“What’s the evil eye? Isn’t it superstition! You actually believe that there’s such a thing?”
“Wait…. did you just say someone can actually harm you with their envious looks?”
“It sounds just like black magic! You actually believe in that?”
– silence –
It’s difficult trying to explain the concept of the evil eye to a non-believer. Every culture has a concept of the evil eye- Many Chinese place mirrors on the walls to reflect evil looks, and in some cultures, parents would pierce the ears of their firstborn males and dress them as little girls for the first five years because firstborn males were so coveted.
I was once there myself, scoffing in disbelief about how ’ridiculous’ it all sounded. Didn’t much help that I saw the nazar boncuğu (the blue eye amulets) everywhere in Turkey and S said that it has become a ‘cultural symbol’ that wards off the harm caused by the evil eye. Believe in amulets??? Say that again?
“Of course we don’t believe in the amulet. We only believe in Allah.”
“Then why do we believe that the Evil Eye can harm us if we are protected by Allah? Doesn’t it mean that it is more powerful than Allah, that it can overpower His Decree for us?”
I got even more perplexed when people (or I) gushed over babies or gave compliments, and S would say “Astaghfirullah!! Say masha’Allah!” as if it was a word to protect the complimented one against the evil eye. But all shadow of doubt of the existence of the evil eye was erased when I read the Qur’an where Allah commanded to seek refuge with him from the envier,
“And from the evil of the envier when he envies” [113:5], and
“And verily, those who disbelieve would almost make you slip with their eyes (through hatred).” [68:51]
Some people might say, “But it’s practically impossible to stop someone from being envious of you!” Wait. Was I talking about others this whole time? I’m sorry, let’s change the angle of perspective right now. It is possible, to stop yourself from being envious of someone else.
The Evil Eye’s REAL. It exists… in us.
I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely guilty of ‘hasad’- being envious of someone more than once in my life. More than once, I’d looked upon someone more gifted, someone more beautiful, or someone who had seemingly the perfect life, and although I had complimented that person with beautiful words and smiles, my thoughts were exactly the opposite.
“I wish I had what he has!”
“She doesn’t deserve this!”
Immediately, I’d felt ashamed for thinking that way, but I cannot doubt the fact that envy harms the envier the most. I felt as if the envy within was like a black speck growing bigger and bigger in my heart like a disease, making it more and more difficult to purify my thoughts each time. I repelled at the person I was becoming. Who’d want a friend who was always jealous of them and wanting what they had? No one!
“Whoever among you sees something in himself or in his possessions or in his brother that he likes, let him pray for blessing for it, because the evil eye is real.”
“Why would one of you kill his brother? If you see something that you like, then pray for blessing for him.”
Shaitan basks in envy, and is repulsed when we counter our envy with praying for blessings for the one we envy. By praying for the person, or doing favours and good deeds for that person, we not only incline ourselves to love them (and them to us), we also starve the envy within us of the negative thoughts it needs to thrive.
Be envious of only two types of people.
The Prophet said, “There is no acceptable envy except of two people.” One of them is a person who has been given wealth and spends it toward good causes, and the other is one who has been given wisdom and teaches it to people.
I remember being envious of a friend of mine. Masha’Allah (yes, I remembered to say it this time), the way she carries herself as a muslimah and the amount of taqwa she holds is very much to be admired and desired. However the envy that I held for her is very much noticeably different- there was no evil desire for her to ‘lose’ her taqwa or her admirable characteristics. On the contrary, I set her as my role model to work myself toward, to also attain the kind of character that I so very much admire her for.
When we stop ourselves from desiring the fleeting, worldly assets of others, and instead focus on desiring the things that will serve one’s Hereafter, we rid ourselves of the evil in our hearts and our eyes.
And instead of desperately trying to protect ourselves from the evil looks of other people with amulets or mirrors, we should instead start by looking within ourselves, and desperately protect ourselves from nurturing our very own Evil Eye.