The Islamic gemstone prayer beads are exercised for prayer, chants and meditation purposes, and to relieve the person from stress by keeping the fingers occupied. Tasbeehs are prominent among various religions and cultures across the continents.
Tasbihs are usually stunningly attractive because of their bright colors that are catchy to people, and are mostly made of gemstones, plastic, round glass, silver, wooden or bone. There are numerous, assorted colors and style that are introduced in the market, ranging from affordable, mass-produced tasbeeh to highly expensive, well-crafted tasbeeh. The design qualities are shared among these tasbeehs while others are fashioned with sophisticated decorations.
Muslims often buy Islamic tasbeehs as gifts, most especially for those who have returned from pilgrimage, and they carry the tasbeeh as a source of solace and a stress reliever. Some Muslims let the tasbeeh hanging in their homes and near their children for the belief of having protection against harm.
Almost two-thirds of the world’s population makes use of the tasbeeh as part of their religious rituals and traditional liturgy. Tasbeehs come in various structures and meaning to different people from across the continental ranges, but the straightforward and simplest purposes of those tasbeehs are to stimulate faith and praying procedures among people, and to help the preacher or worshipper in the recital of chants and religious songs.
Origin and Etymology
Originally, beads have become one of the earliest human accessories dated in Africa around 10,000 B.C. Over time, beads are formed from clays to stones, shells to wood, and the most expensive of all is formed from using gemstones. The English word, bead, comes from the Anglo-Saxon words bidden, which means to pray, and bede for prayer.
Major religions such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity often utilize prayer beads in most of its religious customs, and each religion has its own version of prayer beads. The beads have been associated with the act of praying since the very beginning. The practice of prayer beads has been pioneered by the Hindu ecclesiastical practices in India around eighth century B.C. When Buddhism has emerged from a sect of Hinduism, the usage of prayer beads has been established in Japan, Korea, China and other Asian countries. With Catholicism, the prayer beads are also widely manifested as the rosary all throughout Europe in the late Middle Age.
This showcases the prominence of prayer beads in the world in terms of culture and religion. No matter the religion and its name, the prayer beads have the most basic function, which is to assist the people in praying and in chanting songs.
Difference between Islamic Tasbeeh and Rosary
Islam and Catholicism are among the faiths that mostly use prayer beads in prayer recitals and religious ceremonies. Prayer rosaries or simply rosaries are called in Catholicism, while in Islam, it is the Islamic tasbeeh, Muslim tasbeeh, or simply tasbeeh.
The word “rosary” originates from two Latin words, rosa and rosarium that means “rose” and “rose garden”, respectively. The rose is a symbol of perfection as associated with the Virgin Mary, who is born without weighing the first sin of man. The rosary beads signify the set of prayers in her honor. The rosary has 59 beads and six of them are evidently larger than the others, which indicate the start of another set of prayers. The beads are divided into five sections with ten small beads and one large bead for the division. The remaining three beads, two small and one big bead, are arranged to form a pendant for the cross to hang on.
Tasbeeh are called “subha” by Muslims in India, which denotes “to exalt”, while the Arabic term is “tasbih” or “tesbih”, which indicates to sing praises for the glories of God (Allah). The earliest form of tasbeeh is made of snake vertebrae with added bone for charms. It is said that the latter form has healing properties.
Generally, an Islamic prayer beaded necklace or bracelet has a total of 99 beads that symbolizes the 99 names of God in the Islamic faith. Some tasbeeh are totaled to the usage of 33 beads, but usually some beads reach up to 99 for the three cycles. The essence of the repetition of the first 33 beads is the “Süphanallah” that stands for “Praise be to God”, the next 33 beads represent “Elhümdülillah”, which means “Glory be to God”, and the last 33 beads implies “Allahuekber” that stands for “God is most great”. Once the repetitions of cycle are finished, a final prayer is chanted, making the total number of prayers counted to one hundred.
Aside from having 99 beads, a prayer beaded accessory is also composed of a nisane or a disc that separates a set of 33 beads, a pul or a distinguishing small bead for the seventh position, an imame or an elongated piece that marks the start of the string, and a tepelik located on top of the imame. In a 33-bead accessory, the nisane separates the 11 beads, and there is no pul present.
