Islamic Sufism Spirituality

brief facts about Jinn

Posted on: February 3, 2011


* The Arabic word ‘jinn’ comes from the verb ‘janna’, which means ‘to hide or conceal’

* Allah says that He created jinn from a ‘flame of fire’ (maarij min naar) [Surah 55: 15]. However the relationship of a ‘jinn to fire’ is the same as the relationship of a ‘man to earth’.

* As Adam is the father of ‘mankind’, Jaann is the father of ‘jinns’[Mukhtaar as Sihaah, p 14]

* There are three types of jinn: one, which flies in the air all of the time, another which exists as snakes and dogs, and an earthbound type, which resides in one place or wanders about. [Tabari and Hakim in Mishkaak al Masaabeeh vol 2 p 883]

* Among the jinn which fly are some who eavesdrop on the angels in the lowest heaven. The jinn then convey the information they hear to fortunetellers. If they narrated only what they heard it would be correct, but they add to it and mix it with lies. [Sahih Muslim vol 4 no 5538]

* Allah says, ‘Verily, We created man from dried clay, from black putrid mud. And We created the jinn before that from the fire of a scorching wind’ [Surah 15: 26-27]. Ibn Kathir cites a hadith where the Prophet said that jinn, the descendants of jaann, were on earth two thousand years before the creation of Adam. [Tafseer al Quraan al Atheem, vol 1 p 108]

* Al Aaloosse said that Allah’s statement, ‘…among the previous generation of jinn and men that have passed away…’ [Surah 46: 18] issued to prove that jinn die, generation after generation, like humans. [Rooh al Maanee vol 26 p 21]

* The word ’shaytaan’ comes from the root ’shatana’ signifying ‘he was, or became distant or remote from the truth and the mercy of Allah’. Iblees (the personal name of satan), is derived from ‘ablasa’ which means ‘he despaired or gave up hope of the Mercy of Allah’

* Allah says, ‘…And we told the Angels, prostrate yourselves to Adam and they prostrated except Iblees, he refused to be of those who prostrated.’ [Surah 7: 11]. This verse taken alone suggests that Iblees may have been an angel, but as explained by Az Zamakhsharee,the Quranic exegesist, ‘When Allah commanded the angels to prostrate to Adam, Iblees was included in the address, even though he was not from the same origin as them, because he resembled them and had become characterized by their deeds. Consequently, he was included in the address to them and cursed for disobeying the command’. [Tafseer al Quran al Atheem vol 1 p 117]

* Az Zamakhsharee continues, ‘The command included Iblees, even though it was specifically for the angels, because Iblees was in their company and he used to worship Allah, the way they (angels) worshipped Him. So when they were commanded to prostrate to Adam and humble themselves in his honor, it was even more appropriate for Iblees, who was with them, to humble himself’. [Al Kashaaf an Haqaa at Tanzeel vol 2 p 555]

* The jinns possess free will like human beings; as such they may be divided into two main groups according to their faith, ‘Muslims’ (i.e. believers) and kuffar (disbelievers). The disbelieving jinn are referred to as Shaytan. The Quran also refers to human beings who become enemies of righteousness as shaytan.

* Allah says, ‘…will you take him (Iblees) andhis children as protestors besides me? And they are enemies to you!..’ [Surah 18: 50]. This verse refers to Satan’s ‘children’ – showing that jinns can procreate – but angels, being without gender, do not procreate. [Ahkaam al Jaan pp 199-202]

* Allah says, ‘…True, there were men among humans who sought refuge from men among the jinn, but they only increased them in folly’ [Surah 72: 6]. The usage of ‘men’ in reference to jinn implies that there must also be women amongst them. [Al Aqwwdah alIslaamiyyah wa Ussuhaa vol 2 p 27].

