by the author of Anatomy of a Ghost; A Guide to Analyzing the Dead
In researching paranormal topics recently I’ve come across several rather oblique references to an ancient race called the djinn. It has been suggested by some that the djinn, or jinn, might be the beings responsible for all manner of paranormal activity
from shadow people sightings to extraterrestrial encounters. But what were these beings?
Truth be told, in the western world the legend of the djinn has survived only marginally. The djinn or genie has been emasculated and marginalized, becoming the popular three-wish granting, magic lamp inhabiting, genie in the bottle. Television shows such as the now dated I Dream of Genie and the popular Disney film Alladin have featured friendly genies who seek to help their human counterparts with superior magical skills. Indeed, for a westerner, the thought that this ancient race both existed and was dangerous seemed preposterous. However, for those in the Middle East the belief in the djinn is quite different.
History of the Djinn
In the book entitled, The Vengeful Djinn; Unveiling the Hidden Agendas of Genies, authors Imbrogno and Guiley are quick to point out the Middle Eastern cultures take a very different view of this ancient race of beings. In many households even to say the word djinn is forbidden for fear of retribution and harm. For Muslims the djinn are closer to the western ideal of demon. The Qur’an describes the three tiers of beings as angels, djinn and humans. Angels are at the top of the pyramid as creatures of beauty and light. Created without free will, however, they follow God’s dictates without question. Djinn, on the other hand, are willful, sentient beings created from, smokeless flame of fire,” or plasma Strict interpretation of the reference suggest they were created from the “purest fire,” or created “near the fire (Wagner, Anonymous).” Humans, the weakest of the races, are said to be created from, “sounding clay (Ar-Rahman 55:15).”
The Qur’an explains that the ancient race once inhabited the Earth, establishing advanced civilizations. Then God created mankind, commanding the hosts of djinn and angels to look after his newest mewling creatures. Those of the Christian faith recall the angelic response to this dictate which ended in Satan and his fellows being cast out of heaven.
The Qur’an speaks of a similar situation happening amongst the djinn. In fact a powerful djinn by the name of Iblis was so infuriated at the idea that he refused to bend the knee, and suffered the same fate as the biblical Lucifer. For his arrogance Iblis and his followers were exiled from Earth, banished to Hell until Judgment Day when they would hopefully have mended their ways. God did grant Iblis one boon, he gave Iblis permission to tempt mankind away from the teachings of God. Note this excerpt from the Qur’an:
…We bade the angles prostrate to Adam, and they prostrate; not so Iblis; He refused to be of those who prostrate.
Allah: “What prevented thee from prostrating when I commanded thee?”
Iblis: “I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay.”
Allah: “Get thee down from this: it is not for thee to be arrogant here. Get out, for thou art of the meanest. Be thou among those who have respite.
Iblis: “Because thou hast thrown me out of the way, lo? I will lie in wait for them on thy straight way. Then I will assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left. Nor wilt thou find, in most of them gratitude.”
Allah: “Get out from this, degraced and expelled. If any of them follow thee, Hell will I fill with you all. “ Al-A’Raf, 11-18
According to an Arabian story, after Iblis’ descent, his name was changed to Shaitan (adversary or enemy). Notice the similarity to the Western word for devil, Satan. Certainly the parallels between Islam and Christianity are unmistakable. Indeed, in some earlier Islamic accounts Iblis isn’t categorized as being djinn at all, but is described as a once powerful angel named Azazel. The translation for Azazel being “God strengthens.”
Azazel may actually have been borrowed from a Semitic god who protected shepherds and their flocks. Indeed the notion of the djinn predates the establishment of Islam. Ancient Persians spoke of the jainni or jaini, which were evil spirits of both genders who inhabited an invisible world, but whom were able to interact with humans. These creatures could bestow gifts such as gold or food, or they could mete out harm, disease or death. The Ancient Arabians worshiped god-like beings known as the ginnaye who were the purveyors of either pleasure or pain. Among the various ancient stories note the similarities, namely the idea of a non-human, magical spirit who offered either great fortune or demise.
King Solomon, famous in both the Christian and Muslim religions, apparently possessed the ability to control the djinn to do his will – a power given Solomon by God. With this power Solomon was able to not only call up the djinn by name, but bind them into slavery to perform his many works. In the pseudopigraphic text, The Testament of Solomon,written between the first and third centuries CE, the djinn are described as demons and Solomon is said to have “mastered and controlled all spirits of the air, on the Earth, and under the Earth (Ibid, verse1).”
