Seeking Sacred Sunni Knowledge

Using Masbahah is Bid'ah?

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 amubtad’i. 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 wahabi 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( ) on the issue, a popular scholar among wahhabis :

“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 unfortunately many of Albanis 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 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 (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 (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…”

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

9 Responses to “Using Masbahah is Bid'ah?”

  1. Abul Layth says:

    Salaamu ‘Alaykum Ibn Anwardi,

    I liked the article. However, maybe we should give Al Albaani husn thann. That is the way of our master (‘alayhis salaam), and should be our way as well. It is true, as Imaam Al-Ghumaari stated, that Al Albaani would weaken and authenticate according to his desires. Even then, he was still Muslim, and we should always give him the benefit of the doubt. Just my opinion though.

    Just so others know, I wrote an article regarding this issue last year. Please check it out as well:

    Jazaakum Allahu Khairan

    -Abul Layth

  2. Abu Mus'ab says:

    This is disappointing to say the least. Please do us a favor and change the name of this blog from ‘Seeking Ilm’ to ‘Blasting Salafis’ because off late that’s all you seem to do and it won’t mislead others.

    I honestly like some of entries on this site, but at times it is very difficult to rationalize posts like these.

    If you want to remove the extremism among the ‘salafis’ then this is definitely not the way.

    If learned men criticize each other so openly, then the commom Muslim man suffers.

    This is sincere and honest advice. I hope it is taken that way.

  3. Abul Layth says:

    The only thing, in my view, that is disappointing is the tabdee’ of the pseudo-salafis upon the layman Muslims. Their continuous attacks upon the simple Sunni, and their manipulation of 1400 years of scholarship. So when the Sunni or the Sufi hits back with knowledge, they are branded with qualities and names unbecoming of them. The fact is, some just want us to remain silent as the Sunnis/Sufis have their honor attacked, and their names slandered.

    This site is out to defend the Sunnah by knowledge. If that means that the pseudo-salafis, Shi’ah, pseudo-sufis, or any other firqah are ‘called out/Blasted’ on their deviance, then so be it. Of course, some will hate it. And we care not for the blame of the blamers.

    You also said that it is difficult to “rationalize” posts like these. What is irrational about this post?

    Jazaakum Allahu Khairan
    -Abul Layth

  4. Mustafa says:

    Shaykh Hisham Kabbani also mentions some evidence for permissibility of Dhikr beads in his book (Classical Islam and the Naqshbandi Sufi Order)

  5. Abul Layth says:

    The brother Abu Aaliyah is bold for quoting Imam As-Suyuti quoting the great sufis such as Junayd etc! The article was good, and unbiased.

  6. Ibn Ahmad says:


    Great research. May Allah reward you. I personally reject the hadith about Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud throwing dhikr apparatus around. This is the man who was said to be closest to Rasulullaah (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wasallam) in charachter. How could he commit such ornory acts?

    Furthermore, if dhikr beads being bid’a was indeed the position of Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud, would we not see this position throughout the land of Mesopotamia? If Abdullah Ibn Masud was so adament against dhikr beads, then would we not see this ijtihaad upheld by his students? Logic says yes. But we see no such continuity amongst the scholars of the Fertile Crescent.

    Rather, this is what Imam al-Suyuti recounted in one of his fatwas entitled al-Minha fi al-Sibha (“The Profit In Dhikr-Beads”) regarding the story of ‘Ikrima, who asked his teacher ‘Umar al-Maliki about dhikr-beads. The latter replied that he had also asked his teacher al-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.” Al-Suyuti comments: “And how should it be otherwise, when the dhikr-beads remind one of Allah Most High, and a person seldom sees dhikr-beads except he remembers Allah, which is among the greatest of its benefits.”

    So the question remains for our beloved brothers amongst the Salafis. Was Hasan al-Basri so negligent as to blatantly promote what Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud passionately hated? Let’s not forget that Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud was regarded as one of the 20 mujtahids amongst the Companions. One of the charachteristics of Ahl al-Ilm is that they uphold what their shuyukh strongly advocate. To say that Abdullah Ibn Masud regarded dhikr beads as a bid’ah is an almost indirect attack on Hasan al Basri’s charachter! Allaah Save us from that! Ameen.

    -Ibn Ahmad

  7. mustafa says:

    as salaamu alaykum,

    I see that there is no problem in sharpening the sword of the sunnah against the Salafi movement. Salafis have done much harm im noticing even more now. Some new muslims leave the din due to some of the manners of the salafis. Brother dawud adib who is a salafi mentioned this in one of his lectures. The lecture was aimed at being at ease with other brothers and sisters epseically those new in the din. The point is the bad manners that some salafis have is not really ‘rare’ but it is well known in their circles. This can be seen from an observer. Plus their constantly blasting ‘Sufis’ and ‘asharis’ has caused many muslims to adopt literalism and affirm a Waist for Allah etc. So responding to their attacks and launching assaults upon their creed and ways is needed in this time.

    Just my thoughts


  8. zaki says:

    We hope that Imam Al Albani will be rewarded for his ijtihad, even if he was incorrect in this matter. As for those who have dared to judge the intention of this muhaddith by saying he “would weaken and authenticate according to his desires” should fear Allah and not risk the loss of their own good deeds.

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