Traditional Health Beliefs among Pakistani Americans

Several traditional health beliefs prevail among many Pakistani Americans. One example is phenomenon of the evil eye (ain-al-hasud), one of several supernatural origins of disease. According to the Koran, it is the belief that one can project harm or misfortune on
other by admiring that person’s possession with jealousy or envy.

To avert the evil eye, blue beads or charms with verses from the Koran are worn. These are called taawiz. The taawiz are symbols of Islamic faith, given by the Maulvies (Moslem priests) and worn by adults to cure and prevent illness caused by the evil eye, ghosts, or spirits.

Consultations with the Pir or Fakir (holy men) and visits to shrines and tombs (Pir’s Ziarat gahh) are believed to prevent and cure many physical and mental illnesses, including those caused by ghosts and spirits.

Holy water from Pir tombs can be drunk or rubbed on the body of the sick. These practices vary by education, social class, and degree of religiosity; many from professional families lean toward Western medical practices and do not visit shrines.