In his classic book of hadeeth The Virtues and Noble Character of The Prophet Muhammad , Imaam Abi ‘Eesaa Muhammad bin ‘Eesah bin Sorah At-Tirmidhi R.A.(209-279A.H.) lists 5 ahadeeth.
The English translation and commentary by Shaykhul-Hadith Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya Muhajir Madni (R.A.) are copied below while the Arabic text is available here.
(48) Hadith Number 1
Ibn ‘Abbaas Radiyallahu ‘Anhu says:”Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam said: ‘Use kuhl made of ithmid on the eye; it brightens the eyesight, and strengthens and increases the growth of the eye lashes’. (Sayyidina Ibn’Abbaas Radiyallahu’Anhu also used to say) ‘Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam had a small container for keeping kohl, from which he applied kohl in each eye three times every night”‘.
Ithmid is a special type of kohl which is reddish black in colour. It is obtained in the Eastern countries. Some of the learned say it is the Isfahaani kuhl, and other say it is the Totiya. Some ‘ulama say, it means those who have good eyesight and it should be used by those with whose eyesight it agrees, otherwise a sick person’s eyes will pain more by its use. It is more beneficial to apply kohl at the time of sleeping as it will remain longer in the eyes, and will penetrate more into the pores. There are different narrations on the number of times it should be applied in each eye. In a few it is stated that it should be applied three times in each eye, as mentioned above.
In other narrations it is stated that it should be put three times in the right eye and two times in the left eye. It is supposed that the variations are because of the different times of the narrations. At a certain time, Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu alayhi Wasallam applied it in one manner and at another time in the other manner. Haafiz Ibn Hajar, Mulla ‘Ali Qaari and other ‘ulama have preferred the first method (as given in the hadith under discussion). the first method has been narrated many times from Sayyidina Rasulullah Sallallahu’ Alayhi Wasallam, as will be seen in the narration that follow.
(49) Hadith Number 2
Ibn ‘Abbaas Radiyallahu ‘Anhu reports: “Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam applied kuhl of ithmid three times in each eye before sleeping’. In a narration also from Ibn ‘Abbaas Radiyallahu ‘Anhu, it is reported: “Rasuluilah Sallallahu’Alayhi Wasallam had a small container for keeping kuhl, from which he applied in each eye kuhl three times before sleeping’.
(50) Hadith Number 3
Jaabir bin ‘Abdullah Radiyallahu ‘Anhu says: “Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam said: ‘Use the kuhl made from ithmid for the eyes. It brightens the vision and strengthens the growth of the eye lashes’.
(51) Hadith Number 4
Ibn ‘Abbaas Radiyallahu ‘Anhu says: “Rasulullah Sallallah ‘Alayhi Wasallam has said: ‘The best from among all the kuhl used by you is the one made from ithmid. It brightens the eyesight and strengthens the growth of the eye lashes”‘.
One of the narrators in the chain of this hadith is Bishr bin Mufaddal RA. The ‘ulama wrote that he performed four hundred rak’ahs nafl daily, and it was his permanent practice to fast every alternate day.
(52) Hadith Number 5
‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar Radiyallahu ‘Anhu related the same hadith from Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallarn that: “Verily use the kuhl made from ithmid. It brightens the vision and strengthens the growth of the eye lashes”.
In all the above narrations the use of kuhl made from ithmid has be stressed. Only those eyes are meant, that agree with the use of it, otherwise, because of certain eye conditions kuhl does not agree with some people, as was mentioned previously. The ‘ulama have written that due to these commands and practices it is sunnah to use kuhl, and it is better to use the one made from ithmid. If one uses kuhl made from any other substance it will be regarded as sunnah, but the virtue is obtained by using kuhl made of ithmid.
The ithmid used by Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem) was either:
(1) galena (the mineral form of lead sulfide) and not antimony/stibnite, as is often noted in translations, or
(2) a mixture of galena and antimony/stibnite, or
Allahu alam what the original ithmid was composed of.
The ithmid that is available now is mostly made with galena. Though, we can’t really be sure about this either. There are conflicting reviews about various products and perhaps the differences are due to the fact that they are produced from different minerals (some with galena and some with stibnite)?
Due to health concerns particularly in relation to children, cosmetics containing heavy metals such as lead and antimony (including kuhl) are banned in some countries. As Muslims we need to follow the laws of the land as much as possible and so where ithmid is banned, and especially in relation to children, we should avoid its use.
Alhamdulillah, we have options! If lead and antimony based kuhl is banned in our country but we wish to follow the sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wa sallem) and gain reward for doing so, then insha’Allah, as ulema have written, we can obtain the reward for following the sunnah of applying kuhl by using kuhl made from other materials. We may not gain the narrated eye health benefits associated with the use of ithmid but insha’Allah we can gain reward for following sunnah.
For more information, please read through the thread on this subject at IslamicTeachings.org