Most Muslim tasbeehs are composed of wood, olive seeds, amber, ivory, pearls, stone and plastic. Sometimes, tasbeeh come from animal remnants such as the tortoiseshell and rhino horns. Stoned tasbeehs are mostly incorporated with minerals, cornelian, corals and pebbles. Some are made from glass and coconut shells.
During the period of the prophet Mohammad, the tasbeehs are unsophisticated and simple by using pebbles, rock crystal with silver tassels and mineralized stones. In the modern times, numerous artisans invest their time in crafting handmade, antique tasbeeh. This is their passion to convey their creativity with the formation of prayer beaded necklaces and bracelets. Most high-end tasbeehs are crafted with the most avant-garde design, utilizing precious metals like silver and gold. Others that are made from fragrant woods are enclosed tightly in a box to maintain the fragrance. Materials are often imported from Africa, India, Egypt and South America to provide top-quality products. A number of the original craftsmen are foremost found in Istanbul, and they sell multitude amount of tasbeehs throughout the Islamic countries.
Most Muslims are using the tasbeeh in their daily praying routine, and these are already part of their religious lives. One bead is usually stroked and grazed while reciting the words of dhikr or the renaissance of Allah. As mentioned earlier, the repetitive rendition of the prayer associated in the tasbeeh is often to glorify and to praise Allah with the Süphanallah or Glory to Allah, the Elhümdülillah or Praise be to Allah, and the Allahuekber or Allah is great. Each prayer is recited 33 times — a very remarkable gesture to show love and respect for Allah.
Muslims are encouraged to recite the following phrase after every personal prayer, We have all sins pardoned, even if they may be as large as the foam on the surface of the sea, while stroking the tasbeeh. Every prayer stands for one’s intent and wish, and reciting the mentioned religious phrase indicates the sincerity of a sin pardoned no matter its extremity.
The tasbeehs are also served as means of solace and relaxation among Muslims who are feeling bothered and stressed. Since tasbeehs are often utilized as stress relievers, some stones are claimed to have metaphysical and psychological effects to people. The Amethyst stone has the state to absorb excessive amount of stress and electrical burden in one’s body, since this kind of stone shuns away negative electrical charges in the body. It also has a sedative effect that can be used for people with sleeping problems.
Moreover, tasbeehs with agate stones are worn by most men to augment sexual power and desire. It soothes the man’s tensioning feeling by giving him the warmth he needs in sexual activities. Not only does the agate stones are for increase pleasure, but also for more happiness and optimism in life.
tasbeehs with the amber stones are commonly carried by travelers for good luck charm, and they radiate solar energy to keep them going. Amber stones transform negativity into positive energy because these stones promote enthusiasm and pleasing attitude. Amber stones are fossil tree resins that are appreciated for their beauty and color.
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Misconception of Use
There are beliefs that hanging prayer bead accessories offer protection in the house and to the people. The blue beads that have the evil eye symbol are usually used to keep them from bad spirits, but this belief has no supportive evidence in the Islamic tradition. Hanging the tasbeeh alone is insufficient to provide instant shield against bad vibes and bad spirits. Praying is still the most powerful weapon to shun away evil away from homes and people. Clinging strongly to faith with Allah defines how much the person trusts and believes in Allah’s purposes.
Sometimes, tasbeehs are utilized as costume accessories for dancers or performers in cultural dances in which have no fundamental in the Islamic religion. They are used as lavish fashion to attract people with the tasbeeh’s bright colors and shiny properties. The main purpose of tasbeeh is to accommodate the person to pray and to offer dedication to Allah.
Choosing the color of the tasbeeh is an important factor due to another belief that colors emanate a metaphysical energy, which affects the mood. People are normally affected by colors, and that colors may define the mood felt by many. In other words, a color has an impact to a person based on the feelings, attraction or mood. Some colors signify relaxation and some peace of mind, while others impose dark and morbid senses, especially the dark colors. Tasbeeh emit these energies because of the embedded color.
The color pink depicts universal love and beauty. Pink tasbeehs are worn to stimulate love and beauty between couples, and to promote self-esteem and protection from aggression and violence among women. Most of the campaign advertisements from various non-profit organizations and pharmaceutical companies use the pink color to emphasize moral support for women and to gain awareness towards feministic-related issues such as rape, breast cancer, cervical cancer and domestic violence. It gives the women the sense of reassurance that there are still people concerned enough for their welfare.
