The Tradition of Amulets and Talisman in the Muslim World — By Malik Merchant, Simergphotos


(introduction adapted from The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

An amulet [similar to a talisman] is any object that is imbued with protective powers, and all cultures and faiths have manifestations of such objects. In the world of Islam, they bear Qur’anic inscriptions, and religious narratives. Many Muslims believe that an object that is inscribed with the word of God will protect the person who reads, touches, or sees it and that the word of God has the power to ward off evil. The surface of a talismanic object can be covered with prayers, signs, numbers, and decorative motifs, and the object is carried in a pocket, or rolled and plced in an amulet case; some talismans are worn as clothing, rings or pendants as well as displayed in the homes and cars as plaques or stickers. Sometimes the writing is reversed so they can be used as stamps. The material from which the amulet is made can be important, with benefits attached to certain stones.

The most effacious talisman are those that are inscribed with prayers that evoke the name of God and the Prophet Muhammad and his companions. The ninety-nine names of God, verses from the Qur’an, and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (hadith), for example, are appropriated and regenerated into texts that are meant to be good omens. [1]


Photo: The Trustees of the British Museum. Copyright.

Images of the Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, Imam Ali, and his two martyred sons Hazrat Hasan and Hazrat Husayn, also carry apotropaic properties. Hazrat Ali’s miraculous sword (Dhu’lfiqar or Zulfiqar) becomes a relic and talismanic object in Islam, and is represented across various media such as the Alam, or standard, shown above which is inscribed with the words ‘Allah’, ‘Muhammad’, ‘Oh Ali’, ‘Fatima’, ‘Hasan’ and ‘Husayn’.



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One Comment Add yours

  1. Julie says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve reblogged this. :)


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