Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri (Radiyallahu Anhu – may Allah be pleased with him) reported: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ mentioned a woman from the children of Israel who would wear a ring filled with musk and he said: ‘Musk is the best perfume.’” [Sahih Muslim]
Musk is a strong-smelling secretion coming only from one animal, the musk deer of Asia. The musk itself is produced in a gland in the abdomen, between the stomach and the genitals in a form of a hairy sac in the male deer. To obtain the musk, it requires killing the musk deer and cutting open its belly. Its gland (musk pod) is removed. Upon drying, the reddish-brown paste inside the musk pod turns into a black granular material (musk grain), which is then tinctured with alcohol. The aroma of the tincture gives a pleasant odor only after it is considerably diluted. The good musk is a dry and black substance, sometimes purple, smooth and tastes bitter.
Musk is considered as the best odor in the world. It has a magical effect of soothing the soul and strengthening the inner organs as well as the outer body if applied whether thru sniffing, eating or drinking. No other natural substance has such a complex aroma. It is described as something akin to the odor of baby’s skin. Musk has been a key constituent in many perfumes since its discovery, being held to give a perfume long-lasting power as a fixative.
The Musk Deer
Its scientific name is Moschus Moschiferus. The word Musk is derived from Sanskrit name MUSKA meaning testicle. It is relatively small and antler-less, with a pair of protruding, tusk-like teeth, one meter long and half meter in height, with grey, long and fragile hair. Only adult male musk deer have musk glands. It is a nocturnal animal and very shy which makes it hard to find. Hunters usually resort to entrapment to capture it because of its evasive nature. Its natural habitat is the Himalaya heights and forests, Tibet, Siberia, and Northwest of China generally.