You may be thinking how does culture and the evil eye tie in together? Well, within many communities there is a belief that people cause the evil eye out of love. This I’ve observed specifically within the Turkish community. And d no-one has been able to clarify exactly what the evil eye is, even during Islamic lectures. Today many believe that it occurs when someone likes or envies a person’s beauty, child or sometimes their homes, wealth or even their marriage. But the evil eye is not something that occurs out of love, it occurs out of evil.
In Sheikh Yasir Qadhi’s ‘Truth about the Evil Eye: Seeking protection against al-‘Ayn – Yasir Qadhi | February 2011’ he discusses exactly what the evil eye is and how it effects people or objects.
So, what is the Evil Eye (al`Ayn)?
‘Al`Ayn is the negative consequences of jealousy…It is called Ayn from the eyes, because the number one reason to get jealous is when you look at something. But Ayn has nothing to do with the eyes; because you can hear about something and get jealous. You don’t have to necessarily look at it. It’s not like an invisible superman beam of ray that comes out. This is not al`Ayn. Okay?’
How does Al`Ayn (the Evil Eye) occur?
‘Al`Ayn is the feeling of the heart. Al`Ayn is the burning jealousy, and it has to be a burning jealousy. This is a jealousy that only an evil person allows this jealousy to go unchecked. Because the Prophet SAW said: Jealousy destroys good deeds like a fire destroys twigs or the herb that destroys honey…’
What is the Islamic perspective?
‘The Mu’min never allows it to go unchecked. Because jealousy is a filthy feeling. That even when you feel jealous you feel filthy…Jealousy is a filthy feeling. And it’s only the evil person who allows jealousy to go unchecked. And what happens when you allow jealousy to go unchecked? Somehow it causes an effect on the object of jealousy.’
‘How? Scholars have differed, as I said, the evidence are very little about al`Ayn. But one hadith seems to suggest that that jealousy empowers Sheytan. It gives some type of fuel to Sheytan. And Sheytan can then use that because Sheytan wants to harm. Sheytan can then use that fuel to get to the other person. And this seems to be the most logical, rational and hadithy interpretation.’
‘How could jealousy just affect somebody? How could it do it by that? Well it could if Allah has decreed. We’re not denying that, but it seems—and there are riwayat that shows this—that jealousy feeds Sheytan. And the Jinn basically, when I say Sheytan, I mean the Jinn. The evil Sheytan/Jinn; Sheyateen. And when you have so much jealousy then basically you empower the Jinns to go and harm the person, it gives them the motivation, it gives them the fuel they need to go and harm the other person.’
So how does this relate to culture?
Culture teaches the many ways of living life and passes it onto another generation, but when cultures changes or modifies a religious belief this is when naivety repeats and spreads from one generation to another.
Do you know someone who openly says that they cause the evil eye out of too much love for another person?
This is a false belief. I suspect that it has been leftover from the Greeks and Russians who also believe in the evil eye, especially when it comes to beads. I once saw a documentary where Greeks had the evil eye beads and specified why they believed in them, I was shocked. I was already sceptical about what the evil eye was but finding out that a Christian/Orthodox nation believed in it made me question exactly how much influence this had on us Turks/Muslims, and how much of this cultural belief was influenced by non-Islamic beliefs and traditions.
Culture & Islam—Do not mix the two
The other day I decided to conduct some research on Loqman AS, he took my interest and so I decided to check the Holy Qur’an. There is a whole chapter named after him. And there in my translated Qur’an I found the following verse:
I want to focus on this verse in particular: ‘And yet, should they press you to associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them, but befriend them in this life, in kindness.’ It is in relation to things we have no knowledge about where it may be something passed from one generation to another but is not in light of the teachings of Islam.
This made me think about the evil eye, and how sometimes you have one generation narrate it to the next falsely. This occurs only because some people are incredibly superstitious, naive and associate false beliefs with Islam. Little do they know that their knowledge has been changed and has lost it’s intended meaning. Especially in this case relating that too much love can cause the evil eye (al`Ayn).
I’ve had people make this very remark to me about their own family or their surrounds, commenting that they cause the evil eye due to the amount of love they feel or express. It is so embedded within their belief system that they repeat it on a regular basis, sometimes even smiling at the thought that it is out of so much love.
Some other examples relating to false beliefs in the Evil Eye (Al`Ayn):
- Some women have a tendency to love children by calling them ‘you ugly little thing’ in a way which means ‘love’, out of fear that they will attract the evil eye.
- When a person is ill they will believe that it is from the evil eye.
- They will openly say that they cause the ‘evil eye’ out of extreme love.
- The belief that the evil eye bead will protect them from evil, or those who envy them.
- They are in a sense of doubt/suspicion regarding others, and they make assumptions about others without being witness to what they claim. I.e. saying someone has concocted a spell or has looked at them and have therefore caused the evil eye.
The above is in association with first-hand experiences in the Turkish-Australian community. It’s very upsetting to see how people live their lives adhering to culture and what their “forefathers” have believed. Wouldn’t a person ever question whether their forefathers believed in something correctly? Wouldn’t you do some research regarding the matter? I blame naivity, not the lack of education; sometimes we have educated people who are more cultural in their knowledge of Islam than Islam itself.
In the following Hadith:
Riyad as-Salihin, The Book of Miscellany
The Prophet SAW mentions something important in this Hadith relating to the issue of the evil eye:
‘Allah is beautiful, He loves beauty.’
Why then must people insist and believe (more than they believe anything else that is Islamic) that mentioning or acknowledging someone’s beauty causes the evil eye? Why must people love children and call them ugly? Why is it so hard to acknowledge that Allah SWT has blessed this person?
In Surah Baqarah (2:83) Allah SWT says:
‘And [recall] when We took the covenant from the Children of Israel, [enjoining upon them], “Do not worship except Allah , and to parents do good and to relatives, orphans, and the needy. And speak to people good [words] and establish prayer and give zakah.” Then you turned away, except a few of you, and you were refusing.’
Is this not enough evidence?
May Allah SWT protect us from speaking without knowledge and may He protect us from believing in things falsely, and may He allow us to remain steadily on His path. Amin.