بِسْمِ ٱللَّٰهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
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Western pop culture and media have misrepresented another non-western topic, the jinn, to the point where they’ve been romantasized and even fetishized. And due to their disbelief in things that aren’t “visible” jinn are considered “mythological” or “supernatural” beings (and as Muslims, it’s a grave sin that can take out of the fold of Islam to not believe in their existence or to spread misinformation about them).
This post will be an overview of Jinn, who they are (or aren’t), and everything you thought you knew about them (but turns out you were wrong).
Note: For the purposes of this post, I will use the term ‘jinn’ as the singular and plural noun. The information gathered here is from Jordan University professor Dr. Umar Sulaiman al-Ashqar’s The World of the Jinn and Devils. (I recommend reading the entirety of this book when possible to get a better grasp of this topic.)
The Jinn: Origins
Almighty Allah created two beings with free will: the human and the jinn. Both have similar characteristics such as intelligence and understanding between right and wrong, both live (are begotten) and die, both eat and drink to survive, and both will be judged for their actions while they were alive.
Humans were fashioned from clay, but the jinn were created from smokeless fire (Qur’an 55:15). It’s a kind of energy-like matter that’s not detectable to humans, but animals are known to sense it (similar to UV light or plasma, the fourth state of matter).
The Jinn were created before the creation of humankind, thus they’re able to live much longer lives (centuries).
Types and Groupings of Jinn
The jinn are of three types: one that flies through the air, one that are snakes and dogs, and one that stays in places and travels about.
From these three types are five classifications (using the Arabic terminology):
- Jinni—when referring to them (like the term ‘humans’)
- ‘Aamar—jinn who live among humankind
- Arwaah—jinn who antagonize the young
- Shaitan (Satan/Devil)—evil jinn who antagonize humans
- Shayateen—the plural term for the followers of Shaitan/Satan (also called demons)
- Khinzah—an evil jinn who distracts with worldly thoughts when one is praying
- Ifrit—evil jinn that cause harm and become stronger from it
Just like humans, jinn can be either good or evil (in terms of their morals and actions). And the worst jinn is Iblis the Shaitan (Satan).
Who is Satan/Devil?
Iblis is a jinn who lived before the time of humans. He worshipped Allah and lived among the angels in Heaven. With the creation of Adam (peace upon him), Iblis’s true nature was revealed. He refused to bow to Adam when he was ordered to so; he thought himself superior even though the angels bowed to Adam. He was cast out of Heaven, but Allah granted him a final respite: that he will live until the final day, misguiding every soul to not worship Allah (Qur’an 18:20).
(Contrary to other religions, Satan is NOT a fallen angel, since angels are incapable of sinning or disobeying their Creator—Allah.)
Some of the names referring to Iblis and his evil ways:
- Iblis—this name means “despair” or “lost” as he has lost the chance of Allah’s mercy due to his arrogant defiance (his selfish pride and superiority-centric ego)
- Shaitan (Satan)—this name was given to Iblis; he and his followers eat and drink with their left hand
- Taghoot—Iblis is called this because he transgressed and rebelled against his Creator
- To have every human in Hell and never enter Heaven
- To have every human disbelieve in their Creator, worship something other than the Creator (i.e., stars, moon, sun, angels, crystals), or engage in polytheism (i.e., paganism, “new age”)
- If he’s not able to have them disbelieve (become polytheistic), he makes them involved in heresies (belief that they’re doing good when it’s actually against the Creator’s will) and innovations (doing things contrary to what has been commanded by the Creator)
- Make them sin (bad deeds which cause physical, psychological, and spiritual harm) by way of very small steps that seem insignificant to humans
- Cause enmity and hatred among humans
- Block all paths from obeying the Creator (e.g., whisper to delay prayers, commit small sins and tell them they have plenty of time to repent later)
- Make humans believe they’ll be impoverished if they give to charity
- Touch every child when they’re born, thus making them cry (the only one who was prevented from Shaitan’s touch was Prophet ‘Isa son of Maryam (peace upon them)
- Make evil deeds look like good deeds (e.g., “love is love”)
- Giving pleasing names to things that aren’t (e.g., calling the forbidden tree “the everlasting fruit tree,” promotion of promiscuity and incest as art, “happy hour” when it’s only for drinking alcohol)
- Cause extreme behaviors (e.g., laziness, procrastination, overzealousness, arrogance)
- Laughs at those who yawn without covering their mouth (it’s advised to stifle yawn, as it’s a sign of laziness)
- Appears to be sincere when advising; makes false promises, cast doubts, make people suspicious of each other, and question everything even when the reality is plainly before them (e.g., “what is a woman?”)
