Jinn (Arabic: الجن‎‎, al-jinn), also romanized as djinn or anglicized as genies (with the more broad meaning of demons),[1] are supernatural creatures in early Arabian and later Islamic mythology and theology. An individual member of the jinn is known as a jinni, djinni, or genie (الجني, al-jinnī). They are mentioned frequently in the Quran (the 72nd sura is titled Sūrat al-Jinn) and other Islamic texts. The Quran says that the jinn were created from a smokeless and “scorching fire”,[2] but are also physical in nature, being able to interact in a tactile manner with people and objects and likewise be acted upon. The jinn, humans, and angels make up the three known sapient creations of God. Like human beings, the jinn can be good, evil, or neutrally benevolent and hence have free will like humans.[3] The shaytan jinn are akin to demons in Christian tradition and are classified into three groups:[4]

Etymology

The earliest evidence of the word, can be found in Persian, for the singular Jinni is the Avestic “Jaini”, a wicked (female) spirit. Jaini were among various creatures believe among pre-Zoroastrian peoples of Persia.[5][6]

Jinn is an Arabic collective noun deriving from the Semitic root JNN (Arabic: جَنّ / جُنّ‎‎, jann), whose primary meaning is “to hide”. Some authors interpret the word to mean, literally, “beings that are concealed from the senses”.[7] Cognates include the Arabic majnūn (“possessed”, or generally “insane”), jannah (“garden”), and janīn (“embryo”).[8] Jinn is properly treated as a plural, with the singular being jinni.

The anglicized form genie is a borrowing of the French génie, from the Latin genius, a guardian spirit of people and places in Roman religion. It first appeared[9] in 18th-century translations of the Thousand and One Nights from the French,[10] where it had been used owing to its rough similarity in sound and sense.

Pre-Islamic Arabia

Archeological evidence found in Northwestern Arabia seems to indicate the worship of jinn, or at least their tributary status, hundreds of years before Islam: an Aramaic inscription from Beth Fasi’el near Palmyra pays tribute to the “ginnaye“, the “good and rewarding gods”,[11][12] and it has been argued that the term is related to the Arabic jinn.[13] Numerous mentions of jinn in the Quran and testimony of both pre-Islamic and Islamic literature indicate that the belief in spirits was prominent in pre-Islamic Bedouin religion.[14] However, there is evidence that the word jinn is derived from Aramaic, where it was used by Christians to designate pagan gods reduced to the status of demons, and was introduced into Arabic folklore only late in the pre-Islamic era.[14] Julius Wellhausen has observed that such spirits were thought to inhabit desolate, dingy, and dark places and that they were feared.[14] One had to protect oneself from them, but they were not the objects of a true cult.[14]

Islam

Prophet Idris visits Heaven (Paradise) and Hell, Persian miniature

In Islamic theology jinn are said to be creatures with free will, made from smokeless fire by God (Arabic: Allah) as humans were made of clay, among other things.[15] When jinns are called “fire spirits” it´s does not refer to their current nature, rather to their origin.[4] Jinn (and varies of the word) are mentioned 29 times 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.[16] The Quran 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.[17][18] Like humans, jinn will also be judged on the Day of Judgment and will be sent to Paradise or Hell according to their deeds.[19]

Classifications and characteristics

The black king of the djinns, Al-Malik al-Aswad, in the late 14th century Book of Wonders

The social organization of the jinn community resembles that of humans; e.g., they have kings, courts of law, weddings, mourning rituals and practise religion (in addition to Islam, it can also be Christianity or Judaism).[20] One common belief in Muslim belief lists five distinct orders of jinn — the Marid (the strongest type), the Ifrit, the Shaitan, the Ghul (or Jinn), and the Jann (the weakest type).[21] 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.[22] described them as creatures of different forms; some resembling vultures and snakes, others tall men in white garb.[23] They may even appear as dragons, onagers, or any number of other animals.[24] In addition to their animal forms, the jinn occasionally assume human form to mislead and destroy their human victims.[25] 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.[26]

