I have a doubt regarding wearing talisman to seek protection against evil. I always considered it to be unislamic practice and I have even heard from scholars who said it is a form of Shirk. But I came across several hadiths in Maliks Muwatta. There is a separate chapter in Maliks Muwatta, “Seeking Refuge and Talismans in Illness” in regard to wearing talisman for seek protection from evil eye. Are all these hadiths authentic? How could we interpret these hadiths?
Thank you for your help in advance.
May Allah show us the Straight Path.
A talisman is defined as either an object that acts as a charm to fend off evil and herald good fortune or as something producing seemingly magical and miraculous results. The referred section of Malik’s Muwatta, in Book 50: The Evil Eye, contains three hadiths, none of which involve the Prophet (pbuh), his companions or his sincere followers wearing talismans or other similar objects to ward off evil. Let us examine each of these Hadiths for the sake of clarification:
Yahya related to me from Malik from Yazid ibn Khusayfa that Amr ibn Abdullah ibn Kab as-Salami told him that Nafi ibn Jubayr told him that Uthman ibn Abi al-As came to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Uthman said that he had a pain which was enough to kill him. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Rub it with your right hand seven times and say, ‘I take refuge with the might of Allah and His power from the evil of what I feel.’ Uthman added, “I said that, and Allah removed what I had. I still command my family and others to say it.”
In the above hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) recommended Uthman (ra) to rub the area of his body that was undergoing intense pain and to supplicate to God seven times to relieve him of this pain. The Prophet (pbuh) merely offered his companion a particular supplication – not a talisman – to seek protection from “the evil eye”, which seems to be an idiomatic expression for evil forces in general.
Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from Urwa ibn az-Zubayr from A’isha that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, when he had a complaint, would recite the last three surahs of Qur’an, over himself and blow. She said, “When his pain was great, I would recite it over him and wipe him with his right hand hoping for its blessing.”
Here too there is no mention of any talisman or object heralding good fortune. On the contrary, the hadith shows that the Prophet (pbuh) would recite some surahs of the Qur’an to relieve the stress and pain accompanying a health-related complaint.
Yahya related to me from Malik from Yahya ibn Said from Amra bint Abd ar-Rahman that Abu Bakr as-Siddiq visited A’isha while she had a [health] complaint and a Jewish woman was making incantation (ruqya) for her. Abu Bakr said, “Do it (incantation) with the Book of Allah.”
According to the above hadith, Abu Bakr (ra) recommended that incantation, the recitation of the Qur’an, be performed. There is no indication of the use of any talisman.
The foregoing hadiths clearly demonstrate that evil forces – pain, stress, disease, and so forth – can be fought by the one who trusts, hopes in, and relies on the support of his/her Creator. The Prophet (pbuh) and his companions recommended making Qur’anic incantations and supplications as the means by which to communicate with and express dependence on God’s help and power. Moreover, the hadiths illustrate that fighting evil forces is an engagement of the mind and the heart, not of any artificial, external objects or symbols.
Wearing talismans or other objects of good fortune has no basis in the Qur’an or the Sunnah and therefore cannot be considered an Islamic practice.
I hope this helps.
August 25, 2003