Islam, Arabs, and the Intelligent World of the Jinn by Amira El-Zein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Similar to the European fairies, Indian and Persian Devas and paris, are the Jinn. Legendary creatures made of wind and smokeless fire. They inhabit an invisible world between the realm of angels and the realm of man. They interact directly with our world but are banned from entering the realm of angels. Men who seek to find them usually travel to desolate out of the way places in the desert.
The angels are made with bodies of light, ours of clay. The Jinn used to be able to enter the realm of angels and bring back the news from heaven to mankind’s ears. With the advent of Islam the Jinn were banned from entering heaven. Their leader Iblis who may have been a lower level angel or high ranking Jinn, depending on the source refused to bow down to Adam so he was expelled to the planet earth.
Now Jinn are not necessarily evil, they have a choice. They can come in any religion or none at all. Both Jinn and man will be judged for their deeds in judgment day. Yes there are Muslim Jinn. Some are good to people and other are bad.
What follows is a scholarly examination of the Jinn concept in Arabia. Sources are pulled from pre Islamic works, Orthodox Islam and popular Muslim folklore. The concept of Jinn is compared to similar phenomena in other cultures, covering a range from Arabic, Persian, Greek, Roman, Indian and European folklore.
Covered first if the cosmology of the Islamic heaven, briefly touched upon previously. The Muslim cosmology believes in seven earths each one differing from the other and each Earth contains worlds and universes. The consonants JN mean hidden or invisible . Such a concept could apply to angels, demons and other unseen being. It was thought that prior to the revelation of the Koran that the Jinn roamed the Earth and Heaven and in certain instances were thought of as Gods. The female Deities had wings and were treated much like angels or consorts to male gods. Some believe that the old Gods were in fact Jinn. After all they were unseen.
Jinn can take many forms and sometimes they just keep on changing. The Gods in the Ancient world could also shape shift and be tricky. The Egyptian gods were part animal part features of humans. Some animals like the dear were holy to the Jinn. They liked deer. Snakes were considered both good and evil and in some instances were reviled and in others worshipped.
In strict Islam the Jinn were prohibited from marrying humans yet coupling did happen. Usually the mission was to create a hybrid offspring. In folklore it happened with the hybrid having special powers. The book posits several examples. The Jinn lore is very similar to faerie lore from Europe.
The book goes on to discuss how Jinn inspire poets and the different types of Jinn. This is an good beginning primer for those interested in the lore of the Jinn.
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