Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Zil-Hijjah / Muharram 1423 H
March 2003
Volume 16-03 No : 195
Camps \ Workshops

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Surrender to Allah!
The Story of Prayer Beads


Surrender to Allah!

True worship need not be limited to the chanting and singing of hymns and the telling of beads, true worship is discharging our duties towards Allah and his creations.

A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light, and God appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. So, this man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all of his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain. Since the man was showing discouragement, the Adversary (Satan) decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the weary mind: “You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn’t moved.” Thus, he gave the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man. Satan said, “Why kill yourself over this? Just put in your time, giving just the minimum effort; and that will be good enough.”

That’s what the weary man planned to do, but decided to make it a matter of prayer and to take his troubled thoughts to the Lord. “Lord,” he said, “I have laboured long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?

The Lord responded compassionately, “My friend, when I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all of your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push.

And now you come to Me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? True, you haven’t moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. That you have done. Now I, my friend, will move the rock.”

At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants, when actually what God wants is just simple obedience and faith in Him. By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God who moves the mountains. When everything seems to go wrong ... just P.U.S.H.! When the job gets you down ... just P.U.S.H.! When people don’t react the way you think they should ... just P.U.S.H.! When your money is “gone” and the bills are due ... just P.U.S.H! When people just don’t understand you ... just P.U.S.H.!

P = Pray U = Until S = Something H = Happens.

Contributed by
Shamsuddin Ahmed

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TRENDS AND TRADITIONS

The Story of Prayer Beads

The misbha is used by Muslims to count the words said in praise of Allah and the comfort with which it can carried along, helps serve the purpose with much ease

By Yasmeen Maqbool

In varied shades of red, blue, green, black, white and yellow and made of semi-precious stones, plastic and seeds of fruits, the misbha (rosary or beads) holds a distinctive place amongst the Muslim population of the world.

Misbha is usually rolled from between the thumb and the forefinger. However, Ali Al Marri, director, Sharjah Islamic Museum, noted that it is best to use the hand fingers for the tasbih as it is sunnah of the Prophet (Pbuh).

“During the holy month of Ramadan, it is in great demand and the sales graph shoots up right across to the end of the month,” says Mohammed Al Mandi, owner of an antique shop at the Central Market, Sharjah. And, why should it not be so? The misbha is used by Muslims to count the words said in praise of Allah and the comfort with which it can carried along, helps serve the purpose with much ease. Al Mandi felt that for many Arabs, the misbha forms a part of their attire and those habituated, felt very uneasy if they fail to carry it along. He said, “ it is available in three sizes, mainly consisting of 33, 66 and 99 beads.”

Some, however even get it strung from between 1000 to 10,000 beads by order, said Shoukat Osmany, another misbha dealer who has been in this business in the UAE for more than seven years. Osmany displays the different masabeh behind mirrored glass showcases. Hooked on to nails in an orderly fashion, even and properly cut, polished and threaded together, the masabeh beads look very attractive. Often buyers get them gift-wrapped for their dear ones. Osmany observed that misbha is not popular amongst the Arab community alone. It has found its place with many European tourists as well those who cherished it for its colour. Thus these beads not only have a purpose to fulfill, but have gained popularity due to the natural way in which they are found. But they have a long journey before finding a place in the showcase. “ The ones most popular in the UAE are made from Kahroba (Amber), Yusur (coral), Murjan, turquoise and sandalwood,” said Osmany. Of these, the Kahroba is the most popular and expensive one and in Arabic language it means raw rubber. In the UAE, the best quality of these precious stones is brought in from Germany, Poland and Russia and the sales value may range from Dirhams 200 to Dirhams 10,000. However the story dates back to thousands of years with its origins from under the top players of the earth’s crust. Osmany explains that whole organisms may become trapped and preserved in Kahroba. Amber is the hardened resin of coniferous and angiospermous trees. Resin is not to be confused with tree sap. The sticky extrusive mass that comes from a cut on a pine tree is resin. It is known that only certain types of resin that contain the right chemical constituents can yield true Amber, but that key physical actions in the environment over time (e.g, heat, pressure, amount of exposure to oxygen or light) are also important in the process of “amberisation.”

If the resin has hardened in recent times, it is called copal. When it first flows from the tree, it is very thick and sticky so, as it runs down the trunk, it may trap insects, spiders and occasionally larger animals such as lizards. These organisms can be preserved for millions of years with details of their soft tissue, such as muscles, and hair-like bristles, still intact. And it is from the depositions of these tree resins ageing into thousands of years that the Kahroba comes into being. Osmany stated that the older the stone, the better its quality and this ensures it a handsome price. “ Also when found, the Kahroba may sometimes be white in colour, but with the passage of time and usage, its colour evolves into graduating shades of white to creamish beige to yellow (honey colour) to burned brown to maroon and then black (which is the rarest kind and the most valuable).” These beads are also strung into pendants, necklaces, bracelets or attached to clothing or furnishings and finger rings. The original raw pieces are then taken to workshops where cutting, shaping and polishing takes place.

“ Usually, the craftsmen have gained these skills not through any professional training, but from their forefathers,” he said. Most of the craftsmen engaged in he cutting and polishing of the beads for the masabeh are Egyptians or Turks.

Shaping the cut pieces into round, elongated oval, even rectangular pieces is just a few minutes job for the professional. And after arranging the pieces in order, the beads are polished with gumata (a special kind of polish). From here, they are then handed over to the skilled hands of an assistant who threads them all together into a misbha. The tactful plaiting of the threaded beads into a unified knot is worth a watch, the threads for which are usually made in China. The beads could be threaded into a silk or nylon thread, however, the price of the misbha does not vary with the alteration in the thread used. It rather depends on the variety of Kahroba used for the misbha.

When so many years and hands go into its making, once can understand the amount it fetches, and that amount is surely worth it.

(Courtesy Gulf News)

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