Definition of Evil Eye
and ways to protect oneself
What is the definition of the evil eye?
...Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
The Arabic word al-‘ayn (translated as the evil eye) refers to when a person harms another with his eye. It starts when the person likes a thing, then his evil feelings affect it, by means of his repeated looking at the object of his jealousy. Allaah commanded His Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to seek refuge with Him from the envier, as He said (interpretation of the meaning):
“And from the evil of the envier when he envies”
Everyone who puts the evil eye on another is envious, but not every envier puts the evil eye on another. The word haasid (envier) is more general in meaning than the word ‘aa’in (one who puts the evil eye on another), so seeking refuge with Allaah from the one who envies includes seeking refuge with Him from the one who puts the evil eye on another. The evil eye is like an arrow which comes from the soul of the one who envies and the one who puts the evil eye on another towards the one who is envied and on whom the evil eye is put; sometimes it hits him and sometimes it misses. If the target is exposed and unprotected, it will affect him, but if the target is cautious and armed, the arrow will have no effect and may even come back on the one who launched it.
Adapted from Zaad al-Ma’aad.
There are ahaadeeth from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) which speak of the effects of the evil eye. For example it is narrated in al-Saheehayn that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to tell me to recite ruqyah for protection against the evil eye.
Muslim, Ahmad and al-Tirmidhi narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The evil eye is real and if anything were to overtake the divine decree, it would be the evil eye. When you are asked to take a bath (to provide a cure) from the influence of the evil eye, you should take a bath.” This was classed as saheeh by al-Tirmidhi, and also by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 1251.
Imam Ahmad and al-Tirmidhi (2059, where he classed it as saheeh) narrated that Asma’ bint ‘Umays said: “O Messenger of Allaah, the children of Ja’far have been afflicted by the evil eye, shall we recite ruqyah for them?” He said, “Yes, for if anything were to overtake the divine decree it would be the evil eye.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.
Abu Dawood narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: The person who had put the evil eye on another would be ordered to do wudoo’, then the person who had been afflicted would wash himself (with that water). This was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
Imam Ahmad (15550), Maalik (1811), al-Nasaa’i and Ibn Hibbaan narrated from Sahl ibn Haneef that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came out and traveled with him towards Makkah, until they were in the mountain pass of al-Kharaar in al-Jahfah. There Sahl ibn Haneef did ghusl, and he was a handsome white-skinned man with beautiful skin. ‘Aamir ibn Rabee’ah, one of Banu ‘Adiyy ibn Ka’b looked at him whilst he was doing ghusl and said: “I have never seen such beautiful skin as this, not even the skin of a virgin,” and Sahl fell to the ground. They went to Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) came and said, “O Messenger of Allaah, can you do anything for Sahl, because by Allaah he cannot raise his head.” He said, “Do you accuse anyone with regard to him?” They said, “ ‘Aamir ibn Rabee’ah looked at him.” So the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) called ‘Aamir and rebuked him strongly. He said, “Why would one of you kill his brother? If you see something that you like, then pray for blessing for him.” Then he said to him, “Wash yourself for him.” So he washed his face, hands, forearms, knees and the sides of his feet, and inside his izaar (lower garment) in the vessel. Then that water was poured over him, and a man poured it over his head and back from behind. He did that to him, then Sahl got up and joined the people and there was nothing wrong with him.
Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Mishkaat, 4562.
The majority of scholars are of the view that people can indeed be afflicted by the evil eye, because of the ahaadeeth quoted above and others, and because of the corroborating reports and other evidence.
With regard to the hadeeth that you mention, “One third of those who are in the grave are there because of the evil eye,” we do not know how sound it is, but the author of Nayl al-Awtaar said that al-Bazzaar narrated with a hasan isnaad from Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Most of those who die among my ummah die because of the will and decree of Allaah, and then because of the evil eye.”
The Muslim has to protect himself against the devils among the evil jinn and mankind, by having strong faith in Allaah and by putting his trust in Him and seeking refuge with Him and beseeching Him, reciting the prayers for protection narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), reciting al-Mi’wadhatayn [the last two soorahs of the Qur’aan], Soorat al-Ikhlaas, Soorat al-Faatihah, and Aayat al-Kursi.
Du’aa’s for protection include the following:
A’oodhu bi kalimaat-illaah il-taammati min sharri ma khalaqa (I seek refuge in the perfect words of Allaah from the evil of that which He has created).