- Make humans fear Shaitan and all the jinn, which makes them easily susceptible to their influence
- Use love and desire to make humans disobey their Creator
- Appear in the forms of what a human desires most (e.g., women, wealth)
- Using his language of music/musical instruments and singing to make humans forget and disobey their Creator
- Have humans believe they’re irredeemable/unable to change/lose hope (e.g., “born this way”)
- Have humans believe that he’s not real (e.g., Satan/the devil is a “metaphor” for evil)
The “Throne” of Shaitan:
- Over a large body of water
- Each day he sends his minions to do their worst and they return to tell Shaitan what they’ve done
- The worst of them would return and say, “I stayed with a man and caused a rift in their marriage until he left her,” and Shaitan would reward that demon
He has two types of minions: one from the jinn and one from the humans.
- From the jinn: there is one “demon” partnered with every human that causes people to think negatively and act upon negativity.
- From the humans: they pretend to be believers and pious outwardly, but inwardly they disbelieve and scheme with Shaitan.
To the humans who do evil for his sake and regret it: Shaitan lies and deceives them, then he openly laughs and mocks them for their actions, claiming he’s innocent of the consequences of their actions since they, and not Shaitan, chose to do those evil things.
And just like humans have animals for livestock and transportation, the jinn also have animals. And Shaitan is known to use his steeds and other animals to do his bidding.
What do jinn eat?
Like humans, jinn eat and drink to sustain themselves.
- They have their own forms of sustenance
- Some jinn are known to prefer human food like rice
- Some jinn eat animal bones (dung is fodder for their animals)
- Shaitan and his followers prefer intoxicants (e.g., alcohol, drugs)
Do Jinn have children?
Jinn procreate like humans, but they’re able to have more children than humans (and it’s possible that the female jinn don’t need as much time to carry a child to term like humans).
Marriages between the two species have been possible, though not commonplace, including the procreation of children, though jinn are generally told to stay away from humans. Children born from human mothers with a jinn father are human (and have the qualities of a human). Children born from jinn mothers with human fathers are jinn (and have the qualities of jinn). There are no “half-jinn” children.
Where do Jinn live?
Jinn live on the Earth alongside humans, and even with humans and their homes.
- Some dwell among ruins and abandoned places
- Evil jinn, which are close with Shaitan, reside in bathrooms, places where drugs and other harmful substances are used, and cemeteries
- Some evil jinn inhabit marketplaces and other similar areas
- Evil jinn come out with the setting of the sun
- A place entered with Allah’s name keeps the evil jinn away, including the daily call to prayer (azan)
- Evil jinn sit between the shade and sunlight
- Some jinn may live on other planets and moons (they’re able to travel to space), but there isn’t any strong evidence from the Qur’an/ahadith that support this
What do Jinns believe in?
Just like with humans, jinn also have differing belief systems. Some are pious and righteous and always do good deeds, while others are not as pious, and many are disbelievers in their Creator and follow the ways of Shaitan.
There are Muslim jinn and jinn of other religions. Jinn have received messengers and Prophets to worship Allah and keep away from evil. Those who follow the sacred scriptures and live the way their Creator commands them to (the things that are forbidden for them differ from what’s forbidden for humans due to their nature) are the “believing” jinn, who, like believing humans, will be granted Paradise after their deaths.
And just like humans, who have the capacity to change their ways, jinn have that ability as well. The evil jinn can become good; however, the only jinn who refuses to obey his Creator and do any amount of good is Iblis (Satan) himself.
What are the Jinn's abilities?
Jinn have abilities incomparable to humans:
- Great speed and super strength
- Ability to go to space (but they’re limited; if they go any further, they’re destroyed)
- Evil jinn “eavesdrop” on the messages between Allah and the angels at the edges of the universe (lowest layer of the heavens—the layer one furthest from Allah’s throne), though they’re not able to hear all of it. The evil jinn relay these messages to fortunetellers and seers, who work for them. The messages they tell aren’t completely what they heard—a fragment of truth mixed with lies.
