The World of the Jinn
What Does the Word jinn Mean?
The root letters jeem (j) and a double nuun (n) form words in Arabic that generally relate to things that are covered and concealed. Examples include:
- Janeen – a foetus in the womb.
- Junoon – insanity (lit. the intellect is concealed).
- Jannah – a great garden that conceals what is inside of it; the gardens of Paradise.
- Therefore, we know that the jinn (sing. jinni) are something covered and concealed from us.
A type of created being who cannot normally be seen by human beings, and who have been given intellect and free will, and are required to follow Islam as humans are, with the reward of Paradise for those who submit to Allah in Islam and the punishment of the Hellfire for those who do not.
From this we can see that the jinn share certain traits with human beings and the angels:
that they are an intelligent life form.
and some traits that they share with the angels, but not with human beings:
that they are concealed from human beings.
and some traits that they share with human beings, but not with angels:
- that they have free will.
- that those who choose to obey are promised Paradise, and that those who choose to disobey are threatened with the Hellfire.
The Creation of the Jinn
- The jinn are a type of Allah’s creation: "And the jinn, We created aforetime from the smokeless flame of fire" [al-Hijr 15:27 ]
- Ibn Abbas and Mujaahid said that this means the edge of the flame. In another report – it means the best and purest part of it.
- The jinn were created from smokeless fire – however this doesn’t mean that they are now fiery: It was narrated from 'Aa'ishah that the Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was praying, then the Shaytaan came to him and he seized him, threw him to the ground and strangled him. The Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "Until I felt the coolness of his tongue on my hand. Were it not for the prayer of my brother Sulaymaan, he would have been tied up this morning so that the people could see him."Recorded by al-Nasaa’i in al-Sunan al-Kubra, 6/442; classed as saheeh by Ibn Hibbaan, 6/115.
- Aa'ishah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "The angels were created from light, the jinn were created from a smokeless fire, and Adam was created from that which has been described to you."Recorded by Muslim.
Who Sees the Jinn?
- We cannot normally see them, unless they take the form of humans or animals, but they can see us: "...Indeed, he and his tribe see you from where you cannot see them..." [al-A'raaf 7:27 ]
- Some animals see the jinn, as in the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "If you hear the crowing of the rooster, then ask Allah of His bounty, for it has seen an angel. And if you hear the braying of a donkey, then seek refuge with Allah from the shaytaan, for it has seen a devil."Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim., as well as the hadeeth of Jaabir that the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "If you hear the barking of a dog or the braying of a donkey then seek refuge with Allah, for they see that which you do not see."Recorded by Abu Dawood.
Kinds of Jinn
- There are three kinds of jinn which the Messenger of Allah told us about: "There are three types of jinn. One type flies through the air. Another type consists of snakes and dogs. A third type is based in one place but travels about."Recorded by al-Hakim, at-Tabrani and al-Bayhaqi.
- This tells us that the jinn are of different types.
- There is some disagreement about whether or not these are the only three types, or three of the many types of the jinn, in the light of: "And of the devils were those who dived for him and did work other than that..." [al-Anbiyaa' 21:82 ] - and Allah knows best.
- Not every snake or dog is a jinn.
The Nature of the Jinn
- The jinn are not inherently evil
- There are Muslim jinn, as well as jinn of other religions: "And of us some are Muslims (who have submitted to Allah, after listening to this Qur’an), and of us some are Al‑Qaasitoon (disbelievers those who have deviated from the Right Path)’. And whosoever has embraced Islam, then such have sought the Right Path. * And as for those who deviated, they shall be firewood for Hell" [al-Jinn 72:14-15 ]
The Shaytaan and the Jinn
- The shaytaan is a devil, who can be from the humans or the jinn, as Allah said, "And thus We have made for every prophet an enemy - devils from mankind and jinn, inspiring to one another decorative speech in delusion. But if your Lord had willed, they would not have done it, so leave them and that which they invent." [al-An'aam 6:112 ]
- It refers to the rebellious ones and the most evil among both groups.
- Therefore, not every jinn is a shaytaan and not every shaytaan is a jinn.
- However, when the word 'shaytaan' is used without qualification, it refers to the shaytaan of the jinn.
