Is it permissible to use prayer beads?
- A group of people who call themselves Salafi and who are against Ahl as-Sunnah state that it is not permissible to use prayer beads to make dhikr.
Submitted by on Wed, 02/06/2021 - 15:54
Dear Brother / Sister,
The issue is whether it is permissible or not to use prayer beads while making dhikr and glorifying Allah.
The people who call themselves Salafi say that it is not permissible to use prayer beads; what is more, some of them remove the prayer beads from mosques. They think they serve the religion and save Muslims from committing sins by removing the prayer beads from mosques.
We will prove through definite evidences that it is permissible to use prayer beads with the permission and help of Allah.
- Is it bid’ah to use prayer beads?
Salafis state the following:
”It is bid’ah (innovation) to use prayer beads. Every bid’ah is a sin.”
Salafis do not know the meaning of the word bid’ah. Let us talk about the meaning of the word bid’ah.
The lexical meaning of bid’ah is “what emerges afterwards”. Everything that emerges afterwards is called bid’ah and bid’ah is divided into two:
1. Bid’ah hasanah; that is, good bid’ah. Bid’ah hasanah is as follows:
It means the innovation whose origin exists in the religion, whose equivalent existed during the time of the Prophet (pbuh) and whose evidence exists in religious resources. We will explain it through examples soon.
2. The second part of Bid’ah is called bid’ah sayyiah, that is, bad bid’ah. Bid’ah sayyiah is as follows:
It is the innovation whose origin does not exist in the religion, whose equivalent did not exist during the time of the Prophet (pbuh) and whose evidence doe not exists in religious resources. We will explain it through examples soon.
It is not possible to reject bid’ah as a whole because with the change of time, some things change. Let us analyze the issue through examples now:
The First Example: The compilation of the Quran in the form of a book (Mushaf).
The compilation of the Quran in the form of a book (Mushaf) is bid’ah. There was no Mushaf when the Prophet (pbuh) was alive. The Quran was written on antelope skins and other things; it was memorized by hafizes. The Quran was compiled in the form of a book during the caliphate of Hz. Abu Bakr. If we are against all bid’ahs, we must be against the compilation of the Quran in the form of a book because it is also bid’ah. However, that bid’ah is regarded as bid’ah hasanah and it is good bid’ah.
Now we ask the Salafis who say, “We are against all bid’ahs.”:
- Do you not read the Quran from a book (Mushaf)?
Well, it is bid’ah too. It did not exist when the Prophet (pbuh) was alive. Why do you read the Quran from Mushaf then? Why do you not write the Quran antelope skins and other things? It was like that when the Prophet (pbuh) was alive. Why do you not do it now?
It means some bid’ahs are necessities of time. They are called bid’ah in terms of being bid’ah hasanah.
Second Example: Adding harakahs (vowel marks) to the words of the Quran is bid’ah.
There were no vowel marks in the Quranic texts when the Prophet (pbuh) was alive. Vowel marks were added to the Quran during the caliphate of Hz. Ali. Vowel marks were added to the Quran because non-Arabs who became Muslims could not read the Quran properly and they distorted the meaning while reading. Vowel marks were added to the Quran upon the order of Hz. Ali.
Now we ask:
- Is it bid’ah to add vowel marks to the Quran?
Yes, it is bid’ah because it occurred afterwards; there were no vowel marks during the era of the Prophet (pbuh). If we are against all bid’ahs, we must also be against the vowel marks in the Quran because it is also bid’ah. However, that bid’ah is regarded as bid’ah hasanah and it is good bid’ah.
Now we ask the Salafis who say, “We are against all bid’ahs.”:
- Are there vowel marks in the copies of the Quran that you read?
Probably there are.
Why do you read the pages with vowel marks? It is bid’ah; it did not exist when the Prophet (pbuh) was alive. Why do you not read a copy of the Quran without vowel marks? You cannot do it because your Arabic is not enough to do so.
It means some bid’ahs are necessities of time. They are called bid’ah in terms of being bid’ah hasanah.
