November 28, 2019 10 min read

You may have seen this beautiful symbol around and are wondering what it actually means. Hmansa has many different spellings: hamsa, khamsa, jamsa, and more. This historical symbol is still relevant in the twentieth century. Some say the Hamsa hand is a religious symbol, and it does have great significance in many religions, mainly Judaism and Islam. However, it is impossible to say which religion started using it, and it by no means belongs to any one religious group. Anyone who wears it carries the qualities of happiness, health, and good fortune. 

The Origins of Hamsa 

If you are curious about the history of these notorious religions, you can learn about the special significance Hamsa has to them. It is also called the “Hand of Miriam” and the “Hand of Fatima.” In both religions, these were sisters and daughters of the prophets Moses and Muhammed. Read on to find out more about these two religions and the origins of the hamsa:

  • Judaism
  • Islam 

 

The Influence of the Hamsa Symbol in Judaism

Judaism, the five fingers of the hand represent thefive books of the Torah, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These were the words that God is believed to have spoken to the prophet Moses, while he was on top of a mountain for 40 days and 40 nights. The entire Jewish community was waiting below. When he came back down, after going those 40 days without anything to eat, he brought these words of God to the people. They include famous portions from the Bible like the Ten Commandments. 

These five books from the Bible are still highly revered by the Jewish community today, since they believe the words are sacred and have been preserved for thousands of years. Some people of the Jewish faith believe that the five fingers of the Hamsa represent five ways to praise God during prayer, similar to theCatholic rosary

Miriam is also a highly revered figure in Judaism because she was the sister of Moses. She helped him to lead the Jewish people out of slavery from Egypt. She had been a maid to the princess of Egypt and she saved her brother Moses from the Pharoah, who murdered all the baby boys of the Jews in order to eliminate the population. She convinced the princess to secretly adopt Moses as her own and saved the Jewish population from extinction. 

She was also known to be very beautiful and artistic, playing musical instruments, singing, and dancing. The entire community looked up to her for her bravery and talent.Anyone who wears the Hand of Miriam as jewelry on their body is believed to hold a part of her reputation and history on their body, bringing them good fortune and grace. 

The influence of the hamsa symbol in Islam

The word “Hamsa” has many spellings. One of them is “Jamsa,” which in Arabic, means five. The number five is also a significant number in the Islam religion because it represents thefive pillars of Islam

  • The profession of Faith: the belief that there is no God but God, and Muhammad is his prophet. 
  • Prayer: Muslims must pray five times every day, facing the direction of Mecca. 
  • Alms: Everyone who practices the religion must give a portion of their income to the poor. 
  • Fasting: During the annual celebration of Ramadan, all Muslims must abstain from eating or drinking during daylight hours for 30 days. 
  • Pilgrimage: Every Muslim must make a trip to the holy city of Mecca at least once in their lifetime. 

The Hamsa symbol is often called the “Hand of Fatima” by people in the Muslim religion. Fatima is believed to be thedaughter of Muhammed, the prophet who founded Islam. She was born in Mecca, the holy city. There is a story that says she was preparing dinner one day, when her husband Ali brought home one of his mistresses. She was so angry and distressed about it that she did not even notice she was resting her hand on the oven and she burned it badly. When Ali saw that, he gave up cheating forever and devoted himself to his wife. 

Ali is revered in Islam because he is deemed the rightful heir to the prophet Muhammed. The Shi’ites especially venerate Ali and Fatima because of this. Fatima is famous because she nursed her father carefully when he was sick and dying. After he died, the inheritance went to someone other than her and her husband and they fought together for their rights. Muhammed had left her the rights to some property when he died, and some people tried to keep that property from her because she was a woman. So she fought for her rights. 

For those who wear the Hand of Fatima, they are said to hold strength and nurturing characteristics. Some people evenget her name engraved and wear it on their necks to bring them some of her power. 

A gold hamsa necklace.

