Archive for the ‘Dhikr Allah(remembrance of Allah)’ category

Are prayer beads an Innovation? Answered by Sheikh Faraz

June 17, 2007

‘Are prayer beads an innovation?’

Shaykh Hajj Gibril:

Imâm al-Suyûtî recounted in one of his fatwas entitled al-Minha fîl-Sibha (“The Profit In Dhikr-Beads”) the story of ‘Ikrima, who asked his teacher ‘Umar al-Mâlikî about dhikr-beads. The latter replied that he had also asked about it his teacher al-Hasan al-Basrî who replied: “Something we have used at the beginning of the road we are not desirous to leave at the end. I love to remember Allâh with my heart, my hand, and my tongue.” Al-Suyûtî comments: “And how should it be otherwise, when the dhikr-beads remind one of Allâh Most High, and a person seldom sees dhikr-beads except he remembers Allâh, which is among the greatest of its benefits.” [1] [1]Abû Hurayra possessed a thread with two thousand knots and would not sleep until he had used it all for dhikr. [2] [2]He said: “Verily, I make glorification (tasbîh) of Allâh Almighty everyday according to my ransom (qadardiyyatî), twelve thousand times.” [3] [3]

Sidi Faraz Rabbani:

The tasbih is a means to do dhikr. One should do dhikr in the way that is most conducive to actually doing dhikr, and to maintaining one’s presence of heart with Allah. The generally accepted fiqh principle is that, “Means take the ruling of their ends.” Interestingly, even Wahhabis (such as Shaykh Uthaymin (Allah have mercy on him)) apply this in some spheres.

The position of some Wahhabis that using prayer beads is a bida is a bid`a in itself. All the schools of Sunni Islam allow it. The greatest hadith experts, including giants like Imam al-Nawawi, Imam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Imam Badr al-Din al-`Ayni, and others all explicitly permitted the use of prayer beads. The same applies to great Qur’anic exegetes. If these people did not understand the Qur’an and Sunna, then who did?

The prayer bead’s permissibility is explicitly mentioned in Imam al-Haskafi’s Durr al-Mukhtar, and in the Hashiyas of Imam al-Tahtawi and Ibn Abidin. Imam Abd al-Hayy al-Lakhnawi has an excellent treatise on it, based on a shorter work by Imam al-Suyuti.

Faraz Rabbani

[1] [1]Al-Suyûtî, al-Hâwî lîl-Fatâwâ. Cf. section on dhikr-beads in al-Shawkânî’s Nayl al-Awtâr (2:316-317) and Zakariyyâ al-Kandihlawî’s Hayât al-Sahâba. Albânî’s astounding claim that whoever carries dhikr-beads in his hand to remember Allâh is misguided and innovating was refuted in Mahmûd Mamdûh’s Wusûl al-Tahânî bi Ithbât Sunniyyat al-Sibha wal-Radd ‘alâ al-Albânî (“The Alighting of Mutual Benefit and the Confirmation that Dhikr-Beads are a Sunna in Refutation of Albânî”). Another refutation was published by Hâmid Mirzâ Khân al-Firghânî al-Namnakânî in the seventh of his al-Masâ’il al-Tis‘ (Madîna: Maktabat al-Îmân, 1985) p. 44-48.

[2] [2]Narrated by Abû Nu‘aym in the Hilya (1:383) and al-Dhahabî in the Siyar (Risâla ed. 2:623) and Tadhkira (1:35)

[3] [3]Narrated by Abû Nu‘aym in the Hilya (1:383), al-Bayhaqî in the Sunan (8:79), Ibn Hazm in al-Muh.allâ (10:396), Ibn al-Jawzî in Sifat al-Safwa (1:691), al-Dhahabî in the Siyar (Risâla ed. 2:610) and Tadhkirat al-Huffâz. (1:35), Ibn Rajab in Jâmi‘ al-‘Ulûm wal-Hikam, and Ibn Hajar in the Isâba (7:442) where he said that Ibn Sa‘d narrates it with a sound chain in his Tabaqât.


Prayer Beads by Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi

June 17, 2007

Keeping a Tasbeeh (Rosary) and Counting with the Joints of the Fingers

By Hakimul Ummat Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Quddisa Sirruhoo)

Two methods of keeping count of Tasbeeh (saying Subhaanallah), Tahmeed (saying Alhamdulillah) and Takbeer (saying Allahu Akbar) are generally employed. They are:

1) Tasbeeh or Rosary

2) Joints of the fingers

It is necessary to show that these two methods are Masnoon (in conformity with the Sunnat of Rasulullah–sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and to explain the manner of counting with the joints of the fingers.

Let it be known that Abu Dawood, Tirmithi, Nasaai, Ibn Hibbaan and Haakim have narrated from Hadhrat Sa’d Bin Abi Waqqaas that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) noticed some date-stones or pebbles placed infront of o*ne his wives with which she was making Tasbeeh. (The Hadith continues.)

Abu Dawood and Haakim have narrated from Hadhrat Safiyya (radhiyallahu anha) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) came to her while she had heaped infront of her 4,000 date-stones. She was reciting Tasbeeh (Zikr) with the date-stones.

The author of Mirqat (A Hadith Commentary) and the author of Raddul Mahtaar (an authoritative work o*n Hanafi Fiqh) have stated (in exposition of the aforementioned Hadith) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) did not prohibit (Hadhrat Safiyya–radhiyallahu anha–from using date-stones to count) after noticing this.

Therefore the validity of the popular tasbeeh (rosary) emerges from a Hadith-e-Taqreeri (a Hadith in which Rasulullah–sallallahu alayhi wasallam–corroborates a statement or action of a Sahaabi / Sahaabiya by his silence). The reason for this validity is that there is no significant difference between date-stones (which is mentioned in the Hadith) and the popular tasbeeh besides o*ne being stringed and the other loose. This difference is no cause for prohibition. Thus, the view of o*ne who says it is a bid’at is unacceptable.

The Honourable Mashaa-ikh (Qaddasaallaahu Sirruhum) have called the tasbeeh ‘Taaziyanah-e-Shaitaan’ or a ‘Whip for Shaitaan’.

Someone saw Hadhrat Junaid Baghdaadi (rahmatullah alayh) with a tasbeeh in his hand and queried:

“What is the need for it (the tasbeeh) when you have ascended to the limits of spiritual progress?”

Hadhrat Junaid (rahmatullah alayh) replied:

“How can we abandon something by virtue of which we have reached Allah?”

The Great Saints of Islam have given it the title Muzakkirah or The Reminder, since having it in the hand reminds o*ne to recite something or the other.


To count with the joints of the fingers is likewise Masnoon and this is established through a Hadith-e-Qowli (saying of Rasulullah–sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and Fe’li (deed of Rasulullah–sallallahu alayhi wasallam).

