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Artist’s rendering of a Jinn

The Jinn (also dJinn or genies, Arabic: الجن‎ al-Jinn, singular الجني al-Jinnī) are spiritual creatures in Islam and Arabic folklore. They are mentioned in the Qur'an and other Islamic texts and inhabit an unseen world in dimensions beyond the visible universe of humans. Together, the Jinn, humans and angels make up the three sapient creations of God. The Qur'an mentions that the Jinn are made of a smokeless and "scorching fire", but also physical in nature, being able to interact physically with people and objects and likewise be acted upon. 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 sura is titled Sūrat al-Jinn.

Jinn in Islam[]

The weeping palm

Art by XSilentWingsX depicting the Weeping Date Palm, a Jinn from the Qu'ran

In Islamic theology Jinn are said to be creatures with free will, made from smokeless fire by Allah as humans were made of clay, among other things. According to the Quran, Jinn have free will, and Iblīs abused this freedom in front of Allah by refusing to bow to Adam when Allah ordered angels and Jinn to do so. For disobeying Allah, he was expelled from Paradise and called "Shayṭān" (Satan). Jinn are frequently mentioned in the Quran: Surah 72 (named Sūrat al-Jinn) is named after the Jinn, and has a passage about them. Another surah (Sūrat al-Nās) mentions Jinn in the last verse. The Qurʾan also mentions that Muhammad was sent as a prophet to both "humanity and the Jinn," and that prophets and messengers were sent to both communities. An appellation of Muhammad is Rasûl-üs-Sakaleyn. Because Muhammad met the Jinn several times at night, a masjid (Masjid-i Jinn) is said to have been built in memory of this phenomenon. Similar to humans, Jinn have free will allowing them to do as they choose (such as follow any religion).

They are usually invisible to humans, and humans do not appear clearly to them. Jinn have the power to travel large distances at extreme speeds and are thought to live in remote areas, mountains, seas, trees, and the air, in their own communities. Like humans, Jinn will also be judged on the Day of Judgment and will be sent to Paradise or Hell according to their deeds.

Classifications and characteristics[]

Note: Only some key types of Jinns are listed below. To see the full list of different types of Jinn, See: List of Jinn Types


Jinn from Muḥammad al-Qazwīnī‘s “Marvels of Things Created and Miraculous Aspects of Things Existing”

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 (Ifrit), those who resemble snakes and dogs (Hinn), 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.

Muslims 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.


Main article: Ghoul
Shahnemeh Ghoul2

A Ghoul is an Arabic folkloric creature associated with graveyards and consuming human flesh. The oldest surviving literature that mention ghouls is Arabian Nights. The term was first used in English literature in 1786, in William Beckford's Orientalist novel Vathek, which describes the ghūl of Arabian folklore. Originally in pre-Islamic times the males were called Qutrub and females were called Gulah. The Ghoul's name in Arabic is الغول ghul, from ghala "to seize". Marc Cramer and others believe the term to be etymologically related to Gallu, a Middle Eastern demon.

In ancient Arabian folklore, the ghūl (demon) dwells in burial grounds and other uninhabited places. The ghul is a fiendish type of jinn believed to be sired by Iblis.


A ghoul is also a desert-dwelling, shapeshifting, evil demon that can assume the guise of an animal, especially a hyena. It lures unwary people into the desert wastes or abandoned places to slay and devour them. The creature also preys on young children, drinks blood, steals coins, and eats the dead, then taking the form of the person most recently eaten. In the Arabic language, the female form is given as ghouleh and the plural is ghilan. In colloquial Arabic, the term is sometimes used to describe a greedy or gluttonous individual.


Main article: Marid

In Arabic folklore and common mythology, a Marid (Arabic: مارد‎ mārid), is a large and powerful jinn. Marids are mentioned in pre-Islamic Arabian mythology and inside the One Thousand and One Nights alongside the Jinn in the story of The Fisherman and the Jinni. The term marid is still used in Arabic to refer to giants.



Traditional depiction of Bahamut, a form of a Marid

Marids are often described as the most powerful type of jinn, having especially great powers. They are the most proud as well. Like every jinn, they have free will yet could be compelled to perform chores. According to folklore, they also have the ability to grant wishes to mortals, but that usually requires battle, imprisonment, rituals, or just a great deal of flattery. The Bahamut, the giant fish in the Qu'ran, is an example of a non-humanoid form of this particular Jinn.


