medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Another odd question. This is definitely religion, and definitely
medieval, just not Christian :)

Can anyone refer me to someone who would know about the history of
Islamic prayer beads?

I am coming to the conclusion that nothing reliable has been written
in English, although I'm on the track of a couple of things in
German, thanks to another correspondent. Books on Christian rosaries
barely mention the Islamic beads, and mostly just have a note that
they exist and are called *tasbih*. So far everything I've seen in
English has either been strictly modern, or has assumed without
saying so that the Islamic beads originated at the founding of Islam
and haven't changed since. Considering how long ago that was, and how
much has happened to Christian prayer beads in that time, I have to
be skeptical.

My most recent foray has been into _Beads of Faith_, by Gray Henry
and Susannah Marriott. When I mention that Gray Henry was a student
of Joseph Campbell, that Susannah's most recent book is _The Good
Karma Guide_, and that the book has no bibliography and only the most
rudimentary photo credits, you'll know what I think of its
reliability. It appears to be the book-ization of a video, and
admittedly the photography is gorgeous. :)

What I'm trying to track at the moment is whether anyone knows how
far back in Islam the use of beads actually extends. _Beads of Faith_
contains a quote from the prophet Mohammed: "Repeat the *Tasbih* a
hundred times, and a thousand virtues shall be recorded by God for
you, 10 virtuous deeds for each repetition." However I have no idea
whether this has been correctly translated, and particularly not
whether the *tasbih* in this context actually refers to _beads_, or
simply to a particular practice of prayer.

Until recently the best documentation I could find was a couple of
16th-century Safavid Persian paintings showing people with what are
clearly prayer beads. _Beads of Faith_ does have a manuscript
illustration which it says is a "12th century Mogul painting" showing
an Islamic "saint" in India with his beads, but apparently the
manuscript is in private hands (?) which means I have no way to check
the date.


Books I've tried already include Eithne Wilkins' _The Rose-Garden
Game_, which I don't consider reliable at all, and Anne
Winston-Allen's _Stories of the Rose: The Making of the Rosary in the
Middle Ages_, which is excellent in scholarship, but barely mentions
the Islamic beads and doesn't have anything on them in the
O    Chris Laning
|     <[log in to unmask]>
+    Davis, California

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