The Third Example is as follows: It is bid’ah to compile hadiths in the form of books.
That bid’ah started during the caliphate of Umar Ibn Abdulaziz. Hadiths were not compiled in the form of books by the state when the Prophet (pbuh) was alive. Yes, some Companions wrote down the hadiths personally but they were not put together as books. In fact, many Companions objected to the hadiths being writing at first.
Now we address Salafis as follows:
- O Salafis! Why are you not against it?
You all have hadith books in your house. Why do you allow that bid’ah into your houses?
You see, if you deny bid’ah hasanah, you will have to destroy even the hadith books. It is bid’ah to publish hadiths as books, but that bid’ah is not bid’ah sayyiah, that is, bad bid’ah. It is bid’ah hasanah, that is, good bid’ah.
The Fourth Example is as follows: It is bid’ah to perform tarawih prayer in congregation.
That bid’ah started to be practiced during the caliphate of Hz. Umar; he said, “what a good bid’ah” about it.
Now we ask Salafis again:
- Do you not perform tarawih prayer in congregation?
You certainly do. How can you say, “We are against all bid’ah” though you perform that prayer in congregation? It is neither possible nor logical to be against bid’ah hasanah.
The Fifth example is as follows: It is bid’ah to build minarets.
There was no minaret when the Prophet (pbuh) was alive. Adhan used to be recited from a high place only. That is, its origin existed.
Since the minaret was invented after the Prophet (pbuh), it is bid’ah but it is regarded as bid’ah hasanah.
Now we ask Salafis again:
- If you dominated the country, would you demolish all the minarets? Would you not leave a single minaret standing?
If you say, “No, we would not demolish minarets”, it means you are also people of bid’ah according to your description. Do you still not realize that you are in an impasse?
The Sixth example is as follows: The microphone used in mosques is bid’ah.
The microphone did not exist when the Prophet (pbuh) was alive. It was invented later and everything that is invented later is called bid’ah. If someone says, “I am against all kinds of bid’ah”, he must not use a microphone in the mosque.
Is it used everywhere, including the Kaaba? Yes, it is used. It means it is not possible to oppose bid’ah hasanah. When the Prophet (pbuh) was alive, muezzins acted as microphones; as time changed, muezzins left their duties to microphones. There is nothing strange about it and nothing to be denied.
We gave six examples about bid’ah hasanah. It is probably understood what bid’ah hasanah is with those examples. Now let us give a few examples about bid’ah sayyiah:
It is bid’ah sayyiah to tie pieces of cloth to trees and a sin because it has no place in religion.
It is also bid’ah sayyiah and a sin to burn candles on the graves.
It is also bid’ah sayyiah and a sin to play musical instruments and to dance in mosques.
You can find more examples.
The meaning of Imam Rabbani’s statement, “All bid’ahs are bad” is “All bid’ah sayyiahs are bad.” The meaning of “There are good bid’ahs” is “There are good bid’ahs in terms of being bid’ah hasanah”.
After those explanations, let us go back to our issue now. Salafis state the following:
It is bid’ah to use prayer beads. Every bid’ah is a sin.
Using prayer beads is bid’ah but it is bid’ah hasanah. It is not bid’ah sayyiah.
The origin of prayer beads existed when the Prophet (pbuh) was alive; some Companions counted their beads with date seeds and stones. However, there were no prayer beads like the ones we currently use. Since those prayer beads were invented later, they are called “bid’ah” lexically. However, it is bid’ah hasanah, not bid’ah sayyiah since its origin exists in the shari’ah.
We address those who say, “We do not accept any bid’ahs” as follows:
Destroy the Mushafs of the Quran then. Remove all mushafs along with prayer beads from mosques because it is bid’ah to compile the Quran in the form of a book. Then, demolish the minarets. Do not allow tarawih prayer to be performed in congregation. Burn the hadith books. Remove the microphones from mosques.
