How does Islam view applying lead (melting lead and pouring it into cold water over the head of a sick person done with the intention of breaking an evil spell)?
It is not appropriate to apply or to have it applied because of the strike of the evil eye or of other sicknesses.
There are certain phenomena that affect people and make them ill, for which medicine has not found a definite diagnosis. It cannot give clear information as regards their real causes. One of those phenomena is 'nazar' (the evil eye). It is a known and accepted truth that nazar is a reality and that it may cause the affected person to become ill and even to die.
Prophet Muhammad, who said that nazar is real and that it has a close relationship with the fate of man, said:
“Nazar is real; if there were something that would competed with the fate, the phenomenon of nazar would compete with it and surpass it (would change the fate).” 1
Though nazar has some relation with the fate, it is again God Almighty Who creates its effect. Otherwise, it is not the person who performs nazar himself/herself that creates the phenomenon. When a person with a sharp look (nazar) looks at something, God Almighty creates harm in that thing because Allah alone is the creator of the good and the evil. Nothing takes place outside of His will.
We learn from Prophet Muhammad the effects of nazar such as causing death and destruction. In a hadith narrated by Jabir bin Abdullah, the following is stated:
“The harming of the eye is real. It puts the camel into the cauldron and man into the grave.” 2
Thus, just as the camel affected by nazar dies and its flesh is put into caudron, so too may the person to whom nazar is applied lose his/her life and may enter the grave. It is understood from the hadith that the effect of nazar is not peculiar to humans, rather, it may damage all living beings and even anything that attracts one's attention.
It is possible to draw detailed information from an event of nazar that passed in the Era of Bliss (the time of the Prophet) about how a believer should act in the face of something that s/he likes, and what s/he should say, and it can be understood that applying nazar is counted as killing one's friend of faith, and about what the person who is affected and the one who applies nazar should do.
Amr bin Rabia, one of the Companions, sees Sahl bin Hunayf having a bath and his nazar affects him. Sahl falls down as if he has been struck. They take him to the presence of the Prophet. The Prophet, who learns about the situation, asks: “Whom do you suspect of?” The Companions name Amr bin Rabia. Thereupon, the Prophet admonishes Amr and says: “Why does one among you kill one's brother? When one of you sees something that s/he likes in his/her brother, let him/her pray for it to be blessed. (Let him/her say words like 'Mashallah', 'Barakallah'.”
Then the Prophet asks for some water and commands Amr, whose nazar affected his friend, to take ablution. 3
Scholars of Islamic Jurisprudence describe this action, which is a kind of ablution, as follows: Some water is poured into a cup. The one whose nazar has affected another takes a handful thereof, rinses his/her mouth and sprays it into the cup. And then takes from the same water and washes his/her face; then taking water with the left hand, washes the right hand, and taking water with the right washes the left hand up to the wrist. Afterwards, s/he washes the right and the left elbows, then, washes the part between the elbow and the shoulder. After that, s/he washes the feet, the right and the left knees. While washing hands and feet, s/he does not wash the arm and the part below the knee. Thereafter, s/he washes the right flank downwards. After washing all those organs, s/he collects the water in the same cup. After the person whose nazar has affected completes those actions, s/he takes the water cup and, standing behind the person s/he affected, pours the water onto his/her head. 4 That water used is not accepted as dirty. We understand it from the practice of the Prophet himself.
Of course, that washing, which is described by the Prophet shortly and which is explained by scholars in detail, has many wisdoms unknown to us. At least, in order to remove the apprehension of nazar that sunnah (practice of the Prophet) needs to be done. That washing and pouring water was also performed by the Companions occasionally.
After it is done, if the one whose nazar has affected prays for Barakah (blessing) and says “Mashallah, La quwwata illa billah.” it is narrated that Allah will prevent the possible damage to be received. Indeed, that washing action that is carried out is a kind of active prayer. Effect and cure must be expected from Allah alone.
One should seek refuge in God from nazar and the evil that may come from it. As we learn from Aisha (one of the wives of the Prophet), the Prophet asked her to perform ruqya (to pray) against the evil eye. 5
In another hadith, the following is stated: “Seek refuge in Allah from nazar.”6 and it is recommended that we ask for the cure from Allah.
Abu Said al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, explains which prayers the Prophet recited against the evil eye and what he did:
“Allah's Messenger (PBUH) would seek refuge in Allah from Jinn' s nazar and then from humans' nazar with such prayers as 'I seek refuge in Allah from the nazar of the Jinn and humans'. Afterwards, when Muawwizatan (Surahs of Falaq and Nas, the Qur'an) were revealed, he kept reading those chapters (of Qur'an). He abandoned other prayers.” 7
So, it is not only humans who affect by nazar and cause harm. Jinn, too, affect by nazar and cause harm to humans. Some scholars, who say “The nazar (look) of the Jinn surpasses the arrow.”, understand the evil eye effect also as the striking of the Jinn and their nazar.
It is not appropriate for a believer to apply other ways and search for cure other than the spiritual remedies practiced and recommended by the Prophet. In the Age of Ignorance, the Arabs would wear various tools and beads around their necks and arms because of certain illnesses. They would expect the cure and recovery from those things they wore. The Prophet, who strongly forbade such deeds which reminds idolatry and which are not appropriate for Islamic belief, said: “Whoever wears something, all his/her deeds are entrusted to that thing which s/he wears.” 8
Thus, it is understood that the thing worn does not benefit in the least and that by attaching all one's hopes to it, one will damage his faith.
To write and use certain amulets whose meaning is unknown or to wear 'beads of nazar' in order to avoid nazar are superstitions incompatible with Islamic belief. It is neither permitted for somebody to wear such things, nor is it allowed to hang them on an animal or some article. Among certain things that the Prophet counted forbidden is also wearing articles supposedly preventive of nazar. 9
It is necessary not to resort to such nonsensical actions as melting candles, pouring lead or burning herbs and positioning them above the patient's head because Allah also created the legal cure for every kind of trouble that He ordains. The believer must take the Sunnah (practice of the Prophet) as a criterion and try not to deviate from that criterion. Guidance is possible only this way.
1. Muslim, Salam: 42; Ibn Majah, Tib: 3.
2. Kashfu’l-Khafa, 2: 76 (narrated by Abu Naim).
3. Ibn Majah, Tib: 32, Musnad, 3: 447.
4. Nawawi, Sharh-u Sahih-i Muslim, 14: 172-173.
5. Ibn Majah, Tib: 34.
6. Ibid. Tib: 32.
7. Ibid. Tib: 34.
8. Tirmidhi, Tib: 24.
9. Nasai, Zinat: 17.
Mehmed Paksu: Halal – Haram
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