Obviously many of the djinn were unhappy being held in captivity by Solomon, and made to do what amounted to slave labor. Therefore Solomon is said to have imprisoned many of them in iron laced lead bottles or sealed them in captivity with lead and talismans. Other djinn were imprisoned in magic rings with rubies or fire opals. Notice the parallel to the traditional “genie in a bottle” story. Incidentally, lead is an ancient remedy against all types of paranormal entities. The metal is believed to have the power to bind spirits or ward against evil.
Characteristics of the Djinn
If we follow the description in the Quran, the djinn are flameless smoke. In other words ethereal beings to our human clay form. While we are all bones and sharp angles, these creatures are amorphous, thus able to fit into any crevice or container because they possess no material matter. While in their natural state they are plasma, it appears that they can control their shape and appearance, melding it into forms appearing both solid and recognizable to humans. Thus it has been speculated by those in the paranormal community that they may be the beings responsible for strange sightings of scaled reptilian creatures, or shadow figures and perhaps even the modern version of the humanoid-like alien - vis a vis big eyes, bald head and tiny demeanor. It is speculated that they may take on whatever form they desire to achieve whatever ends they seek. If they are seeking information they may choose to appear as “aliens.” If they choose to frighten they might appear as scaled, speaking reptiles. If they wish to deceive someone they may even appear in an angelic state, or take on the appearance of a deceased loved one. (According to the Qur’an, however, the djinn are never allowed to appear as Allah himself. This ability they do not possess.) Consider the possibilities of an entity that can shape-shift at will and the ramifications are both astounding and appalling.
Where Djinn Live?
It is written that these creatures live in remote areas to avoid interactions with humans. According to Islamic writings, the djinn prefer to live in caves or in remote recesses of the desert. Popular belief also suggest they reside incemeteries[RS1] or ruins. Apparently immune to filth, some speculate that many choose to live in garbage dumps where they feed off the remainders of human garbage (Wagner). There are also stories that place djinn communities at the bottom of the ocean. Being non-corporeal it appears that they do not require the same things to survive as human beings, such as air or possibly food.
However, another possible explanation is that they do not reside on the Earth at all, but in another dimension that is close to ours and affords them access via portals between the two worlds. As crazy as this may sound, in recent years Quantum Physicists have been working on several theories they propose help explain the anomalies of the universe. One of the predominant theories is String Theory which proposes that our universe is only one of many, and that alternate universes are all around us and may interact with ours when conditions are correct. Not a scientist myself, forgive me a quick (and undoubtedly flawed) layman’s explanation of string theory.
Physicists have speculated that it is possible that other dimensions not only exist, but exist in close proximity to our own. The different universes are on thin, string-like constructs with all strings attached to a main structure called a brane. I envision the cosmos as being like a giant spider web. Consider if you will the intricacy of a spider web, in which each gossamer string is a separate entity, resonating on its own plane of existence. The strings don’t touch or interact with the other strings on the web. But consider a thunderstorm blows in, and the strings that were separate are now blown either into close proximity with one another or worse yet become stuck together in certain spots on the web. Where the strings come in close contact may become what spiritualists and mystics have described as portals, gateways to another universe or dimension or time. If the Qur’an passage about Iblis’s descent is considered, it may be that the djinn, having lost favor with God, were banished out of Eden (Earth) to another place (or dimension). Considering Iblis’s anger with God and his banishment, one might suggest that the djinn seek out portals in order to enter our world with a view of eventually ousting humanity and reclaiming residency in what was their home far before it was our own.
Belief that the djinn are angling toward reclaiming their homeland is apparently the belief of many in the Middle East, people who tend to take the threat of the djinn quite seriously. Philip Imbrogno who actually studied the djinn in Saudi Arabia, relates his experiences speaking with locals in Fins. Imbrogno notes that he was surprised that the people he met were willing to speak with him about the subject, though they warned him repeatedly that it was dangerous to investigate the djinn. In his words, speaking of the djinn “would invite their attention. They would definitely investigate my intentions. The townspeople were convinced that the djinn were returning to our world and one day, if appropriate action was not taken, the djinn might rule human beings (Guiley, Imbrogno, 2012).”
The Qur’an encourages trepidation in dealing with the djinn, especially those who followed Shaitan (Iblis, Satan).
It is only Shaitan that suggests to you the fear of his supporters and friends so fear them not, but fear me. If you are believers. And let not Shaitan hinder you, verily, he (Shaitan, Iblis) to you is a plain enemy. Az-Zukhruf 43.62, Qur’an