It does not end when you do them. Eating at the table is a bid’ah; then, destroy the dining tables. It is bid’ah to wear a collared shirt; then, destroy the shirts. Sitting in an armchair is bid’ah; destroy the armchairs. It is bid’ah for men to go out bareheaded. Make every man in the street wear a skullcap.
There are too many bid’ahs to count. However, none of those is bid’ah that is haram. They are lexically called bid’ahs. Bid’ahs that are haram are bid’ahs that are called bid’ah sayyiah. In other words, it means to invent something that has no origin in religion, no equivalent in the era of the Prophet (pbuh) and had no evidence in religious sources.
As for using prayer beads, which is our topic, the origin of it existed in the era of the Prophet (pbuh). Now we will give the evidences regarding the issue.
- Was Ibn Masud against prayer beads?
Ibn Masud did not regard using prayer beads permissible and opposed it. They report the following incident regarding the issue:
Umar b. Yahya reports the following from his grandfather:
We were sitting by the door of Abdullah Ibn Masud before the morning prayer; we would walk with him to the mosque when he came out. Abu Musa al-Ashari came to us and said: “Has Abdullah come out yet?” We replied, “No.” He also sat with us waiting. Then, Ibn Masud came out of his house. We all stood up and gathered around him. Abu Musa said to him, “O Abdullah! I have just seen something strange that has scared me in the mosque. I swear by Allah it was something good.”
Ibn Masud asked, ‘What was it?’ Abu Musa said, ‘If you wait, you will see it too.’ Then, he narrated the following:
I saw, in the mosque, people sitting in circles. There was a man leading every circle, with pebbles in his hands, giving orders. He said, “Say Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest) one hundred times.” After that order, the group uttered takbir one hundred times. Then, the same man said, “Say La ilaha illallah (there is no god but Allah) one hundred times.” The group said it. Then, the same man said, “Say subhanallah (Allah is free from all imperfection) one hundred times.” The group obeyed him and said it subhanallah one hundred times.
Abdullah Ibn Masud said, “Did you not say anything to them?” Abu Musa said, “No, I did not say to them anything; I wanted to learn your opinion.” Ibn Masud said, “Did you not say to them, ‘Count your sins with them. I assure you that it will not lessen your good deeds’?”
Then, Ibn Masud walked to the mosque. We went with him. When he reached the mosque, he saw one of those circles. He stood next to them and asked, ‘What are you doing?’ They said, “O Abdullah! These are pebbles and we count our takbirs, tahlils and tasbihs with them.”
Ibn Masud said, “Count your sins with those pebbles and I guarantee that your good deeds will not be decreased. O Ummah of Muhammad! How quickly your destruction approaches though there are so many Companions among you, though the shroud of the Messenger of Allah has not moistened yet and his plate has not broken yet...” (Imam Darimi, as-Sunan, I, 79-80, No: 204)
Salafis show that incident and say, Ibn Masud objected to dhikr being counted with pebbles. Prayer beads are like pebbles. In that case, it is not permissible to make dhikr with prayer beads.
We want to answer their claims in items:
1. Abu Musa al-Ashari’s statement, “I have just seen something that has scared me” included in the text of the hadith exists only in Tabarani’s narration; Bukhari, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal and Yahya regard that statement as weak. Those scholars included Abu Musa’s statement, “I have seen nothing but good.” Besides, since Abu Musa says, “I swear by Allah it was something good” after that is an evidence that Abu Musa does not regard it as something scary but something good. It means Abu Musa thinks differently from Ibn Masud and regards it something good.