Tirmithi narrates from Hadhrat Yaseera (radhiyallahu anha) that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) told women: “Engage in tasebeeh, tahleel and taqdees (i.e. engage in various forms of Zikr) and keep count with the joints of the fingers. o*n the Day of Qiyaamah these fingers will be questioned and they will be made to speak.”

Abu Dawood narrates from Hadhrat Abdullah Bin Amr Bin al-‘Aas (radhiyallahu anhu):

“I saw Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) used to keep count of tasbeeh by closing the fingers.”

Ibn Qudaama, o*ne of the narrators in the chain, explains:

“That is, with his (Rasulullah’s–sallallahu alayhi wasallam) right hand.”

However, literally, counting with the finger has a broad meaning. Hence the author of Hirz states:

“Whether o*ne opens and closes the fingers, or fingers are pressed, or the thumb is placed along the tips of the fingers.”

In other words, in whichever manner o*ne counts with the fingers the actual Sunnat is obtained. Determining any particular method is not stipulated. Despite this, it is understood from the Ahaadith that in the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) the manner of keeping count with the fingers was indeed fixed.

Now the zaakir (one who engages in Zikr) has the option, whether to keep a tasbeeh (rosary) in view of the ease in it, or he may count with the fingers since the virtue is greater. Then again he has the option of counting with the finger in the abovementioned (in the kitaab ‘Aqd-e-Anaamil) method or any other method which has reached him via his Mashaa-ikh.

The actual purpose is to ward off negligence as stated towards the end of the Hadith o*n counting with the fingers. The gist of which is:

“Do not be neglectful! Otherwise you will be driven away from (the) Mercy (of Allah Ta’ala).”

June 17, 2007

Here are some relevant quotes to this topic Insha’Allah from the link given above:

Use of prayer-beads (masbaha, sibha, tasbih)

Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas reported that once the Prophet saw a woman who had some date-stones or pebbles which she was using as beads to glorify Allah. The Prophet said to her, “Let me tell you something which would be easier or more excellent for you than that.” So he told her to say instead:

subhan allahi `adada ma khalaqa fi s-sama’,
subhan allahi `adada ma khalaqa fi al-ard,
subhan allahi `adada ma khalaqa bayna dhalik,
subhan allahi `adada ma huwa khaliq,
Allahu akbaru ‘adada ma khalaqa fi al-sama’,
Allahu akbaru ‘adada ma khalaqa fi l-’ard,
Allahu akbaru ‘adada ma khalaqa bayna dhalik,
Allahu akbaru ‘adada ma huwa khaliq,
al-hamdu lillahi `adada ma khalaqa fi al-sama’,
al-hamdu lillahi `adada ma khalaqa fi l-’ard,
al-hamdu lillahi `adada ma khalaqa bayna dhalik,
al-hamdu lillahi `adada ma huwa khaliq,
la ilaha illallahu `adada ma khalaqa fi al-sama’,
la ilaha illallahu `adada ma khalaqa fi al-ard,
la ilaha illallahu `adada ma khalaqa bayna dhalik,
la ilaha illallahu `adada ma huwa khaliq,
la hawla wa la quwwata illa billahi `adada ma khalaqa fi al-sama’,
la hawla wa la quwwata illa billahi `adada ma khalaqa fi al-ard,
la hawla wa la quwwata illa billahi `adada ma khalaqa bayna dhalik,
la hawla wa la quwwata illa billahi `adada ma huwa khaliq.
“Glory be to Allah as many times as the number of what He has created in Heaven,
Glory be to Allah as many times as the number of what He has created on Earth,
Glory be to Allah as many times as the number of what He has created between them,
Glory be to Allah as many times as the number of that which He is creating.”
and then repeat all of the above four times but substituting “Glory be to Allah” by:
– “Allah is the most great” in the first repetition,
– “Praise be to Allah” in the second repetition,
– “There is no god but Allah” in the third repetition, and
– “There is no change and no power except with Allah” in the fourth repetition. (Narrated by Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi who said it is hasan, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, al-Nasa’i, and al-Hakim, who said it is sahih according to the criterion of Muslim. Dhahabi concurred.)

Safiyya bint Huyayy the Prophet’s wife said: The Prophet came in to see me and in front of me there were four thousand date-stones with which I was making tasbih [counting subhan Allah]. He said: “You make tasbih with so many! Shall I teach you what surpasses your number of tasbih?” She said: “Teach me!” He said: “Say: Subhan Allah `adada khalqihi — Glory to Allah the number of His creation.” Narrated by Tirmidhi who said it is gharib, and both al-Hakim and Suyuti declared it sahih.

Allah says in His Holy Book to His Holy Prophet, “Remind people, for reminding benefits them.” The reminder of Muslims has various forms, public and private. A public form of this reminder is the adhan. The masbaha or sibha or tasbih, or prayer-beads, has had since the earliest Companions the function of a private reminder. It is for that reason that the tasbih was called by them mudhakkir or mudhakkira — “reminder,” and there is a narration traced to the Prophet whereby he said: ni`ma al-mudhakkir al-sibha: “What a good reminder are the prayer-beads!” Shawkani narrates it from `Ali ibn Abi Talib as evidence for the usefulness of prayer-beads in Nayl al-awtar (2:317) from Daylami’s narration in Musnad al-firdaws with his chain, and Suyuti cites it in his fatwa on prayer-beads in al-Hawi li al-fatawi (2:38).

The statement propagated nowadays by “Salafis” whereby counting dhikr on beads is an innovation, is undoubtedly false. The use of beads for counting dhikr is definitely established as a practice allowed by the Prophet and a Sunna of the Companions. This is proven by the sahih hadith of Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, who related that the Prophet once saw a woman using some datestones or pebbles (nawan aw hasan), and did not prohibit her to use them. This hadith is found in Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Nisa’i, Ibn Maja, Ibn Hibban, and Hakim. Dhahabi declared it sahih. Another sahih hadith to that effect was related by Safiyya, who was seen by the Prophet, Peace be upon him, counting “Subhan Allah” on four thousand date stones. This hadith is found in Tirmidhi, Hakim, and Tabarani, and was confirmed as sahih by Suyuti. It is also related from the Prophet’s freedman, Abu Safiyya, that a mat would be spread for him and a basket made of palm leaves brought which was filled with pebbles with which he would make tasbih until mid-day. Then it would be taken away, and then brought back after he had prayed, and he would make tasbih again until evening. This is narrated in Ibn Hajar’s Isaba (7:106 #652) with his chain, who says that Bukhari narrates it [in his Tarikh], as well as al-Baghawi through two chains. Shawkani cites it, as seen below.

