Imam Ali and the Jinn

Imam Ali Conquers Jinn Unknown artist Ahsan-ol-Kobar 1568 Golestan Palace.

Extradimensional life forms known as the jinn (Arabic: جن‎ ǧinn, singular جني ǧinnī; also spelled djinn, Latin: genii, singular genius), or genies (and also known as fairies, elves, pixies, mermaids and so on), are spirits who inhabit an unseen world in dimensions beyond the visible universe of humans. Together, the jinn, humans and angels make up the three sentient creations of God. The Qurʾan mentions that the jinn are made of a smokeless and "scorching fire", and they have the physical property of weight. Like human beings, the jinn can also be good, evil, or neutrally benevolent and hence have freewill like humans and unlike angels. The jinn are mentioned frequently in the Qurʾan, and the 72nd surah is entitled Sūrat al-Jinn.

Etymology and definitions[]

Jinn is a noun of the collective number in Arabic literally meaning "hidden from sight", and it derives from the Arabic root j-n-n (pronounced: jann/ junn جَنّ / جُنّ) meaning "to hide" or "be hidden". Other words derived from this root are majnūn 'mad' (literally, 'one whose intellect is hidden'), junūn 'madness', and ǧanīn 'embryo, fetus' ('hidden inside the womb'). They can be perceived as gay.

The Arabic root ǧ-n-n means 'to hide, conceal'. A word for garden or Paradise, جنّة jannah, 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 ǧinn not only as spirits, but also anything concealed through time, status, and even physical darkness.

The word genie in English is derived from Latin genius, 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.

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. According to various stories, jinn could exist independently or bound to any particular object.

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

In the pre-Islamic mythology[]

Louvre lion gate DSC00914

A pair of shedu, protecting a doorway (the body of the creatures extending into the distance).

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

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". Sacred trees are haunted by jinn; sacrifices are made, and the sick who sleep beneath them receive prescriptions in their dreams.

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

"Yet, they join the jinns as partners in worship with Allah, though He has created them (the jinns), and they attribute falsely without knowledge sons and daughters to Him. Be He Glorified and Exalted above (all) that they attribute to Him." (Qur'an 6:100)

In the One Thousand and One Nights several types of Jinn are depicted that coexist and interact with Humans: šayṭān, the Ghoul, the Marid, and the Ifrit. The One Thousand and One Nights seems to present Ifrits as the most massive and strongest forms of Jinn and Marids are a type of Jinn associated with seas and oceans.

In Islam[]

Naskh script - Qur'anic verses

The 72nd chapter of the Qur'an entitled al-Jinn (the Spirits), as well as the heading and introductory bismillah of the next chapter entitled al-Muzzammil (The Enshrouded One).

Muslims believe that jinn are real beings. The jinn are said to be creatures with free will, made of smokeless fire by God (the literal translation being "subtle fire", i.e. a fire which does not give itself away through smoke), much in the same way humans were made of a metaphorical clay. In the Qur'an, jinn are frequently mentioned and Sura 72 of the Qur'an named Al-Jinn is entirely about them. Another Sura (Al- Naas) mentions the Jinn in the last verse. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad was said to have been sent as a prophet to both "humanity and the jinn."

The jinn have communities much like human societies: they eat, marry, die, etc. They are invisible to humans, but they can see humans. Sometimes they accidentally or deliberately come into view or into contact with humans.

Jinn are beings much like humans, possessing the ability to be good and bad. They have the power to transform into other animals and humans, and they are known to prefer the form of a snake. It is also known that they eat bones and their animals eat droppings, that is why it is forbidden to perform Istinja (washing) with those items. Jinns also have the power to possess humans, have much greater strength than them, and live much longer lives. In fact, according to some hadith, the great-grandson of Iblis, or the Devil (who was born before mankind), converted to Islam during the time of Muhammad, so he must have been thousands of years old. According to the majority of Islamic scholars, clear evidence exists in the Qur'an that the Devil was not an angel (as thought by Christians), but a jinn, citing the Qur'anic verse "And when We said to the angels:'Prostrate yourselves unto Adam.' So they prostrated themselves except Iblis (The Devil). He was one of the jinn..." Surat Al-Kahf, 18:50. According to Islam, angels are different physical beings, and unlike the fiery nature of jinn, they are beings of goodness and cannot choose to disobey God, nor do they possess the ability to do evil. Evil Ifrit in the The Book of One Thousand and One Nights are called "the seed of Iblis".

