Can a Muslim recite Allah's names in public by using stone prayer beads? Isn't it a Bid'ah

The Details of the Question
Assalamualekum, Can a Muslim recite Allah's names in public by using stone prayer beads? I saw Muslims who recite Allah's names by using stone prayer beads. Is it permissible to use such a device in Islam especially in a public? Isn't it a Bid'ah? Thanks...
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Our Prophet recommended saying subhanallah (Allah is free from imperfection), alhamdulillah (praise to Allah) and Allahuakbar (Allah is the greatest) at various times and especially after prayers (salats). The Companions of the Prophet said and counted those phrases by using prayer beads, their fingers or small stones. Therefore, it can be said that the prayer beads of today are similar to them and it is a nice tradition.

What are the phrases of glorifying Allah (tasbihat) that we say after prayers (salats) based on? For instance, did people say salawat for our Prophet after prayers during the Era of Bliss (the period when our Prophet lived)?

Tasbihat after prayers

It is the sunnah of the Prophet to recite tasbihat after prayers whether we perform prayers alone or in congregation. Tasbihat can be recited in congregation or individually.

To mention the names and attributes of God Almighty, to say He is free from all kinds of imperfection and to thank Him are the essence of the prayer. The holy phrases ”Subhanallah” (Allah is free from imperfection), “Alhamdulillah” (praise to Allah) and “Allahuakbar” (Allah is the greatest), which are recited thirty-three times are like the cores of the prayer. The fact that those holy phrases are present in the prayer shows that they are so convenient for worship and so important for our spiritual life. (Badiuzzaman, Sözler (Words), p, 45)

Muawiya bin Hakam as-Salami (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, “Our prayer consists of saying subhanallah, Allahuakbar and reciting the Quran; no words connected to the worldly things are uttered in our prayers!” (Nasai, Kitab’us-Sahw, 20)

Some poor companions of Ansar went to the Messenger of Allah and said:

O Messenger of Allah! Wealthy people reached high ranks. They pray and fast as we do! In addition, they perform hajj and umrah, free slaves and give alms with their money and goods, which we cannot do!

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Shall I teach you something? Thanks to it, you will catch up with those who passed you and then you will pass them. Thus, nobody except those who do what you do can be more virtuous than you!

It was a great glad tiding. The companions said: “Yes, O Messenger of Allah; please teach it to us!

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Say ‘Subhanallah, Alhamdulillah and Allahuakbar’ thirty-three times after each prayer. Then say “La ilaha illallahu wahdahu la sharika lah. Lahu’l-Mulku wa lahu’l-Hamdu wa huwa ala kulli shay’in qadir” (There is no god but Allah. He has no partner; praise, bounty and dominion belong to Him. He is Omnipotent); your sins will be forgiven even if they are as many as the foams of the sea!”. (Muslim, Masajid, 142)

Badiuzzaman states that the phrases of tasbih, tazim, tahlil, dhikr and salawat, which are sunnah to recite after prayers, taking refuge in Allah and mentioning the names of Allah are the prayers of Hazrat Prophet (pbuh), that is, his sunnah. (Kastamonu Lâhikası, p.72-73)

It is sunnah to recite the prayer of adhan (wasilah) between the iqamah and fard prayer. It is sunnah for the person reciting adhan and the people listening to it to recite the prayer of adhan immediately; it is sunnah for the person reciting iqamah and the people listening to it to read the prayer of adhan before the fard prayer by opening and raising their hands.

It is sunnah to recite the prayer of “istiadha” (taking refuge in Allah), which is read to be saved from the torture in the grave, devil, soul, the world and Dajjal, the torture of Hell and other mischiefs and evils after the morning and evening prayers. In addition, it is sunnah to recite dhikr, salawat and prayers. It is sunnah to ask forgiveness and mercy from God Almighty not only for us but also for our teachers and masters who has rights on us, our parents, our student friends and all of the believers.  It is also sunnah to recite salawat and salams a million times for our Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh), to send salam (greetings) and good wishes to his family and companions, to exceed the limited numbers while reciting them, to use the phrases “as many as the leaves of the trees, the waves of the seas and the drops of rain”, which denotes infinity, while reciting salawat, salams and barakah. It is also sunnah to ask to enter Paradise.

Some of the glad tidings by our Prophet (pbuh) about tasbih and dhikr are as follows:

*Abdullah bin Amr (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated the following: “There is nobody in the world who will say, ‘La ilaha illallahu wallahu akbar. Wala hawla wala quwwata illa billah’ (There is no god but Allah. Allah is the greatest. There is no might and power but that of Allah) and whose sins will not be forgiven even if they are as many as the foams in the sea.” (Tirmidhi, Daawat, 58)

*Abu Musa al-Ash’ari (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: We were in a battle together with our Prophet (pbuh). When we returned and saw Madinah, Muslims raised their voices and started to say “Allahuakbar”. Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Your Lord is not deaf! He is not one that is not ready here! He is among you. He is among the heads of your camels. O Abdullah bin Qays! Shall I teach you a treasure from the treasures of Paradise? It is ‘La hawla wala quwwata illa billah.” (Tirmidhi, Daawat, 58)

