What did Muhammad mean when he wrote of the evil eye?

“The evil eye is real”

Mohamed Kohia, Rockhurst University professor: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The evil eye is real, and if anything were to overtake the divine decree (al-Qadar) it would be the evil eye.”

But Muslims believe that nothing can take place without the permission of Allah. If he does not allow for something to occur, it cannot do so, and if he does not permit a change, it will not take place. Allah tells us in the noble Qur’an: “Verily, we have created all things with Qadar – divine preordainments of all things before their creation.”

The belief of Muslims regarding Qadar is that it can only change if that is what has been decreed by Allah. For example, Qadar may change due to supplication or if one is affected by the evil eye because it was already written for this to happen prior to its occurrence. This is because Allah possesses knowledge of all things and had the knowledge of what was to happen. Nothing escapes his knowledge.

The meaning of Qadar is that Allah’s knowledge encompasses everything. He knew what had occurred and what will occur, and all that did not occur. He knew everything about his creation even before he created it.

With regard to the evil eye affecting one, it cannot affect an individual except by the will of Allah. If all of mankind were to gather together to harm a person, it would not occur except by the will of Allah.

“And if Allah should touch you with adversity, there is none who can remove it except Allah; and if he intends for you good, then there is no repeller of his bounty. He causes it to each that he wills of his servants. And he is the forgiving and the merciful.” (10:107)

Evil eye can never cancel Allah’s will

Syed E. Hasan, Ph.D., Shawnee Mission Islamic Education Center: This question relates to Hadith, a collection of the words and deeds of Prophet Mohammed (peace be on him) that he used to elaborate upon the meaning of Qur’anic verses, or demonstrate how to perform certain religious acts.

During the early history of Islam, major compilers of Hadith did a painstaking job of verifying each and every Hadith in terms of its authenticity. Only those that met the rigorous test of accuracy supplemented by unbroken chain of narration were accepted by these scholars and assigned the highest category of agreed upon.

On the other hand, there are many Hadith that have been categorized as weak and are considered unreliable. As a general rule, any Hadith that contradicts the Qur’an is false and should be rejected.

No follower of Islam would ever accept the idea that anything – including the evil eye – could overtake Allah’s will and command.

In fact, one of the articles of the faith requires Muslims to believe in the supremacy of Allah and his power to do anything. If a misfortune befell a believer, he would take it to represent Allah’s wish that could later – and with Allah’s decree – turn into benefit. This passage from the Qur’an summarizes this concept beautifully:

“And if Allah should afflict you with harm, then there is none to remove it but he; and if he intends good to you there is none to keep away his favor; he brings it to whom he pleases.” (10:107).

Editor’s note: Differences in the Qur’an passage result from Arabic translations.