My World: Prayer Bumps

There is a phenomenon in the Muslim world called zebiba, or prayer bump. These are marks on the forehead and are apparently caused by continually touching or rubbing the forehead to the ground during prayer. In Arabic, zebiba means raisin. If you consider that Muslims pray five times a day, during which their foreheads touch a prayer mat at least 34 times per day, it is not surprising that these prayer bumps appear on some Muslims’ foreheads over time. No one knows why not all Muslims get them or what causes them specifically, but there is a lot of speculation. Some believe that it is due to skin type and others believe it might be caused by using a prayer mat made of straw or that people who get them press their foreheads too hard to the floor when they pray. It can appear as a discoloration of the skin or can actually become a bump, like a callous. For some odd reason, zebiba occurs most often on Egyptian men and very rarely on women at all, but I have personally seen a couple of men here in Saudi Arabia with them, but then again, they could have been Egyptian.

Many believe that zebiba is a sign of religious piety and devotion, however it seems to have become a religious status symbol of sorts in Egypt, with some thinking that a Muslim with zebiba is more religious or more conservative than other Muslims.
Well, That’s My World for this week! That’s My World! offers a unique glimpse at life all over our planet. Take a peek at other people’s lives from all over the world by visiting That’s My World!


About SusieOfArabia

American woman now living in hubby's homeland of Saudi Arabia
This entry was posted in Middle East, Odd or Unusual, Photo, Religion, Saudi Arabia and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to My World: Prayer Bumps


  2. Dina says:

    Sort of like the old monastics who aspired to have knees like a camel’s.

  3. مها نور إلهي says:

    Very interesting!
    It is called “sajda” in the Saudi accent, and some think it is a sign of being religious, but it’s’s only due to the type of skin and how hard some people press when they are praying 🙂


  4. Chiara says:

    Very informative post! I am resisting the urge to do further medical research on this phenomenon, but if curiosity overwhelms my other obligations, I will report back here! 🙂

  5. When I was in Egypt they were very common on the forehead of shopkeepers…who often ripped you off. Some suggested that the men who had these bumps acquired them intentionally with the hopes of appearing more pious. Colour me a cynic, but I suspect men who have these want everyone else to think they’re more religious than they truly are.

  6. Arija says:

    Those bumps look like arthritis of the scull. Arthritis is usually caused by unexpressed anger which would actually make them less pious since they resent having t pray so much. It is all rather ridiculous.

  7. Tabib says:

    Interesting post Susie!
    This is not the risk of prayer, just a black/hyperpigmented mark at forehead.
    I see may men here have that, rarely in women.
    Religious status symbol?. I don’t know, but hope they don’t feel “riak” with that.

  8. Fishing Guy says:

    Susie: That was such an interesting post. I certainly hope the people are not prideful of the marks.

  9. Totally new to me…and fascinating! Thanks for sharing what you know about zebiba.

  10. Eileen says:

    Interesting to learn new things about different relligions. great post.

  11. Geogypsy says:

    It seems strange enough that this could even happen, but then to have a name for it. I guess some people will never learn to stop banging their heads against the door, I mean floor. Very interesting Susie.

  12. Carver says:

    I have never heard of that. Very interesting. As a melanoma survivor, I always wonder about anything on the skin and if I didn’t know what it was, I’d have that on my mind since melanoma can look so many different ways.

  13. Snap says:

    Learn something new everyday! thank you!

  14. VioletSky says:

    this proves there is a risk in everything we do – even prayer!

  15. ewok1993 says:

    I learned another thing. Thanks.

    My entry is at

  16. That’s interesting! I always learn something different and intriguing from your posts, Susie. I have enough problems with wrinkles, guess I can do without “zebiba”! Of course, I’m not sure that wrinkles guarantee greater piety either.

    Have a great week!


  17. rantingcynic says:

    Thank you for sharing that, I have heard the term “Zebiba” But never knew what it meant. I thank you.

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