What is the ruling on the Masbahah(Prayer beads)?

Question: What does the Shari’ah say concerning masbahah? Is it a bid’ah as Sheikh Albani claims?



w27.1 (Jalal al-Din Suyuti:) Having long heard questions concerning the rosary (subha) as to whether there is a basis for it in the sunna, I have compiled in this section the hadiths and accounts of early Muslims that relate to it.

  Ibn ‘Amr said, “I saw the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) count the times he said ‘Subhan Allah’ on his hand.”

  Safiyya said, “The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) entered the room where I sat with four thousand date stones in front of me and he asked, ‘What is this, O daughter of Huyay?’ I said, ‘I am saying “Subhan Allah” with them.’ He replied, I’ve said “Subhan Allah” more times than this since you’ve begun,’ and I said, ‘Say, “Subhan Allah the number of everything He has created.” ‘ ”

w27.2 As one scholar has said, “Counting the times one says ‘Subhan Allah’ on one’s fingers is superior to doing so on a rosary because of the hadith of Ibn ‘Amr, though it has been said that if the person saying it is safe from mistakes in counting, his fingers are better, while if not, then saying it on a rosary is moe suitable. Some of the most renowned Muslims have used rosaries, those from whom the religion is taken and are relied upon, such as Abu Hurayra (Allah be well pleased with him), who had a string with two thousand knots on it, and did not go to sleep before saying ‘Subhan Allah’ with it twelve thousand times.”

  ‘Umar al-Maliki said, “I saw my teacher Hasan Al-Basri with a rosary in his hand and said, ‘Teacher, with your great eminence and the excellence of your worship, do you still use a rosary?’ and he replied, ‘Something we have used at the beginning we are not wont to leave at the end. I love to remember Allah with my heart, my hand, and my tongue.’ ” And how should it be otherwise, when the rosary reminds one of Allah Most High, and a person seldom sees one save that he remembers Allah, this being among the greatest of its benefits (al-Hawi li al-fatawi (y130), 2.2-5).

(‘Umdat Al-Salik(Reliance of the Traveller), page 902-903)


A brief response to Albani’s erronuous fatwa on the use of prayer beads and his fanatical fans who continue to voice his fatwa and harrass Muslims with it.

by Ibn Anwar

Some individuals LOVE saying that using the prayer beads is BID’AH ! Those who use them are rudely dismissed as a mubtad’i(person of bid’ah). I have also received reports from trusted friends that they have even been demanded to leave ’salafi’ ran mosques they visited when the Imam saw them with the prayer beads. What decadence has this Ummah been reduced to by these deviant pseudo-salafis?


Their negative attitude towards the masbahah is in accordance with the fatwa made by the notorious “Sheikhul Hadith” Nasiruddeen Albani on the issue. However, it should be noted that another huge salafi figure declares it permissible! He is none other than Ibn Baz’s student Ibn Uthaimeen. The following are some extracts from an article written by Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid( http://www.islam-qa.com/index.php?ref=3009&ln=eng ) on the issue, a popular scholar among salafis :

“Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (al-Liqa’ al-Maftooh, 3/30) was asked whether using the masbahah for tasbeeh is bid’ah, and his reply was: “It is better not to do tasbeeh with the masbahah, but it is not bid’ah, because there is a basis for it, which is the fact that some of the Sahaabah did tasbeeh with pebbles.” This ought to be sufficient to silent those who belong to the Salafi movement, but unfortunatelysome of Albani’s avid fans will simply turn a blind eye to the contradicting fatawa among their beloved ulama’ and will only take that which suit their bigoted attitute towards the ahl sunnah wal jama’ah. This brief article is for those who have eyes to see, ears to hear and a mind to think with.

Contrary to Ibn Uthaimeen, Albani said :

“He also said (1/117): “If there is only one bad thing about the masbahah, which it is that it takes the place of the Sunnah of counting on the fingers, even though all are agreed that counting on the fingers is preferable, then that is bad enough. How rarely I see people counting their tasbeeh on their fingers!”

Note: Any novice of Ulum Hadith will know that the Sunnah consist of three main categories i.e. Ahkam -> A. Qawl(words) B. Fi’l(acts) C. Taqrir(approval) **Ref. Dr. Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, Islamic Jurisprudence pg. 164**
If the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) s.a.w. did indeed Taqrir or approve of the action of doing tasbih with Masbahah of pebbles and other materials which will be shown in due course, how then can anyone make such a daft claim as “the masbahah takes the place (replace, substitute) of the Sunnah of counting on the fingers” ? As for the preferrence of using the finger over the subhah Imam Shawkani  in his Nayl al Awtar said:

والارشاد الى ما هو افضل لا ينافي الجواز وقد وردت بذلك اثار ففي جزء

“As for directing to what is better: this does not negate permissibility (la yunafi al jawaz). There are reports to that effect…. ”

Albani declares masbahah bid’ah when he continued saying :
1. “Firstly, the subhah [masbahah] is bid’ah and was not known at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).”

