Wednesday, April 17, 2024

PRAYER BEADS: These beads (‘Misbaha’) were Christian





Mel moves on to another one of the 5 pillars, that of the prayer, and looks at the Prayer beads (the Misbaha), used by Muslims all over the world, and asks where they came from? These usually consist of 99 beads to assist in the glorification of God following the prayers: 33 beads used for the Tasbeeh (subhāna-llāh ), 33 beads for the Tahmeed (ʾal-ḥamdu li-llāh), and 33 beads for the Takbeer (ʾAllāhu ʾakbar). Some suggest the 99 beads also refer to the 99 names of Allah, which has become popular in many Muslim areas. Since most Muslims use the smaller 33 beads, one would cycle through them three times to complete 99. (See the Wikipedia article on ‘Misbaha’). According to Islam, the Misbaha prayers began with the counting of pebbles or counting on their fingers. Thus, in the early Muslim era, people used loose pebbles or counted on their fingers. Another tradition says that according to the 17th-century Shia cleric ʻAllāmah Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, after the 625CE Battle of Uḥud, Fāṭimah visited the Martyrs’ graveyard every two or three days, and then made a misbaḥah of Ḥamzah ibn ʻAbd al-Muṭṭalib’s grave-soil. After that, people started making and using misbaḥahs. Unfortunately, this is another flagrant “hole in the Islamic narrative”. The tradition of praying with prayer beads pre-existed Islam by centuries. It was created by a monk, St Pachomius, one of the desert Fathers and founders of Monasticism, who was born in Egypt in 298 AD, and developed these beads in the 4th century. The purpose was to do as St Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, to “pray continually.” These prayer beads were thus used to do just that. Originally, monks would concentrate on their prayers by tossing pebbles into a bowl in their cell. But this became difficult when traveling around the monastery. So, the prayer beads were invented, consisting of simple knots which were easy to carry around during the day. The prayer method among Christians consisted of the prayer of the heart, more commonly known as the Jesus prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” The purpose of the prayer was to call on the holy name of Jesus, to reflect on one’s own sinfulness and the need for Jesus’ saving grace and mercy. Monks prayed this often, making many prostrations. But the complex knots in the prayer beads began with another desert father, St Anthony the Great, who, according to tradition was pestered by demons who kept untying the knots, distracting him from his prayers in his cave. He had a vision of the Theotokis, the Mother of God, who explained to him how to create knots with 7 interlocking crosses. The demons could not untie the knots because they were fearful of the sign of the cross, which stopped their pestering. Traditionally, the prayer ropes themselves were made out of sheep’s wool to symbolize Christ, who was the sacrificial lamb who gave his life for us. The prayer ropes are often black representing sorrow for sin. The number 33 were in memory of the number of years Christ lived on earth, and employed a cross and a tassel at the end to wipe away the tears of repentance. Muslims simply borrowed the prayer beads from the Christians, but instead of the Jesus prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner,” they replaced it with subḥāna –llah “Glorified is God“, and al-ḥamdu lillāhi “All praise is due to God,“ and ʾallāhu ʾakbaru “God is Greater”. So, a prayer that was dedicated to Jesus, Son of God, became prayers to Allah in Islam, once again borrowed from others much further north, and not created in the Hejaz, or central Arabia, as the later Islamic Traditions tell us. Conclusion: It is not clear how or when exactly Islam came to appropriate the prayer beads but it is obvious that a fictional account was created in the Islamic Traditions to explain its origins despite its obvious Christian roots. © Pfander Centre for Apologetics – US, 2020 (40,930) (Music: “small adventure”, by Rafael Krux, from filmmusic-io – License CC BY)


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