Shawkani said in Nayl al-awtar (2:316-317):

The Prophet justified the counting of dhikr on the fingers by the fact that the fingers will be questioned and will speak, that is, they will witness to that effect. It follows that counting tasbih on them, because of this aspect, is better than using dhikr-beads or pebbles. But the two other hadiths [of Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas and Safiyya bint Huyayy] indicate the permissibility of counting tasbih with date-stones and pebbles, and similarly with dhikr-beads because there is no distinguishing factor between them in the Prophet’s stipulation to the two women concerning it, and no disapproval of it. As for directing to what is better: this does not negate permissibility (la yunafi al-jawaz). There are reports to that effect.

It is related in Hilal al-Haffar’s monograph through Mu`tamar ibn Sulayman from Abu Safiyya the Prophet’s freedman that a mat would be spread for him and a basket made of palm leaves brought which was filled with pebbles with which he would make tasbih until mid-day. Then it would be taken away, and then brought back after he had prayed, and he would make tasbih again until evening. Imam Ahmad narrates it in Kitab al-zuhd [with his chain].

Ahmad also narrates from al-Qasim ibn `Abd al-Rahman that Abu al-Darda’ had a bag filled with date-stones and that whenever he prayed the noon prayer he would bring them out one by one and make tasbih on them until they were finished.

Ibn Sa`d in his Tabaqat narrates [with his chains] that Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas used to count tasbih on pebbles, and that Fatima bint al-Husayn ibn `Ali ibn Abi Talib used to make tasbih with a thread stringed with knots, and that Abu Hurayra made tasbih with a string of pebbles (al-nawa al-majmu`).

`Abd Allah the son of Imam Ahmad narrated in Zawa’id al-zuhd that Abu Hurayra had a thread stringed with one thousand knots and that he would not sleep until he had counted tasbih on them.

al-Daylami narrates in Musnad al-firdaws through Zaynab bint Sulayman ibn `Ali, and from Umm al-Hasan bint Ja`far from her father from her grandfather from `Ali, and it is traced back to the Prophet: “What a good reminder are the prayer-beads!”

Suyuti related reports with their chains in his monograph on the subject entitled al-Minha min al-sibha and it is part of his collected fatwas. He says towards the end of it: “It is not related from any one of the Salaf nor the Khalaf that it is forbidden to count tasbih on the sibha (dhikr-beads). On the contrary, most of them used to count tasbih on it, and they did not consider it disliked.”

The Indian hadith scholar Zakariyya al-Khandlawi similarly relates in his book Hayat al-sahaba that Abu Hurayra said: “I recite istighfar (formula of asking forgiveness) 12,000 times daily” and that, according to his grandson, he had a piece of thread with 1,000 knots and would not go to sleep until he had said subhan allah (Glory to Allah) on all of these knots. According to her grand-daughter through Imam al-Husayn, Fatima also used to count her dhikr on a thread with knots.

Mawlana Zakariyya continues, “It is well-known that many other Companions of the Prophet, Peace be upon him, used beads in their private devotions, such as Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas himself, Abu Safiyya the slave of the Prophet, Abu Sa`d, Abu Darda’, and Fatima, May Allah be pleased with them all. Stringing or not stringing the beads together does not make any difference.”

It is well-established that counting dhikr is a Sunna of the Prophet, Peace be upon him. He himself advised his wives, `Ali, and Fatima to count tasbih (subhan allah), tahmid (al-hamdu lillah), and takbir (allahu akbar) thirthy-three times each before going to bed at night. Ibn `Amr relates that he saw the Prophet, count the times he said subhan allah on his right hand. This does not mean that it is not allowed to use the left also, as the Prophet simply said: “Count [the dhikr] on your fingers.”

Imam Suyuti recounted in one of his fatwas entitled al-Minha fi al-sibha (The profit derived from using dhikr-beads) the story of `Ikrima, who asked his teacher `Umar al-Maliki about dhikr-beads. `Umar answered him that he had also asked his teacher Hasan al-Basri about it and was told: “Something we have used at the beginning of the road we are not desirous to leave at the end. I love to remember Allah with my heart, my hand, and my tongue.” Suyuti comments: “And how should it be otherwise, when the prayer-beads remind one of Allah Most High, and a person seldom sees prayer-beads except he remembers Allah, which is among the greatest of its benefits.”

As for Albani’s statements against the prayer-beads, his rejection of the hadith ni`ma al-mudhakkir al-sibha (see his Silsila da`ifa #83), and his astounding claim that whoever carries dhikr-beads in his hand to remember Allah is misguided and innovating, then we direct the reader to their refutation in Mahmud Sa`id’s Wusul al-tahani bi ithbat sunniyyat al-sibha wa al-radd `ala al-albani (The alighting of mutual benefit and the confirmation that the dhikr-beads are a Sunna, and the refutation of Albani).

As for the idea that the prayer-beads come from Buddhism or Christianity, it was one of the Hungarian scholar Ignaz Goldziher’s (fl. 1897 CE) legacies to orientalism.

Fatwa of Imam Jalaluddin Al-Suyuti on Prayer Beads

June 17, 2007

Shaykh al-Islam, al-Mujaddid: Jalaluddin al-Suyuti (d. 911 AH) and his fatwa on the permissibility of the Dhikr beads:

