Monday, June 27, 2011

The Hand of Fatima of Spain and North Africa, and our own Nutcracker of Fatima and Staff of Ali

THE HAND OF FATIMA. This is what is famously known as the Hand of Fatima, or sometimes Hamsa (which is Arabic for ‘five’). It is used as a protective amulet against evil incantations and spells by Muslims in especially in North Africa, Spain, and certain parts of the Mediterran ean region. Depending on who you talk to, the Hamsa refers to the 5 pillars of Islam or the family of the Prophet, including his daughter, Fatima az-Zahra and her husband, Ali the Fourth Caliph, and their two sons, Hassan and Hussein.
THE HAND OF MIRIAM. Such was the popularity of its use that I read that even Jewish communities around the region started to adopt the symbol, although it was renamed the Hand of Miriam, being the sister of Moses and Aaron. The fact that this occurred was undoubtedly arising because of the COOLNESS of the Umayyad Caliphate which sprung in Andalusian Spain after the Abbasids annihilated its previous capital in Damascus. How COOL it was is depicted by Maria Rosa Menocal’s brilliant book entitled “Ornament of the World” – CLICK HERE - Ground Zero Mosque and the Ornament of the World on my earlier posting on this important book.

Such is the veneration of our Lady Fatima az-Zahra and her dashing husband Ali, as well as the powerful drama surrounding their sons Hassan and Hussein that often are their names used in reference to talismans and other symbols of Islam – as a sign of Divine Providence, Generosity and Power, as well as a protection against sorcery. This emotive attachment is not solely the writ of the Shia but is also felt by a large section of the Sunni community. As it is similarly felt here in the Malay Archipelago. But in my country, the name of Fatima and Ali is more famously referenced not to a protective talisman but to a natural product for the, err… ahem, earthier aspect of our daily life. From their names you will undoubtedly be able to discern their regular application.

THE NUTCRACKER OF FATIMA (KACIP FATIMA) is a herb derivative of the Labisa Pumila plant and famously used to improve woman’s health. The beneficial claims of this miracle plant are numerous, and dear old Uncle Wiki had this to say –
“- Helps establish a regular menstrual cycle when periods fail to appear for reasons like stress, illness or when the pill is discontinued
- Prevents cramping, water retention and irritability for those with painful periods.
- Balances, builds and harmonizes the female reproductive system to encourage healthy conception
- Supports healthy vaginal flora to prevent irritation and infections.
- Alleviates fatigue, smooths menopausal symptoms and promote emotional well being.
- Prolong energy during Playtime
(hehehe… PLAYTIME. I like the nuance).
- Helps to solve the problems related to constipation
- Tightens vaginal skin and walls.
- Anti-dysmenorrhoea; cleansing and avoiding painful or difficult menstruation
- Anti-flatulence, drive away and prevent the formation of gas.
- Firming and toning of abdominal muscles.”

STAFF OF ALI (TONGKAT ALI). But the commercial success of Kacip Fatima pales in comparison to the runaway success of its male version which is roughly translated as the Staff of Ali. This traditional remedy for (ahem) men’s health comes from the root of the Eurycoma Longifolia plant, which is particularly bountiful in Indonesia and Malaysia, and to a lesser degree in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. It is Malaysia’s natural answer to the synthetic Viagra and is claimed by many of its adherents (and they are aplenty here) to increase sexual appetite, improve performance and general well-being of men (well, any improvement in bed will ALWAYS improve the general well-being of any man. And any woman too, come to think of it). Scientists have not made up their mind, but appears that the herb reduces the effect of estrogen (Female hormones) in a fella’s body while increasing his testosterone levels (not to mention sperm count). Oh, and it also improves blood circulation.

I find it positively quaint and a reflection of my people’s innate appreciation of sexual intimacy that two of the biggest names in Islam are reflected in two of our most prized natural remedy / enhancer of our conjugal performance. So what if it is not a talisman against warlocks or witches? If you have had personal experience of not performing very well in bed, and felt the post-coitus seething dissatisfaction and complaints from your lover, then really, for you IT IS a talisman of sorts.


Pax Taufiqa.

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