithmid Kohl.

Since the word Kohl refers to , in Arabic, anything applied on the eyes and/or its related hair, it is incorrect to say that Kohl is a Sunnah. Rather, applying Ithmid Kohl , to the exclusion of other types of Kohl, is a Sunnah.

Hadiths on Kohl are all referring to Ithmid Kohl

عَنْ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ رضي الله عنهماَالَ : قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : (إِنَّ خَيْرَ أَكْحَالِكُمُ الْإِثْمِدُ يَجْلُو الْبَصَرَ وَيُنْبِتُ الشَّعْرَ) رواه أبو داود (3878) والنسائي (5113) وابن ماجه (3497) ، وصححه الألباني في “صحيح أبي داود”

Narrated by Ibn Abbaas, May Allah be pleased with them: Said the Prophet of Allah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : ( Indeed the best of your Kohls is the Ithmid… (it) Yajlu (enhances) vision and Yunbit (Grows, tames etc) hair).
Sunan al-Nasaa’i (5113) , Sunan Abi Dawood (3837), Sunan Ibn Majah (3497). Graded Saheeh by Al-Albaani in the “Saheeh of Abi Dawood”.

وعَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ رضي الله عنهما أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ : (اكْتَحِلُوا بِالإِثْمِدِ فَإِنَّهُ يَجْلُو البَصَرَ ، وَيُنْبِتُ الشَّعْرَ) رواه الترمذي (1757) ، وصححه الألباني في “صحيح الترمذي

Narrated by Ibn Abbaas, May Allah be pleased with them: Said the Prophet of Allah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : ( Use Ithmid as a Kohl for it Yajlu (enhances, improves etc) vision and Yunbitu ( Grows, tames etc) hair ).

Reported by Al-Tirmidhi (1757), and graded Saheed by Al-Albaani in the ” Saheeh of Al-Tirmidhi”

وعن علي بن أبي طالب رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : (عَلَيْكُم بِالإِثْمِد فَإِنَّهُ مَنْبَتَةٌ للشَّعْرِ ، مَذْهَبَةٌ للقَذَى ، مَصْفَاةٌ لِلْبَصَرِ) أخرجه الطبراني في “الكبير” (1/109 ، رقم 183) وحسَّنه المنذري والعراقي وابن حجر ، انظر “الترغيب والترهيب” (3/89) و “فتح الباري” (10/157)

Narrated by Ali Bin Abi Taalib, May Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet of Allah صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ said : ( Use Ithmid for it is “Munbit” ( Grows) hair, removes “Al-Qada” (dirt, debris, germs etc), and acts as a “Masfah” (sieve, purifier, filter etc) for the vision).
Reported by Al-Tabarani in ” Al-Mujam al-Kabeer “ (1/109, no:183 ). Classed as Hassan by Almundiri, Al-Hafiz Al-Iraqy and Ibn Hajar. See the Fath-Albari (10/157) and Al-Targheeb Wal-Tarheeb (3/89).

These are the strongest Hadiths on Kohl and they all explicitly refer to Ithmid Kohl, as we can see. There is also other weaker Hadiths (in terms of grading) which affirm the view that Ithmid Kohl is the only type of Kohl which its use and application can be described as being a Sunnah practice.

In Fath-Albari, Ibn Hajar mentioned several Hadiths further encouraging the use of Ithmid Kohl. It is reported from Anas, May Allah be pleased with him, to have said that ” He (The prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ used to command us to use Ithmid”. Aisha, May Allah be pleased with her, is reported to have said that “the prophet صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ used to own an Ithmid Kohl which he used to apply when going to sleep thrice (three times) in each eye”. Abu Huraira and Saeed Bin Hawdah, May Allah be pleased with them, have also narrated similar Hadiths encouraging the use of Ithmid Kohl and stipulating its superiority over other types of Kohl.