In Islam-associated mythology, the jinn were said to be controllable by magically binding them to objects, as Suleiman (Solomon) most famously did; the Spirit of the Lamp in the story of Aladdin was such a jinni, bound to an oil lamp. Ways of summoning jinn were told in The Thousand and One Nights: by writing the name of God in Hebraic characters on a knife (whether the Hebrew name for God, Yaweh, or the Arabic Allah is used is not specified), and drawing a diagram (possibly a pentagram) and strange symbols and incantations around it.

It is said that one could kill a jinn with the Inwa, a manner of throwing the stone of a fruit so hard so it could, in fact, kill something. The jinn's power of possession was also addressed in the Nights. It is said that by taking seven hairs out of the tail of a cat that was all black except for a white spot on the end of its tail, and then burning the hairs in a small closed room with the possessed—filling their nose with the scent—this would release them from the spell of the jinn inside them.

In the Qur'an, Solomon (Arabic: Suleiman) had members of his army belonging to the race of jinn. Solomon had the ability to communicate with all creatures, which allowed him to communicate with the jinn as well.

Evil beings from among the jinn are roughly equivalent to the demons of Christian lore. In mythology, jinn have the ability to possess human beings, both in the sense that they persuade humans to perform actions, and like the Christian perception of demonic possession.

Classifications and characteristics[]

The social organization of the jinn community resembles that of humans; e.g., they have kings, courts of law, weddings, and mourning rituals. A few traditions (hadith), divide jinn into multiple classes: those who have wings and fly in the air, those who are like mermaids and swim in the seas, those who walk on land, those who resemble snakes and dogs, and those who travel about ceaselessly. 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. They may even appear as dragons, onagers, or a number of other animals. In addition to their animal forms, the jinn occasionally assume human form to mislead and destroy their human victims. 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.

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

In Sūrat al-Raḥmān, verse 33, God reminds jinn as well as mankind that they would possess the ability to pass beyond the furthest reaches of space only by His authority, followed by the question: "Then which of the favors of your Lord do you deny?" In Sūrat Al-Jinn, verses 8–10, Allah narrates concerning the jinn how they touched or "sought the limits" of the sky and found it full of stern guards and shooting stars, as a warning to man. It goes on further to say how the jinn used to take stations in the skies to listen to divine decrees passed down through the ranks of the angels, but those who attempt to listen now (during and after the revelation of the Qurʾan) shall find fiery sentinels awaiting them.


A related belief is that every person is assigned one's own special jinnī, also called a qarīn, of the jinn and if the qarin is evil it could whisper to people's souls and tell them to submit to evil desires. The notion of a qarīn is not universally accepted amongst all Muslims, but it is generally accepted that Šayṭān whispers in human minds, and he is assigned to each human being.

In a hadith recorded by Muslim, the companion Ibn Mas‘ud reported: 'The Prophet Muhammad said: 'There is not one of you who does not have a jinnī appointed to be his constant companion (qarīn).' They said, 'And you too, O Messenger of Allah?' He said, 'Me too, but Allah has helped me and he has submitted, so that he only helps me to do good.' '

In Roman mythology, every man had a genius and every woman a juno.

In Muslim cultures[]

The stories of the jinn can be found in various Muslim cultures around the world. 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 jinn include stories such as the Jejhal Jiniri.


A manuscript of the One Thousand and One Nights.

Other acclaimed stories of the jinn can be found in the One Thousand and One Nights story of the Fisherman and the Jinni; more than three different types of jinn are described in the story of Ma‘ruf the Cobbler; a mighty jinni helps young Aladdin in the story of Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp; as Ḥasan Badr al-Dīn weeps over the grave of his father until sleep overcomes him, and he is awoken by a large group of sympathetic jinn in the Tale of ‘Alī Nūr al-Dīn and his son Badr ad-Dīn Ḥasan.

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


To the Persians Jann is the father of the jinn; he is called Tarnush in the Book of Adam. When his descendants had grown numerous upon the earth God granted them a religious law, to which he made them subject; they remained obedient to it until the end of one revolution of the fixed stars, the duration of which is thirty-six thousand, or, according to others, eighty thousand two hundred years; but after this time they rebelled through pride; for punishment God caused them all to perish save the poor and humble who had remained in the way of obedience; for governor he gave these one of themselves named Hilyaish.

