Thursday, September 27

Ibn Taymiyyah on prayer beads

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah states: “Counting tasbih on one’s fingers is a Sunnah. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, said to the women: “Count on your fingers, for they will be questioned and be made to speak.” As for counting on date-stones, pebbles and the like, then this too is good. Some of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, used to do this. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, once saw the Mother of the Believers [Safiyyah] counting tasbih on pebbles, and he approved it tacitly. It is related of Abu Hurayrah that he too would count tasbih on its like.

“As for counting on a string of beads, or something similar to it, there were some who held it was disliked, and others who held that it was not disliked. If the intention in doing so is sound, then it is something good and not disliked (fa huwa hasan ghayr makruh). To use them without a need, though, or doing so only to show-off to others - like hanging it around one’s neck or wearing it on one’s wrist - then this is either ostentation (riya’ li’lnas), or it is resembling those who habitually show-off. The first case is forbidden; the second, lesser in sin and revolves around being detested.”

Elsewhere, while discussing the issue of turning things into religious symbols to show-off with, Ibn Taymiyyah had this to say: “Sometimes one of them may show-off by putting their prayer mat over their shoulder or dangling dhikr beads from their hand, making them symbols (shi‘ar) of faith and prayer. But it is known from definitely-transmitted (mutawatir) reports that neither the Prophet, peace be upon him, nor his Companions, ever made such things into symbols. Instead they would count tasbih on their fingers, as per the hadith: “Count on your fingers, for they will be questioned and be made to speak.” Some of them did, though, count on pebbles and datestones.

As for tasbih on beads, some disliked it whereas others allowed it. But no one ever said that tasbih using dhikr beads is preferable to using one’s fingers.”

Majmu Fatawa

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