Earlier Homo Sapien Societies that Celebrated the Hamsa Icon

Hamsa is not just famous in these two modern religions, but the symbol was also esteemed by human races and civilizations that came before these ones even began. Images of this symbol have been found painted into the frescoes of the Syrian Synagogue of Dura Europos, which were made in the year 244. Later, Hamsa was adopted by the Carthaginians to represent the goddess Tanit, the patroness of Carthage (now Tunisia). She is often believed to hold the meaning of life. 

In Mesopotamia (now Iraq), there were many pieces of artwork with images of the Hamsa symbol. For the ancient Mesopotamians, Hamsa represented the goddess Ishtar (also called Inanna). She was the queen of heaven and they believed that she would bring them love, beauty, sex, justice, and political power. 

Inanna shows up in numerous ancient myths. She is said to be one of the main creators of civilization. She took revenge on many other gods of the time, including Mount Ebih for challenging her authority and her gardener, who had raped her. She always found those who had committed crimes like murder and theft and gave them divine justice. That usually came in the form of an instant death sentence. 

In mythology, Inanna is responsible for the changing cycle of the seasons because she rescued her husband from the Underworld. He was charged to stay there because he committed a crime, but since Inanna so forcefully fought for justice, he was allowed by the other gods to return to the earth for half of each year. 

During the time of year when he was home, the weather was sunny and bright, and when he went to the Underworld the season was dismal and dark. Hence, summer and winter. So, some who wear the Hamsa symbol are respecting the foundation of society and the changing of seasons. 

Sometime in between the fifth and sixth centuries, belief in Inanna faded away. The Berber groups in West Africa took the symbol after that, and that’s how it was passed on to Judaism and Islam (both of these religions began around the same time). 

The Evil Eye of Khamsa

Now that you know many alternate meanings of the five fingers of the Khamsa symbol, you may be wondering about the eye in the center of the palm. This is called the “evil eye,” and it is part of the symbol to protect those who wear it from evil or any kind of demons. The evil that the eye represents is jealousy or envy. Some people who wear the hamsa symbol want to ward off any kind of negative vibes from themselves or others. 

It’s not always easy toward off negativity, especially when you don’t know it is hovering in the air above you. It is best to spend your time around those who keep a positive attitude and wish you the best, but sometimes those evil feelings and attitudes can hide in corners of the room or in the dark parts of people’s hearts. It can be all too easy to hold onto the negativity of others and join in by speaking ill of those around you or even about yourself. If you have a hard time overcoming those dark words and feelings, here are some tips you can remind yourself next time they start to attack: 

  • Be grateful for what (and who) you have. Especially with the holidays approaching, it can be tempting to complain about your family members or in-laws, but the most important thing is to look for the good in people. Try to make positivity the word of the day. Remember the good times you have had with your family and think about everyone’s best qualities rather than the ways they have failed you. Remember, every person is only a human being and cannot always do the right thing, no matter how much they love you. 

Just think about the nice things people have done and focus on doing an act of kindness for them. Sometimes all it takes to mend a relationship is to take the first step of kindness. Usually, that person will respond in the same way, and conflict can easily be avoided that way. 

  • Other people’s issues are not your responsibility. It can be very toxic to sit and listen to someone complaining about many problems in their life and never taking the steps they should make to find a solution. Some people are chronic complainers and they enjoy negative comments about their situations. Of course, you want to be a good friend to everyone in your life, but you can only do so much. 

If you have listened to a friend and recommended some solutions for ways they can get help, just leave it at that. Sometimes you have to let someone go from your life. You need to look out for yourself too. If you feel someone’s mood bringing you down, it can be very empowering to say this example sentence to them, “Hey, this negativity is making me feel anxious and I really need to keep a positive attitude. Let’s talk about something we’re grateful for.” Your friend will understand that you are standing up for yourself. If they don’t, they’re not looking out for your interests, but only concerned in their own emotions. 

