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The Hamsa or Hand of Fatima – what does it mean?

The Hamsa is one of the most beautiful and ancient symbols in the world, but how many people really know what it means?

What is the Hand of Fatima?

Similar to the evil eye, the open right-hand symbol known as Hand of Fatima (or Hamsa Hand) is an amulet used for protection against destructive and evil forces since ancient Mesopotamian civilisation times.

The Hamsa (literally meaning five), also known as the Khamsa, the Humes hand, the Hand of Fatima and the Hand of Miriam, is a popular symbol found throughout the Middle East and northern Africa, particularly within the Islamic and Jewish faiths.

In Islamic culture, the five fingers of the hand are associated with the Five Pillars of Islam.

It is believed that it can bring power, blessing and good luck. You also very often see nazar boncuğu (evil eye) and this symbol used together on an amulet to protect against the evil eye.

Hand of Fatima with nazar boncuğu

Up or down?

It can be worn with the fingers pointing up or down, and both are believed to offer its owner happiness, peace, and prosperity, as well as protection from the evil eye.

The Hand of Fatima necklace

Almost all Anatolian (Turkish) jewellery has a special meaning of its own and its own story, and the ‘Hand of Fatima Necklace’ is one of these, a lovely piece of silver and gold from which silver hands are hung and in whose good luck the women of Anatolia (Turkey) believe.

A romantic story

One day Lady Fatima (daughter of the Holy Prophet Mohammed) was cooking helva in a pan in the garden when suddenly the door opened and her husband, Caliph Ali entered along with his new bride. (Islam allowed a man to be married four times).

Fatima was deeply grieved and in confusion dropped the wooden spoon and continued stirring the helva with her hand.

Because of the grief in her heart, she didn’t feel the pain of the hot helva. However, when her husband hurried to her side and exclaimed in surprise “What are you doing there Fatima?” she felt her hand burning and the pain.

Thus it is from that day that the hand of Lady Fatima has been used in the Islamic world as a symbol of patience, abundance, and faithfulness. Girls and women wearing this necklace believe the hand of Lady Fatima will endow them with these qualities.

Hand of Fatima necklace

The Hand of Fatima is most often worn as a necklace but can be found as a decorative element in houses, on key chains, and on other jewellery items, and is quickly gaining popularity as an amulet in baby carriages.

This article was first published on 10 June 2021.

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Lyn Ward

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