What is the Meaning of the Evil Eye?


What is evil eye? 

Evil eye is the harm afflicted, on the part of the individual with evil eye, by looking at persons, animals or things through a non-volitional state due to sense of jealousy in times of admiring their happiness, success, beauty, and the like. Some believe that evil eye is the effect of sensual faculties.

The belief in evil eye is also common in folk culture, and people consider some practices effective in repulsing evil eyes, including breaking an egg, smoking the harmal seeds, having amulet, reciting two suras of the Quran called muʿawadhatayn.[1]

The important point regarding the evil eye is that sometime the man casts evil eye on persons through affection towards them, and – according to some traditions – even someone can do that for oneself.

[1] The suras Nās and Falaq.

Evil eyes in the Quran

The word ‘evil eye’ is not found in the Quran, but many interpreters regard the verse 51 of sura Qalam as denoting the existence of a phenomenon called evil eye. That verse reads as follows:

 “وَإِن یکادُ الَّذِینَ کفَرُوا لَیزْلِقُونَک بِأَبْصَارِهِمْ لَمَّا سَمِعُوا الذِّکرَ وَیقُولُونَ إِنَّهُ لَمَجْنُونٌ”

And those who disbelieve would almost smite you with their eyes when they hear the reminder, and they say: Most surely he is mad.[1]

The reason for revelation of this verse has been mentioned as follows: “The polytheists asked a man with evil eyes to cast his evil eyes on the Prophet. When the man decided to do so, Gabriel revealed the above verse and protected the Prophet against his evil eyes.”[2]

In al-Mīzān, Allamah Tabatabaʾi maintains that the word yuzliqūnaka (from the root ‘izlāq’) refers – according to most interpreters – to the evil eyes, and asserts that evil eye means some sensual effect and we have no reason for denying it. Besides, there are some cases that we can confirm to evil eye[3] as they are found in many traditions.

[1] The Quran, Qalam: 51.

[2] Razi, Rowḍ al-Jinān, 1376 SH, vol. 19, p. 370.

[3] Tabatabaʾi, al-Mīzān, vol. 19, p. 388.

Is evil eye a reality?

Evil eye, if it exists, cannot be seen with eyes; and since we Muslims believe in the Infallibles’ special knowledge and its connection to God’s knowledge, we must see what views are stated in Islamic hadiths about evil eyes. We have received some authentic traditions transmitted from the Infallibles. Here, we mention some of them.

Imam Sadeq says, “If the graves are opened for you, you will see that most dead people have died because of evil eyes, because evil eye is a reality.”[1] This hadith transmitted from Imam Sadeq shows that not only does evil eye exist In Islam’s viewpoint, but also it is so strong that it can send someone to the grave.

The Prophet also refers to the power of evil eye and its danger and says, “evil eye enters the man into the grave and the camel into the pot.”[2]

Imam Reza was asked, “Is evil eye real?” He answered, “Yes. whenever you are afflicted with evil eye, keep the palms of your hands in front of your face and recite the suras Ḥamd, Towḥīd and Muʿawwadhatayn;[3] then pull your hands over your face. God will protect you against it.”[4]

The scientific reason for evil eye

The scientists maintain that some eyes enjoy a certain magnetic force that can act like laser beam. They also believe that some body organs have extraordinary forces that exert effects in nature that are not observable.

[1] Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 95, p. 127.

[2] Nahj al-Rasūl, p. 202.

[3] The two suras starting with qul aʿūdh.

[4] Makārim al-Akhlāq, p. 474.


The relationship between the man’s growth and the evil eye’s force

The existence of evil eye force suggests the man’s high capability because it can exert its effect in this world without interference from one’s hands or legs or other physical organs. Thus, if the man pays attention, he can change the orientation of the thought and spirit for prosperity and success instead of applying that force for destruction and negative aspects.

Perhaps it is due to this fact that in the hadiths and traditions, we are advised to mention God in any instance of wonder instead of leading our spirit towards evil eye. Thus, we must say that “the power of the spirit’s concentration on one thing” is a power granted to the man; its positive aspect is immersion in God’s remembrance, and its negative aspect is evil eye.  

