The Hand of Fatima (Khamsa)

              The Hand of Fatima (Khamsa) – the meaning of the amulet and how to wear it

the Hand of Fatima

The hand of Fatima (Hamsa, hand of Miriam) is a talisman used all over the world to protect against bad luck and the evil eye, as well as to attract good luck. It is especially revered by Berber culture, which still uses the ancient symbol in its customs and rituals.

An exquisite talisman is an open palm. Sometimes an eye (in Muslim culture) or one of the Jewish sacred signs – the letter He (the oldest in the alphabet), a fish, or a Star of David – is depicted in the middle. 

The symbol of the Hand of Fatima has several names. The most common of these is Hamsa (sometimes Homsa) – translated from Arabic and Hebrew, it means “five” and refers to the number of fingers on the hand. In the Jewish world, the five-fingered symbol is known as the “Hand of Miriam.

The origin of the Amulet of the Hand of Fatima

The Hamsa is one of the oldest symbols. The history of the amulet goes back at least 1,800 years. This means that it predates all major religions. According to one scientific hypothesis, the amulet was first used in ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) as a magical remedy against the evil eye.

It is possible that Hamsa was borrowed by African and Mediterranean cultures as an interpretation of the motif of the patronizing “divine hand”. In Jewish iconography, this motif can be traced as early as 244 AD on the frescoes of the Dura-Europos synagogue in Syria. Later the symbol of the Hand of Fatima was adopted by the people of Carthage, who associated it with the goddess Tanit – the patroness of the city.

The origin of the feminine name associated with the symbol is shrouded in legend. One legend has it that the amulet owes its name to Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet Mohammed (translated from Arabic as “bearer of light”). One day she was preparing dinner when her husband brought a strange woman into the house. Fatima was so stunned that she dropped her spoon and continued to stir the fiery hot halva with her hand, feeling no pain from the burns. Appreciating Fatima’s endurance, humility and fervent love, her husband decided not to take a second wife. This is why the amulet is perceived as a symbol of incredible patience and humble faith.

Another legend has it that during a prayer with her father and children, Fatima raised her right hand up, asking for God’s intercession. Then the Archangel Gabriel came down to them and granted them protection.

Concerning the Jewish name Miriam, it belonged to Moses’ sister. She is credited with saving the Jewish people, who had been wandering for 40 years in the desert, with the help of an inexhaustible spring.

Meaning of the Fatima Hand talisman

In Jewish and Muslim traditions, the Hamsa symbolizes protection from evil forces and goodwill. It is believed that the amulet of the Hand of Fatima, painted in a delicate turquoise color, acquires special power. The fingers of the hand can be directed upwards or downwards, depending on the aesthetic preferences of the wearer (the power of the amulet does not change from this).

By the way, earlier we wrote about amulets for good luck and told about 5 strong talismans, do not miss it!

The meaning of the phalanges

The human hand consists of fourteen phalanges. If you multiply that number by two, you get 28. That is how many letters are contained in the Arabic and Hebrew alphabets. In other words, the Hamsa contains the written wisdom of the Middle East, and can also act as symbols of day and night. In the Arabic alphabet there are two groups of letters, the 14 solar (“southern” or “day”) and the 14 lunar (“northern” or “night”).

How and why to wear the Hand of Fatima

The Hamsa is often worn as a necklace or decorative item to protect against the evil eye or to attract good fortune to the home. According to belief, the Hand of Fatima can even ward off the devil and protect the wearer from envy, witchcraft, spoilage and curses. Young women use the Hamsa to ward off negative energy from their newborn baby.

If you want to show guests a friendly attitude and cordiality, you can decorate the front door of your home with Hamsa. Choose an amulet of turquoise color – it is closer to the traditional notions about the magical powers of the amulet.