  • Distract yourself from negative thoughts in your own head. We’ve all been there. Sometimes the human mind just can’t stop thinking all these negative thoughts. They attack everyone at some time or another. It can be very hard to bring yourself out of the darkness when you are experiencing self-doubt or feeling that your situation is bleak and hopeless. 

But remember, you are stronger than those feelings! Go outside and take a walk. Get some fresh air and endorphins in your brain. Remind yourself of your achievements and all you’ve accomplished. Try to remember the last time you went through a tough time and look at the way you got through it. You can do it again. No matter what happens, you are an evolved animal species and are always a little bit stronger. You will be able to overcome this difficulty. 

  • Be mindful in your way of thinking. Mindfulness is a mental exercise, and once you get the hang of it, you can train your brain to approach any situation with mindfulness. If the idea is new to you, can useHeadspace, which is an app that helps people with the science behind mindfulness in their brain. They can help you with soothing breathing exercises that will calm you in times of stress or anxiety.

Sometimes you can even incorporate physical activities like yoga or taking a walk in nature. These are both highly recommended for combating stressful or negative circumstances. Remember that your thoughts are not you. You can use your willpower and self-control to allow good thoughts inside you or to banish them from your thinking. Take advantage of that and remember that you are a modern human who can take control over your own thoughts. You are in charge of whatever you think. 

A white gold hamsa necklace.

Hamsa for Hindus and Buddhists

For the Hindus and Buddhists, the hamsa symbol carries non-human, spiritual significance that can deeply affect those who wear the charm. Each of the five fingers personifies a natural and spiritual element and chakra. Chakras are very important to these belief systems. If this is your first time hearing about the term, it means it is a wheel of energy, which mills air from the aura around us and connects it with the human body. Chakras are a nonphysical highway to transport energy into health and vitality. The chakras the five fingers represent are

  • Thumb: This holds the fire element and the solar plexus chakra. It supports creativity and imagination. Those who tap into this wheel of energy can experience higher levels of inspiration in their creative endeavors. Whether you are a painter, a sculptor, a writer, or any other type of artist, you have free will to get in touch with this creative chakra. 
  • Forefinger:The air element and the heart chakra. This helps withconfidence, love, and security. This is one of the most important since love is not just about loving others but also loving yourself. That is where confidence comes. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. You have to show the world your confidence and let it shine into success. 
  • Middle finger: These are the ethereal elements and the throat chakra, which is for collectivity and diplomacy. You may need this if you are going into a new business deal or have an important deal to make that day. Remember your hamsa pendant for good luck in this endeavor. 
  • Ring finger:This finger is for theearth element and the root chakra. The root chakra is for innocence. There are a lot of evil things in the world, and it is important to maintain your innocence even in the midst of it. Tap into the root chakra to keep looking for the good in people and to give them the benefit of the doubt. Keep seeing what is beautiful in the world instead of focus on its difficulties. 
  • Pinky finger: Here lies the water element and the sacral chakra. The sacral chakra is for forgiveness and peace. If you hold onto past wrongs and hurts, you will never free yourself to the higher levels of peace. We are living creatures who must let go of wrong in order to feel fully free. 

Hamsa Has Equal Significance to the Rabbit’s Foot or Horseshoe

Many people who do not follow one of these main religions also love to carry the Hamsa hand. They may just want to receive some blessings or good luck in general. It can be an icon with the same significance as the rabbit’s foot, horseshoe,or cross. Human societies just want to feel a blessing from the universe or some higher power. It can be a feeling of comfort and peace to have an icon or symbol around your neck to help you in times of need. 

It does not matter if you are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or not religious at all. It doesn't matter where you live - in the United States or anywhere else. This symbol is an icon to show us that no matter what your beliefs or background are, you can experience the protections and goodwill that comes inside the hamsa. Everyone must find for themselves the purpose of life. The next time you start to experience feelings of negativity or doubt in your decision-making, you can remember the hamsa meaning and use its strength to move on in the real world and in your life.













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