Turkey’s religious affairs directorate publishes fatwa against ‘evil eye’ symbol

The Diyanet, Turkey’s government religious affairs authority, has published a religious opinion stating that the Nazar, or evil eye symbol, is contrary to Islamic teachings, Turkish online news website T24 reported on Tuesday.

In a book of religious opinions published in December, on ‘Medical and Health-Related Fatwas’, the Diyanet says that "Islam prohibits the attitude that attributes the final effect to anyone other than Allah. It is not permissible to seek help from the evil eye bead."

Orthodox Sunni Islamic practice states that since Allah is the only deity, people should not seek help from any other power but Allah. According to Takvim, the Diyanet stated that, “the fact that some people can cause negative effects with their gaze is also accepted by religion”.

This belief, that bad intentions or feelings can cause misfortune through a vector of jealous or envious looks, has been common in the eastern Mediterranean since antiquity. The use of a talisman, like the evil eye symbol, has been used as ‘Apotropaic Magic’ to ward off the negative effects of the evil eye.

In Mesopotamia, the use of the hamsa, an open hand with the eye symbol inside it, was associated with the god Ishtar/Inanna, and is probably at least 5000 years old.

Likewise, the Prophet Muhammed accepted that the evil eye existed, saying in a Hadith that "The influence of an evil eye is a fact..." [Sahih Muslim, Book 26, Number 5427]. However, while the evil eye symbol is still very commonly used in Turkey, the Diyanet has decided to deprecate its use, saying that Muslims should instead read passages from the Qur’an.

In advice on the Diyanet website, the religious affairs authority states that, “the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) read the surahs of Muavvizateyn (Felâk and Nâs) against the evil eye; It is narrated that he advised his companions to read them (Tirmidhi, Tıb, 16; İbn Mâce, Tıb, 32).”

“Again, the Messenger of God (PBUH) said, “Whoever sees something that likes; If he says, 'It will be what Allah wills. There is no one other than him’, nothing will harm him," the Diyanet advises.