All of us remember the blue hued goblin in Disney’s Aladdin, made immortal by the very talented Robin Williams.
The impish humor, the immeasurable power and an inclination to break out into song at the slightest chance is how we have always thought of Genie. But Jinn (Or Djinn as they are often called), are more than that.
They aren’t exactly fictional characters; rather they are mythological beings who trace their origin to the Islamic myths and stories. The Holy Quran talks about these spiritual beings as well. Jinn go beyond the popular role of granting humans wishes.
The story of their origin dates back to the origin of the angels and humans by God.
In Arabic, the root word from which Jinn comes signifies something which is not apparent, which is hidden and concealed from the observer. As mentioned above, they are spiritual beings and come second to angels in the hierarchy of the beings created by God.
In the ancient Middle Eastern tradition, not only were they extremely popular, they were also treated as demigods. People used to worship them (and not simply rub their lamp) and pray to them for rewards and prosperity.
There have been several archaeological findings which have the jinn depicted in one form or the other as carvings on stones. And there has also been discovered textual material which is said to be either a prayer of gratitude or praise to them.
As per Islam, God made jinn after angels. The three category of beings created by God were- Angels, Jinn and Humans. Out of these, angels were made of pure light. Jinn were made from fire. And humans were made of mud or clay.
But, just as humans have free will, so do the jinn which means that they are free to do as they please, however they too are not free from the consequences of their actions. And on the day of the judgment, they too will have to pay for their sins.
One particular story which can tell us about the origin of Shaitan:
A jinn names Iblis, refused to do the bidding of Adam as this was in direct disobedience with God’s wishes, he was exiled from Paradise. From then on he was called Shaitan or the adversary. This is similar to the bible’s Satan.
In popular culture, the jinn were made popular from the translation of Arabic stories, published under the name of One Thousand and One Nights. Also known by the name of Arabian Nights, it had stories of the Jinn’s interactions with humans. Jinn too are of different types, good and evil- and everything in between.
Here are the seven most common types of Jinn:
Ghul- Also known as ghoul, they roam in graveyards and feed on human flesh. They are exceptionally evil and can even shape shift.
Ifrit- They are very intelligent and use it for mischief and evil. However, they can turn good. King Solomon is famously said to have power over the ifrit.
Marid- These are the jinns you should hope to come across. As popular lore, they live in lamps, are very wise and grant wishes to humans because of their benevolence.
Nasnas- They are not as popular as the Jinns mentioned before. They are sometimes half human and half animal.
Shaitan- Other than the Shaitan, who defied Allah, shaitan is any malevolent jinn who supports and practices demonic powers.
Shiqq- They are monster like and scary, but just like the Nasnas are not powerful enough to cause great harm.
Silat- They are the most ingenious of all. They have a great interest in humans and so often live among them in disguise. They are such expert shapeshifters that no one is able to see through them.
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