Different shades of tasbeeh include Pink Opal, Pink Tourmaline, Rhodonite, Rose Quartz, Unakite, Rhodochrosite, Pink Sapphire, Danburite, Pink Mangano Calcite, Pink Halite, and Stilbite.
Orange is a healing color that indicates vitality, endurance and patience. Orange tasbeeh stimulate one’s creativity, mental alertness and enthusiasm, and promote sincerity and thoughtfulness. Wearing these orange tasbeeh can help alleviate stress and pressure, and can influence positive energy. Most people prefer to wear different shades of orange tasbeeh because they also promote personal effectiveness, boost self-esteem, and encourage accepting new ideas and change that occur in a daily basis.
A collection of orange tasbeeh with different shades are the following: Goldstone, Sunstone, Orange Calcite, Fire Opal, Orange Elestial, Tangerine Quartz, Fire Agate, Peach Moonstone, Amber, Orange Kyanite, and Carnelian.
Brown symbolizes stability, earth, order and tradition. Brown is the universal symbol for earth because it is the most common color found when in-line with Mother Earth, aside from green. Tasbeehs that are tailored with different shades of brown denote the feeling of warmth, wholesomeness and goodness within the person wearing them. Brown tasbeeh with red mixture mean practicality, while a mixture of blue and yellow denotes concentration and mental focus. There is a comfortable feeling of general goodness and clarity for the person wearing brown tasbeeh.
Tasbeeh with a variety of brown shades are encompassed of Petrified Wood, Mahogany Obsidian, Axinite, Tiger Eye, Aragonite, Tourmaline, Agate, Bronzite, Sunset Jasper, African Brown Rhyolite and Chiastolite.
The color red represents fervent desire, dauntlessness, and confidence. Since red is associated with blood, it also symbolizes life and vitality. Wearing red tasbeeh is a sign of survival and the desire to live. It also stands for body strengthening, promoting will power, and overcoming sexual disorientation. Red tasbeeh also signify passion, lust, intensified enthusiasm and interest. This is one of the reasons why most women wear bright red clothes to emphasize their fearlessness and their passion to go strong despite everyday trials. During birthdays, the celebrants also wear red because, as mentioned earlier that red is the symbol of survival, overcoming one year of living a full life characterizes another chance of being alive and well. Red tasbeeh give off power and confidence to pursue one’s goals and dreams
Different shades of red color in tasbeeh include Red Jasper, Garnet, Ruby, Red Coral, Mookaite, Bloodstone, and Red Calcite.
Blue conveys spirituality, youth and truth. It is the color of sincerity and inspiration. Blue tasbeeh also imply calmness and peace of mind. Various blue shades promote different energies, for instance, dark blue tasbeeh emits a stable, conservative energy that lead the people to a more calmed and serene mind. Most light blue shades stands for easy communication amongst people. Lapis Lazuli and Azurite tasbeehs are said to have psychic energies that augment the ability to meditate spiritually. That is why when people are in beaches, enjoying the view of the ocean, they feel tranquil and composed. Oceans radiate blue color that give off a restful ambiance to people.
The blue tasbeeh come in various forms: Larimar, Blue Lace Agate, Lapis Lazuli, Blue Tourmaline, Blue Fluorite, Blue Quartz, Blue Tiger Eye, Sodalite, Blue Apatite and Tanzanite.
As for the color yellow, it attracts intellectual energy, wisdom and happiness. Yellow tasbeeh promote joy, clarity and reason for the person wearing it. That is usually the reason why most people feel relieved and fine when seeing or wearing yellow. Bright yellow color also attracts positive and supportive energy. People with yellow accessories are often seen as approachable simply because yellow entices people to tag along.
Most common yellow tasbeehs are Honey Calcite, Yellow Jasper, Sulphur, Imperial Topaz, Citrine, Yellow Jade, Yellow Fluorite, Yellow Opal, Lemon Quartz and Yellow Agate.
The color green symbolizes nature, life and fertility. It indicates the power of wellness and the urge for self-growth. Green tasbeeh promote the sense of balance and order, and the willingness to change and to transform for self-development. The energy that green radiates is harmony towards oneself and others, and peaceful, healthy relationships. Green also stimulates the ability to cope up with the inevitable changes on a daily basis.