The palm of Fatima has become such a famous talisman that it is widely used in the manufacture of a variety of jewelry: pendants, rings, necklaces, earrings. However, most often, Hamsa can be seen on the wrists. Depending on the version, there are several types of bracelets:

with Hamsa amulet on a lanyard (the most common model): due to the fact that the length of the lanyard can be adjusted, this jewelry is suitable for people with any volume of the wrist;

sterling silver: discreet and elegant, especially appreciated by oriental women; the price depends on the sterling silver;

Pearl adornment: a strand of mother-of-pearl imprinted with the hand of Fatima is considered an original and rare accessory, suitable for both men and women.

No matter what kind of jewelry with the image of Hamsa, they always look beautiful and stylish.

By the way, you can buy a pendant or bracelet with the Amulet of the Hand of Fatima in silver and gold from 800 rubles.

The symbol of the Hand of Fatima in different religions and cultures

Although the most ancient talisman is part of the Jewish and Islamic world today, it has been adopted by other cultures as well. It can even be seen on the tattooed bodies of North American Indian shamans. Throughout the world, the Hamsa is known primarily as a talisman against the evil eye. And yet in every culture the multinational symbol has acquired its own peculiarities.

The Palm of Fatima in Judaism

Adherents of the Jewish religion have long believed in the saving power of the open palm. Jews, like Middle Eastern Arabs, have an ancient custom of holding up five fingers to attract good fortune and combat the evil eye. According to biblical legend, this gesture helped Moses successfully fight the enemy of the Jews, Amalek.

The hand of Miriam is a respected and popular symbol among the Jewish people. It is used in marriage contracts and as an adornment of the Holy Pentateuch. In addition to the 5 volumes of the Torah, the fingers of the Miriam Hand symbolize human feelings and the major world religions.

Sometimes Jews place Kabbalistic drawings and incantations on the fingers of the Miriam Hand. Such an amulet is called “kamaya” and is believed to be able to protect the wearer from all evil and bring him good luck. 

During the creation of Israel, the Miriam Hand acquired the status of a symbol of the state. It became a sign of a person’s “secularism” and a fashionable amulet, promising success in business. The hand of Miriam can be seen on key chains, postcards, and even on lottery tickets and phone cards.

The ancient symbol is no less popular among Jewish communities around the world. It has become a frequent attribute of branded jewelry and wall ornaments.

The Hand of Fatima in Islam

Among Muslims, the ancient sign in the form of a palm is identical to the number “five”, which has a sacred meaning for the adherents of this religion. It may symbolize the following:

The five letters of Allah’s name in Arabic;

The five pillars of Islamic religion in the Sunni tradition: fasting (uraza), confession of faith (shahada), prayer (namaz), annual almsgiving (zakat), and pilgrimage (hajj);

five holy personages of Islam belonging to the family of Muhammad: the prophet himself, his cousin Ali, his daughter Fatima, and his grandchildren Hasan and Hussein (this symbolism is characteristic of the Shiite tradition).

During the Middle Ages the image of Fatima’s hand was used in decorative patterns. When ornamenting vases in the Nazari style, ancient masters did not limit themselves to depicting the palm and wrist, but also drew a forearm wrapped in a wide sleeve. Traditional Khamsa in Muslim art may include sacred inscriptions.

Allah in the Koran recognizes the existence of the evil eye, so the Islamic tradition, unlike the Christian one, allows the use of protective amulets. And yet among the orthodox Sunnis the use of amulets is not welcomed. In their opinion, the best protection for man is Allah and the Koran.

The Hand of Fatima in Hinduism

In the Hindu world, the open palm has always been considered a symbol of success and good luck. The Hamsa was therefore called upon to help when undertaking or completing an important undertaking. Moreover, the five-fingered hand in Hinduism symbolized the best – from the point of view of this religion – human qualities: impartiality, patience, openness, good-heartedness, spiritual purity.

The Hand of Fatima in Buddhism

The followers of the Buddha regarded the Hamsa as the embodiment of compassionate wisdom. They always depicted an all-seeing eye in the center of an open palm. Such a talisman was associated by Buddhists with the all-seeing goddess White Tara, who had seven eyes (including those on the palm) and saw all the suffering in the world. People believed that the amulet Hamsa would call on Tara to help anyone who needed comfort and protection, tormented by bad thoughts or fears.

