Meet Jinn, The Ancient Arab Spirits Who Have Been Creeping People Out For Centuries
Published in Jul 2021 / Updated in Sep 2021
Most of the world came to learn of the jinn (also known as djinn or genie) through the Disney movie Aladdin. The genie in this movie seems friendly, but according to the Islamic religion, that is not always the case: a jinn’s behavior depends on its acceptance of God’s guidance.
The word jinn comes from an Arabic word that means “to hide” or “to adapt,” terms that perfectly describe popular traits attributed to these spirits.
Therefore, these spirits are neither good nor bad, but encountering one is always a terrifying experience that most people would rather avoid. However, the spirits are not completely Islamic as they predate the religion.
In other words, this ancient Arab spirit has withstood the test of time. Due to their ability to turn evil, they are also regularly associated with devils. Those who believe in them claim that they can cause diseases and misfortunes.
Throughout history, jinns have gained a lot of significance. There have been claims that some people have seen them at some point or another. They have been known to be benevolent and supportive.
Therefore, jinns inspired and frightened Arabs long before Islam came into existence in the seventh century. Their significance has not changed to this day. That is why, to this day, they can be cast out of people and summoned by those who need their services when necessary.
The Jinn In Religious Texts
The jinn is mentioned in the Quran, and these beings are considered the creation of Allah, but there are not meant to be worshipped. In this Islamic religious text, they are mentioned 29 times.
In the Quran, Prophet Muhammad portrays the jinns are non-material beings with free will, just like us humans. Some experts think it’s impossible to say you are a Muslim without admitting the existence of these beings.
They also appear in hadiths, where they are said to eat like humans, although they have a preference for rotten flesh and bones. In another account, they are divided into three categories, including jinns that move like humans. The rest move through the air or on the ground like snakes.
Jinns have the reputation of being like a “smokeless fire.” However, they were still considered mere spirits rather than deities. Jinns are also believed to have the ability to control weather elements and make land more fertile.
They apparently also have the ability to enter the physical world.
These are obviously very powerful attributes, which is why they make a lot of appearances in Arab literature. However, it is not clear when belief in jinns began.
Some experts argue that they were pagan nature deities, while others insist they began as malevolent spirits that lived in deserts and other unclean places.
Arabs also worshiped jinns before Islam came into existence, but they were not regarded as immortal like the gods. Nevertheless, despite their mortality, pre-Islamic Arabs consulted them more regularly than the gods as they had a more significant role in their lives. They also featured prominently in poems.
Strangely, a man could apparently kill a jinn in combat, but these spirits had the advantage of being invisible.
The Unique And Puzzling Nature Of Jinns
Some experts think that jinns can freely interact in their realm as well as our own, although they have physical needs like us humans. Consequently, they can even fall in love and get intimate with humans because they are dual dimensional.
This notion is supported by the fact that jinns are believed to possess an ability to shape-shift into humans or animals, which means they can even eat, drink, sleep, and even die.
For this reason, they have unique capabilities within our world. No wonder they don’t always seem as desirable and amusing as they are portrayed in Disney through the character of the genie.
According to tradition, humans who know the right magical process to exploit them can use them as they wish.
Due to their connection to magic, they have been so popular in Egypt, Syria, Persia, and North Africa. Some believe in these spirits so much that they hold them responsible whenever they face any ill-fortune. That is why many people seek to have them exorcised out of them. These rituals usually involve reciting verses from the Quran.
Historically, Arabs have exorcism procedures that keep them safe from the evil activities of these spirits. They use everything from beads, incense, bones, salt, and charms during these procedures.
Hanging something like a dead fox’s tooth around the neck is also believed to have the ability to scare away the jinn.
A jinn is believed to rank a lot lower than an angel, although it can either be good or bad. However, people believe they are capable of possessing humans. These beings are believed to invade humans, whereby they can attack their homes or invade their bodies.
Some people have apparently also had first-hand encounters with them. For instance, a girl testified about a bully who almost choked and then started speaking in a male voice claiming to be a jinn from afar. This happened after the bully in question broke another student’s necklace, which the parents had specifically bought to keep a malevolent spirit under control.
According to experts, Oman happens to have the highest cases of jinn sightings, especially in Bahla, a remote location within the country. Another person also reports seeing a pale woman dressed in rags, and she was also cackling. According to a local exorcist, the jinns have turned into a burden in Bahla.
In Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, jinn attacks are also common. The island of Pemba is also popular for its jinns. Experts are called in all the time to help deal with their mischief.
According to an expert, they can live for thousands of years and have any gender. When they manifest themselves, they usually take the form of old people in ancient clothing. Apparently, they have cities in the forest or under the sea, and some like living in filthy places such as toilets.
Most of them, however, like to live alone in isolated places. Apparently, during the time of King Solomon (Prophet Suleiman bin Dawood), there was the main prison for these spirits in Pemba, and many are still there and often attack residents.
For instance, a local watched as his brother showed personality changes after coming into contact with a spirit. He was muttering unintelligible words against a wall.
Jinns In Popular Culture
Unlike demons in Christianity, jinns are believed to behave a lot like humans in that they can either be good or bad. Aladdin clearly demonstrated that by having a charming genie.
Similarly, in The Fisherman and the Jinni, the spirit is angry after getting out of a jar where he was trapped for centuries. However, he becomes helpful and even offers the man exotic fish.
On Netflix, the Jinn series shows youths trying to save the world from jinn. This is in line with the popular notion that jinns cause chaos in the world.
Therefore, the concept of the jinn is still alive and well today, and it’s unlikely to die out any time soon.