An assortment of green tasbeeh encompasses Emerald, African Green Jasper, Jade, African Jade, China Chrysoprase, Green Chlorite, Malachite, Petrified Green Opal, Dioptase, Canadian Jade, Green Sardonyx, Green Aventurine, Moss Agate and Apply Green Turquoise.
White is the universal symbol of purity and cleanliness. White is not just a color, but a combination of all colors present, which leads to the complete energy of light. It also denotes wholesomeness and open-mindedness. White Islamic tasbeeh promote a pure impression, virtuosity and wholesome personality.
A selection of white tasbeeh is as follows: White Kunzite, Howlite, Bamboo Leaf Agate, African Opal, Fossil Coral, White Topaz, White Selenite, Sesame Jasper, Mexican Zebra Jasper, Scolecite, Crystal Quartz, Magnesite, White Opal and Moonstone
Black represents resilience and self-restraint. It is said that black is the absence of light, which promotes a protective energy for invisibility. Black prayer beads signifies a bold statement of self-control and concealment.
Black prayer beads have a variety of forms through Black Tourmaline, Black Onyx, Shungite, Obsidian, Black Jasper, Black Rustic Quartz, Spinel, Rainbow Obsidian, Black Fire Agate, Nuummite, Natural Silver Quartz and Black Kyanite.
Purple is the color for royalty and magic, which is why most royal-blooded families have excessive violet color in different shades. Purple also represents good judgment and spiritual fulfillment. Violet prayer beads are usually used when indulging in intense meditation and purification, and when associated with psychic rituals. Wearing violet Muslim prayer beads signifies encouragement in fantasy and imagination.
An assortment of violet prayer beads includes Amethyst, Charoite, Purpurite, Lepidolite Jasper, Sugilite, Purple Crazy Lace Agate, Fluorite, Sugilite Jasper, Cape Amethyst and Lavender Quartz.
No matter the colors that people prefer in their Muslim prayer beads, the important thing is that each color does not only represent a sense of embellishment for fashion purposes, but it also indicates the energy that is favorable to one’s need.
Another term for luck is fortune, and having good luck means incorporating fortune to oneself and to others. Luck is uncontrollable and unexpected, and it can be affirmative or unfavorable. Mostly everyone prefers to be touched by good luck because it is deemed to be acclamatory to human nature. Whoever wants to have bad luck sticking to them? That is why some prayer beads have specific stones that can influence good fortune and attract positive energy. Financial success, rich career choice and contented family life are among the benefits that good fortune brings to most people.Quartz crystal stones that are embedded in prayer bead accessories are often placed in homes to attract life force and good luck. Meanwhile, aventurine gemstone prayer beads influence an amicable environment for money to come flowing into the house. Most families prefer to have good fortune with the financial aspect so that parents can provide better lives for their children.
Remember that being fully reliable with the prayer beads for an agreeable luck is not totally healthy because people still need to exert more effort to really deserve such fortune. People still need to work their way towards a good life, and good fortune may come along.
As generation passes by, the tradition from the very beginning still remains similar and intact, most especially in religions. Each religion has its own belief, way of implementing the beads as part of its faith-based routines, and prayers and incantations to call on God or Allah and to glorify the supremacy of the Most High One. Regardless of the religion, the existence of the prayer beads has deemed very worthwhile and rewarding for people who want to have stronger faith and who yearn to gain back the concentration they have lost. Aside from the prayer beads as stress-relievers and companions in religious rituals, they have also become a part of people’s lives as a source of hope in times of trouble and despair. There may be times that prayer beads are used with some misconceptions of providing instant protection against evil spirits and using as typical embellishments.
As for the colors, try to research about the energies that colors radiate when being worn. Sometimes, colors intensify or alleviate the mood of a person. If the person prefers to be mysterious and secretive, then he or she may wear black prayer beads to maintain the persona. If the person is a lively type, one who is easy-go-lucky, then he or she may wear yellow prayer beads to show everyone that he or she is happy, approachable and has a good judgment.
No matter the quality or origin of the prayer beads, as long as the prayer beads accessories serve their purpose to mankind, may it be for religious aspect and for other particulars.