According to common beliefs, prayer beads are originated in buddhism and not belong to Islam. On the other hand, there are different comments about prayer beads in Islamic cultures, such as;
The word "Tesbih" (also called as Tasbih or Misbaha) means prayer beads or rosary and originates from the word "Supha" (also pronounced sebha), which means to
recite the glories of God (Allah).
Tesbih with 99 beads symbolize the ninety nine names of God in Islam. Sometimes only 33 beads are used, in this case Tesbih would be cycled 3 times to reach 99.
The main phrase repeated through the first thirty three beads is "Süphanallah" which means "Praise be to God." For the next thirty three beads, "Glory be to God,"
or "Elhümdülillah,"and for the final thirty three beads, "Allahuekber" which means God is most great, is repeated. After these repetitions a final prayer is said,
bringing the total number of prayers, as dictated by the Koran, to one-hundred
Tesbih is most commonly made of wooden beads, various stones but also of olive seeds, ivory, amber, pearls or plastic. Stone beads
(including mineral and animal based) are made of; cornelian, amber, tortoiseshell, glass, meerschaum, ivory, pearl, coral, coconut, pebble,
mother of-pearl, jade, rhino horn, etc. Wooden beads are made of; Rose Tree, Ebony, Agalloch, Rosewood, Olive Tree, etc.
During the prophet Mohammed's times, date stones and pebbles were used, while in Ottoman times rock crystal beads with silver tassels were preferred.
Today number of the artisans who continue to make handmade tesbihs are very few. Craftsmen were working even months to make antique tesbih.
They were made from gold, silver, ivory, tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl, amber, meerschaum, ebony, agalloch wood, and various other materials. Tesbih made of
fragrant woods were kept in closed boxes to retain the fragrance. While materials to make tespihs often came from as far away as Africa, India, Egypt or even
South America, the original craftsmen were located primarily in Istanbul and sold to buyers throughout the Islamic world.
Besides 99 beads, tesbih also consists of: the "nisane", a disc which seperates each 33 beads, the "pul", a small bead that marks the seventh position, the "imame",
which is a long piece marking the beginning of the string, and the "tepelik" at the top of the imame. In 33 bead tesbih, "nisane" seperates 11 beads and there is no "pul".