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Black Misbaha

A Misbaha (Arabic: مِسْبَحَة, romanizedmisbaḥa), subḥa (Arabic: سُبْحَة) (Arabic, Kurdish and Urdu), tasbīḥ (Arabic: تَسْبِيح) (Iran, India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Indonesia ), or tespih (Turkish, Bosnian and Albanian) is prayer beads often used by Muslims for the tasbih, the recitation of prayers, the dhikr, as well as to glorify Allah.[1]


A misbaḥah is a tool that is used as an aid to perform dhikr, including the names of God in Islam, and after regular prayer.[1] It is often made of wooden or plastic beads, but also of olive seeds, ivory, pearls, and semi-precious stones such as carnelian, onyx, and amber.

A typical misbahah consists of three groups of beads, separated by two distinct beads (called imāms) along with one larger piece (called the yad) to serve as the handle.[2] The exact number may vary, but they usually consist of 99 beads to assist in the glorification of God following prayers: 33 Tasbeeh (subhāna-llāh ), 33 Tahmeed (ʾal-ḥamdu li-llāh), and 34 Takbeer (ʾAllāhu ʾakbar). Some suggest the 99 beads also refer to the 99 names of Allah. Smaller misbahas consist of 33 beads, in which case one cycles through them three times to complete 99. However, misbahas may also consist of 100 or 200-count beads to assist in the dhikr duties of certain Sufi orders.

It is often carried by pilgrims, dervishes, and many ordinary Muslims of all groups, except for Wahhabis, who consider it heretical innovation (bid'ah) and only allow dhikrs to be counted on the fingers.[2] Many Shi'is use beads made from clay from Karbala, sometimes colored red in memory of the killed Imam Husayn's blood or green in memory of his brother Hasan (who supposedly turned green from poisoning).[2]

Misbahahs are also used culturally to reduce stress or as an indication of status in society.

Qurʾan and Misbaha


It is thought[by whom?] that in the early Muslim era, people used loose pebbles or counted on their fingers.[3]

According to the 17th-century Shia cleric ʻAllāmah Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, after the 625CE Battle of Uḥud, Fāṭimah (the daughter of Muhammad) 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.[citation needed]

Some hadiths state the benefit of using the fingers of the right hand to count tasbīḥ following regular prayers.[4]

The practice of using misbahahs most likely originated among Sufis and poor people.[2] Opposition to the practice is known from as late as the 15th century, when al-Suyuti wrote an apologia for it.[2]

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  1. ^ a b Netton, Ian Richard (2013-12-19). Encyclopedia of Islamic Civilization and Religion. Routledge. ISBN 9781135179670.
  2. ^ a b c d e Wensinck, A.J. (1997). "SUBḤA". In Bosworth, C.E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W.P.; Lecomte, G. (eds.). The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. IX (SAN-SZE) (PDF). Leiden: Brill. pp. 741=2. ISBN 90-04-10422-4. Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  3. ^ (in 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.)
  4. ^ 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)


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