After the expiration of another revolution of the fixed stars these also in turn rebelled; God destroyed them all save a small number that remained faithful, over whom he set a chief named Maliqa. At the end of the third revolution once more the children of Jann left the straight path and fell victims to the wrath of the Most High; the few that remained steadfast became in sequence of time an immense people ruled over by Hamus, celebrated for his merits, his learning, and his uprightness; he spent his life in upholding the reign of justice and good. After his death the wicked disobeyed, and God sent them prophets to give them good counsel, but they would not hearken. At the end of the fourth revolution God sent a legion of angels to war upon them; they descended from heaven and fought against the children of Jann, and slew the greater part of them; the remnant scattered through the islands and ruined places; some that had not reached years of discernment were made prisoners by the angels. Among these were Iblis (the Devil, Satan), who accompanied the angels on their return to heaven, and was brought up among them; his education progressed so far that he was in turn appointed to teach them. The place where he engaged in preaching was at the foot of the throne of God; he was mounted upon a pulpit of ruby, and over his head flew a banner of light. So numerous were his hearers that only the Deity could count them.

After many years the children of Jann, having multiplied anew, came forth from the islands, from the ruins and desert places, took possession of the habitable earth, and abandoned the path of uprightness. Iblis begged and obtained permission to go to them and preach sound doctrine to them; he came down from heaven upon the earth accompanied by a troop of angels; a small number of the sons of Jann, who had remained faithful, hastened to enroll in his service. The archangel 'Azazil sent them as ambassador one Sahlub, the son of Mulatib, to bring the people to the right path; but the rebels slew him without Iblis knowing it.

Seeing that the messenger was long in coming back, 'Azazil dispatched another, who found the same fate; then he entrusted this mission to certain of their own kin, but those impure beings treated them in the same fashion. Finally he sent to them Yusuf ibn Wasif, who by clever devices succeeded in escaping from them, and returned to bring back news of the situation. Iblis, after obtaining authority to do so, set out at the head of a legion of angels to fight against them; he slew them nearly all, and scattered the survivors over the various regions of t he earth. Become independent, he raised the standard of autocracy and claimed to be sovereign. "If the Creator," he said to himself, "entrusts the power to another I will refuse to recognize him." In a word, he saw himself perfect in theory and practice, and judged no one more worthy than himself to fulfill these high functions. Infatuated with himself, sometimes he was upon the earth and anon he set forth for heaven.

In these circumstances one day a group of angels went to contemplate the Tablet of Divine Decrees; on their return Iblis perceived the melancholy that darkened their brows. He inquired the reason. "We found," said they, "in the Tablet of Divine Decrees that soon one of the archangels would be expelled from heaven and laid under an eternal curse; we are concerned over the fate that is awaiting one of us. We implore of you to entreat the Supreme King not to try any of us by this dreadful calamity; we are in the very depths of terror and affright." "Take no thought for this," rejoined Iblis, "for this thing touches neither me nor you. I have known of this future project for many years, and I have never spoken of it to anyone." In his pride Iblis paid no heed to the words of the angels, and thought neither of humbling himself nor submission. And thus it was he earned everlasting condemnation.

At this moment there thundered forth in the ears of inhabitants of the earth the divine word of the Qur'an. God said: "I will appoint me a vicar upon the earth," and the creation of Adam was determined. "What," cried Iblis, "could a creature created out of slime pretend to be above me, who was created out of fire? Earth is dense and dark, while fire is subtle and light." Thus he persisted in his fault and was damned.

Solomon and the Jinn[]

Main article: Spirits of Solomon

Old Persian miniature of King Solomon counseling his followers as he can invite the Queen of Sheba Bilqis to Islam, while some jinn offer to take the throne.

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 before Solomon were marshalled his hosts,- of jinn and men and birds, and they were all kept in order and ranks." (Qur'an 27:17)

The Qurʾan 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 Qurʾan 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)." (Qurʾan 34:14)

