Jinn

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Imam Ali Conquers Jinn Unknown artist Ahsan-ol-Kobar 1568 Golestan Palace.

The jinn (also djinn or genies, Arabic: الجنal-jinn, singular الجني al-jinnī) are supernatural creatures in Islamic as well as pre-Islamic Arabian mythology. They are mentioned frequently in the Qur'an (the 72nd sura is titled Sūrat al-Jinn) and other Islamic texts and inhabit an unseen world in dimensions beyond the visible universe of humans. The Qur'an mentions that the jinn are made of a smokeless and "scorching fire",[1] but are also physical in nature, being able to interfere physically with people and objects and likewise be acted upon.[2][clarification needed]

Together, the jinn, humans and angels make up the three sapient creations of God. Like human beings, the jinn can be good, evil, or neutrally benevolent and hence have free will like humans and unlike angels.[3]

Etymology and definitions[edit]

Jinn is a noun of the collective number in Arabic literally meaning "hidden from sight", and it derives from the Arabic root j-n-n (pronounced: jann/ junn جَنّ / جُنّ) meaning "to hide" or "be hidden". Other words derived from this root are majnūn 'mad' (literally, 'one whose intellect is hidden'), junūn 'madness', and janīn 'embryo, fetus' ('hidden inside the womb').[4]

The word genie in English is derived from Latin genius, meant a sort of tutelary or guardian spirit thought to be assigned to each person at their birth. English borrowed the French descendant of this word, génie; its earliest written attestation in English, in 1655, is a plural spelled "genyes." The French translators of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights used génie as a translation of jinnī because it was similar to the Arabic word in sound and in meaning. This use was also adopted in English and has since become dominant.[citation needed]

In Arabic, the word jinn is in the collective number, translated in English as plural (e.g., "several genies"); jinnī is in the singulative number, used to refer to one individual, which is translated by the singular in English (e.g., "one genie"). Therefore, the word jinn in English writing is treated as a plural.

In the pre-Islamic era[edit]

Hungarian stamp representing a jinni from the One Thousand and One Nights.

Inscriptions found in Northwestern Arabia seem to indicate the worship of jinn, or at least their tributary status, hundreds of years before Islam. For instance, an inscription from Beth Fasi'el near Palmyra pays tribute to the "jinnaye", the "good and rewarding gods".[5]

In Islam[edit]

In Islamic theology jinn are said to be creatures with free will, made from smokeless fire by Allah as humans were made of clay, among other things.[6] According to the Quran, jinn have free will, and Iblīs abused this freedom in front of Allah by refusing to bow to Adam when Allah ordered angels and jinn to do so. For disobeying Allah, Iblīs was expelled from Paradise and called "Shayṭān" (Satan). Jinn are frequently mentioned in the Quran: Surah 72 (named Sūrat al-Jinn) is named after the jinn, and has a passage about them. Another surah (Sūrat al-Nās) mentions jinn in the last verse.[7] The Qurʾan also mentions that Muhammad was sent as a prophet to both "humanity and the jinn," and that prophets and messengers were sent to both communities.[8][9] An appellation of Muhammad is Rasûl-üs-Sakaleyn. Because Muhammad met the jinn several times at night, a masjid (Masjid-e Jinn) is said to have been built in memory of this phenomenon[citation needed][dubious ].[10] [11] [12]

Similar to humans, jinn have free will allowing them to do as they choose (such as follow any religion). They are usually invisible to humans, but humans do appear clearly to jinns, as they can possess them. Jinn have the power to travel large distances at extreme speeds and are thought to live in remote areas, mountains, seas, trees, and the air, in their own communities. Like humans, jinn will also be judged on the Day of Judgment and will be sent to Paradise or Hell according to their deeds.[13]

Classifications and characteristics[edit]

The social organization of the jinn community resembles that of humans; e.g., they have kings, courts of law, weddings, and mourning rituals.[14] A few traditions (hadith), divide jinn into three classes: those who have wings and fly in the air, those who resemble snakes and dogs, and those who travel about ceaselessly.[15] Other reports claim that ‘Abd Allāh ibn Mas‘ūd (d. 652), who was accompanying Prophet Muhammad when the jinn came to hear his recitation of the Quran, described them as creatures of different forms; some resembling vultures and snakes, others tall men in white garb.[16] They may even appear as dragons, onagers, or a number of other animals.[17] In addition to their animal forms, the jinn occasionally assume human form to mislead and destroy their human victims.[18] Certain hadiths have also claimed that the jinn may subsist on bones, which will grow flesh again as soon as they touch them, and that their animals may live on dung, which will revert to grain or grass for the use of the jinn flocks.[19]

Ibn Taymiyyah believed the jinn were generally "ignorant, untruthful, oppressive and treacherous,"[20] thus representing the very strict interpretations adhered by the Salafi schools of thought.

Ibn Taymiyyah believes that the jinn account for much of the "magic" perceived by humans, cooperating with magicians to lift items in the air unseen, delivering hidden truths to fortune tellers, and mimicking the voices of deceased humans during seances.[20]

In Sūrat al-Raḥmān, verse 33, God reminds jinn as well as mankind that they would possess the ability to pass beyond the furthest reaches of space only by His authority, followed by the question: "Then which of the favors of your Lord do you deny?" In Sūrat Al-Jinn, verses 8–10, Allah narrates concerning the jinn how they touched or "sought the limits" of the sky and found it full of stern guards and shooting stars, as a warning to man. It goes on further to say how the jinn used to take stations in the skies to listen to divine decrees passed down through the ranks of the angels, but those who attempt to listen now (during and after the revelation of the Qurʾan) shall find fiery sentinels awaiting them.

Qarīn[edit]

A related belief is that every person is assigned one's own special jinni, also called a qarīn, and if the qarin is evil it could whisper to people's souls and tell them to submit to evil desires.[21][22][23] The notion of a qarin is not universally accepted among all Muslims, but it is generally accepted that Shayṭān whispers in human minds, and he is assigned to each human being.

In a hadith recorded by Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, the companion Abdullah, son of Masud reported: 'The Prophet Muhammad said: 'There is not one of you who does not have a jinnī appointed to be his constant companion (qarīn).' They said, 'And you too, O Messenger of Allah?' He said, 'Me too, but Allah has helped me and he has submitted, so that he only helps me to do good.' '[citation needed]

In Muslim cultures[edit]

A manuscript of the One Thousand and One Nights.

The stories of the jinn can be found in various Muslim cultures around the world. In Sindh the concept of the Jinni was introduced during the Abbasid Era and has become a common part of the local folklore which also includes stories of both male jinn called "jinn" and female jinn called "jiniri." Folk stories of female jinn include stories such as the Jejhal Jiniri.

Other acclaimed stories of the jinn can be found in the One Thousand and One Nights story of the Fisherman and the Jinni;[24] more than three different types of jinn are described in the story of Ma‘ruf the Cobbler;[25][26] a mighty jinni helps young Aladdin in the story of Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp;[27] as Ḥasan Badr al-Dīn weeps over the grave of his father until sleep overcomes him, and he is awoken by a large group of sympathetic jinn in the Tale of ‘Alī Nūr al-Dīn and his son Badr ad-Dīn Ḥasan.[28]

During the Rwandan genocide, both Hutus and Tutsi avoided searching in local Rwandan Muslim neighborhoods and widely believed myths that local Muslims and Mosques were protected by the power of Islamic magic and the efficacious jinn.[citation needed] In Cyangugu, arsonists ran away instead of destroying the mosque because they believed jinn were guarding the mosque and feared their wrath.[29] The modern city of Deoband (Uttar Pradesh, India) is named on similar grounds. 'Deo' from Hindi, is a synonym of Jinn, while 'Band' means closed, but can be translated as captured in Hindi.[citation needed] The legend says that there was once a menacing jinni, and it was an elderly man who put a stop to him, by capturing him into a bottle and sealing him away forever. Another version describes that there were two, not one jinni. The bottle/s are said to be sealed away in the dungeon of a mosque situated on a hill in the city itself, which has not been opened ever since. Additionally, the premier Islamic body of Darul-Uloom, Deoband is said to have a vibrant community of civilized jinn in its midst.[citation needed]

Solomon and the Jinn[edit]

According to traditions, the jinn stood behind the learned humans in Solomon's court, who in turn, sat behind the prophets. The jinn remained in the service of Solomon, who had placed them in bondage, and had ordered them to perform a number of tasks.

"And before Solomon were marshalled his hosts,- of jinn and men and birds, and they were all kept in order and ranks." (Quran 27:17)

The Qurʾan relates that Solomon died while he was leaning on his staff. As he remained upright, propped on his staff, the jinn thought he was still alive and supervising them, so they continued to work. They realized the truth only when Allah sent a creature to crawl out of the ground and gnaw at Solomon's staff until his body collapsed. The Qurʾan then comments that if they had known the unseen, they would not have stayed in the humiliating torment of being enslaved.

"Then, when We decreed (Solomon's) death, nothing showed them his death except a little worm of the earth, which kept (slowly) gnawing away at his staff: so when he fell down, the jinn saw plainly that if they had known the unseen, they would not have tarried in the humiliating penalty (of their task)." (Qurʾan 34:14)

Protection from Jinn[edit]

Muslims believe that all protection and help only comes from God, as it is a central Islamic tenet to believe that there is no power nor might save God's. These sorts of practices are widespread in the Islamic world. The Muslim faithful believe that reciting the Verse of the Throne (Qurʾan 2:255) and the final three concise chapters of the Qurʾan (chapters 112-114) are the most effective means of seeking protection from satanic whispers and evil creatures.[citation needed]

In other cultures[edit]

Aladdin and the genie in Legoland Windsor.

In Guanche mythology from Tenerife in the Canary Islands, there existed the belief in beings that are similar to genies[improper synthesis?], such as the maxios or dioses paredros ('attendant gods', domestic and nature spirits) and tibicenas (evil genies), as well as the demon Guayota (aboriginal god of evil) that, like the Arabic Iblīs, is sometimes identified with a genie.[30]

In the Bible[edit]

The word or concept of jinn as such does not occur in the original Hebrew text of the Bible, but the Arabic word jinn is often used in several old Arabic translations. In Isaiah 6, the seraphim (lit. "burning/fiery ones") appear to the prophet Isaiah, with their six wings being used to cover, or hide, their body, face and feet.

In several verses in those Arabic translations, the words jinn (جن), jann (الجان al-jānn), majnoon (مجنون Majnūn), and Iblīs (إبلیس) are mentioned as translations of "familiar spirit" or אוב (Job) for jann and "the devil" or δαιμόνιον (daimónion) for Iblīs.

Several passages from the New Testament refer to Jesus casting out evil spirits (or demons) from those that were demon-possessed. These evil spirits are strikingly similar to the jinn creatures mentioned in the Qur'an and Hadith literature. Among the similarities of these creatures is their ability to take possession of human beings.

In Van Dyck's Arabic translation of the Bible, these words are mentioned in Leviticus 19:31, Lev 20:6, 1 Samuel 28:3, 1 Sa 28:9, 1 Sa 28:7, 1 Chronicles 10:13, Gospel of Matthew 4:1, Mat 12:22, Gospel of Luke 4:5, Luk 8:12, Gospel of John 8:44 and other verses[citation needed] as well. Also, in the apocryphal book Testament of Solomon, Solomon describes particular demons whom he enslaved to help build the temple, the questions he put to them about their deeds and how they could be thwarted, and their answers, which provide a kind of self-help manual against demonic activity.

In popular culture[edit]

  • The Caliph's House and In Arabian Nights by Tahir Shah, describes his family's experiences in moving from London to a supposedly jinn-inhabited home in Morocco.
  • The X-Files: Season 7, Episode 21, "Je Souhaite" (original title) Two brothers have a less than helpful genie who grants their wishes with disastrous consequences. Mulder comes into possession of the same genie, and his wishes garner similar results.
  • In a subplot in Neil Gaiman's novel, American Gods, a salesman discontented with his life has a sexual encounter with a jinni (specifically, an ‘ifrit) who is working as a taxi driver in New York.
  • In Summoned by Rainy Kaye, Dimitri is a jinn who has to fulfill wishes even though he has no supernatural powers.
  • In the Supernatural episode "What Is and What Should Never Be", the protagonist, Dean Winchester, is attacked by a jinn and it grants him his wish. They also make an appearance later in the season 6 episode "Exile on Main St".
  • In the popular online MMORPG AdventureQuest Worlds, the Middle Eastern-themed zone the Sandsea Desert features a Djinn Chaos Lord named Tibicenas, as well as a Djinn realm which the player can explore.
  • In Clash of the Titans the Djinn are ancient desert sorcerers who extended their longevity by replacing damaged body parts with "charwood and black magic", also rendering them immune to certain other forms of magic.
  • "Two Djinn" is a song by Bob Weir and Gerrit Graham which was released on Ratdog's 2000 album Evening Moods.
  • In Wishmaster an evil Djinn is released from a museum exhibit.
  • I Dream of Jeannie is a 1960s television show starring Larry Hagman & Barbara Eden as a beautiful but incorrigible genie rescued by an Air Force pilot, Major Anthony Nelson (Hagman) who constantly gets him into trouble with her magic.
  • In the video game series Golden Sun players use four types of Djinn representing the four traditional elements Earth, Fire, Water, and Wind to battle monsters.
  • In the video game Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, the secondary antagonist, Shadar, is also known as 'The Dark Djinn' while there is also the benevolent Cauldron bound Genie named Al-Khemi that helps the player craft new items after beating him in battle.
  • In P.B. Kerr's series, "Children of the Lamp", the main protagonists and antagonists of the series are djinn.
  • In the video game, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Nathan Drake searches the legendary city of Ubar, which according to legend was doomed thousands of years ago by King Solomon when he imprisoned evil Djinn within a brass vessel and cast it into the heart of the city.
  • In the The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis, the witch Jadis is described as "half Jinn and half giantess".
  • Disney's 1992 movie Aladdin depicts the genie (voiced by Robin Williams) as an indomitable wisecracker who often references contemporary pop culture.
  • In the manga/anime series Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic djinns are magical creatures of near limitless power who reside in structures known as "dungeons". Whoever conquers a dungeon will become the djinns master.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Qur’ān 15:27
  2. ^ Qur’ān 55:31
  3. ^ El-Zein, Amira. "Jinn," 420-421, in Meri, Joseph W., Medieval Islamic Civilization - An Encyclopedia.
  4. ^ Wehr, Hans (1994). Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (4 ed.). Urbana, Illinois: Spoken Language Services. p. 164. ISBN 978-0-87950-003-0. 
  5. ^ Hoyland, R. G., Arabia and the Arabs: From the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam.
  6. ^ Quran 55:14–15
  7. ^ Quran 116:4–4
  8. ^ Quran 51:56–56
  9. ^ Muḥammad ibn Ayyūb al-Ṭabarī, Tuḥfat al-gharā’ib, I, p. 68; Abū al-Futūḥ Rāzī, Tafsīr-e rawḥ al-jenān va rūḥ al-janān, pp. 193, 341
  10. ^ Qur’ān 46:29-31
  11. ^ Masjid-e Jinn
  12. ^ Worshiping in the Masjid-e Jinn
  13. ^ Tafsīr; Bakhsh az tafsīr-e kohan, p. 181; Loeffler, p. 46
  14. ^ Ṭūsī, p. 484; Fozūnī, p. 527
  15. ^ Fozūnī, p. 526
  16. ^ Fozūnī, pp. 525–526
  17. ^ Kolaynī, I, p. 396; Solṭān-Moḥammad, p. 62
  18. ^ Mīhandūst, p. 44
  19. ^ Abu’l-Fotūḥ, XVII, pp. 280–281
  20. ^ a b Ibn Taymiyyah, al-Furqān bayna awliyā’ al-Raḥmān wa-awliyā’ al-Shayṭān ("Essay on the Jinn"), translated by Abu Ameenah Bilal Phillips
  21. ^ Quran 72:1–2
  22. ^ Quran 15:18–18
  23. ^ Sahih Muslim, No. 2714
  24. ^ The fisherman and the Jinni at About.com Classic Literature
  25. ^ Idries Shah - Tales of the Dervishes at Scribd
  26. ^ MA’ARUF THE COBBLER AND HIS WIFE
  27. ^ The Arabian Nights - ALADDIN; OR, THE WONDERFUL LAMP at About.com Classic Literature
  28. ^ The Arabian Nights - TALE OF NUR AL-DIN ALI AND HIS SON BADR AL-DIN HASAN at About.com Classic Literature
  29. ^ Kubai, Anne (April 2007). "Walking a Tightrope: Christians and Muslims in Post-Genocide Rwanda". Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations (Routledge, part of the Taylor & Francis Group) 18 (2): 219–235. doi:10.1080/09596410701214076. 
  30. ^ Guanche Religion

References[edit]

  • Al-Ashqar, Dr. Umar Sulaiman (1998). The World of the Jinn and Devils. Boulder, CO: Al-Basheer Company for Publications and Translations.
  • Barnhart, Robert K. The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology. 1995.
  • "Genie”. The Oxford English Dictionary. Second edition, 1989.
  • Abu al-Futūḥ Rāzī, Tafsīr-e rawḥ al-jenān va rūḥ al-janān IX-XVII (pub. so far), Tehran, 1988.
  • Moḥammad Ayyūb Ṭabarī, Tuḥfat al-gharā’ib, ed. J. Matīnī, Tehran, 1971.
  • A. Aarne and S. Thompson, The Types of the Folktale, 2nd rev. ed., Folklore Fellows Communications 184, Helsinki, 1973.
  • Abu’l-Moayyad Balkhī, Ajā’eb al-donyā, ed. L. P. Smynova, Moscow, 1993.
  • A. Christensen, Essai sur la Demonologie iranienne, Det. Kgl. Danske Videnskabernes Selskab, Historisk-filologiske Meddelelser, 1941.
  • R. Dozy, Supplément aux Dictionnaires arabes, 3rd ed., Leyden, 1967.
  • H. El-Shamy, Folk Traditions of the Arab World: A Guide to Motif Classification, 2 vols., Bloomington, 1995.
  • Abū Bakr Moṭahhar Jamālī Yazdī, Farrokh-nāma, ed. Ī. Afshār, Tehran, 1967.
  • Abū Jaʿfar Moḥammad Kolaynī, Ketāb al-kāfī, ed. A. Ghaffārī, 8 vols., Tehran, 1988.
  • Edward William Lane, An Arabic-English Lexicon, Beirut, 1968.
  • L. Loeffler, Islam in Practice: Religious Beliefs in a Persian Village, New York, 1988.
  • U. Marzolph, Typologie des persischen Volksmärchens, Beirut, 1984. Massé, Croyances.
  • M. Mīhandūst, Padīdahā-ye wahmī-e dīrsāl dar janūb-e Khorāsān, Honar o mordom, 1976, pp. 44–51.
  • T. Nöldeke "Arabs (Ancient)," in J. Hastings, ed., Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics I, Edinburgh, 1913, pp. 659–73.
  • S. Thompson, Motif-Index of Folk-Literature, rev. ed., 6 vols., Bloomington, 1955.
  • S. Thompson and W. Roberts, Types of Indic Oral Tales, Folklore Fellows Communications 180, Helsinki, 1960.
  • Solṭān-Moḥammad ibn Tāj al-Dīn Ḥasan Esterābādī, Toḥfat al-majāles, Tehran.
  • Moḥammad b. Maḥmūd Ṭūsī, Ajāyeb al-makhlūqāt va gharā’eb al-mawjūdāt, ed. M. Sotūda, Tehran, 1966.

Further reading[edit]

  • Crapanzano, V. (1973) The Hamadsha: a study in Moroccan ethnopsychiatry. Berkeley, CA, University of California Press.
  • Drijvers, H. J. W. (1976) The Religion of Palmyra. Leiden, Brill.
  • El-Zein, Amira (2009) Islam, Arabs, and the intelligent world of the Jinn. Contemporary Issues in the Middle East. Syracuse, NY, Syracuse University Press. ISBN 978-0-8156-3200-9.
  • El-Zein, Amira (2006) "Jinn". In: J. F. Meri ed. Medieval Islamic civilization – an encyclopedia. New York and Abingdon, Routledge, pp. 420–421.
  • Goodman, L.E. (1978) The case of the animals versus man before the king of the Jinn: A tenth–century ecological fable of the pure brethren of Basra. Library of Classical Arabic Literature, vol. 3. Boston, Twayne.
  • Maarouf, M. (2007) Jinn eviction as a discourse of power: a multidisciplinary approach to Moroccan magical beliefs and practices. Leiden, Brill.
  • Zbinden, E. (1953) Die Djinn des Islam und der altorientalische Geisterglaube. Bern, Haupt.

External links[edit]