Tasbih (Arabic: تسبيح) is a form of dhikr that involves the repetitive utterances of short sentences glorifying Allah, in Islam. To keep track of counting either the phalanges of the right hand or a misbaha is used. The misbaha is similar to the prayer rope of the Eastern Church and the rosary in the Roman Catholic Church.
The term tasbih is an irregular derivation from subhan, which is the first word of the constitutive sentence of the first third of the canonical form (see below) of tasbih. The word literally means, as a verb, "to travel swiftly" and, as a noun, "duties" or "occupation." However, in the devotional context, tasbih refers to Subhana Allah, which is often used in the Qur'an with the preposition 'an (عن), meaning "'God is [de]void' [of what they (polytheists) attribute to Him]" (Al-Tawba: 31, Al-Zumar: 67 et al.). Without this preposition, it means something like "Glory be to God."
Tasbih of Fatima
In the early years of the Ali and Fatima marriage, Ali earned a little money. So he could not get servant for Fatima. Fatimah’s hands were blistered from constant grinding; her neck had become sore from carrying water; her clothes would become dirty from sweeping the floor. One day Ali was aware that prophet got some servants. Ali advised Fatima that asked a prophet’s servant. Fatima went, but she could not speak about it. Finally Ali with Fatima went to prophet house. Prophet did not accept their request. Prophet said “there is many orphan (starved), I have to sell these servants for feeding them”. Then prophet said “I give you one thing better than helping of servant”. He thought them a special manner of dhikr which is known as ‘’ tasbih of Fatima’’. The following is manner of it:
- Subhan'Allah (سبحان الله) (Glory be to Allah) – repeated 33 times.
- Alhamdulillah (الحمد لله) (Praise be to Allah) – repeated 33 times.
- Allahuakbar (الله أكبر) (Allah is the Greatest) – repeated 34 times.
After this adventure, Muslims have used to tasbih of Fatima after his prayer.
Narrated by Abu Huraira: Some poor people came to the Prophet and said, "The wealthy people will get higher grades and will have permanent enjoyment, and they pray like us and fast as we do. They have more money by which they perform the Hajj and 'Umra, fight and struggle in Allah's Cause and give in charity." The Prophet said, "Shall I not tell you a thing upon which if you acted you would catch up with those who have surpassed you? Nobody would overtake you, and you would be better than the people amongst whom you live except those who would do the same. Say "Sub-han-al-lah", "Alhamdu-lillah" and "Allahu Akbar" thirty three times each after every (compulsory) prayer." We differed, and some of us said that we should say "Subhan-al-lah" thirty three times and "Alhamdu lillah" thirty three times and "Allahu Akbar" thirty four times. I went to the Prophet, who said: "Say, "Subhan-al-lah" and "Alhamdu lillah" and "Allahu Akbar" all together for thirty three times." (Book #12, Hadith #804)
Dhikr is of great importance to the Muslims and believe that it has to be done as taught. However, adherents of the Salafi sect shun the use of Misbaha (prayer rope) as an innovation, preferring to stick to use of the fingers. the exact method believed to have been used by Muhammad. Muhammad is recorded to have ordered to count Dhikr on fingers and that the fingers in an accepted book of Hadith (sayings of Muhammad). (Abu Dawood 1501).
A Misbahah (Arabic: مسبحة), subhah (Arabic:سبحة), tasbih (Persian and Hindi-Urdu), or tespih (Albanian, Turkish and Bosnian) is a string of prayer beads which is often used by Muslims to keep track of counting in Tasbih. Also, it is the Arabic word for a prayer rope used by Christians to say the Jesus Prayer.
It is often made of wooden beads, but also of olive seeds, ivory, amber, pearls or plastic. A misbaha usually consists of 99 beads (corresponding to the 99 Names of Allah), or sometimes 33 beads (in which case one cycles through them 3 times to equal 99).
It is thought that in the early Muslim era, loose pebbles were used or that people counted on their fingers.
According to the 17th-century ʻAllāmah Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, after the Battle of Uḥud, Fāṭimah would visit the Martyrs' Graveyard every two or three days, and then made a misbaḥah of Ḥamzah ibn ʻAbd al-Muṭṭalib's grave-soil. After that, people started making and using misbaḥahs.
According to a book written by Sidi Gabalza, the first who used misbaha is sufism, which combined the thought between Islam, Jews, Catholic, Manawi, Majus, Hindu and Buddha, along with the mystical philosophy of Pythagoras. However some hadiths state the benefit of using the fingers of the right hand to count tasbīḥ.
