Ankara, Turkey – The state-run religious authority has sounded the alarm by proclaiming the use of talismans to ward off “the evil eye” prohibited by Islam.
The proliferation of blue glass eye-shaped amulets in Turkey is widespread, as is the belief in their ability to ward off malicious or jealous intentions.
In a recently published fatwa – a legal or general decree of a religious authority or tribunal – the Diyanet, which governs all matters relating to Islam in Turkey, denounced the use of the ornaments, known locally as name of nazarlik or nazar boncugu, as prohibited.
“Although the nature and condition of the evil eye is not known with precision, it is believed by religion that some people can create negative effects with their gaze,” the Diyanet said in a notice posted on its website .
“In our religion, attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs which attribute ultimate influence over anything other than Allah are prohibited. For this reason, it is not allowed to wear evil eye amulets and similar items around the neck or anywhere for the purpose of benefiting.
The belief in the power of the evil eye to cause harm dates back to ancient times and is widespread throughout the Mediterranean and parts of Asia.
The logic behind this belief is that success or admirable objects inspire envy, which can be conveyed in a hurtful gaze. Amulets are used to intercept the curse and protect the wearer.
The tradition is believed to date back to at least 3300 BCE and has become widely adopted in Turkey.
Nese Yildiran, professor of art history at Bahcesehir University in Istanbul, said the blue color of the pearls is related to the sky god of the Seljuk Turks of Central Asia.
“The Great Seljuks who accepted Islam continued to use this color in architectural decoration,” she said.
The use of two shades of blue, cobalt and turquoise in Muslim art “was also the result of an expression with the understanding of Islam,” which incorporated the name of God and Arabic calligraphy, Yildiran added.
Charms are given to newborns – as new additions to the family are considered particularly susceptible to the evil eye – and are also worn as jewelry.
More commonly though, they adorn homes, workplaces, cars, and buses – more or less any place they can be hung.
In a sign of the digital age catching up with ancient folklore, a Nazarlik emoji was created in 2018.
“A lot of people believe in the power of the evil eye,” said Cansu Polat, a 35-year-old construction engineer who wears a little Nazarlik around his neck.
“I’ve known many instances where people are complimented for something, like a new pair of shoes and soon after they trip up and scratch them. It’s the evil eye, that’s what a lot of people think. Either way, it can’t hurt to have some protection.
A harmless tradition
Given the ubiquitous nature of the symbols, many Turks wondered why the Diyanet decided to denounce a harmless tradition.
“They’re really just for decoration,” said Aysegul Aytekin, who runs a small gift shop in Ankara.
“It’s probably the best-selling product here, but I don’t think people really believe in their power. It’s just a beautiful tradition and they make great decorations.
However, there are many that attest to the influence of totems.
Mahmut Sur, 58, has been making the symbols in his workshop in the village of Nazarkoy, near the western city of Izmir, since he was a child.
“It’s a belief,” he says. “They are blue because the color blue is believed to distract the evil energy. Of course, I believe in them. It’s part of a culture that dates back 3,000 years.
“When you wear an amulet, if someone with bad energy looks at you, the amulet avoids the bad energy and protects you,” he added.
The Diyanet, or Directorate of Religious Affairs, did not respond to a request for comment.
In the past, he has been criticized and ridiculed for issuing fatwas against other practices, such as men dying with mustaches and beards, feeding dogs at home, tattooing and playing the national lottery.
“For Anatolians, it is cultural and traditional to believe in the protective power of blue pearls,” Yildiran said. “The misconception of Diyanet is that it can abolish this traditional belief after centuries.
Instead, such statements have taken people further away from management, “causing a huge social backlash with the huge expense and waste they have made in recent years.”
The Diyanet has also been criticized for previous proclamations that appeared to condone or downplay child abuse and violence against women.
In such cases, the body said its statements had been misinterpreted.
It has also been criticized for its lavish spending on items such as luxury cars for its officials, as well as its growing budget, which, at around $ 1.75 billion, exceeds that of the foreign and foreign ministries. Interior.