Ibn al-Nadim, in his Kitāb al-Fihrist, describes a book that lists seventy Jinn lead by Fuqtus, named "‘Mrd, Kywan, Shimr‘al, Firuz, Mhaqal, Zaynab, Syduk, Jndrb, Siyyar, Zanbur, al-Da’hs, Kawkab, Hamran, Dahir, Qarun, Shidad, Sa‘sa‘ah, Baktan, Harthamah, Takallum, Furuq, Hurmiz, Hamhamah, ‘Ayzar, Mazahim, Murrah, Fatrah, al-Haym, Arhbh, Khyth‘, Khyfth, Rayah, Zuhal, Zawba‘ah, Mhtukara, Hayshab, Tq‘ytan, Wqas, Qdmnh, Mufarrish, Ayra’il, Nizar, Shftil, Dywyd, Ankara, Khatufah, Tnkyush, Misalqar, Qadim, Ashja‘, Nawdar, Tythamah, ‘Usar, Thu‘ban, Naman, Nmudrky, Tyabur, Sahitun, ‘Udhafir, Mirdas, Shytub, Za‘rush, Sakhr, al-‘Aramram, Khashram, Shadhan, al-Harith, al-Hurth, ‘Udhrah (‘Adhirah)," and "Faqruf." This list also includes several Jinn appointed over each day of the week, named (in order): Danhash, Shakhba, Marbaya, ‘Abara, Mismar, Namudarki, and Bakhtash. Bayard Dodge, who translated al-Fihrist into English, notes that most of these names appear in the Testament of Solomon.

A collection of late fourteenth- or early fifteenth-century magico-medical manuscripts from Ocaña, Spain describes a different set of Jinn (termed "Tayaliq") again under Fuqtus (here named "Fayqayțūš"), blaming them for various ailments. The jinn listed include M.h.m.s., Mūn.s, N.qīq, M.y.d, Y.d.b.h., 'a.q.l., al-Gūl, Māŷ.z, Rū'ā, 'amdayāni, L.țūš, al-Dwlāt, Aluwf, D.n.h.š, N.zhūš (son of the king D.n.h.š'), al-Dābā (AKA al-Wā, M.s.rf, Zwb.g.h., H.ŷā, 'w.ya, 'abaqardāti Ālāsqām, al-Z.b.d.h., al-Qūt, al-Sy.syān, Qalnamāta, F'aŷayān, Ș'aya, al-Rwāh, al-Q.r.șa, Rūnīmah, al-Janāmin, Hšhš, Lhyf, Samhal, Biqasmayni, Ŷ.n.d', Țlyābān, S.f.r., H.mūdī, N.f.s., Hūrtā, al-Rāhiy'a, al-D.rbān, al-Jațāf Majrūf, al-W.swās, 'Umm Mildām, al-Zūa, al-N.bāh, al-Mūl', al-W.swās (the greater), al-J.nas al-Șgār, al-H.m.qā, H.s.n, al-Māsūr, Bulum, Šājiyā, B.rdūn, Bazid al M.ŷusīn, M.'rūz, M.līla al-Nāq.da, Mrwyā, al-Fāliy, al-Wāțq, al-As'ārī al-Yahūdī, L.w.q., al-M.rīj, 'āmir abū al-Šayșfān (father of al-Ŷabālī), Alhlya Alzāhira, Q.d.sā, Ŝ.r.hī, M.g.š.g.s., and 'a.rā.

In European Folklore[]

A fairy (also fay, fae; from faery, faerie, "realm of the fays") is the European name for the jinn, a form of spirit, often described as metaphysical, supernatural or preternatural. Sometimes the term describes any magical creature, including goblins or gnomes: at other times, the term only describes a specific type of more ethereal creature or sprite. Various folkloristic traditions refer to them euphemistically, by names such as wee folk, good folk, people of peace, fair folk (Welsh tylwyth teg), etc.

Difference in perception of jinn between East and West[]

There is a significant difference in how these beings are perceived in East (as jinn) and in West (as genies). Western natives moving to Eastern countries may experience a bout of culture shock when they are confronted with the perceived presence of jinn by people who believe in them, and two good examples of the struggle to adapt to a culture which believes in jinn are The Caliph's House and In Arabian Nights by Tahir Shah, which describe his family's experiences in moving from London to a supposedly jinn-inhabited home in Morocco.

Existence and usage of jinn in other cultures[]

LLW Aladdin genie

Aladdin and the genie in Legoland Windsor.

In Guanche mythology from Tenerife in the Canary Islands, there existed the belief in beings that are similar to genies, 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 ʾIblīs, is sometimes identified with a genie.

In the Bible[]

In Judeo-Christian tradition, the word jinn as such does not occur in the English text of the Bible, but the Arabic word ǧinn is often used in several old Arabic translations. In Isaiah 6, the seraphim (lit. "burning/fiery ones") appear to the prophet Isaiah, with their six wings being use to cover, or hide, their body, face and feet.

In several verses in those Arabic translations, the words jinn (جن), jann (الجان al-Ǧānn), majnoon (مجنون Maǧnūn), and Iblīs (إبلیس) are mentioned as translations of familiar spirit or אוב (ob) for jann and the devil or δαιμόνιον (daimónion) for Iblīs.