2. Most of the scholars regard that hadith as weak:
Ibn Hajar regards the hadith as weak. (Ibn Hajar, Lisanul Mizan, 4/378, No: 1128) Ibni Adiyy, who is a hadith hafiz and critic, regards the hadith as weak. (al-Kamil fid-Duafa, 5/122, No: 1287) Haythami regards the hadith as weak. (Majmau’z-Zawaid, Babul-Umma alas-Sadaqa chapter) Ibnul Jawzi says, “The hadith is weak.” (ad-Duafa waI-Matrukin, 2/ 233, No: 2601) Ibn Main states the following about Amr, the narrator of the hadith. “His narrations are worthless.” (ad-Duafa waI-Matrukin, page 212, No: 3229) Imam Dhahabi states the following about the narrator: “He is among the weakest and a person who is not respected.” (Mizanul-Itidal, 3/293) Ibni Qarrash states the following about the narrator. “He is a person that is not accepted.” (al-Mughni)
The statements and practice of the majority of the Companions are preferred to the statement of Ibn Mas’ud related to the use of prayer beads.
Now we ask Salafis the following question:
- O Salafis! -The hadith you show as evidence is weak but suppose that we regarded it as sound – Can you show any Companions except Ibn Masud that opposes prayer beads?
You cannot show any. However, we can and will prove through evidences that many Companions used pebbles while making dhikr and glorifying Allah.
Thus, Ibn Masud did not regard dhikr and glorification by counting pebbles, etc. but other Companions regarded it permissible and used them. The Prophet (pbuh) did not object to their practice.
The practice of the Companions and the Prophet’s not objecting to them prove that it is permissible to make dhikr and glorify Allah by counting pebbles and seeds. If they are permissible, prayer beads must be permissible too because prayer beads are no different from them in terms of function.
We can quote many similar views that this hadith is weak.
Let us put them aside and suppose that this hadith is sound. Let us even report some other narrations that Ibn Masud objected to it in other places and prove that Ibn Masud objects to it.
Will it be enough?
In the hadith we quoted, Abu Musa al-Ashari regarded glorifying Allah through pebbles nice. He said, “I swear by Allah it is something good.” Ibn Masud is a scholar; is Abu Musa al-Ashari not a scholar? Is he not one of the notables of the Companions? Why can we not prefer his view? What prevents it?
The Companions can have different views. What we need to do is to follow the view of the majority. Exceptional views can always be seen. Those exceptional views may come from even some great scholars.
For example, Hz. Abu Bakr objected to the compilation of the Quran in the form of a book (Mushaf). Hz. Abu Bakr opposed but the Quran was compiled in the form of a book. The view of the majority of the Companions was preferred to the view of Hz. Abu Bakr.
Let us give another example:
There is the issue of kanz in fiqh. Kanz is haram. Hz. Ali states the following about what kanz is: Wealth more than four thousand dirhams is kanz. A person cannot have more wealth than four thousand dirhams. He has to give away the extra amount as sadaqah (charity).
Although Hz. Ali says so, the majority of the Companions and mujtahids regards kanz as wealth for which zakah has not been given and states the following: “If zakah is paid for some wealth (property/goods), it is not regarded kanz no matter how much it is.”
The view of Hz. Ali, who is known as “the gate of knowledge”, about kanz was not accepted but the view of other Companions was accepted. If people acted in accordance with Hz. Ali’s view, nobody could have more than four thousand dirhams as wealth.
You can see that the Companions had different views regarding some issues. We can show dozens of examples like those ones. We regard two examples enough so as not to lengthen the issue.
- Did the Companions use prayer beads?
Salafis state the following: The Companions did not use prayer beads.
“They used their fingers while making dhikr. It proves that using prayer beads while making dhikr is not permissible.”
That is what they say. We address them as follows:
Fear Allah! You deceive the people who do not know hadiths easily through those statements. How can you explain the following 10 hadiths then?
The First Hadith is the following hadith reported from Hz. Safiyya, one of the wives of the Prophet, by Imam Tirmidhi, Hakim and Imam Tabarani. Hz. Safiyya narrates:
The Messenger of Allah came to my room. There were four thousand date seeds I used for making dhikr in front of me. The Prophet (pbuh) asked me, “O Huyay’s daughter! What are they?” I said, “I use them to glorify Allah.” The Prophet (pbuh) said, “I have glorified Allah more than you since I came here.” I said, “O Messenger of Allah! Teach it to me too.” The Prophet (pbuh) said, “سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ عَدَدَ مَا خَلَقَ مِنْ شَيْئ I glorify Allah as many times as the number of the things He created.” (Tirmidhi, 3563; Hakim, 1/547; Tabarani, 1/494-495)
In the hadith above, Hz. Safiyya glorified Allah by using date seeds. The Prophet (pbuh) did not prohibit her from it; he advised her to make dhikr with general and great numbers.