Ibn Taymiyyah, an influential late medieval theologian whose writings would later become the source of Wahhabism,[27] believed the jinn to be generally “ignorant, untruthful, oppressive and treacherous.”[28] He held 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.[28]

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 will 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 (Sura al Jinn verse 9),[29] but those who attempt to listen now (during and after the revelation of the Qurʾan) shall find fiery sentinels awaiting them. The Quran forbids their association with God, and advises men not to worship jinns instead of Him, the Quran says “And they (Pagan Arabs) imagine kinship between Him and the jinn, whereas the jinn know well that they will be brought before (Him)”, Quran Surah 37, Verse 158.

Seven kings of the Jinn are traditionally associated with days of the week.[30]

  • Sunday: Al-Mudhib (Abu ‘Abdallah Sa’id)
  • Monday: Murrah al-Abyad Abu al-Harith (Abu al-Nur)
  • Tuesday: Abu Mihriz (or Abu Ya’qub) Al-Ahmar
  • Wednesday: Barqan Abu al-‘Adja’yb
  • Thursday: Shamhurish (al-Tayyar)
  • Friday: Abu Hasan Zoba’ah (al-Abyad)
  • Saturday: Abu Nuh Maimun

Qarīn

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.[31][32][33] 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.[clarification needed]

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.’ [34]

In Muslim cultures

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“;[35] more than three different types of jinn are described in the story of Ma‘ruf the Cobbler;[36][37] two jinn help young Aladdin in the story of Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp;[38] 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.[39] In some stories, jinn are credited with the ability of instantaneous travel (from China to Morocco in a single instant); in others, they need to fly from one place to another, though quite fast (From Baghdad to Cairo in a few hours).

During the Rwandan genocide, both Hutus and Tutsis avoided searching local Rwandan Muslim neighborhoods because they widely believed the myth 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 that jinn were guarding the mosque and they feared their wrath.[40]

Pre-Adamite Jinn

According to some islamic beliefs, supported by the hadiths of Ibn Abbas and Tabari the Jinn inhabited and ruled the earth before humankind. Over time they caused corruption and shed blood, so God sent either the angels to fight the corrupted Jinn or a fire that consumed the most creatures on earth.[41]

Solomon and the Jinn

Main article: Solomon in Islam

According to tradition, the jinn stood behind the learned humans in Solomon’s court, who in turn, sat behind the prophets.[citation needed] The jinn remained in the service of Solomon, who had placed them in bondage, and had ordered them to perform a number of tasks, like building the first temple.[42]

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)

Ibn al-Nadim, in his Kitāb al-Fihrist, describes a book that lists 70 Jinn led by Fuqtus, including several Jinn appointed over each day of the week[43][44] Bayard Dodge, who translated al-Fihrist into English, notes that most of these names appear in the Testament of Solomon.[43] A collection of late fourteenth- or early fifteenth-century magico-medical manuscripts from Ocaña, Spain describes a different set of 72 Jinn (termed “Tayaliq”) again under Fuqtus (here named “Fayqayțūš” or Fiqitush), blaming them for various ailments.[45][46] According to these manuscripts each Jinn was brought before King Solomon and ordered to divulge their “corruption” and “residence” while the Jinn King Fiqitush gave Solomon a recipe for curing the ailments associated with each Jinn as they confessed their transgressions.[47]

 

References

 