- "Tasbih/Tasbeeh of Fatimah Zahra (pbuh) / Hazrat Fatima Zahra". islamicoccasions.
- Tarvin, William (2009). The Mysterious Plus. ISBN 978-1-4415-7080-2.
- Leone, Stacie (May 2006). "The Tespih Works in Mysterious Ways". Turkey Now. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
-  for more information on prayer beads in Islam
- (Indonesian) Hadits Shafiyah binti Hayyi (isteri Rasulullah) yang berbunyi: عَنْ كِنَانَةَ مَوْلَى صَفِيَّةَ قَال سَمِعْتُ صَفِيَّةَ تَقُولُ دَخَلَ عَلَيَّ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَبَيْنَ يَدَيَّ أَرْبَعَةُ آلَافِ نَوَاةٍ أُسَبِّحُ بِهَا فَقَالَ لَقَدْ سَبَّحْتِ بِهَذِهِ أَلَا أُعَلِّمُكِ بِأَكْثَرَ مِمَّا سَبَّحْتِ بِهِ فَقُلْتُ بَلَى عَلِّمْنِي فَقَالَ قُولِي سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ عَدَدَ خَلْقِهِ قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ غَرِيبٌ لَا نَعْرِفُهُ مِنْ حَدِيثِ صَفِيَّةَ إِلَّا مِنْ هَذَا الْوَجْهِ مِنْ حَدِيثِ هَاشِمِ بْنِ سَعِيدٍ الْكُوفِيِّ وَلَيْسَ إِسْنَادُهُ بِمَعْرُوفٍ وَفِي الْبَاب عَنْ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ "Dari Kinanah budak Shafiyah berkata, saya mendengar Shafiyah berkata: Rasulullah pernah menemuiku dan di tanganku ada empat ribu nawat (bijian korma) yang aku pakai untuk menghitung dzikirku. Aku berkata,”Aku telah bertasbih dengan ini.” Rasulullah bersabda,”Maukah aku ajari engkau (dengan) yang lebih baik dari pada yang engkau pakai bertasbih?” Saya menjawab,”Ajarilah aku,” maka Rasulullah bersabda,”Ucapkanlah : سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ عَدَدَ خَلْقِهِ. (Maha Suci Allah sejumlah apa yang diciptakan oleh Allah dari sesuatu).” (HR Tirmidzi, beliau berkata,”Hadist ini gharib. Saya tidak mengetahuinya, kecuali lewat jalan ini, yaitu Hasyim bin Sa’id Al Kufi.” Ibnu Hajar dalam kitab At Taqrib menyebutnya dhaif (lemah), begitu juga gurunya, Kinanah Maula Shafiyah didhaifkan oleh Al Adzdi.)
- Sidi Gazalba, Sistematika Filsafat (Jakarta, Bulan Bintang, Juli 1991), Cet. Kelima, hlm. 20. Untuk mengetahui hubungan antara tasawuf dengan agama Hindu, Budha dan lainnya, lihat di dua kitab Ihsan Ilahi Dzahir, Mansya’ Wa Al Mashadir; telah diterjemahkan dengan judul Sejarah Hitam Tasawuf Latar Belakang Kesesatan Sufi, oleh Fadhli Bahri, (Jakarta, Darul Falah, 2001), Cet.I. dan Dirasatun Fi At Tashawuf; telah diterjemahkan dengan judul Tasawuf, Bualan Kaum Sufi Ataukah Sebuah Konspirasi? oleh Abu Ihsan Al Atsari, (Jakarta, Darul Haq, 2001), Cet. I.
- Narrated Yusayrah, mother of Yasir: The Prophet (saw) commanded them (the women emigrants) to be regular (in remembering Allah by saying): "Allah is most great"; "Glory be to the King, the Holy"; "there is no god but Allah"; and that they should count them on fingers, for they (the fingers) will be questioned and asked to speak. (Book #8, Hadith #1496)
- Dubin, L. S. (2009). Prayer Beads. In C. Kenney (Ed.), The History of Beads: From 100,000 B.C. to the Present (Revised and Expanded Edition) (pp. 79–92). New York: Abrams Publishing.
- Henry, G., & Marriott, S. (2008). Beads of Faith: Pathways to Meditation and Spirituality Using Rosaries, Prayer Beads and Sacred Words. Fons Vitae Publishing.
- Untracht, O. (2008). Rosaries of India. In H. Whelchel (Ed.), Traditional Jewelry of India (pp. 69–73). New York: Thames & Hudson, Inc.
- Wiley, E., & Shannon, M. O. (2002). A String and a Prayer: How to Make and Use Prayer Beads. Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.