Stupid ways to spend time

Repeating things 50,000 times has to rank high. It could always be worse though. It could be repeating things 100,000 times. Or 500,000 times. Or a million.

It’s a real thing in Turkey though.

A teacher in Istanbul has allegedly ordered his students to say God’s name 50,000 times and “prove it” for homework.

The teacher of a Religious Culture and Moral Knowledge class at Sancaktar Hayrettin Primary School in Istanbul’s Fatih district set fifth grade students the task of repeating “salawat,” meaning “peace be upon him” in Arabic, a phrase often used after the name of the prophet of Islam. The task was to be completed as homework during Islam’s holy week.

And “prove” it? How the hell would you do that?

Students told reporters that the most difficult part of the homework was “proving” that they had completed it. Some parents bought “a salawat-counting machine” called Zikirmatik, which is sold for 2 Turkish Liras (around 1 euro). Zikirmatik is a counter for people who have difficulties counting beads.

One parent said he had gathered his whole family and tried to reach the 50,000 prayers. “I calculated that every salawat lasted three seconds. This means is would take around 40 hours to reach the limit,” he said.

Some students found another solution by marking their notebooks once for each salawat.

Hello? That doesn’t “prove” anything except that you hit click 50 thousand times or that you made a mark 50 thousand times (which would be bad and stupid and tedious enough).

We know what the idea is though. Drill. Self-hypnosis. Self-conditioning. Believers use prettier language for it, naturally, but that’s what it is.


  1. Brian E says

    Let the school teacher repeat an abbreviated version of the shahada: ‘There is no god.’ 50,000 times. Should do the trick.

  2. aziraphale says

    “salawat” is not “God’s name”. In fact even “Allah” is not strictly a name. It derives from “al-lah” which translates as “the god”.

    That level of sloppiness makes me wonder about the accuracy of the rest of the article.

  3. grumpyoldfart says

    The teacher is just another control freak getting his kicks by making people jump through hoops. Religious fanatics do stuff like that all the time.

  4. Ysanne says

    Wow, the absurdity of this homework task, particularly the “prove it” bit, almost makes it subversive: Thinking about how 50,000 clicks, pencil marks or similar doesn’t prove anything about how often one said salawat or whatever else could actually start making people wonder about how much “proofs” for god are worth. Combined with the classic effect of words somehow losing their meaning and becoming mere sounds if they are repeated too often (personally, I even lose the feel for how exactly the word should sound), this is a great meditation about the meaninglessness of blind ritualised faith in some supernatural entity.

  5. joe_k says

    $ vim

    :p ~/homework
    $ evince ~/homework &

    I mean, okay, I haven’t *actually* typed salawat 50,000 times, but fuck that’s too much effort.

  6. joe_k says

    Okay, forum software has eaten a key part of that. After typing salawat, exit insert mode with ESC.
    And then when in evince print. C-p is your friend here, I think…

  7. Duckrabbit says

    You only need to say it once. Relativity ensures that from the perceptive of infinitely many reference frames throughout the universe the saying will be simultaneous or not with infinitely many events that are not themselves simultaneous with one another. So just pick any 50K reference frames that’ll do the job.

  8. says

    In high school we used to get punishments like writing ‘lines’ like ‘I must not talk in class’ 20, 50, 100… whatever times. One fellow student invented a ‘line writer’ which was three pencils taped together so that using it one could write 3 lines simultaneously.

    Modern technology enables the creation of a repeating digital ‘tape loop’, and its multiplication makes easy the production of the required ‘proof’. Just to ensure that the ‘teacher’ has himself verified the 50,000 times bit by listening to the whole thing right through, the occasional ‘sala what?’ or its Arabic equivalent could be slipped in, particularly towards the finish line: just to make sure he’s doing something useful.

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