المنحة في السبحة

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

الحمد لله وسلام على عباده الذين اصطفى وبعد فقد طال السؤال عن السبحة هل لها أصل في السنة فجمعت فيها هذا الجزء متتبعا فيه ما ورد فيها من الأحاديث والآثار والله المستعان: أخرج ابن أبي شيبة وأبو داود والترمذي والنسائي والحاكم وصححه عن ابن عمرو قال رأيت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يعقد التسبيح بيده. وأخرج ابن أبي شيبة وأبو داود والترمذي والحاكم عن بسيرة وكانت من المهاجرات قالت قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم عليكن بالتسبيح والتهليل والتقديس ولا تغفلن فتنسين التوحيد واعقدن بالأنامل فإنهن مسئولات ومستنطقات. وأخرج الترمذي والحاكم والطبراني عن صفية قالت دخل على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وبين يدي أربعة آلاف نواة اسبح بهن فقال ما هذا يا بنت حيي قلت أسبح بهن قال قد سبحت منذ قمت على رأسك اكثر من هذا قلت علمني يا رسول الله قال قولي سبحان الله عدد ما خلق من شيء – صحيح أيضا. وأخرج أبو داود والترمذي وحسنه والنسائي وابن ماجه وابن حبان والحاكم وصححه عن سعد بن أبي وقاص أنه دخل مع النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم على امرأة وبين يديها نوى أو حصى تسبح فقال أخبرك بما هو أيسر عليك من هذا وأفضل قولي سبحان الله عدد ما خلق في السماء سبحان الله عدد ما خلق في الأرض سبحان الله عدد ما بين ذلك وسبحان الله عدد ما هو خالق الله أكبر مثل ذلك والحمد لله مثل ذلك ولا إله إلا الله مثل ذلك ولا قوة إلا بالله مثل ذلك. وفي جزء هلال الحفار ومعجم الصحابة للبغوي وتاريخ ابن عساكر من طريق معتمر بن سلميان عن أبي بن كعب عن جده بقية عن أبي صفية مولى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه كان يوضع له نطع ويجاء بزنبيل فيه حصى فيسبح به إلى نصف النهار ثم يرفع فإذا صلى الأولى أتى به فيسبح به حتى يمسي. وأخرجه الإمام أحمد في الزهد ثنا عفان ثنا عبد الواحد بن زياد عن يونس بن عبيد عن أمه قالت رأيت أبا صفية رجل من أصحاب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وكان جارنا قالت فكان يسبح بالحصى. وأخرج ابن سعد عن حكيم بن الديلمي أن سعد بن أبي وقاص كان يسبح بالحصى. وأخرج ابن أبي شيبة في المصنف عن مولاة لسعد أن سعدا كان يسبح بالحصى أو النوى. وقال ابن سعد في الطبقات أنا عبيد الله بن موسى أنا إسرائيل عن جابر عن امرأة حدثته عن فاطمة بنت الحسين بن علي بن أبي طالب أنها كانت تسبح بخيط معقود فيها. وأخرج عبد الله بن الإمام أحمد في ؟ من طريق نعيم بن محرر ابن أبي هريرة عن جده أبي هريرة أنه كان له خيط فيه ألفا عقدة فلا ينام حتى يسبح به. وأخرج أحمد في الزهد ثنا مسكين بن نكير أنا ثابت بن عجلان عن القاسم بن عبد الرحمن قال كان لأبي الدرداء نوى من نوى العجوة في كيس فكان إذا صلى الغداة أخرجهن واحدة واحدة يسبح بهن حتى ينفدن. وأخرج ابن سعد عن أبي هريرة أنه كان يسبح بالنوى المجزع. وقال الديلمي في مسند الفردوس أنا عبدوس ابن عبد الله أنا أبو عبد الله الحسين بن فتحويه الثقفي ثنا علي بن محمد بن نصرويه ثنا محمد بن هرون بن عيسى بن المنصور الهاشمي حدثني محمد بن علي بن حمزة العلوي حدثني عبد الصمد بن موسى حدثتني زينب بنت سليمان بن علي حدثتني أم الحسن بنت جعفر بن الحسين عن أبيها عن جدها عن علي مرفوعا نعم المذكر السبحة. وأخرج ابن أبي شيبة عن أبي سعيد الخدري أنه كان يسبح بالحصى. وأخرج من طريق ابي نضرة عن رجل من الطفاوة قال نزلت على أبي هريرة ومعه كيس فيه حصى أو نوى فيسبح به حتى ينفد. وأخرج عن زادان قال أخذت من أم يعفور تسابيح لها فلما أتيت عليا قال أردد على أم يعفور تسابيحها. ثم رأيت في كتاب تحفة العباد ومصنفه متأخر عاصر الجلال البلقيني فصلا حسنا في السبحة قال فيه ما نصه: قال بعض العلماء عقد التسبيح بالأنامل افضل من السبحة لحديث ابن عمرو لكن يقال إن المسبح إن آمن من الغلط كان عقده بالأنامل افضل وإلا فالسبحة أولى وقد اتخذ السبحة سادات يشار إليهم ويؤخذ عنهم ويعتمد عليهم كأبي هريرة رضي الله كان له خيط فيه ألفا عقدة فكان لا ينام حتى يسبح به ثنتي عشر ألف تسبيحة قال عكرمة، وفي سنن أبي داود من حديث أبي بصرة الغفاري قال حدثني شيخ من طفاوة قال تثويت أبا هريرة بالمدينة فلم أر رجلا أشد تشميرا ولا أقوم على ضيف منه قال فبينما أنا عنده يوما وهو على سرير له ومعه كيس فيه حصى أو نوى وأسفل منه جارية سوداء وهو يسبح بها حتى إذا أنفد ما في الكيس ألقاه إليها فأعادته في الكيس فدفعته إليه يسبح قوله تثويت أي تضيفته ونزلت في منزله والمثوى المنزل وقيل كان أبو هريرة رضي الله عنه يسبح بالنوى المجزع يعني الذي حك بعضه حتى أبيض شيء منه وترك الباقي على لونه وكل ما فيه سواد وبياض فهو مجزع قاله أهل اللغة وذكر الحافظ عبد الغني في الكمال في ترجمة أبي الدرداء عويمر رضي الله عنه أنه كان يسبح في اليوم مائة ألف تسبيحة وذكر أيضا عن سلمة بن سبيب قال كان خالد بن معدان يسبح في اليوم أربعين ألف تسبيحة سوى ما يقرأ فلما وضع ليغسل جعل بأصبعه كذا يحركها يعني بالتسبيح. ومن المعلوم المحقق أن المائة ألف بل والأربعين ألفا وأقل من ذلك لا يحصر بالأنامل فقد صح بذلك وثبت أنهما كانا يعدان بآلة والله أعلم وكان لأبي مسلم الخولاني رحمه الله سبحة فقام ليلة والسبحة في يده قال فاستدارت السبحة فالتفت على ذراعه وجعلت تسبح فالتفت أبو مسلم والسبحة تدور في ذراعه وهي تقول سبحانك يا منبت النبات ويا دائم الثبات قال هلمي يا أم مسلم فانظري إلى أعجب الأعاجيب قال فجاءت أم مسلم والسبحة تدور وتسبح فلما جلست سكتت ذكره أبو القاسم هبة الله بن الحسن الطبري في كتاب كرامات الأولياء وقال الشيخ الإمام العارف عمر البزار كانت سبحة الشيخ أبي الوفا كاكيش وبالعربي عبد الرحمن التي أعطاها لسيدي الشيخ محي الدين عبد القادر الكيلاني قدس الله أرواحهم إذا وضعها على الأرض تدور وحدها حبة حبة. وذكر القاضي أبو العباس أحمد بن خلكان في وفيات الأعيان أنه رؤى في يد أبي القاسم الجنيد بن محمد رحمه الله يوما سبحة فقيل له أنت مع شرفك تأخذ بيدك سبحة قال طريق وصلت به إلى ربي لا أفارقه قال وقد رويت في ذلك حديثا مسلسلا وهو ما أخبرني به شيخنا الإمام أبو عبد الله محمد بن أبي بكر بن عبد الله من لفظه ورأيت في يده سبحة قال أنا الإمام أبو العباس أحمد بن أبي المحاسن يوسف بن البانياسي بقراءتي عليه ؟ في يده سبحة قال أنا أبو المظفر يوسف بن محمد بن مسعود الترمذي ورأيت في يده سبحة قال قرأت على شيخنا أبي الثناء ورأيت في يده سبحة قال أنا أبو محمد يوسف بن أبي الفرح عبد الرحمن ابن علي ورأيت في يده سبحة قال أنا أبي ورأيت في يده سبحة قال قرأت على أبي الفضل بن ناصر ورأيت في يده سبحة قال قرأت على أبي محمد عبد الله بن أحمد السمرقندي ورأيت في يده سبحة قلت له سمعت أبا بكر محمد بن علي السلمي الحداد ورأيت في يده سبحة فقال نعم قال رأيت أبا نصر عبد الوهاب بن عبد الله بن عمر للقرى ورأيت في يده سبحة قال رأيت أبا الحسن علي بن الحسن بن أبي القاسم المترفق الصوفي وفي يده سبحة قال سمعت أبا الحسن المالكي يقول وقد رأيت في يده سبحة فقلت له يا أستاذ وأنت إلى الآن مع السبحة فقال كذلك رأيت أستاذي الجنيد وفي يده سبحة فقلت يا أستاذ وأنت إلى الآن مع السبحة قال كذلك رأيت أستاذي سرى بن مغلس السقطي وفي يده سبحة فقلت يا أستاذ أنت مع السبحة فقال كذلك رأيت أستاذي معروف الكرخي وفي يده سبحة فسألته عما سألتني عنه فقال كذلك رأيت أستاذي عمر المكي وفي يده سبحة فسألته عما سألتني عنه فقال كذلك رأيت أستاذي الحسن البصري وفي يده سبحة فقلت يا أستاذ مع عظم شأنك وحسن عبادتك وأنت إلى الآن مع السبحة فقال لي شيء كنا استعملناه في البدايات ما كنا نتركه في النهايات أحب أن أذكر الله بقلبي وفي يدي ولساني فلو لم يكن في اتخاذ السبحة غير موافقة هؤلاء السادة والدخول في سلكهم والتماس بركتهم لصارت بهذا الاعتبار وأكدها فكيف بها وهي مذكرة بالله تعالى لأن الإنسان قل أن يراها إلا ويذكر الله وهذا من أعظم فوائدها وبذلك كان يسميها بعض السلف رحمه الله تعالى. ومن فوائدها أيضا الاستعانة على دوام الذكر كلما رآها ذكر أنها آلة للذكر فقاده ذلك إلى الذكر فيا حبذا سبب موصل إلى دوام ذكر الله عز وجل وكان بعضهم يسميها حبل الموصل وبعضهم رابطة القلوب. وقد أخبرني من أثق بقوله أنه كان مع قافلة في درب بيت المقدس فقام عليهم سرية عرب وجردوا القافلة جميعهم وجردوني معهم فلما أخذوا عمامتي سقطت مسبحة من رأسي فلما رأوها قالوا هذا صاحب سبحة فردوا على ما كان أخذ لي وانصرفت سالما منهم فانظر يا أخي إلى هذه الآلة المباركة الزاهرة وما جمع فيها من خير الدنيا والآخرة ولم ينقل عن أحد من السلف ولا من الخلف المنع من جواز عد الذكر بالسبحة بل كان أكثرهم يعدونه بها ولا يرون ذلك مكروها وقد رؤي بعضهم يعد تسبيحا فقيل له أتعد على الله فقال لا ولكن أعد له والمقصود أن أكثر الذكر المعدود الذي جاءت به السنة الشريفة لا ينحصر بالأنامل غالبا ولو أمكن حصره لكان الاشتغال بذلك يذهب الخشوع وهو المراد والله أعلم. وأخرج ابن عساكر في تاريخه عن بكر بن خنيس عن رجل سماه قال كان في يد أبي مسلم الخولاني سبحة يسبح بها قال فنام والسبحة في يده فاستدارت السبحة فالتفت على ذراعه وجعلت تسبح فالتفت أبو مسلم والسبحة تدور في ذراعه وهي تقول سبحانك يا منبت النبات ويا دائم الثبات فقال هلم يا أم مسلم وانظري إلى أعجب الأعاجيب فجاءت ام سلمة والسبحة تدور تسبح فلما جلست سكنت. وقال عماد الدين المناوي في سبحة:
ومنظومة الشمل يخلو بها * اللبيب فتجمع من همته
إذا ذكر الله جل اسمه * عليها تفرق من هيبته

