*Smash* The dishes slide out of your hands and shatter into a million pieces. *Bump* You tripped on the stairs. *Vomit* Your stomach strongly disagrees with your dinner. *Smile* Your neighbour waves a friendly hello and compliments your new barbeque.
AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH, IT’S THE EVIL EYE (aka Nazzer aka al’Ayn)!
Time to whip out the ta’weez, sprinkle chili pepper around the house, and recite Surah Yaaseen ten times a day.
Many of us have grown up with our relatives – particularly mothers, grandmothers, and aunties – constantly fretting about the Evil Eye and being affected by it. In the Muslim community in general, there is a strong tradition of common accidents and frightening incidents being attributed to the Evil Eye… and an equally strong tradition of finding ways to cure it, oftentimes with strange methods involving amulets, onion skins, and other oddities.
But what is the Evil Eye? What can accurately be attriubuted to it? How serious can it be? How does the Sunnah instruct us to cure it?
There are in fact several authentic and reputable sources to turn to for the answers to these questions – amongst them the book “Jinn and Human Sickness” and parts of Muhammad al-Jibaly’s “Sickness: Regulations & Exhortations.”
Here, however, we will include a brief definition and summary of the Evil Eye.
What Is The Evil Eye?
IslamQ&A: The Arabic word al-â€˜ayn (translated as the evil eye) refers to when a person harms another with his eye. It starts when the person likes a thing, then his evil feelings affect it, by means of his repeated looking at the object of his jealousy. Allaah commanded His Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to seek refuge with Him from the envier, as He said (interpretation of the meaning):
â€œAnd from the evil of the envier when he enviesâ€ [al-Falaq 113:5]
Everyone who puts the evil eye on another is envious, but not every envier puts the evil eye on another. The word haasid (envier) is more general in meaning than the word â€˜aa\’in (one who puts the evil eye on another), so seeking refuge with Allaah from the one who envies includes seeking refuge with Him from the one who puts the evil eye on another. The evil eye is like an arrow which comes from the soul of the one who envies and the one who puts the evil eye on another towards the one who is envied and on whom the evil eye is put; sometimes it hits him and sometimes it misses. If the target is exposed and unprotected, it will affect him, but if the target is cautious and armed, the arrow will have no effect and may even come back on the one who launched it.
Effects of the Evil Eye
So now we know that the Evil Eye is real… but the next question is, what can it do to us? Are our relatives right when they suspect every accident and malady as being the result of the evil eye? Or are they exaggerating?
Although there is no encylopedia detailing what exactly can and cannot be attributed to the evil eye, there are various ahadeeth which inform us as to examples of the effects of the evil eye.
Imam Ahmad and al-Tirmidhi (2059, where he classed it as saheeh) narrated that Asma\’ bint â€˜Umays said: â€œO Messenger of Allaah, the children of Ja\’far have been afflicted by the evil eye, shall we recite ruqyah for them?â€ He said, â€œYes, for if anything were to overtake the divine decree it would be the evil eye.â€ Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.
Imam Ahmad (15550), Maalik (1811), al-Nasaa\’i and Ibn Hibbaan narrated from Sahl ibn Haneef that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came out and traveled with him towards Makkah, until they were in the mountain pass of al-Kharaar in al-Jahfah. There Sahl ibn Haneef did ghusl, and he was a handsome white-skinned man with beautiful skin. â€˜Aamir ibn Rabee\’ah, one of Banu â€˜Adiyy ibn Ka\’b looked at him whilst he was doing ghusl and said: â€œI have never seen such beautiful skin as this, not even the skin of a virgin,â€ and Sahl fell to the ground. They went to Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came and said, â€œO Messenger of Allaah, can you do anything for Sahl, because by Allaah he cannot raise his head.â€ He said, â€œDo you accuse anyone with regard to him?â€ They said, â€œ â€˜Aamir ibn Rabee\’ah looked at him.â€ So the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) called â€˜Aamir and rebuked him strongly. He said, â€œWhy would one of you kill his brother? If you see something that you like, then pray for blessing for him.â€ Then he said to him, â€œWash yourself for him.â€ So he washed his face, hands, forearms, knees and the sides of his feet, and inside his izaar (lower garment) in the vessel. Then that water was poured over him, and a man poured it over his head and back from behind. He did that to him, then Sahl got up and joined the people and there was nothing wrong with him.Â Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Mishkaat, 4562.
Umm Salamah reported that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) saw in her house a young girl whose face appeared yellowish. He said: “Seek ruqyah for her, because she is struck with an evil eye.” (Bukhari)
Abu Tharr reported that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “The Evil Eye sends a man to his grave and a camel into the cooking pot.” (Recored by Abu Nu’aym, Ibn ‘Adiyy and others. Verified as hasan by al-Albani.)
