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Jinn (جن‎ ǧinn, singular جني ǧinnī ; variant spelling djinn) or, as Romanized more broadly, genies[1] are said to be supernatural creatures that occupy a parallel world to that of mankind. They are mentioned in the Qur'an, hadith, other Islamic texts and Arab folklore. The Jinn are believed to exist in many sub-species themselves, with some living in the air, others as humans on land, and some like "snakes and dogs".[2] Together, the various jinns, humans and angels make up the three sentient creations of Allah. Like human beings, the jinn can also be good, evil, or neutrally benevolent.[3]

Islamic beliefs

The jinn are mentioned frequently in the Qur'an. There is a surah titled Sūrat al-Jinn (the 72nd chapter of the Qur'an), and verse 67:5 discusses the stars from the "lowest heaven" which are used as missiles against any mischievous jinn that attempts to eavesdrop on conversations between angels.[4]

In Islamic theology jinn were created from smokeless fire by Allah as humans were made of clay.[5] According to the Qur'an, a jinn named ʾIblīs refused to bow to Adam when Allah ordered angels and jinn to do so. For disobeying Allah, he was expelled from Paradise and called "Šayṭān" (Satan). The Qur'an also mentions that Prophet Muhammad was sent as a prophet to both "humanity and the jinn," and that prophets and messengers were sent to both communities.[6][7] In Surah al-Jinn, the Qur'an describes a contingent of jinn being sent by Allah to Muhammad to hear and then convey his message to other jinns.

The Qur'an also describes Sulayman (Solomon) has having had an army of jinn that god had made subservient to him.

Jinn are usually invisible to humans, and humans do not appear clearly to them. Frequenting toilets,[8] they feed on feces and bones,[9] have the power to travel large distances at extreme speeds and are thought to live in remote areas, mountains, seas, trees, and the air. Like humans: jinn can also choose to become Muslims, will be judged on the Day of Judgment, and will accordingly be sent to Paradise or Hell.[10]

Scholars' views

While many Islamic scholars today reject the possibility of jinn possession, there is classical precedent for belief in jinn's ability to possess and interact with human beings in this and numerous other ways. Most famously, Ibn Taymiyyah was a proponent of this view in his Essay on the jinn (Ibn Taymiyyah also claimed to know and have mastered the "poetry of the jinn").

All qualities and behaviors of the jinn other than possession and interaction with humans (such as those listed above), however, are agreed upon, as they are stated in explicit terms in Islamic scriptures.

Cultural presence

In the Muslim world

Belief in jinn and some form of black magic and jinn-human communion is an inextricable part of Islamic doctrine, however the details of jinns' interaction with human beings is less explicitly formulated in Islamic scripture. Still, belief in jinns' ability to: engage in specific black magic contracts with human witches and warlocks, possess human bodies, fall in love with human beings, rape human beings, haunt houses, etc. is wide-spread in the Muslim world. Many Muslim-majority countries have laws explicitly outlawing the practice of black magic as well as black-magic squads employed by the state to hunt down alleged sorcerers. Exorcism (Ruqya as conducted by Raqis, or exorcists)as a cure for jinn-possession is also extremely commonplace in the Muslim world and in many places constitutes a multi-million dollar industry. Exorcists are infamous for abusing their patients under the guise of exorcising jinns.

In the West

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[11], but the idea of jinns granting magical acts through black magic to sorcerers was a well-established in pre-Islamic Arabia (and Islam confirmed this).

Relevant Quotations


The Jinn are described in the Qur'an as having been made of a smokeless flame:

And the jinn did He create of smokeless fire.

The first part of Surah al-Jinn discusses the activities and thoughts of a group of Jinn who encountered Muhammad:

1. Say (O Muhammad): It is revealed unto me that a company of the Jinn gave ear, and they said: Lo! we have heard a marvellous Qur'an,

2. Which guideth unto righteousness, so we believe in it and we ascribe no partner unto our Lord.

3. And (we believe) that He - exalted be the glory of our Lord! - hath taken neither wife nor son,

4. And that the foolish one among us used to speak concerning Allah an atrocious lie.

5. And lo! we had supposed that humankind and jinn would not speak a lie concerning Allah -

6. And indeed (O Muhammad) individuals of humankind used to invoke the protection of individuals of the jinn, so that they increased them in revolt against Allah);

7. And indeed they supposed, even as ye suppose, that Allah would not raise anyone (from the dead)

8. And (the Jinn who had listened to the Qur'an said): We had sought the heaven but had found it filled with strong warders and meteors.

9. And we used to sit on places (high) therein to listen. But he who listeneth now findeth a flame in wait for him;

10. And we know not whether harm is boded unto all who are in the earth, or whether their Lord intendeth guidance for them.

