Hand of Fatima (Hamsa) in Islamic Tradition

The Hand of Fatima, also known as the Hamsa, has deep symbolic meaning in Islamic tradition. Hamsa is an Arabic word that means five. The Hand of Fatima is named in reference to Fatima Zahra, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad and is a symbol often worn on amulets, jewelry and charms believed to protect the bearer.

Fatima Zahra was one of Prophet Muhammad's daughters. She was born to the Prophet and his first wife in 605 AD. She was held, and still is held, in high regard in Islam and is viewed as an exemplar for both Muslim men and women. It is she that stayed at her father's side and bore with him the sufferings and difficulties inflicted by the Quarysh of Mecca.

Hand of FatimaThe reverence held my Muslims for Fatimah is evident in the many titles awarded to her for her exemplary life. She is admired for her physical and moral characteristics. She is referred to as Al-Zahra or the Shinning One. Thus her name is commonly written as Fatima Zahra. She spent most of her time in prayer and worship which resulted in the title, the chaste and pure one (al - Batul). She is considered the Mother of the Imams by the Shia Muslims as she represented Shia piety and was married to the very first Shia Imams.

The Hand of Fatima is also symbolic of the Five People of the Cloak (Ahl al-Kisa). This refers to Prophet Muhammad, his daughter Fatima, his cousin Ali (also married his daughter Fatima) and his two grandsons Husayn and Hasan (sons of Fatima and Ali). This formed the foundation of the Imamate conception of the Shi-i Muslims. They believe that the descendants of Prophet Muhammad are special spiritual leaders of the Muslim community. This leadership role is divinely ordained. These descendants are known as Imams.

The Hand of Fatima also has special significance amongst the Sunni Muslims. It is considered a symbolic representation of the five pillars of Islam. The symbol is worn as jewelry, woven in cloth or printed in works of art as a reminder of the duties of the Muslim faithful.

The Muslim community recognizes two types of Hand of Fatima symbols. The first is the symmetrical symbol that consists of a hand with five fingers, two of which are symmetrical thumbs on either side of the hand. The second symbol is asymmetrical. It resembles a normal human hand.

The symbols can be worn either facing downwards or upwards. The downward facing Hand of Fatima is taken to mean that evil spirits will be defeated and sent to the depths of the earth.
Various symbols may be incorporated into the Hand of Fatima. One of the most common symbols included in the Hand of Fatima is an eye. This is usually included to ward off the evil eye and protect the bearer of the symbol. The Arabic symbol for Fatima is also a common inclusion in the Hand of Fatima symbol. This symbol continues to be held in high regard amongst modern day Muslims.



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