*İbn-i Masud (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated the following: “When I was taken up to Miraj, I met Ibrahim (pbuh). He said to me, “O Muhammad!” “Give my greetings to your umma and tell them that the soil of Paradise is nice and its water is sweet! There are plains full of trees in Paradise. Their planted trees are ‘Subhanallahi walhamdulillahi wala ilaha illallahu wallahu akbar.” ( (Tirmidhi, Daawat, 59)

*Abu Zarr (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Whoever says, “La ilaha illallahu wahdahu la sharika lahu. Lahu’l-Mulku wa lahu’l-Hamdu yuhyi wa yumitu wa huwa ala kulli shay’in qadir” (There is no god but Allah. He has no partner; praise, bounty and dominion belong to Him. He gives life and He takes life. He is Omnipotent) without speaking any other words after the morning prayer, kneeling down is given tens of rewards; ten sins of him are cleared off, he is raised ten ranks; he becomes secure from all kinds of evils that day; he is protected from the devil; no sin can reach him and annul his good deeds!” (Tirmidhi, Daawat, 63)

*Ma’qil bin Yasar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates: the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated the following: “Whoever says, ‘Audhu billahi minashshaytanirrajim’ and recites the last three verses of the Chapter al-Hashr when he gets up in the morning (after the prayer), Allah appoints seventy thousand angels to pray for him that day until the evening; if he dies that day, he dies as a martyr. Whoever recites it at night, he reaches the same rank.” (Taj, 4/44)

Let All-Merciful Lord not deprive believers from his abundance and prosperity. Amin.

For detailed information about the performance of tasbihat in accordance with the Madhhab of Shafii, see Shafii Catechism or al-Fiqh al-Islami, Volume 2 by Wahba Zuhayli.

Saying salawat for our Prophet

As it is known, it is a non-ignorable duty and debt of fidelity of every Muslim to say salawat whenever the name of Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) is mentioned. 

It is informed that for every Muslim who understands the wisdom of the existence thanks to him, it is fard to say salawat once in the life, wajib for the following mentions and sunnah for repetitions; it is said that skipping salawat causes deprivation from intercession (shafaah).

A person who feels gratitude for someone who does him a favor and a person who shows respect to a person for a long time just for the sake of a cup of coffee will definitely feel gratitude for the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), who was a means for saving his eternal life, and will say salawat with great respect when he hears his name and will attain his intercession with his loyalty.

Our Lord orders us to say salawat for the Prophet in the 56th verse of the Chapter al-Ahzab:

Allah and His angels, send blessings on the Prophet: O ye that believe! send ye blessings on him and salute him, with all respect.!

As a necessity of the command of that verse it has been stated that it is fard to say salawat once in the life, wajib for the first hearing of following mentions and sunnah for repetitions in the same place. What is understood is that after each salawat and salam, both our Lord and the angels become pleased; in addition, the angels pray for those who say salawat. We see in hadith books that the angels pray for the person who says salawat, which causes the rank of our Prophet (pbuh) to rise in Paradise, as “May Allah make your rank rise, too” and other angels say ‘amin’ for that prayer. They react as “May Allah not make your rank rise” for those who do not say salawat and the other angels agree with that reaction by saying ‘amin’. Thus, those who say salawat when they hear the name of our Prophet (pbuh) receive good prayers from the angels and those who do not say salawat receive the curse of the angels. Furthermore, our Prophet (pbuh) is offended by the unfaithful people of his umma who do not say salawat for him although they hear his name and expresses his reproach as “May his nose be covered with dust.” 

There are numerous kinds of salawat. The most famous of them are the ones that we recite after tahiyyat during prayers: “Allahumma salli ala Muhammadin wa ala ali Muhammad” and “Sallallahu alayhi wasallam”. Their meanings can be summarized as follows:

May the mercy of our Lord, the asking forgiveness of the angels and our salam (greetings) be upon Hazrat Muhammad and his family.

Since salawat like that are prayers special to our Prophet, our Lord will not reject a prayer special to him. 

If we start our special prayers with salawat that is not rejected and finish with salawat, we expect that our prayer between two accepted prayers will be accepted too.

When the name of the Prophet is seen while reading and writing it is the best to say:

–“Allahumma salli ala Muhammadin wa ala ali Muhammad” or “Sallallahu alayhi wasallam”, the initials (pbuh) written in the texts are used to remind salawat.  However, when the salawat signs like that increase in a text, the readers sometimes have difficulty and the signs that are added for respect sometimes may cause disrespect, contrary to what is intended. Instead of causing disrespect, it is better to decrease those signs and leave it to the understanding of the reader.

It cannot be said that salawat said for the Prophet will cause the forgiveness of sins because something like that is not in question. It causes a rise in the rank. Therefore, nobody can estimate and determine the rank of the Prophet because each second salawat like rivers flow from his umma every second and it is understood that the rise in rank will never stop and that it will go on till the doomsday. 

A historical example of respect:

Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna always addressed his servant Muhammad, whom he liked a lot, as Muhammad, but once he addressed him using his father’s name. The servant felt bad about it and asked the Sultan why he had addressed him using his father’s name but not using his nice name. The Sultan answered:

–I always had wudu and called that lofty name when I had wudu. Now I do not have wudu! I felt ashamed to pronounce that name without wudu!

Those who show laziness in saying salawat when his holy name is pronounced should read and draw lessons from that event.

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