Islamic Sufism Spirituality

Belief in the jinn

Posted on: December 20, 2011

By Abu’l-Hasan

(c) “Al-Jumu`ah” magazine

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Some people are skeptical of the existence of the jinn, while others resort to far-fetched, distorted interpretations of these creatures in order to suit their whims and personal fancies, such as claiming that the jinn are microbes. In this country, a certain heretical group teaches that the white man is the devil (evil jinn). This preposterous idea would imply either that the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu `alayhe wa-sallam was black, or that he was a devil (Allah forbid!). Both of these conclusions are clear blasphemy, for they contradict conclusive historical facts and common sense.

What are the jinn?

The reality, which it is obligatory to affirm, is that the jinn are an established world, unseen to us. They eat, drink and procreate, and among them are both righteous and wicked individuals. The word jinn itself comes the Arabic root meaning “something hidden which cannot be seen.”

The existence of the jinn is firmly corroborated by the Qur’an, authentic sunnah and consensus of scholars (Ijma`), and thus one who denies their existence is outside the pale of Islam. Suffice it to say that the word jinn and its derivatives occur at least 29 times in the Qur’an, and the word shaytaan and its plural shayaateen together occur more than 80 times. In fact, there is an entire surah called Surat al-Jinn (72), which speaks in clear, explicit terms about the jinn.

Their Creation

Ibn `Abbas radiallahu `anhu said, “Two thousand years before [mankind] was created, there were jinn on [the earth], and they caused corruption on the earth and shed blood. Then, Allah sent against them a troop of angels who beat them and then cast them away to the islands in the seas. So, when Allah said, (translated),

“‘I am placing a viceregent upon the earth,’ they said, ‘Will You place therein one who will cause corruption therein and shed blood,’” [2 (Al-Baqarah), 30]

i.e. just as those jinn did? Then, Allah said, (translated), “I know that which you do not know.” (Related by Al-Hakim.) Thus, jinn were created before mankind, as attested to clearly by the Qur’an also. Their origin is from fire.

“And verily, We created mankind . . . and the jinn We had created before from smokeless fire.” [15 (Al- Hijr), 26-27]

They are the descendants of Iblees, who disobeyed Allah’s command to prostrate to Adam, and became known as the Satan (Shaytaan).

We cannot ordinarily see them, unless they materialize. When they materialize, it is usually in an unpleasant or ugly form, such as a snake or a black dog, as opposed to angels (who materialize into pleasant and handsome forms). In the battle of Badr, Iblees materialized into the form of a man named Suraqah ibn Malik, and urged on the disbelievers, saying,

“There is none who can overcome you today,” [8 (Al-Anfaal), 48]

Then, Allah sent the angel Jibreel (Gabriel) against him, and when Iblees saw him he cried out to the disbelievers, “I have nothing to do with you! I see that which you do not see! I fear Allah, and Allah is severe in retribution,” and then he fled.

Their Lifestyle

They are accountable, just as human beings are.

“I created jinn and mankind only in order that they might worship Me.” [51 (Adh-Dhaariyaat), 56]

There are believers amongst them, who will be rewarded, and disbelievers, who will be punished.

“And indeed, there are amongst us Muslims and amongst us wrongdoers. As for those who accept Islam, they have sought out the right path. And, as for the wrongdoers, they will be firewood for Jahannam.” [72 (Al-Jinn), 14-15]

Whenever Allah sent a prophet to mankind, the jinn of that time could also receive his message. Thus, some of them received the message of Prophet Moses `alayhis-salam. Some jinn came to the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu `alayhe wa-sallam one night, and he went with them, recited Qur’an to them, and taught them about Islam. (Related by Muslim.)

They eat and drink, and have fiqh regulations similar to ours. Just as we eat meat of animals over whose slaughter the name of Allah was recited, the jinn are allowed to eat bones of such animals, and therefore the Prophet sallallahu `alayhe wa-sallam has instructed us not use these for istinjaa’. On the authority of `Abdullah ibn `Umar : the Messenger of Allah sallallahu `alayhe wa-sallam said, “When one of you eats, he should eat with his right hand, and when one of you drinks, he should drink with his right hand, for Satan eats with his left hand and drinks with his left hand.” (Related by Muslim.) Satan also partakes of our food if we neglect to mention the name of Allah before eating.

A verse of the Qur’an indicates that they have conjugal relations.

“Therein [in Heaven] are [women] of modest gaze, whom neither human being nor jinn have touched before.” [55 (Al- Rahman), 56]

Another verse establishes that they beget children.