The Hand of Fatima in Orthodoxy

Some Orthodox pilgrims, having heard about the miraculous powers of the Hamsa, bring this symbol to their homeland. However, orthodox clergymen do not approve of those who use the Hand of Fatima as a talisman. Their main argument is that the tradition of the Orthodox Church does not prescribe the wearing of amulets that bring good luck.

Nevertheless, the Hand of Fatima can also be interpreted as a Hand bestowing divine patronage. The “lucky palm” in this case becomes the protector of pilgrims and wanderers. Orthodox worshippers of the Hamsa are convinced that they are allowed to wear it, since it was brought from the Holy Land.

Despite all the arguments of the supporters of the Hand of Fatima, official Orthodoxy continues to insist on the inadmissibility of wearing it in places of worship. Therefore, when visiting Orthodox churches, one should keep in mind that the display of a symbol of another faith next to the Holy Cross may be perceived by the clergy as a manifestation of idolatry.

The Meaning of the Hand of Fatima in Tattoos

The image of Hamsa can often be found as a tattoo on the body of men and women. The meaning of the tattoo varies depending on what a person believes in. Many people, for example, are attracted not to the deep sacred content of a Hamsa tattoo, but to the eye in the middle of the design. The “all-seeing eye” is interpreted as a sign of special patronage or secret knowledge. However, the eye in a tattoo of the Hand of Fatima can also mean that the person has nowhere to go from the eye of his own conscience.

Most people wear the image of the Hamsa on their bodies upside down (fingers down). It is believed that this position of the ancient symbol brings success and harmony in relationships. A tattoo with the fingers of the Hand of Fatima pointing upwards can provide protection from evil forces and give a person courage. The image of Hamsa acquires additional meaning when combined with other symbols:

The Fatima Hand with a star in the center instead of an eye means that you have a special relationship with God or gives away your desire to protect yourself from darkness;

A hamsa with a rose, peony, lotus, sunflower or daisy flower in the middle indicates that you have a well-developed sense of beauty and adds grace to your tattoo;

The image of Fatima’s Hand with a heart indicates a warm feeling for a loved one or a desire to protect your loved ones;

Roses and doves next to Hamsa also serve as symbols of love and devotion.

Especially popular are tattoos with the image of Hamsa in a minimalist style. They use crisper lines and a sparse color scheme. The minimalist style Fatima Hand tattoo is just the outlined shape of a “happy palm” and eyes, which can be painted in pale pastel colors.

Hamsa: interesting facts

Recently, activists advocating a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Israelis and Arabs have adopted the Hamsa as a symbol of their hopes.

Because the Hand of Fatima is believed to be sacred to both Jews and Muslims, peace activists prefer to wear it as a sign of the similarity between the two religions.

Certain members of the Jewish and Islamic pacifist camps invest the Hamsa with the hope of peace and prosperity in the Middle East.

The symbol of the protecting palm still plays an important role in the rituals of Sephardic Jews. During the henna ceremony, when a bride adorns herself before her wedding, she puts the Hamsa around her neck to ward off evil forces.

The amulet in the form of the Hand of Fatima is also often seen on showbiz stars who are fond of Kabbalah teachings, particularly the queen of pop music, Madonna.

Jews believe that illumination, or the “sixth sense,” comes to those who use the five “essentials” symbolized by the Hand of Fatima

The Russian name of the hamsa fish comes from the Arabic word meaning “five”, as it is caught in a net with meshes measuring 5 millimeters.

In lieu of a conclusion

The symbol of the Hand of Fatima, which comes from the gray ages, demonstrates to us

the superiority of an open palm over a clenched fist. That is why the five-fingered

amulet finds its adherents in both eastern and western

civilization. Today, the Hamsa is more than a talisman – it is a symbol of goodwill,

peace and hope in our troubled world.

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