- Prophet Solomon (peace upon him) had control over the jinn and used them for construction of buildings, mechanisms, and other feats of technology such as long-distance communication
- They’re able to take on human and animal forms when they appear to humans
- They’re able to speak every human language, though they have their own which is unknown to us
- Evil jinn take on the form of black dogs, snakes, crows, and cats
- Some snakes found in Muslim homes may be jinn who have embraced Islam and therefore, the human occupants are advised from killing them and instead, warn them to go elsewhere; if they refuse after the third warning (or if they’re seen after the third day of warning), they’re then allowed to kill it (which may mean it is not a jinn but an actual snake)
- Shaitan and other evil jinn can’t force anyone to do things; instead they whisper ideas into minds and hearts, through seduction and temptation with promises of repentance and doing good later
- Evil jinn flee in fear from those who have strong faith in Allah; one such man Shaitan feared is Umar ibn Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), the companion of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and one of the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs of Islam
- They’re able to appear in dreams and take the form of anyone they want except Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
- They’re unable to open closed doors where Allah’s name was mentioned (when closing them)
- Evil jinn use unattended fire and flames to burn a place down (i.e., a house)
- Evil jinn use plague and other diseases to cause chaos, suffering, and death
- Evil jinn use magic to cause harm to others (via magicians and witch-doctors)
- Evil jinn can take various human-like forms and claim they’re invisible men, angels, spirits, or other supernatural creatures from various mythologies (e.g., fairies, dragons, mermaids)
- Evil jinn can communicate in writing or use a medium for communication (i.e., speaking to the dead)
- Evil jinn can travel as fast as the wind and carry humans across vast distances
- Evil jinn can enter plants and animals and talk to humans this way
- Evil jinn can appear as the deceased; these jinn are the partner jinn every human has with them to lead people astray (e.g., ghosts)
- Evil jinn speak to those with a weak mind and heart (i.e., schizophrenia)
- Jinn can also possess humans (some may not be evil but ignorant because they grow attached)
Possessions & Exorcisms
Due to their form, jinn are able to enter a human’s body and take control (possession).
- Evil jinn who are besotted by handsome men and beautiful women are known to take possession of these humans unless they guard themselves (i.e., concealing their beauty and following the commands of their Creator)
- Male evil jinn may take possession of a young woman’s body because he finds her attractive and a female jinn may take control of a young man’s body because she finds him attractive
- Vengeful jinn may take possession when the human has harmed them or someone they know and they want revenge
It’s advised to first remind them of their Creator (Allah) and tell them to leave the human, warning them that what they’re doing is against the will of the Creator.
Recitation of Ayatul Kursi (Verse of the Throne, Qur’an 2:255) is known to expel an evil jinn. A possessed person will scream and/or become violent when verses of the Qur’an are recited.
The possessed are also unaware of their inhumane strengths and languages they speak (that they didn’t know). Recitations of the last three surahs of the Qur’an and the last three verses of the second surah (Surah Baqarah) are also a deterrent of evil jinn.
Only those who are strong of faith in their Creator have the ability to repel evil jinn, otherwise, the jinn may not leave or they may return to possession the person again.
Can Jinn be witnesses?
In the affairs of humans, jinn cannot be used as witnesses because their honesty and integrity cannot be proven. Even the most believing, seemingly stalwart good jinn can misconstrue a testimony (as shown by the actions of Iblis), and just like humans, they can lie.
It’s best to let them know that human affairs will be resolved by humans.
Who can see Jinn?
Jinn can appear in human form and be visible to humans when they want to be, otherwise they’re invisible. Young children are notorious for being able to see things that aren’t there, in other words, jinn can choose who they want to appear to, and children are easily influenced.
Animals can also see jinn. Dogs and donkeys are known to see the evil jinn (shayateen/demons), so we are advised to seek refuge with our Creator when a dog suddenly barks or a donkey brays during the night.
Jinn live among us
The jinn who don’t follow Shaitan relatively remain hidden from humans or don’t make their presence known. They may be living among humans, walking the crowded streets, dining, attending classes, buying and selling at shops, yet they appear like humans.
They can choose to reveal to humans what they are. Some of the pious, religious scholars are aware when the jinn are present at lectures and classrooms, as these jinn are known to study Islam and be upright beings. (My late uncle who was an Islamic scholar and teacher was known to have jinn students. He saw them when they visited his house to discuss something, but my father, who’s a hafiz, didn’t see anyone with his older brother and wondered who he was talking to.)
Are Jinn Fae, Fairies, Pixies, etc?
Jinn have existed before the creation of humankind, and have reached all parts of the world. Many cultures and groups have encountered the jinn throughout history and have given them all sorts of names. Now, most cultures see them as “myth” though believing Muslims know jinn are no myth, and to NOT believe in their existence will take you of the fold of Islam.
As mentioned before, jinn have the ability to take on any shape they choose, from tiny, winged creatures to large beasts. Fae, fairies, mermaids, dragons, and even those believed to be “mythological deities” were jinn who took on various forms whenever they were seen by humans (or whenever they wanted to be seen by humans), and it was usually not for the good of the humans. Some of their encounters may have been exaggerated over the centuries, but it does provide us with the truth: jinn are real, they have abilities we don’t, and they live among us. And there’s no need to fear them.
Jinn are a race similar to humans, yet their nature differs from ours. Fire is not as tamable as earth, so the jinn are as elusive and arcane as the matter from which they were created. Keep the above in mind when writing about jinn. And Allah knows best.
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