The Jinn and the Messengers
- Warners were sent to the Jinn from amongst themselves: "And [mention, O Muhammad], when We directed to you a few of the jinn, listening to the Qur'an. And when they attended it, they said, 'Listen quietly.' And when it was concluded, they went back to their people as warners. * They said, 'O our people, indeed we have heard a [recited] Book revealed after Moses confirming what was before it which guides to the truth and to a straight path. * O our people, respond to the Messenger of Allah and believe in him; Allah will forgive for you your sins and protect you from a painful punishment. * But he who does not respond to the Caller of Allah will not cause failure [to Him] upon earth, and he will not have besides Him any protectors. Those are in manifest error.'" [al-Ahqaaf 46:29-32 ]
- These warners would call the jinn to follow the human prophet who was sent, and the same scripture that was sent to mankind, hence why Allah did not mention a book sent to them after the scripture of Moses, nor any prophet sent to them.
- The jinn are required to follow the laws of Allah, and they are promised Paradise and threatened Hellfire, depending on their actions in this world: "And of us some are Muslims (who have submitted to Allah, after listening to this Qur’aan), and of us some are Al‑Qaasitoon (disbelievers those who have deviated from the Right Path)’. And whosoever has embraced Islam, then such have sought the Right Path. * And as for those who deviated, they shall be firewood for Hell" [al-Jinn 72:14-15
The Living Places of the Jinn
The jinn have their own world and their own living places. In terms of the relation of this to our world, they often inhabit unclean or deserted places.
The Abilities of the Jinn
- The jinn have certain abilities which may appear to us to be supernatural. In reality, they are simply abilities which Allah has given them – such as the ability to move extremely quickly from place to place, the ability to take different forms, and the ability to possess a person or animal. We do not know whether all jinn are able to do all of these things, and it seems that they have different abilities according to their type, and Allah knows best
- The jinn are not naturally aggressive against humans, they are actually as scared of humans as humans are of them, or more; however, the shayaateen amongst them can become aggressive when the human being displays a fear or reverence of them. 'Ikrimah said, "The jinn would be as afraid of men as men were of them, or even more afraid. When men would descend upon a valley, the jinn would run away. Then the leader of the people would say, 'we seek refuge with the leader of the jinn of this valley.' Then, the jinn would say, 'we see them afraid of us as we are of them.' Then, they would come near to the men and afflict them with insanity and madness, and this is the tafseer of 'And there were men from mankind who sought refuge in men from the jinn, so they [only] increased them in burden.'"Recorded by Ibn Abi Haatim.
Their Strength, and the Ability to Move Quickly from Place to Place
- As Allah told us in the Qur'an: "[Solomon] said, 'O assembly [of jinn], which of you will bring me her throne before they come to me in submission?' * A powerful one from among the jinn said, 'I will bring it to you before you rise from your place, and indeed, I am for this [task] strong and trustworthy.'" [an-Naml 27:38-39 ]
- Knowledge of the scripture.
Their Ability to Ascend to the Heavens
- Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "When Allah decrees a matter in heaven, the angels beat their wings in submission to what he says, (with a sound) like a chain beating on a rock. Then when fear is banished from their hearts, they say: 'what has your Lord said?' They say: 'The truth, and He is the most high, most great' – so those [jinn] who are trying to eavesdrop hear it, and those who are trying to eavesdrop are standing one above the other. So he hears a word and passes it on to the one who is beneath him, who passes it on in turn, until it reaches the lips of the sorcerer or soothsayer. Sometimes the flaming fire will hit him before he passes it on and sometimes he will pass it on before he is hit, and he tells one hundred lies along with it. Then it is said, 'did he not tell us on such and such a day that such and such would happen? So he is believed for that one word which was heard from heaven'"Recorded by al-Bukhari.
- Aa'ishah narrated that the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "The angels speak in the clouds about things that will happen on earth. The devils listen to what is said, then they drop that into the ear of the fortuneteller like dropping something into a bottle, and they add a hundred lies to it."Recorded by al-Bukhari.
