By Mira Khatib
Between superstition and reality
As my daughter played with the children in the park my friend admired her new outfit and before completing her sentence, I watched my daughter tumble down the slide and rip her new shorts. Needless to say my friend averted her eyes right away, feeling somewhat responsible, yet wanting to deny that her gaze might have caused it.
I ran to my daughter, making sure she was O.K. and looking at her new shorts, well they where damaged beyond repair. I sighed and thought next time better put a blue-eyed charm around my daughter’s neck.
Call me superstitious, but I believe it was more than mere coincidence that made my daughter just happened to fall and ruin her new outfit at the same time my dear friend was looking in admiration.
It is known as the eyes of envy, I am sure many can relate to what I am talking about, but still many are not aware of the powerful affects of envious eyes.
Many scientific researches revealed numerous discoveries about the eyes and the powerful vibes they send across, yet still with all the advances in science it remains to unravel the secret behind the eyes of envy and how they work.
Many confuse the meaning of envy with jealousy. The word jealous as shown in the Webster Dictionary was in use since 1225, and it is related to Zealous from late Latin Zelos. From Latin, it became gelos in Old French, and jelous in Middle English.
Jealousy is a feeling of resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, or resentment against the success or advantage itself. Jealousy also describes the feeling that someone is being unfaithful to us.
The word envy on the other hand has been around since 1300 and comes from the Latin invidia, then through Old French became ènvie of Middle English. Although it is close in meaning to jealousy, but it is with the feeling of resentment and unhappiness because someone else’s possessions, or achievements, what one wishes oneself to posses or to have achieved.
It might help clarify the difference in thinking of jealousy as relating to something of yours, or you feel should be yours, that someone else is taking from you. Where envy is to wish you had something that someone else has.
So why the eyes?
When it comes to the human head no feature has quite the reputation for villainy as the known eyeball. You don’t hear people referring to a stabbing mouth, or a torturous nose, or a nasty ear. But we say a piercing stare, a sharp glance, and a painful look, if only looks could kill!
The fact remains that terror comes from within the eye. As staring is a way of asserting ones dominance and of expressing interest in another person. It can be viewed as an intrusion. The act of looking, which is more obviously focused than the act lets say, listening, makes it seem more invasive. These aspects of looking, plus the emotional part that eyes are known to be “windows of the soul”, make the eyes a formidable force indeed, and ripe for supernatural speculation.
The evil eye has been known throughout history in almost all cultures, and until this day the majority of people believe in its power, even the well educated. Unlike the superstitions about walking under a ladder for instance or the Tooth Fairy, this one gets stronger with age, not weaker. Yet some societies attempt to keep it under control, while in others it is unleashed by being turned into a social principle.
Envy is also mentioned in the Holly Qur’an, envy known as hassad.
Allah Ta’ala says:
“(Say) I seek refuge with the Rabb of the morning from the evil of Hassid (envious person) when he envies” (From Surat The Daybreak).
Envy is also mentioned in the Bible and known as a sin.
“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage; selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warm you that those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-27).
Universally the evil eye is blamed for causing harm to everything from car accidents, to bad gardening, diseases, and damage of possessions even death. When this powerful gaze is directed at us, we see ourselves as victims. Sometimes we actually invite hurtful comments by our own jealousies. Or we might risk hurting other people by our own boasting and may provoke them to envy. A new car, a better mobile, a bigger house, is all things, which we may be tempted to brag about. Our good fortune may be our pride and joy, but if our friends cannot afford such things they might become so jealous that they react abusively towards us and be filled with envy.
Envy from around the world
In India Bakhour (herbs that once burnt produce a nice aroma) its scent is spread with every new visitor to the house, believing that the aroma draws in good vibes which go against evil ones which might come from envious people visiting a home or a new born.
Also Indian women draw black lines around their own eyes not only to shield themselves form the Evil Eye, but also to ensure that they don’t accidentally inflict the Evil Eye on their friends.
In France and in most European countries people cross their middle finger on top of the index finger in both hands when facing a person who is thought to have envious looks.
Another old European Evil Eye defense was to write spells or prayers on a piece of paper, and stuff it in a little container to wear on the body. Colonial Americans were partial to heart-shaped containers.
In battle, warriors believed that distracting and flashy décor on helmets and shields would derail the enemy’s envious eyes.
In Africa they protect themselves from envy by distracting the envious eyes by special drawings of eyes or blue-eyed charms with an arrow going through them. Or surrounding the eye charm with metal rings and is always placed on a newborn chest or close to him until he reaches six months of age. The blue color used for the eye charms and or lockets helps bring peace to the soul with a feeling of security, absorbing the evil from eyes of envy and cooling them down.
Also in Egypt and most of the Arab countries the blue-eyed charm is very popular as is a charm with a shape of a hand believed to ward off envy and eyes of evil. Europeans or Americans may think nothing of complimenting someone on their health or remarking that a child “hasn’t he grown? Or isn’t he tall?” Such remarks could well strike fear into the heart of an Arab and are considered to be somewhat of a taboo.
Compliments related to appearance or character, not health and strength are welcomed, but even then must be prefaced with the exclamation “masha’allah” (by Gods will) to make clear no envy or malice is intended.
So you might laugh at the idea wearing an anti-Evil Eye amulet, believing you can bounce evil vision-beams, well still till this day most people use these charms against the evil gaze, making them feel some what safe and taking some sort of measures to protect their loved ones and possessions.
Unlike other sins, jealousy and envy have no upside whatsoever. There is neither pleasure nor gain. And keep in mind, both emotions are aggravated by an insufficiently sense of self. Therefore the best way to deal with envy starts from within the soul. Praise much the person against whom jealousy is directed. Praise him no matter how difficult this may seem. Honor him and meet him with respect and humility. Learn to be humble with no prejudgments of others.
Learn to appreciate each individual for all of his or her strength and values. Learning to love takes some re-education and reorienting of our style of thinking. It also takes some practice and real effort. But once we achieve this goal and root out jealousy and envy, and begin to cultivate the fruit of the spirit, then we are well on or way to finding forgiveness in our hearts, and peace in our souls.