From the above, we can see that the evil eye can affect a person’s physical health, whether it be inexplicable illness, a seemingly common but unfortunate sickness, or even death. It is also established that mental and emotional distress can be caused by the Evil Eye.
However, it is a common error for people to blame everything unpleasant in their lives on the Evil Eye. As someone experienced in dealing with such things as the Evil Eye, black magic and jinn possession, Abu AnonyMouse recommends that before rushing to attribute everything to the Evil Eye, we consider other practical and possible reasons behind what’s going on with us.
First and foremost, look at our level of Islam: Are we praying five times a day, every day, at their appointed times? Do we fulfill the faraa’idh of the Deen? If not, then we should be focusing on ourselves first, because it’s highly likely that those are the primary reasons for things not going right. To immediately point to the Evil Eye as the culprit is more of a cop-out than anything else.
At the same time, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. In this case, reciting adhkaar regularly, makingÂ du’a,Â and reading the Mu’awadhatain, Aayat al-Kursi,Â and other surahs before sleeping are all practices found in the Sunnah and established to be excellent methods of protection.
Treating the Evil Eye
- Ghusl. As in the Hadeeth of Sahl ibn Haneef (radhi’Allahu anhu), if the one who gave the evil eye is known, that person should make ghusl and the water from that is to be poured over the victim.
- Reciting Qur’an.Â Â Al-Mi\’wadhatayn [the last two soorahs of the Qur\’aan], Soorat al-Ikhlaas, Soorat al-Faatihah, and Aayat al-Kursi.Â It is also sunnah to, once having recited the mu’awadhatayn, blow/spit upon the hands (somewhat hard to describe, but it’s a kind of “wet blowing” where you’re not totally spitting but moisture comes out anyway), and wipe them over your body.
- Various ad’iyah:Â The below are but examples of many ad’iyah that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) used to recite as ruqyah.
A\’oodhu bi kalimaat-illaah il-taammati min sharri ma khalaqa (I seek refuge in the perfect words of Allaah from the evil of that which He has created).
A\’oodhu bi kalimaat-illaah il-taammati min ghadabihi wa â€˜iqaabihi, wa min sharri â€˜ibaadihi wa min hamazaat al-shayaateeni wa an yahduroon (I seek refuge in the perfect words of Allaah from His wrath and punishment, from the evil of His slaves and from the evil promptings of the devils and from their presence).
â€œHasbi Allaahu laa ilaaha illa huwa, â€˜alayhi tawakkaltu wa huwa Rabb ul-â€˜arsh il-â€˜azeem.”
(Allaah is sufficient for me. None has the right to be worshipped but He; in Him I put my trust and He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne)â€ [al-Tawbah 9:129 â€“ interpretation of the meaning]
â€œAdhhib al-ba\’s Rabb an-naas, wa\’shfi anta al-Shaafi, laa shifaa\’a illa shifaa\’uka shifaa\’ laa yughaadir saqaman”
(Take away the pain, O Lord of mankind, and grant healing, for You are the Healer, and there is no healing but Your healing that leaves no trace of sickness).â€ Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5743; Muslim, 48, 47, 46.
What NOT To Do
There are many common misconceptions and incorrect methods of treating the evil eye. Ta’weez (amulets) – including “Hands of Fatimah” and those big blue things like the picture above – tying strings around hands/ waists, wearing miniature copies of the Qur’an/ hanging them around the house, putting lumps of salt under the bed, and more are amongst the rather wacky practices that can be found in various cultures.
Suffice to say, none of these are permissable to do/use as “ruqyah” to treat the evil eye. As we say above, there are many authentic solutions that are found abundantly within the Sunnah, and that’s what we should be doing… not resorting to random peers or aunties (well-intentioned – or not – as they may be).
In conclusion, it can be said that yes, the effects of the evil eye are as real as the evil eye itself – that it can and does cause physical harm, but it is equally important to remember that common sense must be used as well: everything bad that happens to us can’t be blamed on it. Everything that happens is the Qadr of Allah, but have different reasons and wisdoms behind them. Sometimes it is because of the evil eye, at other times it’s a test from Allah, or a punishment. Thus, we must be aware of the reality of the Evil Eye but should not be overly quick to accuse it of being the source of all our problems.
Note: The Evil Eye (al’Ayn)Â and black magic (sihr) are separate “sicknesses”/ concepts/ practices, and though they share similar cures – certain ad’iyah, ruqyah, etc. – they are not the same.
May Allah protect us all from all evil and ill health, ameen.
An excellent and comprehensive lecture on the subject by Sheikh Jamaal Zarabozo can be purchased here.