The Empathetic Rosary ‘Subha’

The Islamic Interactive Rosary

‘Zakat, almsgiving, is the third pillar. Social responsibility is considered part of one›s service to God; the obligatory act of zakat enshrines this duty. Zakat prescribes payment of xed proportions of a Muslim›s possessions for the welfare of the entire community and in particular for its neediest members. It is equal to 2.5 percent of an individual›s total net worth, excluding obligations and family expenses.

Supporting investigation

I initially chose the “rosary”, a tool used to encourage a strong communication with Allah to enrich and enhance a Muslim’s ability to give and connect with Him, as an initial object to explore.

The Empathetic Rosary (Subha):

Prayer beads are used in many religions and cultures, either to help with prayer and meditation, or to simply keep the ngers occupied during times of stress. Islamic prayer beads are called subha, which comes from the verb tsbeeh, which is to glorify God (Allah). Subhas may vary in style or decorative embellishments, but they share some common design qualities. Subhas either have 66 ,33, or 99 round beads separated by at disks. There is often a larger, leader bead and a tassel at one end to mark the start point of recitations. The subha is used by Muslims to help count recitations and concentrate during personal prayers. The worshipper touches one bead at a time while words of dhikr (remembrance of Allah). These recitations are often of the 99 «names» of Allah, or of phrases that glorify and praise Allah.

These phrases are most often repeated as follows:

•Subhannallah (Glory to Allah) – 33 times •Alhamdilillah (Praise be to Allah) – 33 times •Allahu Akbar (Allah is Great) – 33 times

This form of recitation stems from an account (hadith) in which the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) instructed his daughter, Fatima, to remember Allah using these words. He also said that believers who recite these words after every prayer will have all sins pardoned, even if they may be as large as the foam on the surface of the sea.

Muslims also use prayer beads to count multiple recitations of other phrases while in personal prayer. Prayer beads are a common gift item, especially for those returning from Hajj (pilgrimage). They are also known as: misbaha, dhikr beads, and worry beads. The verb to describe the use of the beads is tasbih or tasbeeha.

I began my exploration by looking into installing a booth and recording messages from children for a certain cause of aid and embedding it in the beads of a rosary, where a call for help is conveyed and an appropriate answer whether hadith or a verse from the
Quran follows. This was to secure a personal, empathetic connection between two audiences to raise awareness and strengthen our bond of brotherhood and fellowship with other Muslims.

After investigating the concept, I decided I wanted the device to be less dramatic and reach the widest audience by creating an ‘Empathetic Rosary’ that would portray the third of the five pillars of Islam, which is the ‘zakat’ charity or donation. The device would contain several functions exhibiting a Muslims duty in life to Allah and demonstrating his devotion in a virtual manner.

The device consists of several technological components that serve the purpose of this device as follows:

•A joystick sensor that senses every swipe
while praying which, at the end of every day, will be displayed on the LCD screen keeping one aware of their daily prayers to encourage the amount of prayers per day.

•A push-button sensor that transacts a donation every time the user presses the button, allowing the user to willingly and anonymously donate to help the needy. The LCD screen will display a message indicating the donation being made to a charity organization.

•A tilt sensor will be incorporated to sense the behavior of tilting that is made by Muslims in general and mostly by Muslim men. This addictive habit has come to be accustomed by all Muslims in the past several generations and can be interpreted as a misuse of this secular object. Anyone who has spent time in the Middle East has seen this: rather than counting the beads of their subha, men will twirl their rosaries around a nger, rst one direction, then the other. In response, an RGB LED sensor has been added which will light red and the LCD screen will display a message stating (أذكر يذكرك) remember god and he’ll remember you, alerting the user not to continue such behavior and to properly use the device.

•The RGB LED sensor will also light green when a certain amount of prayers are accomplished, indicating a tree being planted in heaven, strengthening a Muslim’s belief in brotherhood, fellowship and belonging in ‘Janah’ heaven.

The Empathetic Rosary enriches the performance of what a regular rosary does as an enabler by continuously allowing a Muslim to connect with Allah and either introducing or reminding a Muslim with the rich values that our rituals hold.

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