In Turkish, prayer beads are called tespih, a word derived from the Arabic root-word “sebh,” which means to respect Allah or to “accelerate” in worshipping Allah. In Islam, faith on its own is not sufficient. A Muslim is enjoined to perform worship rituals to show his belief in Allah. A good religious subject is required to reinforce, improve, enhance and enrich his or her conduit by practicing, i.e., repeating prayer rituals. A Muslim is enjoined to perform worship rituals to show his belief in Allah. A good religious subject is required to reinforce, improve, enhance and enrich his or her conduit by practicing, i.e. repeating, prayer rituals. There are two worship practices in Islam in which prayers are repeated by numbers: salat (daily ritual prayer) and dhikr (allusion prayer). Each of these practices is organized through specialized objects to accomplish worshiping as it ought to be performed.
Damla Tonuk is interested in objects due to her background in product design. As part of her MSc degree in the Department of Industrial Design at Middle East Technical University (METU), she conducted ethnographic fieldwork with religious communities in Turkey, on the use of objects in everyday life and the materiality of Islamic prayer practices. She also taught courses in practical design and material culture in the same department. Expanding her material culture research, she is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University.