Welcome to the A to Z Challenge! Today’s letter is D…
The djinn (also jinn or genies) are supernatural creatures in Islamic and Arabic folklore. They are mentioned frequently in the Qur’an (the 72nd sura is titled Sūrat al-Jinn) and other Islamic texts and inhabit an unseen world in dimensions beyond the visible universe of humans. The Qur’an mentions that the jinn are made of a smokeless and “scorching fire” but are also physical in nature, being able to interact physically with people and objects and likewise be acted upon.
Together, the jinn, humans and angels make up the three sapient creations of God. Like human beings, the jinn can be good, evil, or neutrally benevolent and hence have free will like humans and unlike angels.
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 three classes: those who have wings and fly in the air, 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 Prophet Muhammad when the jinn came to hear his recitation of the Quran, 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.