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Prayer Beads in Islam

Prayer Beads in Islam

Islamic Prayer Beads are called “Subha”, which means “glorify God (Allah)”. In Arabic, it’s spelled as سبحة. Another name for Muslim Prayer Beads is “Misbaha” – (Arab. مسبحة‎). Its literal meaning is “worry beads.” The verb which explains the purpose of worry beads is “Tasbeeh” (Arabic: تسبيح). Sometimes the word “Tasbeeh” is also referred to as Prayer Beads themselves.

Design and Materials of Prayer Beads

“Subha” consists of beads made of various materials such as gemstone, glass, fine wood, plastic, seeds, fruits, bones, precious stones, silver, etc. Nowadays, it is easy to buy beads that meet the specific requirements of the most sophisticated customers. The market offers a wide variety of materials, colors, designs, and styles, ranging from simple wooden prayer beads to masterpieces of jewelry art made up of rare and expensive materials handcrafted by professionals.

Islamic Subha Beads consist of beads stringed together and crowned by the central bead. In Islam, it is called the Imam Bead, and the prayer countdown begins with it. The number of beads is usually either 33 or 99. Beads are divided into three equal groups by special spacers in the form of flat discs.

Customs and Traditions

Muslim Prayer Beads are one of the most significant Islamic traditions. Telling Subha with fingers is used to ease counting during Islamic spiritual practices, which consist of multiple recitations of prayer formulas glorifying and praising Allah as well as additional prayers during Namaz. Touching each of the beads, the worshipper pronounces one out of the 99 beautiful names of Allah.

This tradition to formulate and repeatedly pronounce the beautiful names of Allah originates from the hadith, where the Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) told his daughter Fatima to think of Allah, always using these words. He also mentioned that true believers who repeat these expressions after each prayer would be forgiven for all sins, even if they are as grand and big as waves in the stormy sea.

Presumably, this is the way figure 99 was fixed as the number of beads in traditional Prayer Beads. Another type of Subha contains 33 beads which are precisely one-third of 99. Thus, it allows counting all 99 beautiful names of Allah in three cycles.

Origin of Prayer Beads in Islam

The earliest references of Subha or Misbaha date back to the time of the Caliph Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him). It was he who was the first to use Misbaha Beads during his prayers. Their popularity and use surged about 550-600 years ago.

Purpose of Prayer Beads

In the modern and dynamic world, Muslims use meditation mala for prayers and as an object of concentration and meditation for relaxation and stress relief. Telling beads also have a healing effect coming through the fingertips to the entire body.

Wooden worry beads have many functions. Many adore the sound made when beads touch each other, which differs depending on the material. Subha also helps its user to achieve a state of spiritual and mental peace.

And last but not least, these beads are also an exquisite jewelry item. Subha looks very elegant and attractive. Especially luxurious designs are inherent for amber and silver prayer beads. You can buy worry beads made of these rare materials for gifting or can ideally add them to your jewelry collection.

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