Now we ask the following question:
- If it were not permissible to count dhikr with date seeds, would Hz. Safiyya have counted dhikr with them?
Suppose that she counted because she did not know. Would the Prophet (pbuh) have not prohibited her from doing it when he saw it. Is it possible for the Prophet (pbuh) to keep silent when a haram deed is committed and not to prohibit it? If he does not prohibit, it means it is permissible. Since he did not prohibit it in that incident, it means it is permissible to use date seeds to count dhikr.
If it is permissible to count dhikr with date seeds, why should it not be permissible with prayer beads? It is definitely permissible. Now we ask Salafis:
- You said no Companion counted dhikr with pebbles and seeds. Do you not regard Hz. Safiyya as a Companion?
- You said there was no sunnah of the Prophet regarding the issue.
- Is it not sunnah taqriri (approval) that the Prophet did not object to it?
As it is known, sunnah taqriri is something that the Prophet saw the Companions did and did not prevent them from doing it. Using seeds, etc. while making dhikr is a sunnah of that kind.
The Second Hadith regarding the issue was reported from Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas by Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Nasai, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban and Hakim. Imam Tirmidhi regards that narration as hasan and Hakim as sahih (sound). The hadith is as follows:
Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas and the Prophet (pbuh) stopped by a woman. The woman had date seeds or small pebbles in front of her. She used them to glorify Allah. Thereupon, the Prophet (pbuh) said to her, “Shall I tell you about something easier?” (Abu Dawud, 1500; Tirmidhi, 3577; Nasai, 1355; Ibn Hibban, 837; Hakim, 1/548)
We will not quote the remaining part of the hadith so as not to lengthen the issue. Let us focus on the part of the hadith that is related to the issue:
The Prophet (pbuh) saw a woman glorifying Allah with pebbles and he did not prohibit her. The same analysis for the previous hadith is valid for this hadith too. We do not repeat it so as not to lengthen the issue.
The Third Hadith regarding the issue was reported by Imam Bukhari, Baghawi, Ibn Asakir and others.
A ground cloth was put in front of Abu Safiyya, who was the freed slave of the Prophet (pbuh), and a basket with pebbles was brought every day. He would make dhikr with them until noon. Then, they would remove it. After he performed the noon prayer, they would bring back the basket; he would make dhikr with them until the evening. (Bukhari, at-Tarikhul Kabir; Baghawi, Mu’jamus Sahaba; Ibni Asakir, Tarikh)
In fact, we want to make an analysis for every hadith but if we do so, we will lengthen the issue. Therefore, we will report the practices of the Companions without analysis and try to make an analysis in the end for all of them.
The Fourth Hadith regarding the issue is as follows:
Ahmad Ibn Hanbal reports from Yunus b. Ubayd that his mother said,
”Abu Safiyya, who was a Companion of the Messenger of Allah and one of our neighbors, made dhikr using small pebbles.” (Abu Nuaym, Mu’jamus Sahaba, 5/2398)
The Fifth Hadith regarding the issue was reported by Ibn Abi Shayba from Hakim Ibn Daylami, the slave of Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas:
“Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas made dhikr using pebbles or date seeds.” (Ibn Abi Shayba, 7741)
The Sixth Hadith is the following narration by Ibn Sa’d about Hz. Fatima:
“Fatima made dhikr with a piece of string with knots on it.” (Ibn Sa’d, VIII, 468, Daru Turathil-Arabi-1417)
The Seventh Hadith is the following narration by Nuaym b. Muhriz:
“Abu Hurayra had a piece of string with two thousand knots on it. He would not sleep unless he made dhikr with it.” (Abu Nuaym, Hilyatul-Awliya, 1/468)
The Eighth Hadith is the following narration by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal:
“Abud-Darda had seeds of ajwa dates in a purse. When he performed the morning prayer, he would pick them one by one and make dhikr with them.” (Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, az-Zuhd, 175)
The Ninth Hadith is the following hadith reported from Abu Said al-Khudri by Ibn Abi Shayba:
“Abu Said al-Khudri made dhikr with pebbles.” (Ibn Abi Shayba, Musannaf, 7742)
The Tenth Hadith: Ibn Abi Shayba reports the following from Zazan:
“I took Umm Ya’fur’s beads. When I went over Ali, Umm Ya’fur said, ‘Give my beads back.’” (Ibn Abi Shayba, 7744)
We can report even 50 hadiths regarding the issue, let alone 10. If we report all, we will lengthen the issue. Therefore, we regard ten hadiths enough.
