Can I use prayer beads to count my prescribed remembrances or is it an unlawful innovation to do so? I really find that the beads help me a lot to keep up my daily remembrances and they encourage me to do more.
Sheikh Sulaymân b. `Abd Allah al-Mâjid, presiding judge at the Riyadh Supreme Court
The best manner of keeping track of one's remembrances is to use the fingers of the right hand to keep count. This is what the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to do.
At the same time, there is no objection to keeping count of one's remembrances using pebbles, or a string of prayer beads, or something else that fulfills the same function.
The use of prayer beads is not an innovation, since it is merely a means for facilitating one's worship and not an act of devotion in itself. As a rule, such means are not described as innovations, since they are practical things whose purposes are clear and easily discernable. The same can be said for the use of microphones in congregational prayers and the use of ruled lines on the carpets in the mosque to keep the prayer rows straight.
It is related that Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) saw a woman who was using pebbles to help her keep count of her remembrances of Allah.
He said to her: "I will inform you of something that will be easier for you than this as well as better. Say: 'Glory be to Allah as much as all the things He created in the heavens. Glory be to Allah as much as all the things He created on Earth. Glory be to Allah as much as all the things He created in between. Glory be to Allah as much as everything He ever created.'
Then do the same with 'Allah is great', 'Prase be to Allah', 'There is no God but Allah', and 'There is no might or power except with Allah'." [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (1282)]
Abû Dâwûd is slinet regarding the hadîth's authenticity. Al-Mundhirî and Ibn Hajar both grade it as a good (hasan) hadîth.*
We can see in the hadîth that the Prophet (peace be upon her) did not forbid her from using pebbles to keep count or her remembrances or in any way censure the practice. He merely advised her as to what is better for her.
A number of Companions and Successors permitted the use of counting aids, as is related by Ibn Abî Shaybah in his Musannaf.
Ibn Taymiyah, al-Shawkânî, and numerous other leading scholars also held the view that prayer beads are permissible. What Ibn Taymiyah disapproved of was not the use of beads itself, but rather for people to use prayer beads as a showy sign of piety and devotion.
And Allah knows best.
* al-Albânî is among the hadîth scholars who have determined this hadîth to be weak.
Source: Islam Today
-- Al Arabiya Digital