“Will you then take [Iblees] and his offspring as protectors in preference to Me, although they are an enemy to you?” [18 (Al- Kahf), 50]

Although the jinn tend to have longer lifespans than ours, they also die and pass away, as evidenced by the Qur’an [7 (Al- A`raaf), 38] Iblees, however, has been given respite upto the Day of Arising.

“[Allah] said, You are, then, among those given respite, upto the day of the time known [and appointed]” [38 (Saad), 81-82]

The shayaateen (devils)

The shayaateen (devils; the singular is shaytaan) are the disbelieving jinn, but the word shaytaan is also used for those disbelieving human beings who are active in corruption and fighting Islam.

“Thus have We made, for every Prophet, an enemy, the shayaateen of mankind and jinn, inspiring one another with flowery discourses by way of deception.” [6 (Al-An`aam), 112]

As for those jinn who are prominent in mischief-making, they are referred to as mareed (plural: maradah), meaning froward or rebellious.

“Among mankind is he who disputes about Allah&127; without knowledge, and follows every froward shaytaan.” [22 (Al- Hajj),3]

Iblees has his throne in the sea, and he sends out his dispatchments who aggravate people. The greatest of them before him is the one who has caused the most fitnah. One of his workers comes and tells him, “I did not leave [my victim] until I brought about separation between him and his wife.” Iblees draws him near, and says to him, “Yes! You (are the best!)” (Related by Muslim.)

Eavesdropping on the heavens

The shayaateen go up into the heavens, trying to eavesdrop on the angels. `A’ishah radiallahu `anha said that she asked the Prophet sallallahu `alayhe wa-sallam about how it is that the fortune-tellers sometimes foretell something which turns out true. He replied that that is the word of truth which the jinn manages to catch, and so he comes and whispers it in the ear of the fortune-teller, and to one truth he adds a hundred lies. (Related by Bukhari and Muslim.) Allah sends meteorites against these eavesdropping shayaateen, but sometimes one of them might pass on what he has heard to another jinn.

Their effect on humans

Every human being is always accompanied by a jinn, who tries to incite him to evil, but the Prophet sallallahu `alayhe wa-sallam ‘s jinn was unable to harm him. On the authority of Ibn Mas`ud : The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “there is not any one of you except that he has been assigned his companion from among the jinn and his companion from among the angels.” They said, “Even you, O Messenger of Allah?” He replied, “Even me, except that Allah has helped me against him, so that I am unharmed (or, so that he has accepted Islam), and so he orders me to do nothing but good.” (Related by Muslim.) Thus, terrible thoughts may sometimes occur to us, but we are not responsible for these promptings provided we neither allow them to take root within us, nor act upon them. The fact that we recognize them as evil is itself a sign of our faith.

Satan runs through the children of Adam with the running of blood. It is possible for jinn to enter human beings and possess them.

“Those who consume interest (ribaa) do not arise except as he arises whom Satan has driven to madness by his touch.” [2 (Al- Baqarah), 275]

Protection from the shayaateen

In the authentic hadith related by Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet sallallahu `alayhe wa-sallam has instructed us to recite the following supplication before having intercourse with our wives. “Bismillaah. Allaahumma jannibnash-shaytaana wa-jannibish- shaytaana maa razaqtanaa.” (In the name of Allah. O Allah! Spare us from Satan, and repel Satan from that wherewith You have provided us.) Then, if a child is conceived, Satan will never&127; harm him.

The shayaateen like to frequent filthy areas such as restrooms. Thus, we should ensure that we recite the sunnah supplication (narrated by Bukhari and Muslim) before entering the restroom, “Allaahumma innee a`oodhu bika minal-khubuthi wal-khabaa’ith.” (O Allah! I seek refuge with You from male and female devils.)

Reciting Ayat al-kursiyy [2 (Al-Baqarah), 255] at bedtime ensures that no devil will come close to you until the morning. (Related by Bukhari.) Saying “Laa ilaaha illallaahu wahdahoo laa shareeka lahoo lahul-mulku wa lahul-hamdu wa-huwa `alaa kulli shay’in qadeer” (There is no god but Allah, alone, without any partner, His is the kingdom, and His is praise, and He has power over all things) 100 times in the morning provides protection from Satan till the evening. (Related by Bukhari and Muslim)

In general, frequent remebrance of Allah and obedience to Him provides immunity from the shayaateen.

“Whoever withdraws himself from the rembrance of [Allah] Most Gracious, We assign to him a shaytaan, to be his comrade.” [43 (Az-Zukhruf), 36]

“[Satan] has no authority over those who believe and place trust in their Lord.” [16 (An-Nahl), 99]


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