Jinn (Template:Lang-ar Template:Transl, singular Template:Lang Template:Transl ; variant spelling djinn) or genies are supernatural creatures in Arab folklore and Islamic teachings that occupy a parallel world to that of mankind. Together, jinn, humans and angels make up the three sentient creations of Allah. Religious sources say barely anything about them; however, the Qur'an mentions that Jinn are made of smokeless flame or "scorching fire".[1] Like human beings, the Jinn can also be good, evil, or neutrally benevolent.[2]

The jinn are mentioned frequently in the Qur'an, and there is a surah entitled Sūrat al-Jinn in the Qur'an. In many modern cultures, a Genie is portrayed as a magical being that grants wishes. The earliest of such Jinn stories in folklore originate in the book of the One Thousand and One Nights.[3]

Etymology and definitionsEdit

Jinn is a word of the collective number in Arabic, derived from the Arabic root Template:Transl meaning 'to hide' or 'be hidden'. Other words derived from this root are Template:Transl 'mad' (literally, 'one whose intellect is hidden'), Template:Transl 'madness', and Template:Transl 'embryo, fetus' ('hidden inside the womb').[4]

The Arabic root Template:Transl means 'to hide, conceal'. A word for garden or Paradise, Template:Lang [[jannah|Template:Transl]], is a cognate of the Hebrew word גן gan 'garden', derived from the same Semitic root. In arid climates, gardens have to be protected against desertification by walls; this is the same concept as in the word "paradise" from pairi-daêza, an Avestan word for garden that literally means 'having walls built around'. Thus the protection of a garden behind walls implies its being hidden from the outside. Arabic lexicons such as Edward William Lane's Arabic-English Lexicon define Template:Transl not only as spirits, but also anything concealed through time, status, and even physical darkness.[5]

The word genie in English is derived from Latin genius, which 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.Template:Fact

Many cultural interpretations noted the Jinn as having distinct male and females, they would often appear wearing vests and sashes, various interpretations note that they tied their hair long vertically and most probably had some or no facial hair. According to various stories Jinn could exist independently or bound to any particular object.

In Arabic, the word Template:Transl is in the collective number, translated in English as plural (e.g., "several genies"); Template:Transl 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.

Jinn in the pre-Islamic eraEdit

Amongst archaeologists dealing with ancient Middle Eastern cultures, any spirit lesser than angels is often referred to as a jinni, especially when describing stone carvings or other forms of art.Template:Fact

Inscriptions found in Northwestern Arabia seem to indicate the worship of jinn, or at least their tributary status. For instance, an inscription from Beth Fasi'el near Palmyra pays tribute to the "Jinnaye", the "good and rewarding gods".[6]

In the following verse, the Qur'an rejects the worship of jinn and stresses that only God should be worshiped:

"Yet they make the jinn equals with Allah, though Allah did create the jinn; and they falsely, having no knowledge, attribute to Him sons and daughters. Praise and glory be to Him! (for He is) above what they attribute to Him!" (Qur'an 6:100)

In the One Thousand and One Nights the types of Jinn are known to co exist with Humans, [[Devil (Islam)|Template:Transl]], the [[ghoul|Template:Transl]], the [[marid|Template:Transl]], the [[ifrit|Template:Transl]], and the Angels. According to the One Thousand and One Nights, Ifrits seem to be the most massive and strongest forms of Jinn and Marids are a type of Jinn associated with seas and oceans.

Jinn in IslamEdit

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.[7] According to the Qur'an, jinn have free will, and [[Devil (Islam)|Template:Transl]] 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, he was expelled from Paradise and called "[[Devil (Islam)|Template:Transl]]" (Satan). Jinn are frequently mentioned in the Qur'an: 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.[8] The Qur'an 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.[9][10]

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, and humans do not appear clearly to 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.[11]

Classifications and characteristicsEdit

The social organization of the jinn community resembles that of humans; e.g., they have kings, courts of law, weddings, and mourning rituals.[12] 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.[13] Other reports claim that ‘Abd Allāh ibn Mas‘ūd (d. 652), who was accompanying Muhammad when the jinn came to hear his recitation of the Qur’an, described them as creatures of different forms; some resembling vultures and snakes, others tall men in white garb.[14] They may even appear as dragons, onagers, or a number of other animals.[15] In addition to their animal forms, the jinn occasionally assume human form to mislead and destroy their human victims.[16] 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.[17]

