Prayer callus

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(Redirected from Prayer bump)
A pilgrim with prayer bump photographed outside Masjid al-Haram.

A prayer callus, zabiba or zebiba (Arabic: زبيبة zabība, "raisin") is a callus on the forehead present in some devout praying Muslims, mainly in Egypt.[1] Owing to its societal significance it is also known as the "devout sign".[citation needed] Among notable Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat's reputation for personal piety was evidenced by a callus on his forehead from repeated prostration in prayer.[2]

Islam requires its adherents to pray five times a day (known as salat), which involves kneeling on a prayer mat and touching the ground (or a raised piece of clay called turbah by the Shia) with one's forehead. When done firmly for extended periods of time, a callus – the "prayer bump" – can develop on the forehead which may be considered as a sign of piety and dedication. It is mentioned in the Quran as:

Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating [in prayer], seeking bounty from Allah and [His] pleasure. Their sign is in their faces from the effect of prostration [i.e., prayer]. That is their description in the Torah. And their description in the Gospel is as a plant which produces its offshoots and strengthens them so they grow firm and stand upon their stalks delighting the sowers – so that He may enrage by them the disbelievers. Allah has promised those who believe and do righteous deeds among them forgiveness and a great reward[3]

Some Muslims also believe that on the Day of Resurrection, this callus will fluoresce with an immense white light.[4] However, riya (showing-off) is prohibited in Islam; if the prayer bump may result in riya, it is recommended[by whom?] to take precautionary measures to stop a bump forming, as worship may be deemed void due to riya.

In extreme cases, the callus can be thick enough to create a noticeable bump that protrudes from the forehead.


  1. ^ Slackman, Michael (December 18, 2007). "Fashion and Faith Meet, on Foreheads of the Pious". New York Times. Retrieved 2021-10-02.
  2. ^ John L. Esposito Islam and Politics Fourth Edition 1998- p36 "Sadat had a reputation for personal piety; the callus on his forehead from repeated prostration in prayer".
  3. ^ "Surah Al-Fath – 29". Retrieved 2021-09-18.
  4. ^ Magdi Abdelhadi (23 June 2008). "Signs of division on Egypt's brow". BBC News. Retrieved 2011-01-10.

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