Several passages from the New Testament refer to Jesus casting out evil spirits from those that were demon-possessed. According to Islamic tradition, these evil spirits refers to the shayatin jinn mentioned in the Qur'an and Hadith literature. Among the similarities of these creatures is their ability to take possession of human beings.

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 verses 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.

In Persian mythology[]

Jinns, notably evil ones, are called Dev by the Persians, and the most powerful referred to as Narahs (which signifies males though there are said to be females too). The good Jinni are the Piri (or Peri in Turkish) which is usually applied to the female. There are lower orders of Jinn, one of which is called Gul or Ghul (from which the English word Ghoul is derived). These are regarded as a kind of female Sheytan or evil Jinni (the male is called Qutrub). Guls are said to be solitary demonic creatures resembling both man and animal; they inhabit cemeteries where they feed on the dead, or lay in wait for a traveler to pass where from they entice and trick him by changing their shape (shape-shifting) to resemble another traveler, and lead him from his course till lost.

In the Occult[]

In sorcery books Jinn are classified into four races after the classical elements, Earth, Air, Fire; (Ifrit) and Water; (Marid) and presumed to live in them. They are collected in tribes, usually seven, each with a king. Each king controls his tribe and is controlled by an Angel. The Angel's name is torture to the jinn king as well as his specific tribe.

Unlike white and evil witches, Jinn have free will; yet, they could be compelled to perform both good and evil acts. In contrast a demon would only hurt creatures, and an angel would only have benevolent intentions (white witchcraft). Knowing what to ask a spirit to perform is key, as asking a spirit to perform a chore that runs counter to its natural tendencies could possibly anger the spirit into retaliating against the sorcerer.

In Western Culture[]

The Western interpretation of the genie is based on the Aladdin tale in the Western bastardized version of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, which told of a genie that lived in an oil lamp and granted wishes to whoever freed him from the lamp by polishing it. The number and frequency of wishes varies, but typically it is limited to three wishes. More mischievous genies may take advantage of poorly worded wishes (including the Fairly Odd Parents and in an episode of The X-Files).

Many stories about genies tend to follow the same vein as the famous short story The Monkey's Paw by W. W. Jacobs, with the overriding theme of "be careful what you wish for"; in these stories, wishes can have disastrous, horrific and sometimes fatal consequences. Often, the genie causes harm to the loved ones or innocent people surrounding the wisher, making others pay for its master's greed or ignorance.

Exploiting loopholes or twisting interpretations of wishes is a classic trait amongst genies in Western fiction. For example, in "The Man in the Bottle" episode of The Twilight Zone, a poor shopkeeper who finds a genie wishes to become a leader of a great nation - and is transformed into Adolf Hitler at the very end of World War II. Often, these stories end with the genie's master wishing to have never found the genie, all his previous wishes never to have happened, or a similar wish to cancel all the fouled wishes that have come before.

Until 2005, the Djinn was one of many mythical creatures to be used as a Brownie patrol. When the Girl Guides of Canada updated the Brownie program in 2005, they decided that Djinns were an improper use of an Islamic cultural icon and made the decision to remove Djinni from the program.

Jinn Life[]

The life span of the jinn is much longer than that of humans, but they do die. They are both male and female and have children. They eat meat, bones, and dung of animals. They play, sleep, and have animals. Descriptions of their appearances vary. Some may have the legs of a goat, a black tail, or a hairy body. They may be exceptionally tall and have their eyes set vertically in their heads. Although they can live anywhere on the planet, they prefer deserts, ruins, and places of impurity like graveyards, garbage dumps, bathrooms, camel pastures, and hashish dens. They also can live in the houses where people live. They love to sit in places between the shade and the sunlight and move around when the dark first falls. They also like marketplaces, and Muslims are warned not to be the first to enter the market or the last to leave it. In Islam, it is believed that humans are unable to get in touch with the deceased, learn about the future or what happens after death, or be healed, as these phenomena are in God’s realm. Jinn have limited powers in these areas. Jinn can appear to humans as the spirits of the dead and communicate with the living through visions and voices. Those who learn the medicinal qualities of plants through the plants’ talking to them are actually speaking with devils. It was the jinn who taught humans sorcery. Jinn will eat human food, stealing its energy, unless people say the name Allah prior to eating.

