ANKARA (Al Jazeera) – Turkey’s religious authority has proclaimed the use of talismans to ward off "the evil eye” prohibited under Islam.
The proliferation of the eye-shaped blue glass amulets in Turkey is widespread, as is the belief in their ability to ward off malevolent or jealous intentions.
In a recently published fatwa – a legal or general decree by a religious authority or court – the Diyanet, which governs all matters relating to Islam in Turkey, denounced the use of the ornaments, known locally as nazarlik or nazar boncugu, as forbidden.
"Although the nature and condition of the evil eye are not known precisely, it is accepted by religion that some people can create negative effects with their gaze,” the Diyanet said in an advisory published on its website.
"In our religion, attitudes, behaviors and beliefs that attribute the ultimate influence on anything other than Allah are forbidden. For this reason, it is not permissible to wear evil eye amulets and similar things around the neck or anywhere for the purpose of benefiting from them.”
Belief in the power of the evil eye to cause harm dates back to ancient times and is widespread across the Mediterranean and parts of Asia.
The logic behind this conviction is that success or admirable objects inspire envy, which can be transmitted in a harmful 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 Istanbul’s Bahcesehir University, said the blue color of the beads relates to the sky god of the Central Asian Seljuk Turks.
The charms are given to newborn babies – as new additions to the family are thought to be especially 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 where they can be hung. In a sign of the digital era catching up with ancient folklore, a nazarlik emoji was created in 2018.