Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Muslim Prayer Beads (Part 2)

Islamic Prayer Beads
Photo Credit: Patheos
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Just as Muslims use various materials to make their prayer beads, there are also many variations in how they are used. One such variation is to use a string of 34 or 100 beads to recite three cycles of mantras. To practice this form of meditation, a supplicant will repeat three different phrases 33 times each:

"Allah is sublime.”
“All praise goes to Allah.”
"Allah is the greatest.”

On the 34th or 100th bead, the following prayer might be recited: “There is no God but Allah. He is One. He has no partner. To Him is the dominion of all praise, and He has power over all things.” {Hearts of Heaven}

Every able-bodied Muslim is required to make a pilgrimage (hajj) at least once in his or her lifetime to Mecca, a city in Saudi Arabia. During a hajj, a devotee might use his subhah to recite the 100 beautiful names of God, including “The Source of Peace,” “The Creator,” and “The Great Forgiver,” as he walks around the Ka’ba, a large, black cuboid building that is considered to be the sacred center, not only of Mecca, but of the entire universe.

Muslims, like Hindus and Buddhists, believe that reciting the sacred names of God in mantra-like fashion focuses the mind, drawing the supplicant beyond the physical to the metaphysical plane. It is in worship of the One True God, Allah, that Muslims find their center, their purpose of being. In order to keep worship of Allah as the primary center of their lives, Muslims halt all activities five times a day, turn toward Mecca, and recite their prayers on their prayer beads.

Read more about prayer beads: Hindu, Christian, and Buddhist.


1. Answering Islam. “Names of Allah, the 99 Beautiful.” Accessed October 26, 2012.
2. Encylopedia Britannica Online. “Rosary.” Accessed October 20, 2012.
3. Islam Tomorrow. “Purpose of Life.” Accessed October 27, 2012.
4. Museum of Anthropology. University of Missouri. “Prayer Beads: A Cultural Experience.” Copyright 2011. Last updated October 22, 2012.
5. Paul, LoriAnn V. “How to Pray With Muslim Prayer Beads: Thikr, Dhikr, Zikr, Tasbih, Tespihi, Subha, Misbaha.” Hearts to Heaven (website). Accessed October 26, 2012.
6. Prayer Beads World (website). “Prayer Beads in Islam.” Copyright 2008. Accessed October 22, 2012.
7. Wiley, Eleanor and Maggie Oman Shannon. A String and a Prayer: How to Make and Use Prayer Beads. Boston & York Beach: 2002.
8. Winston, Kimberly.  Bead One, Pray Too. New York: Moorehouse Publishing, 2008.

*Clip-art courtesy of The Graphics Fairy