* Allah says, ‘…he (Iblees) was one of the jinn..’ [Surah 18: 50]. While Hasan al Basri says ‘He (Iblees) was the origin of the jinn as Adam was the origin of mankind’ [Jaami al Bayaan vol 1 p 226], a view favored by Ibn Taymeeyah [Majmoo al Fataawaa vol 4 p 235]; whether or not Iblees was the forefather of all the jinn, as Adam was the forefather of man, has been a subject of debate amongst the Muslim scholars as the meaning of [18:50] implies that Iblees was one amongst them, and not the first amongst them [Aakan ak Jinn wa ash Shayateen p 18]

* Rida writes ‘If angels or jinn take a dense form, like a human or other animals, it becomes possible to see them. However, under normal conditions they cannot be seen in their natural state’ [Tafseer al Manaar vol 7 p 525]

* Allah says, ‘Satan and his tribe watch you from a position which you cannot see them’ [Surah 7: 27]. Shafi said, ‘We will invalidate the witness of anyone who claims to have seen the jinn unless he is a Prophet’ [Manaaqib ash Shafi]. Ibn Hajar commented on this statement saying that it refers to anyone who claims to have seen them (jinn) in their original form in which they were created. One who sees them in their adopted animalforms should not be discredited. [Fath al Baree vol 6 p 344]

* In the context of a black dog passing in front of a person who is praying without a sutra, Abu Thaar’s student asked, ‘What is the difference between a black dog, a red dog and a tan-coloured dog?’ He replied, ‘I also asked the Prophet as you are asking me and he said the black dog is a devil’ [Muslim vol 1 no 1032]

* A type of the earthbound jinn is called ‘qareen’ (companion). One of these accompanies each human being from his birth until his death. This jinn encourages a man’s lower desires and constantly tries to divert him from righteousness. [Muslim vol 4 no 6757]

* The lowest category of jinn is called ‘hinn’. This includes the weakest jinn and also those who appear as all black dogs. [Lisaan al Arab vol 13 p 132]

* The jinn that appear in horrible, rapidly changing forms in the presence of human beings are called ‘ghool’ (plural gheelan). The Prophet said, ‘If the gheelan appear and transform themselves before you, call the athaan’ [Al Musnad vol 3 p 305]

* Jinns eat and drink [Muslim vol 3 no 5008] Some scholars debated how jinns would ‘eat’ . One group said that jinns were ‘invisible’ as they are incorporeal, and that the processes of chewing and swallowing could only be done by corporeal beings. There isn’t however sufficient evidence to determine the manner in which they eat.[Alam al Jinn fee Daw al Kitaab wa as Sunnah p49]

* Jinn can affect the subconscious mind of a human being i.e. dreams [Muslim vol 4 no 1224]

* Jinn can affect the conscious mind / thoughts [Bukhari vol 4 no 496]

* Prophet Muhammad said, ‘Satan pricks with his finger every newborn child od Adam’s descendants. They all begin screaming from satan’s jab, except Mary and her son (i.e. Jesus). [Bukhari vol 4p 641]

* Jinn can also cause sickness in a person. In the case of a woman who has vaginal bleedings at times other than menstrual period, the Prophet referred to this as the kick of shaytan. [Abu Dawood vol 1 no 267]

* At the time of death a jinn may try to cause the believer to go astray. The Prophet said, ‘O Allah, I seek refuge with you from shaytan causing me to fumble at the time of death’. [Nasai and Hakim in Mishkaak al Masaabeeh vol 1 p 256]

* Jinn can have sexual relations with women if their husbands do not mention the name of Allah before engaging in sex. [Rooh al Maanee vol 27 p 119] Ibn al Jawsee says that a jinn can have sex with women in the same way that men do. [Zaad al Maseer fee Ilm at Tafseer vol 8 p 122] As Suyootee was of the same opinion.[Al Alaam vol 3 p 301]. Ibn Taymeeyah said that jinn and humans can have sex with one another and beget children, this is a frequent occurrence that is well known to many. [Majmoo al Fatawaa vol 19 p 39]

* A minority opinion is that of Al Maawardee who said, ‘the intellectual rejects the possibility of sex between human and jinn due to their differences in species, nature and senses. Man is corporeal, jinn is incorporeal. Thus mixing, would not be possible with such difference and offspring would be inconceivable’. [Al Jaami li Ahkaam al Quran vol 13 p 211]

* There is no evidence to show that marriage to a jinn is haraam (forbidden) . Some scholars rule it to be makrooh (disliked). Saad ibn Dawood reported that some people wrote a letter to Imam Malik ibn Abbas asking about marriage to the jinn. He responded saying, ‘I do not see in it any religious objection, but I consider it detestable. For if a woman found pregnant is asked, Who is your husband? and she replies that he is from the jinnee, this will lead to much corruption of the principles of Islam. [al Ilhaam wa al Waswasah by ar-Razee] Other scholars such as Sijistaanee (Hanfi) said, ‘Marriage between humans and jinns is prohibited due to the differences in species’. [Munyah al Muftee]

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