Considering the above facts, we say that the Exalted God does nothing in vein and nothing that harms the men (because the power of evil eye may be used for growth and progress).

A superstition called ‘single blue eye’

The blue eye (or enchantment bead) – known as the symbol of evil eye and used in Iranian houses, cars and decorative jewelry – has no religious evidence, nor has it any scientific basis.

In answering those who claim that the single blue eye rejects evil eye and is a genuine idea, we must say that: “in the ancient culture, those who had blue eyes were considered sacred and lucky; and how is this related to the single blue eye?” Unfortunately, in the modern culture, the single blue eye is considered as some amulet against afflictions, which is completely a superstitious idea and inconsistent with religious teachings. 

Some believe that the symbol of single blue eye is indeed the eye of Dajjāl (antichrist), i.e. the very evil personage that comes to scene just before the Savior’s Appearance. This is because according to the Shiite and Sunnite hadiths, Dajjāl has one eye and his other eye is blind. One the other hand, in most divine religions, evil beings are characterized by blue eye. Supposing this is true, many of us have indulged in accepting superstitions, and even have used an evil symbol instead of supplication and praying for rejecting plights.

Who are those able to cast evil eyes on others?

1. Human beings

Sometimes, we become the focus of attention of others due to our outer or inner beauties that affect them; and they cast their evil eyes on us out of affection or jealousy. The men’s evil eyes sometimes exert their effect from long distances, even if they are not jealous. For example, some persons living far from us may admire us and thereby cast their evil eyes on us. Sometimes, someone casts his evil eye on himself, like the times when he sees himself in the mirror or when he relates his own good points.

2. Jinns and demons

Considering the fact that jinns are ugly creatures but the men are created in the ‘best form’ (aḥsan taqwīm), the men’s appearance is always paid attention to by jinns and demons. Sometimes, they fall in love with human beings, because jinns incline – like human beings – towards beauty and are attracted by it. The apparent sign for this type of evil eye is seeing in one’s dreams eyes that look at the person. From the viewpoint of severity, the jinns’ evil eyes are much stronger and more destructive than the men’s evil eyes.

The effects of evil eyes in the man’s life

In the following section, we mention the cases on which the evil eyes affect:

  1. The man’s mind: one’s memory, intelligence, concentration, understanding, and talent;
  2. The man’s faith and religion: humbleness in worship, avoiding sins, reciting the Quran, resistance and insistence in worship, and the like;
  3. The man’s subsistence: one’s occupation, office, properties, and the like;
  4. Apparent beauties: one’s hair and skin, figure, skin color, body, etc.;
  5. The man’s marital life: family success, compromise and mutual understanding, pregnancy  and childbirth, nurturing one’s children;
  6. The man’s morality and behavior: one’s manner, modesty, truthfulness, kindness, humbleness, etc.;
  7. The man’s lifetime: one’s old figure compared to his age, figure and appearance;   
  8. The man’s body: personal skills, joy and gaiety, physical power, health and exhilaration, handwriting, etc.

Signs of evil eye

  1. Wet (along with tears) yawning and dry yawning;
  2. Much or little amount of sleep;
  3. Hair and skin illness;
  4. Insomnia;
  5. Frequent bad luck;
  6. Diarrhea, nausea, bloating in the stomach;
  7. Reduction in one’s subsistence;
  8. Eye illnesses: most of the illnesses related to eyes with no medical cures have supernatural factors such as evil eyes and jealousy;
  9. Anorexia and excessive appetite;
  10. Dullness and lethargy;
  11. Frequent urination;
  12. Academic failure;
  13. Reduction in visiting and meetings;
  14. Illnesses of family members

How to be immune from evil eyes

Perhaps some say it is enough for one not to tell others about his successes to be immune from others’ evil eyes; but, as we said in the first part of the article, some of one’s associates may cast evil eyes on one out of affection. On the other hand, we have no way to hide some issues such as academic successes and the like; thus, what is the solution? As the evil eye is a supernatural phenomenon, the way out of that challenge is not practices such as breaking an egg, and the like. Rather, the solution is referring to supplications and instructions transmitted from Infallibles and great religious personages. Here, we mention some of them:

