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‘Masha Allah’ to ‘Ya Ghaus-ul-Azam’: Stone engravers cast away ‘evil eye spells’ in Kashmir

AMIR STORY 4 scaled
KM/Umar Ganie

Srinagar: The stone-engravers of Kashmir valley have of late witnessed an unprecedented increase in demand for plates with specific Islamic engravings to cast away ‘spells of the evil eye’.

Though the demand is huge, the trend has also raised many eyebrows with people questioning if the practice was really Islamic or not.

KM/Umar Ganie

“The demand for such plates has increased tremendously over the past few years. Earlier, someone would rarely come with this demand. However, now we receive these orders every day. People usually want MashaAllah plates but others also want the name of Allah or His attributes. Some also ask for ‘Haaza min fazli Rabbi’ plates or those with other Quranic engravings,” Waseem Ahmad Shah, stone-engraver at Pantha Chowk, in the city outskirts told The Kashmir Monitor.

He said customers from all over the Valley visited them for these engraved plates. “We get customers from all over Kashmir and the demand is growing with every passing day,” said Shah.

Noted poet, satirist and activist Zareef Ahmad Zareef said the practice was not in place in the yesteryears among Muslims but Kashmiri Pandits would do something similar.

KM/Umar Ganie

“These days, a person thinks he can put a ‘white cover’ on his house constructed with black money by writing ‘MashaAllah’. This practice was prevalent among Kashmiri Pandits before. They used to keep utensils having blackened bottoms upside down or a shoe on their houses to cast away the spell of evil eye. The idea was to deflect the glance from the new house,” he said.

Zareef claimed the practice was introduced among the Muslims by the ‘fake mullahs’. He said he had even started a campaign against the practice that he called ‘insulting to Islam’.

“This practice was started by the fake mullahs who first told people to write MashaAllah in their houses. They would say this would cast away the spell of the evil eye. I had even started a campaign against this practice. People would even write ‘Ya Ghaus-ul-Azam’, ‘Ya Allah’, ‘Ya Muhammad’ or ‘Ya Shaikh-ul-Alam’. Some even write surahs. Unfortunately, the holy names would be written on the entrance next to latrines. I started the campaign as it was disrespectful and insulting to Islam,” said Zareef.

“Instead, the people should follow Islamic practices in true sense and keep three places neat and clean – their entrance, kitchen and bathroom. A house constructed with black money will not attract ‘barkat’ by writing ‘Haaza min fazli Rabbi’ at its entrance,” he added.