After those narrations, we address Salafis as follows:
- O Salafis! You said there was not a single practice by the Companions related to using prayer beads.
- Is Hz. Safiyye, the wife of the Prophet, not a Companion?
- Is Hz. Fatima, his daughter, not a Companion?
- Is Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas not a Companion?
- Is Abu Hurayra not a Companion?
- Is Abu Said al-Khudri, not a Companion?
- Are the others not Companions?
You also said there was no sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) regarding the issue. Is it not sunnah taqriri that the Prophet saw those who made dhikr by using pebbles or date seeds and he kept silent?
Let us put all those hadiths aside. We will tell you something else:
Your imam in creed is Ibn Taymiyya. We do not accept Ibn Taymiyya’s views regarding many issues. We say he has dozens of wrong views. However, you praise him very much. Why do you not follow Ibn Taymiyya regarding the issue? Ibn Taymiyya states the following in his book titled “Majmuul-Fatawa”:
“It is sunnah to count dhikr with fingers. As for dhikr being counted with small pebbles, small fruits, etc., it is something good. There were Companions who made dhikr like that. The Prophet (pbuh) saw one of his wives making dhikr with small pebbles and did not object to it. It is also narrated that Abu Hurayra made dhikr with them.”
“As for dhikr made with beads and similar things on a string, some people regard it nice while others do not. When the intention is good, it will be a deed that is not makruh.” (Majmuul-Fatawa, 227506)
That is what your imam Ibn Taymiyya says. Why do you not listen to your imam? When it serves your purpose, you say, “great imam” but when listening to and obeying him is in question, you turn a deaf ear to him. May Allah guide you!
- The decree of a means (tool) is according to the decree of the purpose.
We will show Salafis who do not regard using prayer beads permissible a different evidence.
The evidence is the following rule: The decree of a means (tool) is according to the decree of the purpose.
Let us clarify the rule with some examples:
The First Example: It is a deed of worship to go to hajj. The means of transport for that worship during the era of the Prophet (pbuh) was the camel. People used to go to hajj by riding camels. Then, the means changed; the camel was replaced by cars, trains, etc. People went to hajj in their cars, by train, etc. Then, the means changed again and people began to go to hajj by plane.
What matters here is to go to hajj. It does not matter how to go there. One can go by riding a camel or by plane. The change of the means is not bid’ah. It is an inevitable result of the natural course of life. Bid’ah is changing the fards, wajibs and sunnahs of hajj. That is, changing the original parts of the worship. It does not matter how you go unless you do not change the original parts of hajj.
The Second Example is as follows: The Quran used to be written on antelope skins and other things during the era of the Prophet (pbuh). People used to read the Quran written on those things. Time passed and the Quran was compiled in the form of a book. People started to read the Quran from pages of books. Now they read the Quran on the screens of smartphones through some software.
What matters here is to read the Quran. It does not matter on which it was written or through which means it is read. It can be read on antelope skins, on paper or on the screen of a smartphone. In the future, we may read it on hologram; we may see the Quranic verses on the air and read.