- This used to be more common in the time prior to the coming of the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). After he came, the heavens were protected by shooting stars: "And we have sought [to reach] the heaven but found it filled with powerful guards and burning flames. * And we used to sit therein in positions for hearing, but whoever listens now will find a burning flame lying in wait for him." [al-Jinn 72:8-9 ]
Their Ability to Change Shape and to Take on the Form of Humans and Animals
- Abu Hurayrah narrated, saying: "Allah's Messenger put me in charge of the charity [zakat-ul-fitr] of Ramadan. Somebody came and started taking handfuls of the foodstuff. I took hold of him and said, 'By Allah, I swear I shall forward you to Allah's Messenger.' He said, 'I am needy and have many dependents, and I am in great need.' I released him, and in the morning Allah's Messenger asked me, 'What did your prisoner do yesterday?' I said, 'O Messenger of Allah! He complained of being needy and of having many dependents, so, I pitied him and let him go.' Allah's Messenger said, 'Indeed, he told you a lie and he will come again.' I was confident that he would come again, as Allah's Messenger had told me that he will return. So, I waited for him watchfully. Again, he started stealing handfuls of foodstuff. I caught hold of him again and said, 'I will definitely present you to Allah's Messenger.' He said, 'Leave me, for I am very needy and have many dependents. I promise I will not come back again.' I pitied him and let him go. In the morning Allah's Messenger asked me, 'What did your prisoner do?' I replied, 'O Messenger of Allah! He complained of his great need and of too many dependents, so I felt pity on him and set him free.' Allah's Messenger said, 'Indeed, he told you a lie and he will return.' I waited for him attentively for the third time, and when he (came and) started stealing handfuls of the foodstuff, I caught hold of him and said, 'I will surely take you to Allah's Messenger, as this is the third time you promised not to return, yet you break your promise and come.' He said, '(Forgive me and) I will teach you some words with which Allah will benefit you.' I asked, 'What are they?' He replied, 'Whenever you go to bed, recite 'Ayat-ul-Kursi' until you finish the whole Ayah. (If you do so), Allah will appoint a guard for you who will stay with you and no satan will come near you till morning.' So, I released him. In the morning, Allah's Messenger asked, 'What did your prisoner do yesterday?' I replied, 'He claimed that he would teach me some words by which Allah will benefit me, so I let him go.' Allah's Messenger asked, 'What were they?' I replied, 'He said to me, 'Whenever you go to bed, recite Ayat-al-Kursi from the beginning to the end.' He further said to me, '(If you do so), Allah will appoint a guard for you who will stay with you, and no satan will come near you till morning.' (Abu Hurayrah or one of the narrators after him added that they (the companions) were very keen to do good deeds.) The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, 'He spoke the truth, even though he is a liar. Do you know whom you were talking to, these three nights, O Abu Hurayrah?' Abu Hurayrah said, 'No.' He said, 'It was the shaytaan.'"Recorded by al-Bukhari.
- Allah said, "And [remember] when Satan made their deeds pleasing to them and said, 'No one can overcome you today from among the people, and indeed, I am your protector.' But when the two armies sighted each other, he turned on his heels and said, 'Indeed, I am disassociated from you. Indeed, I see what you do not see; indeed I fear Allah . And Allah is severe in penalty.'" [al-Anfaal 8:48 ] - in the tafseer of the aayah, it is mentioned that Iblees took the form of Suraaqah ibn Maalik on that day.
- In the hadeeth of Abu Umaamah al-Baahili regarding the dajaal: "He will say to a Bedouin, 'What do you think if I bring your father and mother back to life for you? Will you bear witness that I am your lord?' The Bedouin will say 'Yes', so two devils will assume the appearance of his father and mother, and will say, 'O my son, follow him for he is your lord.'"Recorded by Ibn Maajah, no. 4215.
- Abu as-Saa'ib, the freed slaved of Hisham bin Zuhrah, said that he visited Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri in his house. He said, "I found him saying his prayer, so I sat down waiting for him to finish his prayer when I heard a stir in the bundles (of wood) lying in a comer of the house. I looked towards it and found a snake. I jumped up in order to kill it, but he (Abu Sa'id Khudri) made a gesture that I should sit down. So I sat down and as he finished (the prayer) he pointed to a room in the house and said: 'Do you see this room?' I said: 'Yes'. He said: 'There was a young man amongst us who had been newly wedded. We went with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) to (participate in the Battle of) the Trench when a young man in the midday used to seek permission from Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) to return to his wife. One day he sought permission from him and Allah's Messenger (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) (after granting him the permission) said to him: Carry your spear with you, for I fear the tribe of Quraidha (may harm you).' The man took his spear and then came back and found his wife standing between the two doors. He bent towards her smitten by jealousy and made a dash towards her with a spear in order to stab her. She said: 'Keep your spear away and enter the house until you see that which has made me come out.' He entered and found a big snake curled up on the bed. He attacked it with the spear and pierced it and then went out having fixed it in the house, but the snake quivered and attacked him and no one knew which of them died first, the snake or the young man. We came to Allah's Apostle (sws) and made a mention to him and said: 'Supplicate to Allah that that (man) may be brought back to life.' Thereupon he said: 'Ask forgiveness for your companion' and then said: 'There are in Madinah jinn who have accepted Islam, so when you see any one of them, pronounce a warning to it for three days, and if they appear before you after that, then kill it for that is a devil.'" Recorded by Muslim, no. 5557.