A’oodhu bi kalimaat-illaah il-taammati min ghadabihi wa ‘iqaabihi, wa min sharri ‘ibaadihi wa min hamazaat al-shayaateeni wa an yahduroon (I seek refuge in the perfect words of Allaah from His wrath and punishment, from the evil of His slaves and from the evil promptings of the devils and from their presence).
And one may recite the words of Allaah:
“Hasbi Allaahu laa ilaaha illa huwa, ‘alayhi tawakkaltu wa huwa Rabb ul-‘arsh il-‘azeem
(Allaah is sufficient for me. Laa ilaaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He) in Him I put my trust and He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne)”
[al-Tawbah 9:129 – interpretation of the meaning]
And there are other similar du’aa’s that are prescribed in sharee’ah. This is what was meant by Ibn al-Qayyim in the words quoted at the beginning of this answer.
If it is known or suspected that a person has been afflicted by the evil eye, then the one who put the evil eye on him should be ordered to wash himself for his brother. So a vessel of water should be brought, and he should put his hand in it, rinse out his mouth into the vessel. Then he should wash his face in the vessel, then put his left hand into the vessel and wash his right knee, then put his right hand in the vessel and wash his left knee. Then he should wash inside his garment. Then the water should be poured over the head of the one on whom he put the evil eye, pouring it from behind in one go. Then he will be healed, by Allaah’s leave.
Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah li’l-Buhooth al-‘Ilmiyyah wa’l-Ifta, 1/186
Shaykh Muhammad al-Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen was asked:
Can the evil eye afflict a person? How is it treated? Does being on one's guard against it contradict putting one's trust in Allaah?
Our opinion concerning the evil eye is that it is real and is proven both by Islamic teachings and by real life experiences. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And verily, those who disbelieve would almost make you slip with their eyes (through hatred)”
Ibn ‘Abbaas and others said, commenting on this verse: this means, they put the evil eye on you with their glances. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The evil eye is real and if anything were to overtake the divine decree, it would be the evil eye. When you are asked to take a bath (to provide a cure) from the influence of the evil eye, you should take a bath.” Narrated by Muslim. Al-Nasaa’i and Ibn Maajah narrated that ‘Aamir ibn Rabee’ah passed by Sahl ibn Haneef when he was bathing… and he quoted the hadeeth.
Reality confirms that and it cannot be denied.
In the event that you are afflicted by the evil eye, you should use the treatments recommended in sharee’ah, which are:
1 – Reciting ruqyah. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “There is no ruqyah except in the case of the evil eye or fever.” al-Tirmidhi, 2057; Abu Dawood, 3884. Jibreel used to do ruqyah for the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and say, “Bismillaahi arqeeka min kulli shay’in yu’dheeka, min sharri kulli nafsin aw ‘aynin haasid Allaahu yashfeek, bismillaahi arqeek (In the name of Allaah I perform ruqyah for you, from everything that is harming you, from the evil of every soul or envious eye may Allaah heal you, in the name of Allaah I perform ruqyah for you).”
2 – Asking the person who has put the evil eye on another to wash, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) commanded ‘Aamir ibn Rabee’ah to do in the hadeeth quoted above. Then the water should be poured over the one who has been afflicted.
With regard to taking his waste, such as his urine and stools, there is no basis for doing so; the same applies to taking any of his belongings. Rather what is narrated is that which is mentioned above, washing his limbs and washing inside his garment, or likewise washing inside his headgear and garments. And Allaah knows best.
There is nothing wrong with taking precautions against the evil eye before it happens, and this does not contradict the idea of tawakkul (putting one's trust in Allaah). In fact this is tawakkul, because tawakkul means putting one’s trust in Allaah whilst also implementing the means that have been permitted or enjoined. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to seek refuge for al-Hasan and al-Husayn and say: U’eedhukuma bi kalimaat Allaah al-taammati min kulli shaytaanin wa haammah wa min kulli ‘aynin laammah (I seek refuge for you both in the perfect words of Allaah, from every devil and every poisonous reptile, and from every evil eye).’” Al-Tirmidhi, 2060; Abu Dawood, 4737. And he would say, “Thus Ibraaheem used to seek refuge with Allaah for Ishaaq and Ismaa’eel, peace be upon them both.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3371.
And Allaah knows best.