The change of the means is not bid’ah. It is an inevitable result of the natural course of life. Bid’ah is not observing the rules tajwid while reading the Quran, distorting the articulation points in a way to change the meaning of the Quran, etc. That is, changing the original parts of reading the Quran. It does not matter with which means you read it unless you do not change the original parts.
The Third Example is as follows: When the Prophet (pbuh) led a congregational prayer with a large group of people or when he preached in the mosque, he would use muezzins to enable the people at the back to hear him. The muezzin would repeat the words of the imam, another muezzin would repeat the words of the first muezzin and so on. The number of the muezzins increased according to the crowd. As time passed and technology developed, devices that increased the volume of the sound were invented. After that, devices such as microphones and loudspeakers were used instead of muezzins.
What matters here is to enable the person at the back to hear what is recited or preached. It does not matter what device is used for it. The sound can be conveyed through a muezzin or loudspeakers. The change of the means is not bid’ah. It is an inevitable result of the natural course of life. Bid’ah is to change the fards, wajibs, sunnahs and mustahabs of the prayer. That is, to make changes in the parts of the prayer.
We regard those three examples enough and will make the same analysis related to the use of prayer beads:
What matters is to say “Allah”, to say Alhamdülillah, Subhanallah, Allahu akbar and to mention and glorify Allah with similar words.
During the era of the Prophet (pbuh), some people counted dhikr by using their fingers. Others – as we have proved before – used pebbles or date seeds. What matters here is not fingers, pebbles or date seeds. What matters is to mention and glorify Allah. Fingers, pebbles and date seeds are only means of counting. Prayer beads are also means of counting just like them. Using them is not a deed of worship. If a person holds prayer beads in his hand and shakes them until the evening, he will not be regarded to have worshipped. Beads are used only as a means of counting dhikr easily. The decree of a means is according to the decree of the purpose. Since the purpose is dhikr and glorifying Allah the decree of the means will be like the decree of dhikr and glorifying. If the purpose were unbelief instead of dhikr, the decree of the means would be accordingly.
That is, neither using beads nor touching the fingers is a deed of worship. Mentioning Allah is a deed of worship. The others are means of determining the number. The change of the means is not bid’ah. We have just given three examples about it.
Bid’ah is changing the deed of worship. For example, it is sunnah to say subhanallah, alhamdulilah and Allahu akbar 33 times after the prayer. If those words are changed and some other words are said, it is bid’ah and bad. If the words are not changed, it does not matter whether they are counted through fingers or pebbles; it is permissible. However, counting with fingers has a special virtue. We will mention the reason soon.
- Is it more virtuous to count dhikr with fingers?
Salafis do not regard using prayer beads permissible. We have proved through definite evidences with the permission of Allah that it is permissible to use prayer beads. Now we will answer the following question:
- Is it more virtuous to count dhikr with fingers or with prayer beads?
It is more virtuous to use fingers while making dhikr because the Prophet (pbuh) advised it. Once, he addressed the female Companions as follows:
“Hold on to tasbih (saying Subhanallah), tahlil (saying La ilaha illallah) and taqdis (saying Subhanal malikil-quddus and similar words). Do not be heedless; you will forgive oneness. Count them with your fingertips because they will be asked to speak.” (Ibn Abi Shayba, 7738; Abu Dawud, 1501; Tirmidhi, 3595)
The issue of the organs’ speaking is mentioned in the verses of the Quran too. For instance, the following is stated in verse 65 of the chapter of Yasin:
اَلْيَوْمَ نَخْتِمُ عَلَى أَفْوَاهِهِمْ That Day shall We set a seal on their mouths. وَتُكَلِّمُنَا أَيْدِيهِمْ But their hands will speak to us. وَتَشْهَدُ أَرْجُلُهُمْ And their feet bear witness بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ to all that they did. (Yasin, 36/65)
As you can see, man’s organs will witness on that day and mention the deeds they did. Therefore, it is more virtuous to make dhikr with fingers. He who can count with his fingers should prefer counting dhikr with his fingers. If he cannot count with his fingers or if it is possible to confuse the number because the number is big, it is permissible for him to use prayer beads.
