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Do you believe in the evil eye?

Ahlya Fateh

Published: Updated:

The other night my husband was greeted by the overwhelming smell of burning chilies as he wandered into the kitchen. He immediately was forced to fling open all the windows and crank up the extractor fan to combat the noxious fumes.

Now this was not some elaborate plan on my part to “spice” up our relationship (I know, I know) I was merely cleansing our home of any “bad vibes.” I am no less or no more superstitious than any other Eastern woman I know; I tied black threads around the dimpled wrists of my precious newborn babies; I knock on wood and I don’t wear sapphires because they have always been labeled as unlucky by the women in my family. In Pakistan however, black magic and the practice of it is allegedly still very prevalent and the fear generated by these cultural anomalies pervades an entire business based on keeping the evil eye at bay. As Muslims we are meant to abhor superstition but there are specific prayers that we all learn at our mother’s knee specifically to ward off these dark arts, specifically those practiced by women (we have such a bad rap, no?!) Not to mention various amulets, pendants, basically really pretty jewelry all bought and gifted to keep us safe from harm.

Whether you believe that a piece of jewelry can protect you from bad luck, envy or jealousy or not, it is still interesting to me to see how many people are willing to wear a religious symbol without having any idea of the spiritual significance behind it

Ahlya Fateh

Now that witchcraft, Harry Potter, vampires, werewolves etc. have gained in popularity it was only a matter of time before the fashion industry and celebrity endorsement espoused this cause too. I first noticed this as a teenager, when the Turkish born designer Rifat Ozbek designed black jackets embroidered with the evil eye and the hand of Fatima. Then, on a trip to Istanbul I acquired my first evil eye bracelet which I wore till it fell apart. I was convinced of its power to infuse my life with good luck; what can I say, I was seventeen and about to take my exams. Now we see Links of London launching a range of evil eye jewelry marketed cleverly under the moniker “someone to watch over me.” In a world where we are moving further and further from formal religion in favor of embracing spirituality, are these jeweled trinkets a way of bringing Eastern mysticism into our lives or merely an inspirational fashion statement?

Selena Gomez has been photographed wearing a necklace with her name in Arabic, ahead of her trip to Dubai. Was this a cynical attempt to show that she identifies with her host nation or a cool way to adopt a new culture? Jennifer Aniston and Madonna have been sporting hand of Fatima pendants and British designer Bora Aksu has based his whole collection on the colors found in the glass evil eye charms to celebrate his Turkish heritage. If the fashion industry considers the world’s religions its new treasure trove to plunder and weave into our day to day vernacular, is that such a bad thing? Shouldn’t Hollywood celebrities gain awareness of international culture and mysticism when they are playing to and performing on a world stage?

Power

Several years ago, I was having a tough time at work and I confided in a friend. She listened and gave me lots of sensible advice which I ignored, as one does so often. The next day a courier dropped off a package for me containing a jewelry box from Butler and Wilson. I opened it to find the most funky, crystal encrusted evil eye necklace and a note from my friend to say that if I placed my faith in the powers of the pendant all would be well. Within months I had a lovely new job and all my troubles seemed to melt away, yet I kept the necklace on at all times, just to be safe, you understand! I then passed it on to a friend who on learning that she was pregnant was afraid that she might miscarry. I placed the necklace around her neck to ensure that the circle of good luck and protection would be maintained and she went on to have a healthy baby boy.

Whether you believe that a piece of jewelry can protect you from bad luck, envy or jealousy or not, it is still interesting to me to see how many people are willing to wear a religious symbol without having any idea of the spiritual significance behind it. But perhaps I am searching too hard for a meaning in fashion. Sometimes a girl’s a necklace really is just a necklace.

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With extensive publishing experience and significant knowledge of the fashion, retail and luxury industries, Ahlya Fateh is currently a highly regarded senior executive who combines a strong creative vision with an astute strategic understanding and exceptional management skills. In 2010 Ahlya was brought in by Tata Naka as Managing Director to re-launch the fashion brand at London Fashion Week. Previously Ahlya was Managing Editor of Tatler magazine from 2001 to 2010.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.