Hadarah by Sheikh Nuh Ha Mim Keller

June 15, 2007

The Public Dhikr (Hadra)

© Nuh Ha Mim Keller 1996.

A person coming to the Middle East to learn something about the tariqa is likely, at some point in his visit, to see the brethren in the hadra or “public dhikr” as it has been traditionally practiced by generations of Shadhilis in North Africa under such sheikhs as al-‘Arabi al-Darqawi, Muhammad al-Buzidi, and Ahmad al-‘Alawi before being brought to Damascus from Algeria by Muhammad ibn Yallis and Muhammad al-Hashimi at the beginning of this century.

Upon entering the mosque, one will see circles of men making dhikr (women participants are screened from view upstairs) standing and holding hands, now slightly bowing in unison, now moving up and down with their knees in unison, the rows rising and falling, breathing in unison, while certain of them alternate at pacing around their midst, conducting the tempo of the group’s motion and breathing with their arms and step. Singers near the sheikh, in solo or chorus, deliver mystical odes to the rhythm of the group; high, spiritual poetry from masters like Ibn al-Farid, Sheikh Ahmad al-‘Alawi, ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Himsi, and our own sheikh.

Though a very stirring experience, it is meticulously timed and controlled, and as with all group dhikrs, the main adab or “proper behaviour” is harmony. No one should stand out in any way, but rather all subordinate their movement, breathing, and dhikr to that of the group. The purpose is to forget one’s individuality in the collective sea of spirits making dhikr in unison. Individual motives, thoughts, and preoccupations are momentarily put aside by means of the Sacred Dance, of moving together as one, sublimating and transcending the limitary and personal through the timelessness of rhythm, conjoined with the melody of voices singing spiritual meanings.

It is an experience that joins those travelling towards Allah spiritually, socially, and emotionally. Few forget it, and visitors from the West to whom it is unfamiliar sometimes wonder if it is a bid‘a or “reprehensible innovation,” as it was not done in the time of the earliest Muslims, or whether it is unlawful (haram) or offensive (makruh); and why they see the ulama and righteous attending it in Damascus, Jerusalem, Aden, Cairo, Tripoli, Tunis, Fez, and wherever there are people of the path.