Main article: Nasnas

An Islamic "jinn" from Muḥammad al-Qazwīnī‘s “Marvels of Things Created and Miraculous Aspects of Things Existing.”

The Nasnas is another form of jinn, hybrids of human-like and animal-like forms, and may account for some of our encounters with mysterious creatures. It is described in The Book of 1001 Nights as a half- human being, that is, it has half a head, half a body, one arm, one leg. It hops about on its single leg. The nasnas was said to be the offspring of a shiqq (see below) and a human being. A character in "The Story of the Sage and the Scholar", a tale from the collection, is turned into a Nasnas after a magician applies kohl to one of his eyes. Muḥammad al-Qazwīnī‘s book of Jinn, “Marvels of Things Created and Miraculous Aspects of Things Existing.”, features many forms of Nasnas, including an elephant-humanoid Jinn.

Sightings of Jinn[]

Pengkalan Chepa Creature2

The Pengkalan Chepa Creature

Sightings 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. 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.


Illustration by Smackaysmith of Shaitan, a Jinn

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. The modern city of Deoband (Uttar Pradesh, India) is named on similar grounds. 'Deo' from Hindi, is a synonym of Jinn, while 'Band' means closed, but can be translated as captured in Hindi. The legend says, that there was a menacing Jinn, and it was a elderly, who put a stop to him, by capturing him into a bottle, sealing him away forever. Another version, describes that there were two, not one Jinn. This bottle/s are said to be sealed away in the dungeon of a mosque situated on a hill in the city itself, which has not been opened ever since. Additionally, the premier Islamic body of Darul-Uloom, Deoband is said to have a vibrant community of civilized Jinns in its midst. Relationship of Prophet Solomon and the Jinn 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." (Quran 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)

Existence and usage of Jinn in other cultures[]

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

Popular culture[]

• The Caliph's House and In Arabian Nights by Tahir Shah, describes his family's experiences in moving from London to a supposedly Jinn-inhabited home in Morocco.

• In a subplot in Neil Gaiman's novel, American Gods, a salesman discontented with his life has a sexual encounter with a Jinni (specifically, an ‘ifrit) who is working as a taxi driver in New York.

• In the Supernatural episode "What Is and What Should Never Be," the protagonist, Dean Winchester, is attacked by a Jinn and it grants him his wish. They also make an appearance later on; in season 6 in episode "Exile on Main st".

• In the popular online AdventureQuest Worlds, the Middle Eastern-themed zone the Sandsea Desert features a Djinn Chaos Lord named Tibicenas, as well as a Djinn realm which the player can explore.

• In Clash of the Titans the Djinn are ancient desert sorcerers who extended their longevity by replacing damaged body parts with "charwood and black magic", also rendering them immune to certain other forms of magic.

• "Two Djinn" is a song by Bob Weir and Gerrit Graham which was released on Ratdog's album "Evening Moods" in the year 2000.

• In Wishmaster (1997 film) an evil Djinn is released from a museum exhibit.

• 'I Dream of Jeannie' is a 1960s television show starring Larry Hagman & Barbara Eden as a beautiful but incorrigible genie rescued by an Air Force pilot, Major Anthony Nelson (Hagman) who constantly gets him into trouble with her magic.

• In the video game series Golden Sun players use four types of Djinn representing the four traditional elements Earth, Fire, Water, and Wind to battle monsters.

• In the video game Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, the secondary antagonist, Shadar, is also known as 'The Dark Djinn' while there is also the benevolent Cauldron bound Genie named Al-Khemi that helps the player craft new items after beating him in battle.

• In P.B. Kerr's series, "Children of the Lamp", the main protagonists and antagonists of the series are Djinn.

• In the video game, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Nathan Drake searches the legendary city of Ubar, which according to legend was doomed thousands of years ago by King Solomon when he imprisoned evil Djinn within a brass vessel and cast it into the heart of the city

• In the The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis, the Jadis is described as "half Jinn and half giantess"

• In the video game series "Final Fantasy", the summon Ifrit bears many resemblances to Jinns, such as having control over fire and and being a somewhat humanoid beast with horns and brown skin, among others.