  1. Giving alms: Imam Sadeq says, “Alms reject seventy types of plights”;[1]
  2. Frequent recitation of muʿawwadhatayn (or the four suras of Towhīd, Falaq, Nās, and Kāfirūn) and āyat al-kursī,[2]especially before sleeping;
  3. Imam Sadeq says, “If someone is afraid to be afflicted with evil eyes or cast his evil eyes on someone, he must recite three times the formula lā ḥawla wa lā quwwata illā bi-llāh”;[3]
  4. Frequently reciting the Quran and having a Quran with oneself (in a way not to be disrespected);
  5. Using the amulet of evil eyes quoted from Imam Sadeq (bismillāh, uʿīdh…);[4]
  6. Using Imam Jawad’s amulet: The benefits of that amulet are many and up to eighty items have been recounted for it. One of them is protection from evil eyes. In one section of the amulet, which is written on deer’s skin, we read:

« اللَّهُمَّ يَا رَبِّ الْأَسْوَاءَ كُلَّهَا وَ اقْمَعْ عَنْهُ أَبْصَارَ الظَّالِمِينَ وَ أَلْسِنَةَ الْمُعَانِدِينَ وَ الْمُرِيدِينَ لَهُ بالسُّوءَ وَ الضُّرَّ وَ ادْفَعْ عَنْهُ كُلَّ مَحْذُورٍ وَ مَخُوفٍ وَ أَيُّ عَبْدٍ مِنْ عَبِيدِكَ أَوْ أَمَةٍ مِنْ إِمَائِكَ أَوْ سُلْطَانٍ مَارِدٍ أَوْ شَيْطَانٍ أَوْ شَيْطَانَةٍ أَوْ جِنِّيٍّ أَوْ جِنِّيَّةٍ أَوْ غُولٍ أَوْ غُولَةٍ أَرَادَ صَاحِبَ كِتَابِي هَذَا بِظُلْمٍ أَوْ ضُرٍّ أَوْ مَكْرٍ أَوْ مَكْرُوهٍ أَوْ كَيْدٍ أَوْ خَدِيعَةٍ أَوْ نِكَايَةٍ أَوْ سِعَايَةٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ أَوْ غَرَقٍ أَوِ اصْطِلَامٍ أَوْ عَطَبٍ أَوْ مُغَالَبَةٍ أَوْ غَدْرٍ أَوْ قَهْرٍ أَوْ هَتْكِ سِتْرٍ أَوِ اقْتِدَارٍ أَوْ آفَةٍ أَوْ عَاهَةٍ أَوْ قَتْلٍ أَوْ حَرَقٍ أَوِ انْتِقَامٍ أَوْ قَطْعٍ أَوْ سِحْرٍ أَوْ مَسْخٍ أَوْ مَرَضٍ أَوْ سُقْمٍ أَوْ بَرَصٍ أَوْ جُذَامٍ أَوْ بُؤْسٍ أَوْ فَاقَةٍ أَوْ سَغَبٍ أَوْ عَطَشٍ أَوْ وَسْوَسَةٍ أَوْ نَقْصٍ فِي دِينٍ أَوْ مَعِيشَةٍ فَاكْفِهِ بِمَا شِئْتَ وَ كَيْفَ شِئْتَ وَ أَنَّى شِئْتَ إِنَّكَ عَلى‏ كُلِّ شَيْ‏ءٍ قَدِيرٌ وَ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَى سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِهِ أَجْمَعِينَ وَ سَلَّمَ تَسْلِيماً كَثِيراً وَ لَا حَوْلَ وَ لَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ الْعَلِيِّ الْعَظِيمِ وَ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعالَمِينَ»[5]

[1] Al-Kafī, vol. 4, p. 3.

[2] Verse 255 to 257 of sura Baqara.

[3] Sheikh Abbas Qomi, Kulliyāt Mafātīḥ al-Janān, p. 1140, Ikram Publications.

[4] Biḥār al-Anwār, vol. 92, p. 131.

[5] Mihaj al-Daʿawāt wa Minhaj al-ʿIbādāt, pp. 39-42.

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