What is a Hamsa? Is it a Jewish Symbol, a Middle Eastern Symbol, or Something Else?

The hamsa is a palm-shaped symbol historically used by both Jews and Muslims in Arab countries as an amulet to ward off evil forces, particularly the “evil eye.” The word is derived from the Arabic word for “five,” and depicts the five fingers of the human hand. For many Jews, the hamsa symbolizes the “hand of God.” The symbol also has been called “the hand of Miriam” (who was Moses’ sister) and Muslims may refer to it as “the hand of Fatima” (who was Muhammad’s daughter). In recent years, the symbol has become popular beyond its Jewish and Muslim contexts, and can be found in commercial stores on jewelry, clothing, and artwork.