I was one of those who asked our sheikh about the relation of the hadra to the shari‘a or “Sacred Law” which is the guiding light of our tariqa. As Muslims, our submission to the law is total, and there are no thoughts or opinions after legally answering the question “Does the hadra agree with orthodox Islam?”

Because it comprises a number of various elements, such as gathering together for the remembrance of Allah (dhikr), singing, and dancing, we should reflect for a moment on some general considerations about the Islamic shari‘a before discussing each of these separately.

First, the Islamic shari‘a furnishes a comprehensive criterion for all possible human actions, whether done before or never done before. It classifies actions into five categories, the obligatory (wajib), whose performance is rewarded by Allah in the next life and whose nonperformance is punished; the recommended (mandub), whose performance is rewarded but whose nonperformance is not punished; the permissible (mubah), whose performance is not rewarded and whose nonperformance is not punished; the offensive (makruh), whose nonperformance is rewarded but whose performance is not punished; and the unlawful (haram), whose nonperformance is rewarded and whose performance is punished.

Now, Allah in His wisdom has made the vast majority of human actions permissible. He says in surat al-Baqara, “It is He who has created everything on earth for you” (Koran 2:29), which establishes the shari‘a principle that all things are mubah or permissible for us until Allah indicates to us that they are otherwise. Because of this, the fact that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) did not do this or that particular practice does not prove that it is offensive or unlawful, but only that it is not obligatory.

This is the reason that when shari‘a scholars speak of bid‘a, they do not merely mean an “innovation” or something that was never done before, which is the lexical sense of the word, but rather a “blameworthy innovation” or something new that no legal evidence in Sacred Law attests to the validity of, which is the shari‘a sense of the word. The latter is the bid‘a of misguidance mentioned in the hadith “The worst of matters are those that are new, and every innovation (bid‘a) is misguidance” (Sahih Muslim. 5 vols. Cairo 1376/1956. Reprint. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1403/1983, 2.592: 867), which, although general in wording, scholars say refers specifically to new matters that entail something offensive or unlawful.

Imam Shafi‘i explains:

New matters are of two kinds: something newly begun that contravenes the Koran, sunna, the position of early Muslims, or consensus of scholars (ijma‘): this innovation is misguidance. And something newly inaugurated of the good in which there is no contravention of any of these, and is therefore something which although new (muhdatha), is not blameworthy. For when ‘Umar (Allah be well pleased with him) saw the [tarawih] prayer being performed [in a group by Muslims at the mosque] in Ramadan, he said, “What a good innovation (bid‘a) this is,” meaning something newly begun that had not been done before. And although in fact it had, this does not negate the legal considerations just advanced [n: i.e. that it furnishes an example of something that ‘Umar, who was a scholar of the Sahaba, praised as a “good innovation” despite his belief that it had not been done before, because it did not contravene the broad principles of the Koran or sunna]

(Dhahabi: Siyar a‘lam al-nubala’. 23 vols. Beirut: Mu’assassa al-Risala, 1401/1981, 10.70).

As for the practice of Muslims gathering together for group dhikr or the “invocation of Allah,” there is much evidence of its praiseworthiness in the sunna—aside from the many Koranic verses and the hadiths establishing the general merit of dhikr in every state—such as the hadith related by Bukhari:

Truly, Allah has angels going about the ways, looking for people of dhikr, and when they find a group of men invoking Allah, they call to one another, “Come to what you have been looking for!” and they circle around them with their wings up to the sky of this world.

Then their Lord asks them, though He knows better than they, “What do My servants say?” And they reply, “They say, Subhan Allah (“I glorify Allah’s absolute perfection”), Allahu Akbar (“Allah is ever greatest”), and al-Hamdu li Llah (“All praise be to Allah”), and they extoll Your glory.”

He says, “Have they seen Me?” And they answer, “No, by Allah, they have not seen You.” And He says, “How would it be, had they seen Me?” And they say, “If they had seen You, they would have worshipped You even more, glorified You more, and said Subhan Allah the more.”

He asks them, “What do they ask of Me?” And one answers, “They ask You
paradise.” He says, “Have they seen it?” And they say, “No, by Allah, My Lord, they have not seen it.” And He says, “How would it be, had they seen it?” And they say, “If they had seen it, they would have been more avid for it, sought it more, and been more desirous of it.”

Then He asks them, “From what do they seek refuge?” And they answer, “From hell.” He says, “Have they seen it?” And they say, “No, by Allah, they have not seen it.” And He says, “How would it be, had they seen it?” And they say, “If they had seen it, they would have fled from it even more, and been more fearful of it.”

He says, “I charge all of you to bear witness that I have forgiven them.” Then one of the angels says, “So-and-so is among them, though he is not one of them but only came for something he needed.” And Allah says, “They are companions through whom no one who keeps their company shall meet perdition”

(Sahih al-Bukhari. 9 vols. Cairo 1313/1895. Reprint (9 vols. in 3). Beirut: Dar al-Jil, n.d., 8.107–8: 6408).

The last line of the hadith shows the highest approval for gatherings of dhikr in the religion of Allah. Some other accounts transmit the condemnation of Ibn Mas‘ud (Allah be well please with him) for gathering together to say Subhan Allah (perhaps out of fear of ostentation), but even if we were to grant their authenticity, the above hadith of Bukhari, containing the explicit approval of such gatherings by Allah and His messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) suffices us from needing the permission of Ibn Mas‘ud or any other human being.

Further, the explicit mention of the various forms of dhikr in the hadith suffice in reply to certain contemporary “re-formers” of Islam, who attempt to reduce “sessions of dhikr” to educational gatherings alone by quoting the words of ‘Ata’ (ibn Abi Rabah, Mufti of Mecca, d. 114/732), who reportedly said,

Sessions of dhikr are the sessions of [teaching people] the lawful and unlawful, how you buy, sell, pray, fast, wed, divorce, make the pilgrimage, and the like. (Nawawi: al-Majmu‘: Sharh al-Muhadhdhab. 20 vols. Cairo n.d. Reprint. Medina: al-Maktaba al-Salafiyya, n.d., 1.21).

Perhaps ‘Ata’ intended to inform people that teaching and learning shari‘a are also a form of dhikr, but in any case it is clear from the Prophet’s explicit words (Allah bless him and give him peace) in the above hadith that “sessions of dhikr” cannot be limited to teaching and learning Sacred Law alone, but primarily mean gatherings of Muslims to invoke Allah in dhikr.

