This inscribed brass bowl - sometimes called an Islamic medicine bowl or holy water bowl - is a beautiful testament to the complex relationship between religion and the supernatural. While magic is prohibited in Islam, supernatural and spiritual practices were - and still are - used often in daily life for protection and healing; the line between magic and the supernatural can very often be a vague one. The use of protective talismans and Qur'anic verses is still very common, like the ever-present Hand of Fatima (Khamsa) or the 99 Names of God. Many of these bowls were inscribed with Ayat al-Kursi (The Throne Verse), one of the most important verses in the Qur'an, as well as the Shahada.
The bowl is made to be filled with water, which when left overnight - they say one must leave it outside in order for it to absorb energy from the moon and stars - takes on healing properties. Often prayers and incantations will be read over the bowl as well. The first recorded examples of such bowls were discovered in Syria, where it's believed their use was popular during the 11th and 12th century. These bowls, often referred to as Divination Bowls, were used across the Islamic world, including Egypt, as well as in India.