11. And among us there are righteous folk and among us there are far from that. We are sects having different rules.

12. And we know that we cannot escape from Allah in the earth, nor can we escape by flight.

13. And when we heard the guidance, we believed therein, and whoso believeth in his Lord, he feareth neither loss nor oppression.

14. And there are among us some who have surrendered (to Allah) and there are among us some who are unjust. And whoso hath surrendered to Allah, such have taken the right path purposefully.

The Qur'an states that Sulayman (Solomon) had control over an army and workforce comprised of jinns and animals, among others:

And there were gathered together unto Solomon his armies of the jinn and humankind, and of the birds, and they were set in battle order;
12. And unto Solomon (We gave) the wind, whereof the morning course was a month's journey and the evening course a month's journey, and We caused the fount of copper to gush forth for him, and (We gave him) certain of the jinn who worked before him by permission of his Lord. And such of them as deviated from Our command, them We caused to taste the punishment of flaming Fire.

13. They made for him what he willed: synagogues and statues, basins like wells and boilers built into the ground. Give thanks, O House of David! Few of My bondmen are thankful.

14. And when We decreed death for him, nothing showed his death to them save a creeping creature of the earth which gnawed away his staff. And when he fell the jinn saw clearly how, if they had known the Unseen, they would not have continued in despised toil.

The Qur'an describes a jinn from Sulayman's forces delivering to Sulayman, in the blink of an eye, the throne of the Queen of Sheba:

38. He said: O chiefs! Which of you will bring me her [the queen of Sheba's] throne before they come unto me, surrendering?

39. A stalwart of the jinn said: I will bring it thee before thou canst rise from thy place. Lo! I verily am strong and trusty for such work.

40. One with whom was knowledge of the Scripture said: I will bring it thee before thy gaze returneth unto thee [in the "twinkling" of an eye]. And when he saw it set in his presence, (Solomon) said: This is of the bounty of my Lord, that He may try me whether I give thanks or am ungrateful. Whosoever giveth thanks he only giveth thanks for (the good of) his own soul; and whosoever is ungrateful (is ungrateful only to his own soul's hurt). For lo! my Lord is Absolute in independence, Bountiful.

The Qur'an describes Satan (Iblis) as having been of the Jinn:

And (remember) when We said unto the angels: Fall prostrate before Adam, and they fell prostrate, all save Iblis. He was of the jinn, so he rebelled against his Lord's command. Will ye choose him and his seed for your protecting friends instead of Me, when they are an enemy unto you? Calamitous is the exchange for evil-doers.

The Qur'an says that Satan has a team of invisible entities spying over mankind. In the eyes of exegetes, these are the Jinn:

O Children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you as he caused your (first) parents to go forth from the Garden and tore off from them their robe (of innocence) that he might manifest their shame to them. Lo! he seeth you, he and his tribe, from whence ye see him not. Lo! We have made the devils protecting friends for those who believe not.

While some classical Islamic scholars differentiated between the "shayateen" (plural of Satan, or Shaytan, and translatable as "demons") and the jinn, most simply understood the shayateen to be the group of jinn who committed themselves to serving Shaytan (the head evil Jinn) or who engaged in evil black magic contracts with people. The Qur'an describes such demons as having helped propagate the secrets of black magic that had been revealed to the people of Babylon by two angels:

And follow that which the devils falsely related against the kingdom of Solomon. Solomon disbelieved not; but the devils disbelieved, teaching mankind magic and that which was revealed to the two angels in Babel, Harut and Marut. Nor did they (the two angels) teach it to anyone till they had said: We are only a temptation, therefore disbelieve not (in the guidance of Allah). And from these two (angles) people learn that by which they cause division between man and wife; but they injure thereby no-one save by Allah's leave. And they learn that which harmeth them and profiteth them not. And surely they do know that he who trafficketh therein will have no (happy) portion in the Hereafter; and surely evil is the price for which they sell their souls, if they but knew.

External Links


  1. Genie - Wiktionary, accessed April 27, 2012
  2. Hughes, Thomas Patrick (1885). "Genii". Dictionary of Islam: Being a Cyclopædia of the Doctrines, Rites, Ceremonies . London, UK: W.H.Allen. pp. 134–6. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  3. El-Zein, Amira. "Jinn," 420-421, in Meri, Joseph W., Medieval Islamic Civilization - An Encyclopedia.
  4. The World of Jinn - Invitation to Islam, Issue 4, January 1998
  5. Quran 55:14-15
  6. Quran 51:56
  7. 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
  8. Sunan Abu Dawud 1:6
  9. Sahih Bukhari 5:58:200
  10. Tafsīr; Bakhsh az tafsīr-e kohan, p. 181; Loeffler, p. 46
  11. The Fisherman and the Jinni - from The Arabian Nights, translated by Sir Richard Burton in 1850