Jinn: the truth behind the “genie of the lamp” fairy tale

The jinn [pronounced ʤin:] – (written in Arabic: جِنّ), is a creature mentioned in the Koran, often translated as “genius”, and indicates, in the pre-Islamic and Muslim religions, a supernatural entity, intermediate between the world angelic and humanity, often having a malignant character; even if in some cases it can show itself in a completely benevolent and protective way.

Some scholars derive the jinn from the Genius of Roman mythology, while others still derive from the Aramaic root with the meaning of ‘hiding’, ‘concealing oneself’.
It should also be noted that the term itself is phonetically close to Gehenna : the fiery place imagined by Judaism, where evil souls would remain for eternity …

In the pre-Islamic age (jāhiliyya) considerable power was attributed to jinns and were believed to be capable of expressing devastating, and often deadly, wickedness.

According to the Quran jinns are creatures originated at the beginning of time by Allah to worship him, but with the creation of man many of them rebelled because God preferred human beings to them ( there is a great similarity between the angel Lucifer and the jinn Azazel ). These beings today would move halfway between the angelic world and the human one, despite being different from both men and angels: unlike the first, originating from the earth, and the second originating from light, the jinn were created from the flame of a ” Smoke-free fire “.

There are many types of jinn in Islamic mythology, but the most powerful would be the “māridūn” (singular “mārid”).
The mārid is often described as arrogant and proud; he has the ability to fulfill the wishes of mortals, but would tend to mislead words and turn them against those who force him to serve him. He would also have the ability to possess living beings, to take their form and to kill them because of the ancestral grudge that he would carry with him for the divine punishment received.

As we have said, according to the Quran, jinns are spirits created by fire in the same way that men were created from the earth. Precisely with this condition is associated the disobedience of Iblis , who, refusing to prostate himself at the feet of Adam, was damned forever, acquiring the name of Shaytan, or the Devil. However, unlike the biblical world, where spirits are mostly associated with demons and evil figures, in Islam they are simply another form of living beings, not necessarily always evil.
There are in fact episodes in which the jinn help the prophets or convert to Islam, moreover they can generate offspring and within them there are several families, such as the marid and the ifrits. The true distinction between the two has not yet been fully understood, but it would seem that the latter are the most powerful and inclined to deceive humans. In addition to being of fire, however, their most important feature is that of being placed in a different dimension from the human one, thus resulting invisible.

The word Jinn derives in fact from جَنّ which means “hide”, “conceal” and this immediately suggests the function of these spirits. They represent all that huge part of supernatural events observed by us but not yet understood, going to identify a precise phenomenon in each area. In Morocco, for example, a country where the testimonies of jinn are most widespread in the world, it seems that the latter practice possessions over men and beasts; very different from Egypt, where they essentially cause paralysis like nocturnal paralysis.
This is due to the fact that the category of jinn has, in a certain sense, gone to represent creatures present in every culture, but never fully defined and always left in an aura of mystery that complicates their identification. Inserting them into the Koran like beings like angels is probably the way used by Islam to make them harmless even to the simplest of minds, first prey to wizards, witches and sorcerers. To chase them away, it will be enough, in fact, to pronounce verses from the Koran, making them completely harmless and thus managing to restore the serene. Furthermore, the fact that they may themselves be Muslim faithful can only be a further reassurance for the faithful that they could find, paradoxically, a great ally among them.

All jinns would be able to present themselves under multiple external aspects: their general characteristic would have been and would remain extreme changeability and total elusiveness.
According to Islamic culture, there are also jinns that are good and able to benefit the human being. This is because, already at the time of the Prophet Muhammad, some jinn would have converted to Islam by listening to the words revealed by the Prophet himself.

A typical example of a jinn is the being who, in the fable connected to the Thousand and One Nights , Aladdin frees a genie from a lamp, inside which he has remained a prisoner, in exchange for the fulfillment of all his wishes. In fairy tales, in accordance with a widespread belief not only Islamic, a total power over the jinn would have been expressed by Solomon, considered as one of the greatest precursor prophets of Muhammad.

According to the Koran itself and the Islamic treatises on demonology, it would belong to the jinn, as we have said, Iblīs: a term certainly adapted from the Greek diàbolos to indicate Satan (also called Shayṭān).

It is commonly believed that most jinns are found in places contaminated with ritual impurities such as bathrooms, garbage dumps and animal yards. In the Quran we can find several detailed accounts of some Jinn activities.

In the Quran Allah says: “ Indeed, we created man from dry clay of smooth black mud. And first we created the Jinns from the smokeless flame of fire ”- 15: 26-27.

In the Quran, Surah Ad-Dhariyat says, ” I did not create the Jinn and humanity except to worship me “.
In many ways, jinns are like humans in that they have free will, they eat and drink, marry, have children, die and are judged on the last day of judgment by Allah.
They will be present with humanity on that Day and will go to Jannah (Heaven) or Jahannam (Hell).


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