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Summary of question
Is there any religious evidence to prove that burning the seeds of Esfand is useful for warding off the evil eye?
question
Is there any religious evidence to prove that burning the seeds of esfand is useful for protection against the evil eye?
Concise answer

Science and man's intellect are unable to perceive and understand some fact. The evil eye is a phenomenon which the human intellect and science have not been able to prove nor have they been able to find a concrete reason to refute its very existence.

 

If we go through religious texts including the Quran and traditions, we can find evidence to prove and support its existence. Certainly, since the human science and intellect have not reached the reality of the evil eye, it cannot also contrive any cure or treatment for it. For that reason, it would also be necessary to seek the help of the religious texts for any cure or any measures to ward off the influence of the evil eye.

 

In our religious doctrines, no material treatment has been offered for the evil eye. Therefore, there is no religious proof to confirm that burning the seeds of esfand (penganum harmala) is useful for warding off the influence of the evil eye. Of course, there are some narrations according to which using esfand has been recommended for curing certain psychological and physical illnesses. As for the evil eye, the traditions recommend that one should recite God's name and certain du'as (supplications) to ward off its influenced. It has been narrated from Imam Ali (a.s.) that he said: "There is deterrence in the roots of esfand and cure for seventy two diseases."[i] The chain of the transmission of this narrative is weak and inauthentic.

 

 

[i] - Kufi, Muhammad bin Muhammad al-Ja'fariyat, pg.244, New Naynawa Library, Tehran; Tamimi, Maghrebi, Nu'man bin MUhamad, Da'aemul Islam, vo.2, pg.150, Darul Ma'aref Publication, Egypt, 1385 A.H. Mustadrak Al-Wasail, vol.16, pg. 460.

 

Detailed Answer

Undoubtedly, human beings are concerned with realities as well as superstitions which apparently show up as facts. A wise man endeavors to know the facts and realities and live up to them; he tries to stay away from superstitions as far as he can. Some realities are considered to be superstitions and some superstitions are believed to be more real than the realities themselves. Some practices and beliefs are a blend of superstitions and realties which need to be sieved and refined. The belief in the evil eye which exists in our culture has also been affected by some sort of superstitions. The evil eye is a look that is believed by many cultures to be able to cause injury or bad luck for the person at whom it is directed for reasons of envy or dislike. The term also refers to the power attributed to certain persons of inflicting injury or bad luck by such an envious or ill-wishing look.

 

Islam's perspective in this regard can be useful and can do away with ambiguities.

 

The Evil Eye according to the Quran

 

There are two verses which, according to many interpreters of the Holy Quran, have something to do with the evil eye:

 

1. Verse 67 of Chapter Yusuf: "And he said: O my sons! Do not (all) enter by one gate and enter by different gates and I cannot avail you aught against Allah; judgment is only Allah's; on Him do I rely, and on Him let those who are reliant rely."[1]

 

One of the probabilities concerning this verse is that it is related to the evil eye. The exegetes of the Quran are of the view that the reason behind Prophet Jacob's order was that his sons were all fine-statured, mature and beautiful like Yusuf and they would draw the attention of some people as a result of which they were likely to be afflicted with their [envious] gaze.[2]

 

2. Verse 51 of Chapter al-Qalam: This verse is known in public as verse "In-Yakad" and it is the verse which people use and read for protection against the evil eye. In this verse, God, the Exalted says to the Holy Prophet (pbuh): "And those who disbelieve would almost smite you with their eyes when they hear the reminder, and they say: Most surely he is mad."[3]

 

Late Allamah Tabatabai (r.a.) says in the commentary of the foregoing verse: "The verse, as per the saying of all commentators, refers to smiting someone with one's eye or casting an evil eye on someone which is by itself an effect of the soul and there is no rational proof to refute its existence. In fact, many incidents have been seen in the outside world which can be the effects of the evil eye." [4]

 

It has been said in regards to the circumstance in which this verse was revealed that a group of people from the clan of Quraish hired a few individuals from Bani Asad tribe who were known for their evil eyes. These evil-eyed people were hired to harm the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). It has been said that some of the people from Bani Asad tribe were so evil-eyed that some of them were jailed lest they should not harm others. The same people came to the Prophet when he was reciting the Quran. Hearing the Prophet's voice, they said: "How eloquent this man is! How marvelously he is speaking!" but God, the Exalted, protected his messenger from their evil eyes.[5]

 

The Evil Eye according to Traditions

 

There are many traditions about the evil eye and they are divided into two groups:

 

1. Traditions which seek to demonstrate the reality of the evil eye.

 

The Holy Prophet (pbuh) says: "The evil eye is a fact and it brings down the peak of a mountain."[6] In this tradition, the realness of the evil eye has been emphasized upon and the intensity of its effect has been implied. In many of these traditions, not only the realness of the evil eye has been underscored but also mention has been made of its severe effect. It has been narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said: "An evil eye puts a healthy man into the grave and a perfect camel into the caldron." [7]

 

The Holy Prophet's seerah (biography) is good evidence indicating the fact that he considered the evil eye to be real and that he introduced some preventive measures which he himself applied for protection against the influence of the evil eye.