- The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "Snakes are the form into which some of the jinn were transformed, just as some of Bani Israeel were transformed into monkeys and pigs."Recorded by at-Tabarani.
The Jinn are Limited in Their Abilities
- Allah said, "Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah , and those who disbelieve fight in the cause of Taghut. So fight against the allies of Satan. Indeed, the plot of Satan has ever been weak." [an-Nisaa' 4:76 ]
- Allah said, "Indeed, over My [believing] servants there is for you no authority. And sufficient is your Lord as Disposer of affairs." [al-Israa' 17:65 ]
- Allah said, "Indeed, there is for him no authority over those who have believed and rely upon their Lord. * His authority is only over those who take him as an ally and those who through him associate others with Allah ." [an-Nahl 16:99-100 ]
- Jaabir Ibn 'Abdullah narrated that the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "When night falls (or when evening comes), keep your children inside, for the devils spread out at that time. Then when one hour of the night has passed, let them out again, and lock the doors and mention the name of Allah, for the shaytaan cannot open a locked door"Recorded by al-Bukhari.
The Appearance of the Shaytaan Amongst the Jinn
- Whenever we imagine a shaytaan, we always imagine something ugly.
- Allah compared the fruit of the tree of zaqqoom to the heads of devils: "The shoots of its fruit-stalks are like the heads of Shayatin (devils)." [as-Saafaat 37:65 ]
- The shaytaan has two horns – Ibn 'Umar narrated that the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "Do not pray when the sun is rising, or when it is setting, because it rises between the two horns of the shaytaan."Recorded by Muslim.
The Food and Drink of the Jinn
The Food and Drink of the Muslim Jinn and their Animals
- The jinn, including the shaytaan, eat and drink.
- Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) commanded him to bring him some stones to use to clean himself with after relieving himself, and the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to him, "Do not bring me bones or dung". Abu Hurayrah asked why, and the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said "They are the food of the jinn. A delegation of the jinn of Nusaybeen came to me – and what good jinn they are – and asked me for provision. I prayed to Allah for them and asked that they should not pass by any bone or dung but they would find food on it."Recorded by al-Bukhari.
- Ibn Mas'ood narrated that the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "a caller from among the jinn came to me, and I went with him and recited Qur'an to them" – Ibn Mas'ood said, "He took us and showed us their footsteps and the traces of their fires. They asked him for provision and he said: "You will have every bone over which the name of Allah has been mentioned, when it falls into your hands it will have plenty of meat on it. And all droppings are food for your animals." Then the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "Do not use them (bones and dung) to clean yourselves after relieving yourselves, for they are the food of your brothers."Recorded by Muslim.
The Food and Drink of the Shayaateen from the Jinn, and the Way That They Eat
- The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "When a man enters his house and mentions Allah upon entering and when eating, the shaytaan says, 'there is no place for you to stay and no dinner'. If he enters his house and does not mention Allah upon entering, the shaytaan says 'you have a place to stay'. And if he does not mention Him when eating, the shaytaan says, 'you have a place to stay and you have dinner'"Recorded by Muslim.
- Ibn 'Umar narrated that Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "When any one of you eats, let him eat with his right hand, and when he drinks, let him drink with his right hand, for the shaytaan eats with his left hand and drinks with his left hand"Recorded by Muslim.
The Offspring of the Jinn
- Allah tells us that the shaytaan has offspring: "And [mention] when We said to the angels, 'Prostrate to Adam,' and they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was of the jinn and departed from the command of his Lord. Then will you take him and his descendants as allies other than Me while they are enemies to you? Wretched it is for the wrongdoers as an exchange." [al-Kahf 18:50 ]
- Allah also mentions the women of Paradise: "With whom no man or jinn has had sexual intercourse before them." [ar-Rahmaan 55:74 ]
- Qataadah said "The children of the shaytaan produce offspring just as the children of Adam produce offspring, but they are greater in number."
