People often think it’s silly to worry about protecting yourself from other people’s bad thoughts. Personally, I never would have believed it myself about the Evil Eye, or that other people’s thoughts could potentially harm me, except that I watched my newborn baby die in my arms while I nursed him, for no scientific reason – no cause of death was ever determined by autopsy – but something spiritually intense was definitely going on in the room. My cat’s hair was standing on end, her eyes had turned red, and she was hissing and glaring intensely at the child that I had just brought home from the Birth Center. I had never seen my cat this way, she looked like a demon. I was terrified. This was not the cat I knew. Unfortunately my husband had left me alone in this whirlwind of negative energy. Then my baby just stopped breathing and suddenly died.
Later on I learned that there is an ancient belief, shared by many Muslims, that the djinn can enter a cat and suck the life out of a baby. For this reason many people try to keep cats away from newborn babies. They hang Ayat al Kursi over a baby’s bed or recite it to keep away the Evil Eye. At the time I had no idea this level of vigilance was required to protect my child’s life! I was totally prepared in all other ways for the basic needs of a newborn. If I look back now, I realize that more than one person held my baby during his short life of 19 hours, who are causing deliberate pain in my life to this day. There were other people who never wanted my marriage to happen. I have no idea how many people prayed against me or wished harm to fall upon me and my firstborn son. The lesson I have learned is to be more aggressive about protecting myself against harm.
Yet during times of stress our defenses can become compromised, even when we know what to do. This week after completely floored by some totally undeserved accusations and hateful words, I was like a train derailed. I got so sick that I was sweating and shivering, while the person who had originally upset me continued to behave in a ruthlessly unkind manner, almost seeming to delight in causing me distress. When people get you down, they actually manipulate you into hurting yourself sometimes. Not eating, not sleeping, becoming enraged in reaction to their lack of respect. So now I’m back to square one in terms of building up the fortress which is my personal space.
Perhaps the most important thing, after praying for healing for ourselves and our loved ones, is to spiritually protect our homes. The djinn congregate in dirty places, the Prophet (pbuh) told us, so vacuuming up those cobwebs on the ceiling and taking care of things long left undone can help dispel the repressed, negative energy that is symbolized by our procrastination.
It is important to keep track of what comes into your house and what goes out of your house. If you feel a negative association with a gift given to you by someone who seems like they might not wish you well, get rid of it. Burn it, throw it down the toilet or into a river, or at least wash it, with a prayer. And take a bath. I’ve been told, if someone who you suspect dislikes you gives you food, especially sweets, don’t eat it. If a gift disturbs you emotionally because every time you look at it you have to relive some old memory, at least put it away so you don’t have to look at it anymore. If you must send your children to visit people who do not wish you well, make sure you pray over them before they leave and also purify your doorstep in some way so that all who enter into your dwelling will shed whatever bad thoughts might be with them.
How do you purify a doorway? A home? I am sure lots of people would tell me it’s wrong, but this is what I have learned from experience can help get rid of children’s nightmares and other negativity. Some people recite prayers over water and sprinkle the water in every corner and doorway of the home. Some people recite prayers and wave smoke at every corner and doorway of the home. I personally find that the beauty of fresh flowers in a vase helps counteract the ugliness of Satan. The basic idea is to ask God to keep evil out of your home and to keep you and your family safe. Even when you are not at home, you can visualize some kind of force field of light surrounding your home. If you don’t have energy for all of that (like me right now, because I’m sick), just say a prayer and ask God to protect you “from the evil of the envier when he envies.” The hadith recommend reciting Ayat al-Kursi and the four Qul’s. Reading the Psalms of David works for a lot of people. Most importantly, do something. Intention is everything. You don’t have to be an enlightened or perfect being to pray for protection. It does not require religious observance or sinlessness. But it could lead to that.