As for dancing, Imam Ahmad relates from Anas (Allah be well pleased with him), with a chain of transmission all of whose narrators are those of Bukhari except Hammad ibn Salama, who is one of the narrators of Muslim, that the Ethiopians danced in front of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace); dancing and saying [in their language], “Muhammad is a righteous servant.” The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “What are they saying?” And they said, “‘Muhammad is a righteous servant’”

(Musnad al-Imam Ahmad. 6 vols. Cairo 1313/1895. Reprint. Beirut: Dar Sadir, n.d., 3.152).

Other versions of the hadith clarify that this took place in the mosque in Medina, though in any case, the fact that dancing was done before the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) establishes that it is mubah or “permissible” in the shari‘a, for if it had been otherwise, he would have been obliged to condemn it.

For this reason, Imam Nawawi says:

Dancing is not unlawful, unless it is languid, like the movements of the effeminate. And it is permissible to speak and to sing poetry, unless it satirizes someone, is obscene, or alludes to a particular woman”

(Minhaj al-talibin wa ‘umdat al-muttaqin. Cairo 1338/1920. Reprint. Cairo: Mustafa al-Babi al-Halabi, n.d., 152).

This is a legal text for the permissibility of both dancing and singing poetry from the Minhaj al-talibin, the central legal work of the entire late Shafi‘i school. Islamic scholars point out that if something which is permissible, such as singing poetry or dancing, is conjoined with something that is recommended, such as dhikr or gatherings to make dhikr, the result of this conjoining will not be offensive (makruh) or unlawful (haram).

Imam Jalal al-Din Suyuti was asked for a fatwa or formal legal opinion concerning “a group of Sufis who had gathered for a session of dhikr,” and he replied:

How can one condemn making dhikr while standing, or standing while making dhikr, when Allah Most High says, “. . . those who invoke Allah standing, sitting, and upon their sides” (Koran 3:191). And ‘A’isha (Allah be well pleased with her) said, “The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to invoke Allah at all of his times” [Sahih Muslim, 1.282: 373]. And if dancing is added to this standing, it may not be condemned, as it is of the joy of spiritual vision and ecstasy, and the hadith exists [in many sources, such as Musnad al-Imam Ahmad, 1.108, with a sound (hasan) chain of transmission] that Ja‘far ibn Abi Talib danced in front of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) when the Prophet told him, “You resemble me in looks and in character,” dancing from the happiness he felt from being thus addressed, and the Prophet did not condemn him for doing so, this being a basis for the legal acceptability of the Sufis dancing from the joys of the ecstasies they experience

(al-Hawi li al-fatawi. 2 vols. Cairo 1352/1933–34. Reprint. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, 1403/1983, 2.234).

Now, Suyuti was a hadith master (hafiz, someone with over 100,000 hadiths by memory) and a recognized mujtahid Imam who authored hundreds of works in the shari‘a sciences, and his formal opinion, together with the previously cited ruling of Imam Nawawi in the Minhaj al-talibin, constitutes an authoritative legal text (nass) in the Shafi‘i school establishing that circles of dhikr which comprise the singing of spiritual poetry and dancing are neither offensive (makruh) nor unlawful (haram)—unless associated with other unlawful factors such as listening to musical instruments or the mixing of men and women—but rather are permissible.

To summarize, the hadra of our tariqa, consisting of circles of invocation of Allah (dhikr) conjoined with the singing of permissible poetry and dancing, is compatible with the Sacred Law of orthodox Islam; and when the latter elements facilitate presence of heart with Allah (as they do with most people who possess hearts), they deserve a reward from Allah by those who intend them as such. And this is the aim and importance of the hadra in the tariqa.

Loud Dhikr by Sheikh GF Haddad

June 15, 2007

Sidi Gibril on: The Permissibility of Loud Dhikr

Answered by Shaykh Gibril F Haddad

The Permissibility of Loud Group Dhikr

Salam `alaykum:

Sunan Abu Dawud: Book 25, Number 3659:
Narrated Anas ibn Malik:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: That I sit in the company of the people who remember Allah the Exalted from morning prayer till the sun rises is clearer to me than that I emancipate four slaves from the children of Isra’il, and that I sit with the people who remember Allah from afternoon prayer till the sun sets is dearer to me than that I emancipate four slaves.

I have not rechecked Imam al-Lacknawi’s actual words but I am sure he knew that the hadith of Ibn Mas`ud’s supposed blame of loud group dhikr is actually in al-Darimi’s Sunan. However, he did indicate that it is weak and this is what I mentioned in a previous reply on the same hadith appended below. Was-Salam

Hajj Gibril

— Appended reply —

Recently I was shown by somebody a response by some Sheikh Saleem Al-Hilali regarding the Athaar of Ibn Masood. I have read in Sheikh Hishaam Kabaani’s (damatay barka tahoum) book that the athaar from Darimi’s book is WEAK because of Amr Ibn Yahaya al hamdaani. Saleem Al-Hilali says that this ATHAAR IS Saheeh. Because it has come from two chains. And Imaam Bukhari (rahmatullahi alayhi)has confirmed and Ibn Katheer has taken from that narrator and that here is no opposition (JARH). Could you please give details on this athaar.

The report of Ibn Mas`ud comes only through `Amr ibn Yahya al-Hamadani who is da`if.

Al-Darimi in the Muqaddima of his Sunan, narrated from al-Hakam ibn al-Mubarak who narrates from `Amr ibn Salama al-Hamadani. This `Amr ibn
Yahya ibn `Amr ibn Salima al-Hamadani is da`if. Ibn Ma`in saw him and said: “his narrations are worth nothing”; Ibn Kharrash: “he is not accepted”; al-Dhahabi listed him among those who are weak and whose hadith is not retained in al-Du`afa’ wa al-Matrukin (p. 212 #3229), Mizan al-i`tidal (3:293), and al-Mughni fi al-Du`afa’ (2:491); and al-Haythami declared him weak (da`if) in Majma` al-Zawa’id, chapter entitled Bab al-`Ummal `ala al-Sadaqa.

