The alternative Islamic name for this charm is the Hand of Fatima, in reference to the daughter of Mohammed, Fatima Zahra. For the Jewish community the name for it is the Hand of Miriam, in reference to the sister of Moses and Aaron. In the Jewish communities is more likely to be found in the Sephardic Jewry more than the Ashkenazi Jewelry.
The hamsa hand appears both in a two-thumbed, bilaterally symmetrical form, and in a more natural form in which there is only one thumb. There is good archaeological evidence to suggest that the downward-pointing protective hamesh / hamsa hand predates both Judaism and Islam and that it refers to an ancient Middle Eastern goddess whose hand wards off the evil eye. Some sources link the symbolism of the five fingers to the five books of the Torah, the Jewish name for the Old Testament scriptures, or to the Five Pillars of Islam, the five bases the of Islamic faith.
Because this hand protects against the evil eye, the design in some examples merges into another design called the eye-in-hand motif. In those instances, a realistic or stylized eye appears in the center of the palm of the hand.The hand of Fatima pendants are usually decorated by adding an eye in the palm of the Hamsa. This represents the good eye rather than the evil eye.
Other popular decoration on the hand of Fatima pendants is fish. The idea is that since the fishes have water as their habitat, they are able to get themselves well protected from the evil eye. The fish image that is added is a prayer that indicates that we will live like the fish so that our eyes will be protected.
The Fatima hand has been used as a talisman for its protective symbolism all around the world but mostly in the Middle Eastern countries.The Hamsa is used in amulets, charms, jewellery, doors, cars, and other places to ward the evil eye.
It is not a symbol that is offered by the religion of Islam, but rather a cultural icon. Some sources affirm that its origin predates Islam. The name Fatima’s hands or hand of Fatima, is a Western name; in the societies where the symbol is actually common it is referred to using different names, such as khamsa (five). In Israel and in Jewish culture globally it is most commonly known as “hamsa” or “chamsa,” without any Islamic heritage connotations, enforcing the notion that it is primarily cultural rather than religious in origin.
In the last years, activists for Middle East peace have chosen to wear the hamsa as a symbol of the similarities of origins and tradition between the Islamic and Jewish population.