Hamsa, Khamsa. or Hamish

          The hamsa hand (Arabic) or hamesh hand (Hebrew) is an old and still popular apotropaic amulet for magical protection from the envious or evil eye. The words hamsa and hamesh mean "five" and refer to the digits on the hand. An alternative Islamic name for this charm is the Hand of Fatima, in reference to the daughter of Mohammed. An alternative Jewish name for it is the Hand of Miriam, in reference to the sister of Moses and Aaron.
          The hamsa hand appears both in a two-thumbed, bilaterally symmetrical form, as shown, 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.
          The Khamsa from the Arabic: meaning five used in amulets, charms and jewelry to protect against the "evil eye." It is widely used in the Arab World, and is commonly associated with both Muslim and Jewish culture in the region. Nevertheless, the symbol predates the rise of monotheistic religions, having been widely used in antiquity.
          An alternative Muslim name for the Khamsa is the Hand of Fatima, in reference to Fatima Zahra, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. Jewish communities sometimes use the name Hand of Miriam, in reference to Miriam, the sister of the Prophets Moses and Aaron. Nevertheless, the Arabic name Khamsa is more commonly used in the region.
          One explanation for the symbol is that it is designed to ward off the evil eye - five fingers in the eye to blind the jealous or malevolent person.
          Some associate the significance of the five fingers to the five books of the Torah for Jews, the Five Pillars of Islam for Sunnis, or the five People of the Cloak for Shi'ites. This symbolism may have evolved at a later stage, in view of the fact that archaeological evidence suggests the hamsa predates both religions. It is thought by some to have originated with the Phoenicians to honor Tanit who was a patron of Carthage.
          In recent years some Jewish activists for Middle East peace have chosen to wear the Khamsa as a symbol of the shared traditions between the Islamic and Jewish faiths. The fingers can point up or down.