Gemstones have held significance in the religions of the world for centuries. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Bible refers to twelve stones set in the breastplate of the high priest, symbolizing the twelve tribes of Israel. In Hinduism, nine gemstones correspond with seven planets and two lunar nodes in Vedic astrology, which is also known as Jyotisha, Jyotish or Hindu astrology.
In Islam, a practice of wearing gemstones developed from legends associated with Ali ibn Abi Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad. Ali is said to have worn four rings on his hand with four different gemstones, the Arabic names of which are aqiq, yaqut, feruz and hadid theen.
Aqiq (sometimes spelled aqeeq) is believed to refer to the gemstone carnelian. This is generally regarded to be the most important gemstone in Islam. The Prophet was said to have worn a silver ring on his right hand with an Abyssinian stone (probably a type of agate, such as carnelian), with the stone facing toward the palm. Ali was said to have worn a carnelian to protect himself from enemies and misfortune.
The term yaqut is less clear. It is often translated as opal, and it is said that Ali wore yaqut for "beauty and dignity". But many scholars believe the term yaqut refers to ruby, and this view seems more widely accepted.
Feruz (or feroza), on the other hand, unambiguously refers to the gemstone turquoise. It is said that Ali wore turquoise "for obtaining divine help and victory". There is an Islamic tradition that if a person prays to Allah while wearing rings set with feruz and aqiq, Allah does not leave the prayers unanswered.
Hadid theen is believed to refer to the gemstone hematite. It is thought that Ali wore this gem for strength. Islamic lore cautions against wearing hematite constantly; instead it should be worn for protection when confronting a tyrant or an oppressor.
Finally, an additional stone of significance in Islam is known as dur-e-Najaf. This is generally thought to be a type of quartz or rock crystal from the Najaf al-Ashraf area of Iraq. A legend states that Allah made this stone easily available so that both the rich and the poor could wear it and benefit from it.
- First Published: January-16-2011
- Last Updated: August-08-2014
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