What is it?
The Hand of Fatima, or Jamsa, is a hand-shaped symbol popular throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In other words, it is a symbol of protection commonly used as a defence, mainly by Jews and Muslims. However, it is an object typically coming from the Arab culture and accepted in almost all cultures. In addition, it is attributed a multitude of powers to it, including that it prevents the evil eye, protects from anger and above all is an object of protection.
The most widespread form of the symbol is that of a symmetrical hand: the middle finger in the centre; to its sides the ring and the index, a little shorter than the heart and equal to each other; and at the ends two thumbs, also of the same size and slightly curved outward. On the other hand, it sometimes contains other symbols, such as the eye of God, and inscriptions of a religious nature.
The reason for its name
This legend tells that, Fatima az-Zahra, was at home preparing dinner for her husband Ali ibn Abi Tálib. When Ali ibn Abi Tálib returned home and she went to meet him, Fatima was sadly surprised that he did not come alone. He was accompanied by a beautiful concubine, with whom he planned to spend the night.
Resigned by her husband’s decision, and full of jealousy; she accepted his will and returned to the kitchen to finish dinner. Undoubtedly, her sadness and jealousy enveloped her so much that she did not realize that she had the pot with the boiling broth. Then, she began to stir the broth with her own hand, being unable to feel any pain other than that of her heart
Her husband entered the kitchen and saw what Fatima did, he ran out, pouncing on his wife to prevent her from burning. Ali decided to take care of Fatima’s wounds, but this did not change his idea of spending the night with his concubine. So he withdrew and left his wife in the kitchen.
When night came, Fatima approached her husband’s room without making a sound, and spied on the couple through a crack. Seeing that they were kissing, Fatima felt excruciating and agonizing pain. Such was the pain that she could not bear it anymore and tears began to flow from her eyes, of pain and suffering.
At that moment, Ali observed the great pain he was causing his wife, and reflected on what he had done. He understood that he should not behave like this with his wife, he renounced his concubine, and dedicated all his love and affection solely to Fatima
In the Islamic world, this legend turned the symbol of the hand of Fatima into an expression of self-denial and patience.
The hand has the property of granting whoever uses it mystical powers. For example: of luck, fortune, joy, blessings and protection against evils such as envy, jealousy, rage or the evil eye.
Another characteristic granted to the hand of Fatima is to provide patience, fidelity and fertility. It also protects whoever wears the symbol against natural disasters or diseases.
How is it used?
Formerly, it was used as an amulet, hung on the doors of homes. As a result, it was used to protect against any kind of evil, and prevent it from entering the house.
Consequently, this amulet can be found as a decorative element in houses, key chains, jewellery items or in baby carriages. In necklaces, it can be worn up or down, for different purposes.
In many drawings and designs of this symbol, the hand is seen facing down or up. The orientation of the fingers, on the hand of Fatima, is not a determining factor in Muslim culture. However, in other cultures and beliefs it has a meaning, and a particular spiritual charge.
Hand down or varada mudra
To clarify, in the event that the hand of Fatima is oriented with the fingers down, it grants attributes such as patience, happiness, wealth, luck, and others.
Hand up or abhaya mudra
On the other hand, if the hand of Fatima is oriented with the fingers upwards, it confers protection against any evil such as jealousy, rage, envy, the evil eye, and others.