1. Home
  2. Spirituality
  3. What is Islam’s take on the “evil eye” and superstition?

What is Islam’s take on the “evil eye” and superstition?

Hadrat Khalifatul-Masih IV rta said:

The Holy Quran recognizes the possibility of mental forces, and this is in fact what nazar lag jana [evil eye] is. It is not through the eye that something travels and hits somebody, [rather] it is just the concentration of mind or an evil thought which becomes too strong and something emanate(s) from that evil thought which influences the other person.

(Question Answer Session, July 16, 1984)

We find an example in the Holy Quran of the effect that the power of concentration can have on people:

He (Hadrat Musa) replied, ‘Throw ye.’ And when they (the magicians) threw, they enchanted the eyes of the people, and struck them with awe and brought forth a great magic. And We inspired Moses, saying, ‘Throw thy rod,’ and lo! It swallowed up whatever they feigned.

(Surah al-A‘raf, 7:117–118)

Through mesmerism, the magicians of Pharaoh cast an influence on the minds of the audience. However, when Hadrat Musa as threw his rod on the floor, it snapped everyone out of that state and their illusion was broken. On this principle of the Holy Quran, the Holy Prophet sas taught that one way to break the effect of the evil eye is to bathe.

The influence of an evil eye is a fact; if anything would precede the destiny it would be the influence of an evil eye, and when you are asked to take bath (as a cure) from the influence of an evil eye, you should take bath.

(Sahih Muslim, Book 39, Hadith 56)

The philosophy of ablution and bathing in Islam is not just physical but also psychological. Water has a neutralizing effect on the mind. On the one hand, bathing can calm a person who is angry, and on the other hand, can stimulate a person who is drowsy. In the same way that the rod of Hadrat Musa as striking the floor broke the trance on the mesmerized audience, similarly, bathing can refresh a person enough to break the influence of another person’s negative thoughts on us.

There is a subtle physical influence that recitation of the blessed words of the Holy Quran can have, this is called Ruqya. One example of this is:

Whenever Allah’s Messenger sas went to bed, he used to blow on his hands while reciting Surah al-Fatihah and Surah an-Nas and then pass his hands over his body.

(Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 80, Hadith 16)

It is narrated that, The Messenger of Allah sas used to seek protection against the evil of jinn and the evil eyes till Surah al-Falaq and Surah an-Nas were revealed. After they were revealed, he took to them for seeking Allah’s protection and left everything besides them.

(Sunan at-Tirmadhi, vol. 4, Book 2, Hadith 2,058)

Once, a companion of the Holy Prophet sas was able to cure someone from a poisonous bite by the blessing of reciting Surah al-Fatihah. On this, the Holy Prophet sas said, “How do you know that Surah al-Fatihah is a Ruqya?”

(Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 76, Hadith 51)

Thus, Ruqya is to neutralize negative influences through prayer and the blessings of recitation of the Holy Quran.

Another way to guard ourselves against the influence of the evil eye is through prayer. The Holy Prophet sas said:

There is no Ruqya except for the evil eye or from the sting of a scorpion.

(Sunan Ibn Majah, vol. 4, Book 31, Hadith 3,513)

Hadrat Khalifatul-Masih IV rta said:

As far as the power of mind is concerned, there is no denying it, and as such, a measure of the evil influence of one’s mind on others can be believed in. But one should not be afraid of it because prayers can dispel all such influences, God’s power is greater.

(Question Answer Session, July 1, 1991)

Since it is easy for people to misunderstand such subtle realities and fall into superstitions, the Holy Prophet sas strictly forbade any superstition. The Holy Prophet sas said:

Tell people that if anyone ties his beard or wears round his neck a string to ward off the evil eye. Muhammad has nothing to do with him.

(Sunan Abi Dawud, Book 1, Hadith 36)

Condemning the un-Islamic practices of Ruqya, the Holy Prophet sas said:

Ruqya, amulets, and charms are polytheism.

(Sunan Abi Dawud, Book 28, Hadith 3,874)

Also, condemning the superstitious practices of Ruqya, he said:

Seventy thousand people of my followers will enter Paradise without accounts, and they are those who do not practice Ar-Ruqya and do not see an evil omen in things, and put their trust in their Lord.

(Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 81, Hadith 61)

Some Muslims falsely believe that the Holy Prophet sas came under the influence of magic for a period of time. However, we cannot accept any narration that contradicts the Holy Quran. The Promised Messiah as said:

A person loses his faith by saying that the Holy Prophet sas came under the influence of magic (God forbid). Allah Almighty says:

When the wrongdoers say, ‘You follow not but a man affected by magic.’

Those who say such things are wrongdoers, not Muslims. To say that the Holy Prophet sas came under the influence of magic (God forbid) is a statement of those who are faithless and wrongdoers.

(Tafsir Hadrat Masih Mau‘ud, vol 5, p. 122)

Hadrat Khalifatul-Masih IV rta explained that the common understanding of the evil eye is generally exaggerated and incorrect, saying:

Mostly it is superstition. Most of the phenomena as understood is superstition… More often than not the things related about this nazar lag jana [evil eye], as you said it, the bad effect of one’s sight or observation, this is mostly reported very irresponsibly and in exaggerated terms.

(Question Answer Session, July 16, 1984)
Updated on February 2, 2019

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles