Nar as-samum

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Samūm (Arabic: سموم‎ also spelled Simoom or Semum; from the root س م م s-m-m, سم "to poison") is a demon in Ancient Arabic lore and later Islamic beliefs. As a kind of fire, it is also the origin of some kinds of evil spirits and further identified with both the fires of hell and the fire of the sun. The Samum probably originated from Jewish lore as an anthropomorphization of poisonous wind, which was probably also the origin of the concept of Samael and his lesser devils.[1] Islam further develops the relation between the fires of Samum and Satan by asserting, that he or at least his minor devils, are created from the fires of Samum.[2]


The term Samūm derives from the root s-m-m سم, which means "to poison". It is also used of referring to a hot, dusty desert wind.[3][4] In Talmudic and post-Talmudic literature the wind of Samum became a demon[5] and the name of the Midrashic devil Samael is linguistical related to it.[6][7] Johann Gottfried Eichhorn relates the term to the Three Days of Darkness in Book of Exodus.[8] Accordingly, the darkness comes just with the tempest of Samum.[9] In the Quran the term appears in Quran 56:42 as the tormenting fires of Jahannam. Another time it occurs in Quran 15:27 as the origin of Jann. In Islamic traditions, it is usually interpreted as a kind of fire, which penetrates through the skin of human body in contrast to marijin min nar. However, both fires became usually associated with dangerous spirits.[10] Later, Manichaeans referred to the pestilential wind in one of the five Kingdoms of the Prince of Darkness as Samum.[11]


Tabari offers many interpretations for the nature of samūm. In one interpretation he provides, samūm is "hot wind which kills" and in another "the flame of the fire of the hot wind" and yet in another he relates it to "night-wind" in opposition to harur (day-wind). Further, he states, some hold samūm to be the hell-fire (nar jahannama). On the authority of Abu Ubaidah, samūm is the fire that "penetrates the pores due to its fineness in the day-time as well as at night". Abu Sãlih is reported as saying that samūm is smokeless fire located between the heavens and the veil. Tabari concludes, it is the heart of a flame and not wind, as others indicated.[12] According to Ibn Abbas, the samūm is "the worst hot fire which kills". On the authority of 'Amir ibn Dinar, samūm is the fire of the sun.[13] Most mufassirs repeat the mentioned interpretations, but usually more briefly.[14]


The Pre-Islamic Bedouins believed in various spirits, such as jinn, afarit and demons. One of these spirits is the whirlwind Samum [15][16] and the belief in this demon persisted throughout Islamic history. Turkish sources describe the Samum as a creature, which grew envious of mankind and their love for God turned into hatred. Whereupon they had been cast out of God's mercy and joint Satan and his demons, honouring him as their new deity.[17]

Many mufassirs however, do not refer to Samum as a creature on its own but to the origin of a specific entity. Authorized by Ibn Abbas, Tabari distinguishes between angels created from light, the jinn created from a mixture of fire, and Iblis and the angels among him as created from the Fires of Samum.[18] In some accounts, this tribe of angels is called Al-Hinn.[19]

Another story regards the Fires of Samum as the origin of a wife for Iblis, created by God after Iblis was banished from heaven, with whom he begot the demons.[20] According to Al-Suyuti, Samum is the primogenitor of spirits.[21]

Popular culture[edit]

The 2008 Turkish horror film Semum is about a Samūm, allegedly based on different independent narrations about possessed people, claiming to encountered a Samūm.[22] This Samum is depicted as a creature from hell itself, summoned by a witch and was forced to possess a woman.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Löwinger, Adolf. “Der Windgeist Keteb.” Mitteilungen Zur Jüdischen Volkskunde, 26/27, 1924, pp. 157–170. JSTOR, (German)
  2. ^ Reynolds, Gabriel Said, “Angels”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE, Edited by: Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, Everett Rowson. Consulted online on 10 October 2019 <> First published online: 2009 First print edition: 9789004181304, 2009, 2009-3
  3. ^ John Penrice A Dictionary and Glossary of the Koran: With Grammatical References and Explanations of the Text Biblo & Tannen Publishers 1969 ISBN 978-0-819-60252-7 page 72
  4. ^ Rashid al-Din Rashid al-Din's History of India: Collected Essays with Facsimiles and Indices Walter de Gruyter 1965 ISBN 978-3-111-71602-2
  5. ^ Löwinger, Adolf. “Der Windgeist Keteb.” Mitteilungen Zur Jüdischen Volkskunde, 26/27, 1924, pp. 157–170. JSTOR, (German)
  6. ^ John Hamilton Warrack, John Warrack Carl Maria Von Weber CUP Archive 1976 ISBN 978-0-521-29121-7 page 214
  7. ^ Johann Christian August Heyse Dr. Joh. Christ. Aug. Heyse's allgemeines verdeutschendes und erklärendes Fremdwörterbuch: mit Bezeichnung der Aussprache und Betonung der Wörter nebst genauer Angabe ihrer Abstammung und Bildung Hahn, Lyon Public Library 1873 Digit. 9. Febr. 2017 p. 833
  8. ^ William Jenks Genesis-Judges J.B. Lippincott & Company, 1859 Pennsylvania State University Digit. 2010 p. 250
  9. ^ Marcus Moritz Kalisch Shemot: Exodus Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1855 Harvard University Digit. 22. Nov. 2006 p. 169
  10. ^ Mehmet Yavuz Seker A Map of the Divine Subtle Faculty: The Concept of the Heart in the Works of Ghazali, Said Nursi, and Fethullah Gulen Tughra Books, 07.04.2015 ISBN 9781597848770 part 4
  11. ^ Jason David BeDuhn The Manichaean Body: In Discipline and Ritual JHU Press, 16.07.2002 ISBN 9780801871078 p. 74
  12. ^ Peter J. Awn Satan's Tragedy and Redemption: Iblīs in Sufi Psychology BRILL 1983 ISBN 9789004069060 p. 31
  14. ^ The Society Studia Orientalia, Band 85 1999 University of Michigan Digit. 23. Febr. 2008
  15. ^ Worrell, William H. “The Demon of Noonday and Some Related Ideas.” Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. 38, 1918, pp. 160–166. JSTOR,
  16. ^ N. S. Kirabaev, I︠U︡riĭ Mikhaĭlovich Pochta, Iurii Mikhailovich Pochta Values in Islamic Culture and the Experience of History, Band 1 CRVP, 2002 ISBN 9781565181335 p. 275
  17. ^ (Turkish)
  18. ^ Tabari, Muhammad ibn Yarir al- Tabari, Tabari The History of al-Tabari Vol. 1: General Introduction and From the Creation to the Flood UNY Press, 23.03.1989 ISBN 9780887065637 p. 252
  19. ^ Mahmoud M. Ayoub The Qur'an and Its Interpreters: Surah 1 and 2 Islamic Book Trust 2012 ISBN 978-9-675-06290-2 page 74
  20. ^ Patrick Hughes, Thomas Patrick Hughes Dictionary of Islam Asian Educational Services 1995 ISBN 978-8-120-60672-2 p. 137
  21. ^ Tobias Nünlist Dämonenglaube im Islam Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG, 2015 ISBN 978-3-110-33168-4 p. 103 (German)
  22. ^ Gönül Dönmez-Colin The Routledge Dictionary of Turkish Cinema Routledge 2013 ISBN 978-1-317-93726-5 page 130
  23. ^ Özgür Yaren Global Fears –Local Dressing: New Turkish Horrors*