The Fatima Hand
To keep evil at bay or deflect bad energies as a result of envy and hate and sometimes to even prevent the affliction of diseases and plagues, humans have devised several means to protect themselves. The use of Amulets or Talismans is one of such means. An amulet is an ornament or small piece of jewellery thought to give protection or bring good fortune when carried or worn.
The use of amulets cut across several cultures, religions and times. Different talismans have been used and are being used till today. From gemstones to bezoar stones (stones formed from undigested food in the stomachs of goats and sheep), from theosophy symbols to swastikas, one of the most popular talismans in history is the Hamsa. The Hamsa also known as the Hand of Fatima, the Hand of Miriam, the Hand of Mary, and the Hand of the Goddess, is a palm-shaped symbol believed to fend off the evil eye and bring good luck.
Several variations of the Hamsa can be seen. Some are symmetrical with the thumb on either side and some are asymmetrical looking like the normal palm. Some have small gaps in-between the fingers while others do not. The hamsa is a representation of the right palm with other symbols or words drawn in.
Hand of Fatima as a protective ornament: the hand pointing down is used to defend the bearer against evil and represents pushing evil to the depth of the earth. It is very common to have a single eye at the centre of the palm. This is specifically used as a protection against the evil eye (the envious stares from others who secretly wish you misfortunes). Some can also be seen with fish symbol. Fishes are traditionally known to bring good fortune and in addition to this it is thought that as fishes live in water they are completely immune from the evil eye.
Hand of Fatima as a good luck charm: when the hand is pointing up it symbolizes bringing good fortunes for the bearer. It is believed things will start looking up when the hand is worn like this.
The Hand of Fatima, a binding factor across religions and a symbol of hope: Hand of Fatima is a popular and important symbol amongst Muslims, Jews and Christians. A shop keeper in old Jerusalem when asked the meaning of the hand said, “It is the hand of Fatima for Mohammedans. It is the hand of Esther for Israel. It is the hand of Mary for Christians.” The importance of all three women to each the respective religions is enormous. They are revered and respected. They are seen as protectors and thus the importance and significance attached to the talisman.
The symbol represents hope that Muslims and Jews will set aside their differences and live together in harmony.
Whatever the hand may represent or not represent, whatever it may bring or keep away, it is a beautiful symbol and it is a very important one to a lot of people even today.