Prayer beads are common among numerous traditions. As the name implies, these beads portray religious expressions. These beads have been widely used for many centuries. The term “bead” is actually a Middle English word meaning, “prayer”. Helping the worshipers to count ritual recitations or prayers is the main purpose of these beads. In most traditions, the use of these beads is combined with breath and sound during prayers. People chant devotional phrases while counting these beads one by one. While praying with these beads, one focuses on the mind and the heart. Doing this helps to bring emotional clarity.
Significance of Beads in Islamic Tradition
Beads are used by Muslim men as well as women for religious reasons. In Islamic tradition, beads are considered as a medium to connect with Allah. Islamic prayer beads are commonly referred to as “sibha” or “supha”. The meaning of “sibha” in Urdu is “ to exalt”. The Arabic term “tasbih” also is used for these beads. There are 99 beads held together by a string. Each bead corresponds to one of the 99 names of the almighty. The string also has three elongated beads which divide the 99 beads into three groups, each having 33 beads. Some people use only 33 beads, going through them three times while reciting the 99 names of God in Islam. Normally, the usage of beads is done after completing the 5 ritual prayers that are supposed to be done daily. While praying with these beads, Muslims are not expected to recite their prayers loudly. With the help of these beads, Muslim men and women pray in a solemn manner, maintaining a state as if they are almost in a trance. At present, Muslims use numerous types of beads. Some types have a pleasant fragrance. For the fragrance to last long, people prefer to keep these beads in boxes.
Variety in Islamic Prayer Beads
- Material: In ancient times, Islamic prayer beads were made of pebbles and stones. Today, wood is the most common material used for crafting these prayer beads. Plastic, ivory, olive seeds, amber, semi-precious gems, and pearls are some of the other materials used for the same purpose.
- Color: You can have a choice of colors in Islamic beads. Orange, black, brown and gray are some of the most commonly chosen colors.
- Size: Islamic beads also vary in sizes. It is up to the person what size he or she chooses.