 

It has been reported that Imam Hasan and Imam Hussein (a.s.) fell ill due to the effect of the evil eye. The Prophet of God (pbuh) used a special amulet and du'a at Gabriel's recommendation for their treatment.[8]

 

2. There are traditions which describe ways of warding off the evil eye. The traditions do not make mention of any material cure for the influence of the evil eye. In fact, they introduce some du'as which imply that remembering God and mentioning His name are useful for protection against the evil eye. The Holy Prophet of God (pbuh) said: "The evil eye is a fact; whoever likes something about his brethren in faith should remember God. Indeed, if he remembers God, he will not be afflicted with the evil eye."[9]

 

It has been narrated that Imam Sadiq (a.s.) recommended reciting "ma sha'Allah la hawla wa la quwata illa billahil 'aliyil azim"[10] three times.

 

It has also been reported that Imam Hasan and Imam Hussein (a.s.) became ill due to the effect of the evil eye. The Prophet of God (pbuh) used the following du'a at the recommendation of Gabriel:

 

«اللٌهمٌ یا ذا السلطان العظیم و المنٌ القدیم و الوجه الکریم ذا الکلمات التامٌات و الدعوات المستجابات عاف الحسن و الحسین من انفس الجنٌ و اعین الانس».

 

In other traditions[11] reciting "Tabarakallahu ahsanul khaleqin allahumma barik fihi"[12] Sura al-Hamd, al-Tawhid, al-Nas, al-Falaq and Ayatul Kursi have been recommended.

 

Esfand and the Evil Eye

 

Esfand (Peganum harmala, also called Espand, Esphand, and Harmal) are normally found in desert areas and it is included in the category of herbal medicine used in different parts of the world since the time immemorial.[13]

 

There are some narrations according to which using esfand has been recommended for curing certain psychological and physical illnesses. However, Esfand has not been recommended exclusively for curing and preventing the effect of the evil eye.

 

The traditions concerning penganum harmala deal with the medical aspect of this herb. It is believed to be useful for curing some psychological illnesses such as fear.[14] Also, it has been introduced as a cure for certain physical ailments like leprosy[15] and urinal incontinence[16].

 

"There is deterrence in the roots of esfand and cure for seventy two diseases."[17] However, the chain of the transmission of this narrative is weak and inauthentic.

 

The conclusion is that there is no narration in which esfand may have been regarded as a cure exclusively for the affliction caused by the evil eye.

 

 

[1] - Translated by Shakir

[2] - Tabarsi, Fazl bin Hasan, vol.3, pg.248, Dar Ehya Turath Al-Arabi, Beirut, 1379 A.H.

[3] - Translated by Shakir

[4] - Al-Mizan, vol.20, pg.50, 5th edition, Islamic Books Publications, Tehran, 1993.

[5] - Kashani, Fathullah, Manhaj al-Sadeqin fi Elzam al-Mukhalefin, vol.9, pg.390, 2nd edition, Islamic Bookstall, Tehran, 1344 A.H (solar calendar); Qommi, Abbas, Safinatul Behan, vol.6, pg.590, 2nd edition, Darul Uswah, Iran, 1416 A.H.

[6] - Sharif Razi, Al-Mujazat al-Nabawiyah, pg.367, Basirati Library Publications, Qom.

[7] - Majidi, Ghulam Hussein, Nahjul Fasahah, vol.2, pg. 704, 1st edition, Ansariyan Publications, Qom 2000,; Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Behar al-Anwar, vol.60, pg. 39, 1st edition, Al-Wafa Publication, Beirut, 1404 A.H..

[8] - Behar al-Anwar, vol.92, pg.132, and vol.60, pg.18.

[9] - Behar al-Anwar, vol.60, pg.25.

[10] - «ما شاء الله لا حول و لا قوٌة الٌا بالله العلیٌ العظیم»

[11] - Nahjul Fasahah, vol.2, pg.701; Nesai, al-Sunan al-Kubra, vol.6, pg.256, 1st edition Darul Kutub al-Elmiyah, Beirut 1411 A.H.

[12]  - «تبارک الله احسن الخالقین اللهم بارک فیه»

[13] - See: Digital Library of Islamic Encyclopedia Center

[14] - Behar al-Anwar, vol.59, pg.234.

[15] - Behar al-Anwar, vol.59, pg.234.

[16] - Behar al-Anwar, vol.59, pg.188; Noori, Hussein, Mustadrak al-Wasail, vo.16, pg. 446, Aalulbayt Institute Publication, Qom, 1408 A.H.

[17] - Kufi, Muhammad bin Muhammad al-Ja'fariyat, pg.244, New Naynawa Library, Tehran; Tamimi, Maghrebi, Nu'man bin MUhamad, Da'aemul Islam, vo.2, pg.150, Darul Ma'aref Publication, Egypt, 1385 A.H. Mustadrak Al-Wasail, vol.16, pg. 460.

 

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