The Jinn Die
- Allah said, "Everyone upon the earth will perish." [ar-Rahmaan 55:26 ]
- He also said, "Every soul will taste death..." [aal-'Imraan 3:185 ]
What the Jinn are Not
- The jinn are not the spirits of the dead.
- The jinn are not all powerful and they are not to be feared: "That is only Satan who frightens [you] of his supporters. So fear them not, but fear Me, if you are [indeed] believers." [aal-'Imraan 3:175 ]
- The jinn are not fallen angels
- Iblees was not an angel, he was a jinn: "And [mention] when We said to the angels, 'Prostrate to Adam,' and they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was of the jinn and departed from the command of his Lord. Then will you take him and his descendants as allies other than Me while they are enemies to you? Wretched it is for the wrongdoers as an exchange." [al-Kahf 18:50 ]
- "All of the angels prostrated except Iblees" – this is a common usage of Arabic and doesn’t suggest that Iblees is from the angels. Rather, it is common to say in Arabic "all of the students left except the teacher", etc.
One of the abilities of the jinn is the ability to ‘touch’ or ‘possess’ a person The proof of this is Allah’s statement: “Those who eat Ribaa will not stand (on the Day of Resurrection) except like the standing of a person beaten by Shaytaan (Satan) leading him to insanity” 2:275 it is narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "The Shaytaan flows through the son of Adam as his blood flows…“ In more than one narration, a child was presented to the Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and he would say words similar to, “Get out O enemy of Allah, and I am the Messenger of Allah” [Musnad Ahmad] A person is most vulnerable to possession at times when they forget Allah – like times of extreme emotion, especially anger A person is also vulnerable in places which are unclean or isolated This is why we have du’aa to say upon entering the bathroom, upon engaging in sexual intercourse, and upon visiting a new place, all of the du’aa are related to keeping the shaytaan away from us at these times and places It is suggested that the jinn inhibit the artery in the neck, as well as the womb, and that they enter through the fingers and toes. However, this is a theory, and while there is a quite a lot of evidence, only Allah truly knows
Why the Jinn Possess People
- There are several reasons why the jinn possess people
- It should be noted that it does not mean that the jinn who possess are always evil. It is also common for the one who possesses a human to be a Muslim jinni, or a jinni which is not naturally against humans.
From the common reasons why possession occurs is:
- In order to further the aims of the shaytaan
- If a person has harmed the jinn or their family, such as having poured boiling water on them or having urinated on them
- Love (this applies to both genders)
The Signs of Possession
- There are many signs of possession
- These signs are shared with many other illnesses and problems, so not everyone who displays these signs will be possessed.
- However, some genuine medical illnesses may have the jinn as the root cause of the illness.
From the common signs of possession are:
- Sudden rapid changes in personality & split personality
- A change in facial structure or voice
- Sudden displays of extreme emotion, often at inappropriate times, like laughing and crying.
- An aversion or reaction to the Qur’aan or the Adhaan.
- Sudden inexplicable illnesses that have no clear medical explanation, or are considered abnormal.
- Complaints of ‘crawling ants’, heat in the body, something in the throat or in the stomach.
- A sudden change in ability, such as suddenly being able to speak another language without any experience,
- Compression in the chest.
- Epilepsy or fits, and fainting.
- Hallucinations and seeing clouds.
- Liking to be in unclean places.
- Extreme increased physical strength.
Interaction With the Jinn
- Seeking out interaction with the jinn and using them for any purpose is something that leads to mutual loss
- "And there were men from mankind who sought refuge in men from the jinn, so they [only] increased them in burden." [al-Jinn 72:6 ]
- "And [mention, O Muhammad], the Day when He will gather them together [and say], 'O company of jinn, you have [misled] many of mankind.' And their allies among mankind will say, 'Our Lord, some of us made use of others, and we have [now] reached our term, which you appointed for us.' He will say, 'The Fire is your residence, wherein you will abide eternally, except for what Allah wills. Indeed, your Lord is Wise and Knowing.'" [al-An'aam 6:128 ]
From the means of seeking interaction with the jinn
- Seeking them out in their places of abode
- Calling on them
- Use of circles, candles, symbols, Ouija board, etc
- This leads us to know the evil of teaching children stories than promote interaction with the jinn, e.g, Aladdin.
- It also affirms that we must not seek help from 'good' jinn and that we must not trust those who do, especially in the light of: "O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful." [al-Hujuraat 49:6 ]