  • Ibn Taymiyah’s Essay on the Jinn (Demons), abridged, annotated and translated by Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, International Islamic Publishing House: Riyadh, p. 19 (note 4).
  • Qur’ān 15:27
  • El-Zein, Amira. “Jinn”, 420–421, in Meri, Joseph W., Medieval Islamic Civilization – An Encyclopedia.
  • Robert Lebling Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar I.B.Tauris 2010 ISBN 978-0-857-73063-3 page 141
  • Tisdall, W. St. Clair. The Original Sources of the Qur’an, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, 1905
  • The Religion of the Crescent or Islam: Its Strength, Its Weakness, Its Origin, Its Influence, William St. Clair Tisdall, 1895
  • Edward William Lane. “An Arabic-English Lexicon”.. p. 462.
  • Wehr, Hans (1994). Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (4 ed.). Urbana, Illinois: Spoken Language Services. p. 164. ISBN 978-0-87950-003-0.
  • Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed. “genie, n.” Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2014.
  • Arabian Nights’ entertainments, Vol. I, 1706, p. 14.
  • Hoyland, R. G., Arabia and the Arabs: From the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam, p. 145.
  • Jonathan A.C. Brown. Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction Oxford, 2011.
  • Javier Teixidor. The Pantheon of Palmyra. Brill Archive, 1979. p. 6
  • Irving M. Zeitlin (19 March 2007). The Historical Muhammad. Polity. pp. 59–60. ISBN 978-0-7456-3999-4.
  • Quran 55:14–15
  • Quran 116:4–4
  • Quran 51:56–56
  • 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
  • Tafsīr; Bakhsh az tafsīr-e kohan, p. 181; Loeffler, p. 46
  • Ṭūsī, p. 484; Fozūnī, p. 527
  • Hughes, Thomas Patrick. Dictionary of Islam. 1885. “Genii” pp. 133-138.
  • Fozūnī, p. 526
  • Fozūnī, pp. 525–526
  • Kolaynī, I, p. 396; Solṭān-Moḥammad, p. 62
  • Mīhandūst, p. 44
  • Abu’l-Fotūḥ, XVII, pp. 280–281
  • “Ibn Taymiyyah”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  • Ibn Taymiyyah, al-Furqān bayna awliyā’ al-Raḥmān wa-awliyā’ al-Shayṭān (“Essay on the Jinn”), translated by Abu Ameenah Bilal Phillips
  • “AL-JINN (THE JINN)”. QURAN.COM. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  • Robert Lebling (30 July 2010). Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar. I.B.Tauris. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-85773-063-3.
  • Quran 72:1–2
  • Quran 15:18–18
  • Sahih Muslim, No. 2714
  • Sahih Muslim, Book 39, Hadith No. 6759
  • The fisherman and the Jinni at About.com Classic Literature
  • Idries Shah – Tales of the Dervishes at ISF website
  • MA’ARUF THE COBBLER AND HIS WIFE
  • The Arabian Nights – ALADDIN; OR, THE WONDERFUL LAMP at About.com Classic Literature
  • The Arabian Nights – TALE OF NUR AL-DIN ALI AND HIS SON BADR AL-DIN HASAN at About.com Classic Literature
  • 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.
  • Brannon Wheeler Prophets in the Quran: An Introduction to the Quran and Muslim Exegesis A&C Black 2002 ISBN 9780826449566 Page 16
  • Robert Lebling Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar I.B.Tauris 2010 ISBN 978-0-857-73063-3
  • Bayard Dodge, ed. and trans. The Fihrist of al-Nadim: A Tenth-Century Survey of Muslim Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 1970. pp. 727-8.
  • Robert Lebling. Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar. I.B. Taurus, 2010. p.38
  • Celia del Moral. Magia y Superstitión en los Manuscritos de Ocaña (Toledo). Siglos XIV-XV. Proceedings of the 20th Congress of the Union Européenne des Arabisants et Islamisants, Part Two; A. Fodor, ed. Budapest, 10–17 September 2000. pp.109-121
  • Joaquina Albarracin Navarro & Juan Martinez Ruiz. Medicina, Farmacopea y Magia en el “Misceláneo de Salomón”. Universidad de Granada, 1987. p.38 et passim

Shadrach, Nineveh (2007). The Book of Deadly Names. Ishtar Publishing. ISBN 978-0978388300.

 

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