As for the claim that Imam al-Bukhari said anything to authentify this report or to declare `Amr reliable, then where did they make such a claim? All Bukhari said in al-Tarikh al-Kabir (6:382 #2708) is: “`Amr ibn Yahya ibn `Amr ibn Salama ibn al-Harith al-Hamadani al-Kufi, he heard hadith from his father, and Sa`id ibn Sulayman heard from him, and he is nicknamed Sinan.” This does not constitute a commendation nor a discreditation. In fact, al-Bukhari was not even clear who this narrator was since he apparently confused him with the trustworthy narrator `Amr ibn Salama ibn al-Kharib al-Hamdani al-Jarmi as shown by the words of Ibn Abi Hatim in al-Jarh wa al-Ta`dil (6:235 #1302): “My father [Abu Hatim] said that al-Bukhari made a mistake over `Amr ibn Salama by confusing him with someone else called by that name whereas the latter is al-Jarmi while this one is al-Hamdani.” This was confirmed by al-Khatib in Mawdi` Awham al-Jam` wa al-Tafriq (1:333), a book on the errors of the hadith masters caused by resemblance in names. Elsewhere (6:169 #1487) Ibn Abi Hatim narrates from his father, from Yahya ibn Ma`in, the grading of thiqa (trustworthy) for him. However, both Ibn al-Jawzi in al-Du`afa’ wa al-Matrukin (2:233 #2601) and Ibn `Adi in al-Kamil fi al-Du`afa’ (5:122 #1287) narrate two opposite verdicts from Yahya ibn Ma`in concerning him, and this is what al-Dhahabi retains in Mizan al-I`tidal (5:352 #6480) and al-Mughni fi al-Du`afa’ (2:491 #4729) as well as Ibn Hajar in Lisan al-Mizan (4:378 #1128). Both ignore Ibn Hibban’s inclusion of `Amr among the trustworthy narrators in al-Thiqat (4:480 #14547).

Further, its authenticity was questioned by al-Suyuti in al-Hawi (2:31); al-Hifni in Fadl al-Tasbih wa al-Tahlil as cited by al-Lacknawi, Sibahat al-Fikr (p. 25 and 42-43);

Further, it is belied by Imam Ahmad’s narration in al-Zuhd from Abu Wa’il who said: “Those who claim that `Abd Allah [= Ibn Mas`ud] forbade dhikr [are lying]: I never sat with him in any gathering except he made dhikr of Allah in it.” Cited by al-Munawi in Fayd al-Qadir (1:457), al-Suyuti in Natijat al-Fikr fi al-Jahr bil-Dhikr in al-Hawi, al-Nabulusi in Jam` al-Asrar (p. 66), al-Hifni in Fadl al-Tasbih wa al-Tahlil as cited in al-Lacknawi, Sibahat al-Fikr (p. 25).

In addition, the narrations affirming loud dhikr are sahih and innumerable, and definitely take precedence over this mawquf report even if we should consider it authentic.

And Allah knows best.
Hajj Gibril

Prayer Beads(Masbahah) are bid’ah??

June 15, 2007

Salafis LOVE saying that using the prayer beads is BID’AH ! This is in accordance with the fatwa made by the notorious “Sheikhul Hadith” Nasiruddeen Albani. But, interestingly enough, another big wahabi figure said that it isn’t bid’ah and 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( ), a popular scholar among wahabis :

“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.”

Contrary to this 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 s.a.w. did indeed Taqrir or approved the action of doing tasbih with Masbahah of pebbles which will be elucidated 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” ?

Albani went as far as to even declare it to be 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 ???
Well…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(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.

To prove his point that Masbahah is bid’ah he offered this weak 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.”


The following is a response to the confusion of the pseudo-salafis :

Using the Masbahah is Sunnah

The following narrations are proofs for the permissibility of using the Masbahah:

First Proof:
“From Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqaas that he entered with the Messenger of Allah (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.

Second Proof:
From Safiyyah who said, ” The Messenger of Allah (saaws) entered upon me and between my hands were four thousand Nawaah (stones or seeds) [that I was making] tasbeeh with. The Nabi 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 ‘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…”

It was also reported by Imaam Al Haakim in his Mustadarak who said, “[This] Hadeeth is Saheeh and they did not report it.” And Imaam Adh-Dhahabi agreed with him. It was also authenticated by Imaam As-Suyooti.

Imaam Ash-Shawkaani states in his Nayl Al Awtaar that these two ahadeeth are proof of the permissibility of counting the Tasbeeh with seeds, stones, or the likes and that is because of the approval of the Nabi (sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) of these two women using them.

Other proofs from the Sahaba are as follows,

Third Proof:
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 (saaws) and he was a treasurer – She said he would make Tasbeeh with stones.”

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

Fifth Proof:
Ibn Sa’ad said in At-Tabaqaat, Abdillah ibn Musaa informed us, Israa’eel informed us, from Jaabir from his female servant from Faatimah bint Al Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Taalib that she would make Tasbeeh with a string with knots in it. [Tabaqaat Al Kubraa]

Sixth proof:
Imaam Abdillah ibn Imaam Ahmad reports through Abu Hurayrah in Zawaa’id Az Zuhd from Abu Hurayrah that he had a rope with a hundred knots in it, and he would not sleep until he had made Tasbeeh with it.

Seventh Proof:
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]

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

Ninth Proof
Imaam Ad-Daylami reports in his Musnad Al Firdaws from the way of Zaynab bint Sulaymaan ibn ‘Ali, from Umm Al Hasan bint Ja’far, from her father, from her grandfather, from Ali ibn Abi Taalib marfoo’an: “Yes! Al Muththakir [I reminder you to use] the Subhah!” [Musnad Al Firdaws bi Ma’thoor Al Khitaab]

Lastly, Imaam As Suyootee said in his section called “Al Manhah fis Subhah”, “And there is nothing transmitted from anyone from the salaf or the khalaf, the forbiddance of the permissibility of counting the Tasbeeh with the Subhah. Rather, many of them turned away from it, but they didn’t see that (using it) as Makrooh.”

Brief response:

Those who state that the Masbahah is bida’ah use the following narration:

قال ابن وضاح القرطبي في البدعوالنهي عنها (ص12) : أنا أسد عن جرير بن حازم عن الصلت بن بهرام قال : مر ابن مسعودبامرأة معها تسبيح تسبح به فقطعه وألقاه ، ثم مر برجل يسبح بحصى فضربه برجله ، ثمقال : لقد سبقتم ، ركبتم بدعة ظلماً ، أو لقد غلبتم أصحاب محمد (ص) علماً.
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)!”‘

This hadeeth is weak due to Inqitaa’ (disconnection) between As-Salt ibn Bahraam and Ibn Mas’ood. As-Salt is from the taabi’t taabi’oon (second generation after the sahabah) and not from the taabi’oon, and this is mentioned in At-Tahtheeb At-Tahtheeb of Ibn Hajr.

Even if this hadeeth were Saheeh, then there is no proof in the action of a Sahabi if it contradicts the Sunnah of Rasoolullah (sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam).

Lastly we recommend the book by Sheikh Mahmood Sa’eed Mamdooh titled, Wusooll at-Tahaani bi Ithbaat Sunniyyat al-Subhah wa ar-Radd `alaa al-Albaani : “The Alighting of Mutual Benefit and Confirmation that the Subhah-Beads are a Sunnah in Refutation of al-Albaani”.

Written by The Research Team and Allahu ‘Alim.