2. “Moreover, people have invented so many sophisticated ways of following this bid’ah, so you see the followers of one of the [Sufi] tareeqahs wearing the masbahah around their necks!”

**Question : What the Prophet s.a.w. approved is bid’ah ??? (hadiths provided below)

To prove his point that Masbahah is bid’ah he offered this hadith :
“The evidence for what I have said is the report narrated by Ibn Waddaah in Al-Bid’ wa’l-Nahy ‘anhaa from al-Salt ibn Bahraam, who said: ‘Ibn Mas’ood passed by a woman who had a [masbahah] with which she was making tasbeeh, and he broke it and threw it aside, then he passed by a man who was making tasbeeh with pebbles, and he kicked him then said, “You think you are better than the Sahaabah, but you are following unjustified bid’ah! You think you have more knowledge than the Companions of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)!”’ Its isnaad is saheeh to al-Salt, who is one of the trustworthy (thiqah) followers of the Taabi’een.”

This hadith has been declared dha’if(weak) by the Hadith Master Shaikh  Mahmood Sa’eed Mamdooh in his Wusooll at-Tahaani bi Ithbaat Sunniyyat al-Subhah wa ar-Radd `ala al-Albaani  :

هذا إسناد ضعيف للانقطاع الذي بين الصلت بن بهرام وابن مسعود رضي الله عنه لأن بن بهرام وإن كان ثقة ، لكنه من أتباع التابعين ، التهذيب

“This Isnad is weak for there is a break (Inqita’) between Salt ibn Bahraam and Ibn Ma’sud. Now Ibn Bahraam was indeed Thiqa, but he is from the followers of the Tabi’in.”

In any case, even if the hadith is sahih i.e. that Salt ibn Bahraam r.a. did relate it, it still does not amount to solid evidence for prohibiting the masbahah. This is because if an action of a sahabi contradicts that of the Prophet s.a.w. the former is dismissed without ceremony.

The following are some ahadith on the issue :

Ibn Sa’ad reports that Abu Hurayrah would make Tasbeeh with a collection of seeds (or pebbles). [ Tabaqaat 106/3 or 346/6]

 Imaam Ahmad in his “Zuhd” says: “‘Affaan informed us, Abdul Waahid ibn Ziyaad informed us from Yunus ibn ‘Ubayd, from His mother who said, “I saw Abaa Safiyyah – [who] was a man from the Sahabah of the Messenger of Allah (SWT) (saaws) and he was a treasurer – She said he would make Tasbeeh with stones.”

Ibn Sa’ad reports from Hukaym ibn Daylami that Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqaas would make Tasbeeh with stones. [At Tabaqaat Al Kubraa]

Imaam Ahmad reports in Az-Zuhd from Al Qaasim ibn Abdur Rahmaan who said that Abi Dardaa’ had seeds from pressed dates in a bag. When he had made morning Salah, he would remove one by one from it (the bag), making Tasbeeh with them, until they had finished. [Az-Zuhd page 205]

From Safiyyah who said, ” The Messenger of Allah (SWT) (saaws) entered upon me and between my hands were four thousand Nawaah (stones or seeds) [that I was making] tasbeeh with. The Nabi (SAWS) said, “You are making tasbeeh with this?! Shall I not teach you that which is greater than this tasbeeh?!” So I said, “Teach me!” So He said, “Say, Subhaan Allah (SWT) ‘Adada Khaliqih”.

This hadeeth is reported by Imaam At Tirmithi who said after it, “Ghareeb, I only know the hadeeth of Safiyyah by this direction…”

This hadith has also been resported by Al-Hakim in his Mustadarak.

“From Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqaas that he entered with the Messenger of Allah (SWT) (sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) upon a woman and between her hands was a Nawaa (seeds, pebbles) or Hasaa (stones or pebbles) that she was [counting] tasbeeh with…”

This hadeeth is reported by Imaam At-Tirmithi who said, “Hasan Ghareeb from the hadeeth of Sa’ad”. It is also reported by Imaam Abu Daawood in his Sunan, Imaam An Nasaa’i, Ibn Hibbaan, and Imaam Al Haakim in his Mustadarak who said. “Its isnaad is Saheeh, and [they i.e. Bukhaari and muslim] did not report it” and Imaam Adh-Dhahabi agreed with him.


From the evidences provided one may come to two conclusions about Albani on this issue:

Either Albani the so called “Sheikh Al-Hadith” was unaware of such instances where the companions used to do the tasbeeh with masbahah i.e. pebbles(during the life of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) s.a.w. , which would make him a very poor “Sheikhul Hadith” indeed) and ignorantly declared the companions to be Ahl Bid’ah(na’udhubillah) or that he did know of the narrations and just had a sick habit of mocking the Sunnah and the Sahabah.

May Allah (SWT) protect us from the dissidents and make us steadfast on the path of the jama’ah. Wallahu’alam biasawab Wasallam.


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