Food and drink of the jinn[]

The jinn eat and drink. Ibn Mas'ood said: "The Messenger of Allah said: 'Someone from among the jinn called me, and I went with him and recited Qur'an for them.' He took us and showed us the traces of where they had been and the traces of their fires. They asked him for food and he said, 'You can have every bone on which the name of Allah has been mentioned that comes into your possession, as meat, and all the droppings as food for your animals.' The Prophet said, 'So do not use [these things] for cleaning yourselves [after relieving oneself], for they are the food and provision of your brothers.'"

According to another report: "A delegation of jinn from Naseebeen came to me, and what good jinn they are! They asked me for food and I prayed to Allah for them, so that they would not pass by bones or droppings, but they would find food on them." (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 3571). The believing jinn may eat any bone on which the name of God has been mentioned, because the Messenger did not permit them to have anything on which God's name has not been mentioned - those are for the disbelievers among the jinn.

Marriage between jinn & humans[]

Main article: Mugharribun

Grigori jinni with a human women.

In many instances, stories are being told of some men marrying one of the jinn or of some woman being proposed to by one of the jinn. As-Suyooti mentioned a few reports from the early generations pointing to the occurrence of marriage between the jinn and humans. This was supported by Ibn Taymiyyah who said: "Humans and jinn have got married and have had children as a result of their marriage". However, and assuming that it is possible, Islamic scholars have expressed their disapproval of such copulation, deriving their evidence from the Qur'an where it is stated that God has created for mankind spouses of their own species: “And among His Signs is this, that He created from you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflects” (Surat Ar-Rūm 30.21).

This means that if marriage between humans and jinn could occur, it would not be possible for either party to have the companionship and love described due to their different origins; and thus, the wisdom behind marriage would be fast.

However, what points to the possibility of marriage between the two species is the verse from the Qur'an mentioned above [6O;56]. And in any case, if such marriages occur toady or have occurred before, they are certainly rare and must be regarded as 'strange.' Besides, from an Islamic perspective, if one is said to be doing it, he is in a sense possessed' and has no way to control it.

In the Bible[]

Genesis 6:1-4 speaks of marriage between the jinn and earthly women: When men began to multiply on earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw how beautiful the daughters of man were, and so they took for their wives as many of them as they chose. Then the Lord said: "My spirit shall not remain in man forever, since he is but flesh. His days shall comprise one hundred and twenty years." At that time the Nephilim appeared on earth (as well as later), after the sons of God had intercourse with the daughters of man, who bore them sons. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown. —Genesis 6:1-4

Possession by jinn[]

Main article: Possession

Ordinary human acts can kill or hurt jinn without people being aware of doing so. When that happens, jinn possess the offending people in order to take revenge on them. Others who are vulnerable to possession are those who live alone, for jinn are opposed to community. As do the daimones, pairs of jinn stay with each person. One whispers good; the other whispers evil. The moods of humans can be affected by the jinn, ranging from happiness to sadness for no known reason. Although they are able to affect peoples’ minds and bodies, they have no power over the soul or heart. When possessed, the person appears to be insane and exhibits signs of anger, anxiety, and depression. A woman’s voice will sound like a man’s, and a man’s voice will sound like a woman’s. Physical symptoms include nausea after eating, headaches, frequent desire to fight, heavy shoulders, a constant feeling of dissatisfaction, and a desire to commit suicide. Asking the jinn to leave may not be enough to induce him or her to go, and someone who is trained may be needed to perform an exorcism to expel the jinn from the body.

Protection from jinn[]

An amulet, talisman or what is referred to as a tawiz in Sufi circles is a form of protection against many forms of spiritual evil, including protection against the jinn. It is often worn around the neck in a pouch, close to the heart. One such popular amulet was said to have been given to Sheikh Abdullah Daghistani by Muhammad in a vision. In that vision he was instructed to give this amulet to people as a protection for them in the last days. The amulet contains a depiction of the Throne Room of Allah. The amulet contains theosophic names as well as the names of folk saints. It is widely held to be very miraculous and a protection to those who submit to Allah. It is to be noted that Muslims believe that all protection and help only comes from Allah, as it is a central Islamic tenet to believe that there is no power nor might save God's. Often, these sorts of practices are not widespread in the Islamic world and are mostly limited to certain tribal communities in remote areas. The Muslim faithful believe that reciting the Verse of the Throne (Qurʾan 2:255) and the final three concise chapters of the Qurʾan (chapters 112-114) are the most effective means of seeking protection from satanic whispers and evil creatures.