Ibn Taymiyyah believed the jinn were generally "ignorant, untruthful, oppressive and treacherous,"[18] 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.[18]


A related belief is that every person is assigned one's own special jinnī, also called a qarīn, of the jinn that whisper to people's souls and tell them to submit to evil desires.[19][20][21] The notion of a qarīn is not universally accepted amongst all Muslims, but it is generally accepted that [[Devil (Islam)|Template:Transl]] whispers in human minds, and he is assigned to each human being.[22] The jinn were made to serve Allah, though [[Devil (Islam)|Template:Transl]] is amongst them.

Jinn in Muslim culturesEdit


The stories of the Jinn can be found in various Muslim cultures around the world. In Morocco, Jinn are believed to grant three magical wishes. 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 Jinni include stories such as the Jejhal Jiniri.

More acclaimed stories of the Jinn can be found in the One Thousand and One Nights story of the Fisherman and the Jinni[23]; more than three different types of Jinn are described in the story of Maruf the Cobbler[24][25]; a mighty Jinni helps young Aladdin in the story of Alladin and the Wonderful Lamp[26]; as Hassan Badr ad-Din weeps over the grave of his father until sleep overcomes him he is awoken by a large group of sympathetic Jinni in the Tale of Ali Nur ad-Din and his son Badr ad-Din Hassan.[27]

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. In Cyangugu, arsonists ran away instead of destroying the Mosque because they believed Jinn were guarding the Mosque and feared their wrath.

Relationship of King Solomon and the geniesEdit

Main article: Islamic view of Solomon

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 there were jinn that worked in front of him, by the leave of his Lord," (Qur'an 32:12)

"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 Qur'an 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 Qur'an 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)." Qur'an 34:14)

Existence and usage of jinn in other culturesEdit

File:LLW Aladdin genie.jpg

In Guanche mythology from Tenerife in the Canary Islands, there existed the belief in beings that are similar to geniesTemplate:Syn, 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 [[Devil (Islam)|Template:Transl]], is sometimes identified with a genie.[28]

Jinn in the BibleEdit

In Judeo-Christian tradition, the word or concept of jinn as such does not occur in the original Hebrew text of the Bible, but the Arabic word Template:Transl is often used in several old Arabic translations.

In several verses in those Arabic translations, the words: Jinn (Template:Lang) Jann (Template:Lang Template:Transl) Majnoon (Template:Lang Template:Transl) and Template:Transl (Template:Lang) are mentioned as translations of familiar spirit or אוב (ob) for Jann and the devil or Template:Lang (daimónion) for Template:Transl.

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 versesTemplate: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.

See alsoEdit

Template:Div col end


  1. Qur’ān 15:27),
  2. El-Zein, Amira. "Jinn," 420-421, in Meri, Joseph W., Medieval Islamic Civilization - An Encyclopedia.
  4. Template:Cite book
  5. Edward William Lane’s Arabic Lexicon
  6. Hoyland, R. G., Arabia and the Arabs: From the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam.
  7. Template:Quran-usc
  8. Template:Quran-usc
  9. Template:Quran-usc
  10. 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
  11. Tafsīr; Bakhsh az tafsīr-e kohan, p. 181; Loeffler, p. 46
  12. Ṭūsī, p. 484; Fozūnī, p. 527
  13. Fozūnī, p. 526
  14. Fozūnī, pp. 525-26
  15. Kolaynī, I, p. 396; Solṭān-Moḥammad, p. 62
  16. Mīhandūst, p. 44
  17. Abu’l-Fotūḥ, XVII, pp. 280-81
  18. 18.0 18.1 Ibn Taymiyyah, al-Furqān bayna awliyā’ al-Raḥmān wa-awliyā’ al-Shayṭān ("Essay on the Jinn"), translated by Abu Ameenah Bilal Phillips
  19. Template:Quran-usc
  20. Template:Quran-usc
  21. Sahih Muslim, No. 2714
  22. Is it permissible to pray that my qareen becomes Muslim
  28. Guanche Religion

Template:Refbegin Template:No footnotes

  • 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, Helsinky, 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 readingEdit

  • 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.
  • Lebling, Robert (2010) Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar. London, I.B.Tauris.
  • 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 linksEdit

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