When we explain the issue like that, there will be no conflict or difficulty. Everyone will do what they can. If we act like Salafis do and say that using prayer beads is “absolutely haram”, it means we will force a person to do what he cannot do. It is one thing to advise making dhikr with fingers and it is another thing to say “It is haram to use prayer beads”.
Salafis do not know this difference. Since they do not know it, they start conflicts and cause mischief among Muslims. May Allah guide them! May He enable us make efforts to learn the evidences of our creed.
- We want to ask to Salafis who oppose prayer beads a question.
We want to ask to Salafis who oppose prayer beads the following question:
Allah Almighty states the following in the Quran: اُذْكُرُ اللَّهَ ذِكْرًا كَثِيرًا Celebrate the praises of Allah, and do this often (a lot). We want to obey the order of the Quran and celebrate the praise of Allah a lot. We want to mention Allah a thousand times every day. The question is this: How shall we count one thousand?
It is not possible to count it with fingers. If we want to mention Him five thousand times or ten thousand times, we can never count it. So, what should we do?
Let’s ask Salafis that question. The answer of a Salafi will be as follows:
Do not make dhikr more than 100 times. It does not exist in the Sunnah to make dhikr more than 100 times.
What a strange answer it is? Can I not say Allah a thousand times a day? Is it a sin to mention Allah a lot? According to Salafis, you cannot say more than 100 times because you need prayer beads to count more than 100. They are against making dhikr more than a hundred times just because they are against prayer beads. Instead of inviting people to mention Allah a lot, they say, “It is enough to say Allah a hundred times” because of being against prayer beads. They prevent people from saying Allah a thousand times, five thousand times, etc. a day. They think they gain thawabs by forbidding people from dhikr.
In fact, now we are going to tell you something that you will not believe. However, we will quote it by giving the name of the book and the page so that anyone who has doubts can check it.
Ibn Taymiyya, who is the imam of Salafis, states the following in his booklet titled “Ubudiyyah”:
Making dhikr by saying “Allah, Allah” is far from the sunnah; it is the one that is the closest to Satan’s misleading among bid’ahs.” (Ibn Taymiyya, Ubudiyyah, pp. 110, 112)
Goodness gracious! According to Ibn Taymiyya saying, “Allah, Allah” is bid’ah and Satan’s misleading.
Brothers! Beware! We are faced with a mentality that regards saying “Allah, Allah” as Satan’s misleading. Your mind cannot comprehend it. You are astonished. Those people who astonish you live among us. Some of them teach our children in religious schools. Can you understand how big the fire is now?
O Salafis! Where are thawabs and where are you? Those who think that they will gain thawabs by preventing saying “Allah, Allah” and mentioning Allah a lot are only those who are ridiculed by Satan. You can think about it your position now.
Praise be to our Lord, who enabled us to write and explain another issue in an investigative way and who employed us in this service!
May our Lord make those realities atonement for our sins and the sins of those who contributed to this service, and those who try to read those realities sincerely, learn and spread them! May He make us steadfast and active in the service of belief! May He make us His slave and the ummah of His beloved Prophet! Amin! Amin! Amin!
Questions on Islam
- How many kinds of madhhabs related to creed are there?
- Why do we say tasbihat 33 times? What are the narrations regarding the issue?
- Could you please give information about wahhabism?
- Dhikr beads
- Will you give information about Allah’s establishing on the throne (arsh)?
- Imran bin Husayn (r.a.)
- Is ahl as-Sunnah based on Irfan (tasawwuf/inspiration)?
- Could you please give information about Mujaddids (The Renovator)? What qualities do Mujaddids have?
- Is it a bid’ah (something which is entered into religion afterwards) to celebrate the birthday of our Prophet, Mawlid Qandil (the Eid Milad an-Nabi)? If it is not, how should we evaluate it? Is there a kind of prayer exclusive to Eid Milad an-Nabi?