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Demons: What do the Arabs call them?

Genie (Arabic: جني jinnī, or djinni) is a supernatural creature in Pre-islamic and Islamic mythology which (according to both mythology) occupies a parallel world to that of mankind, and together with humans and angels makes up the three sentient creations of God (Allah). According to the Qur’ān, there are two creations that have free will: humans and jinn. Religious sources don’t mention much about them; however, the Qur’an mentions that jinn are made of smokeless flame, and their form being just similar to humans, which also can be good or evil

The genie are mentioned frequently in the Qur’an, and there is a surah entitled Sūrat al-Jinn in the Quran. While Christian tradition suggests that Lucifer was an angel that rebelled against God’s orders, Islam says that Iblīs was a jinn. After the rebellion, he was granted a respite to lead humans astray until the Day of Judgment. However, Iblis has no power to mislead true believers in God. Although some scholars have ruled that it is apostasy to disbelieve in one of God’s creations, the belief in jinn has fallen compared to the belief in angels in other Abrahamic traditions

Etymology and definitions

Jinn is a word of the collective number in Arabic, derived from the Arabic root j-n-n meaning ‘to hide’ or ‘be hidden’. Other words derived from this root are majnūn ‘mad’ (literally, ‘one whose intellect is hidden’), junūn ‘madness’, and janīn ’embryo, fetus’ (‘hidden inside the womb’).

The Arabic root j-n-n means ‘to hide, conceal’, as in the verb janna “to hide, conceal”. A word for garden or Paradise, جنّة jannah, is a cognate of the Hebrew word גן gan ‘garden’, derived from the same Semitic root. In arid climates, gardens have to be protected against desertification by walls; this is the same concept as in the word paradise from pairi-daêza, an Avestan word for garden that literally means ‘having walls built around’. Thus the protection of a garden behind walls implies its being hidden from the outside. Arabic lexicons such as Edward William Lane’s Arabic-English Lexicon define jinn not only as spirits, but also anything concealed through time, status, and even physical darkness.

The word translated in English as, genie and genies for plural.Genie in English also probably derives from Latin genius, which meant a sort of tutelary or guardian spirit thought to be assigned to each person at their birth. English borrowed the French descendant of this word, génie; its earliest written attestation in English, in 1655, is a plural spelled “genyes.” The French translators of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights used génie as a translation of jinnī because it was similar to the Arabic word in sound and in meaning. This use was also adopted in English and has since become dominant.
Existence and usage of genie in other culture

In other cultures also, such as in Guanche mythology from Tenerife in the Canary Islands, there existed the belief in beings that are similar to genies, such as the maxios or dioses paredros (‘attendant gods’, domestic and nature spirits) and tibicenas (evil genies), as well as the demon Guayota (aboriginal god of evil) that, like the Arabic Iblis, is sometimes identified with a genie. The Guanches were of Berber origin in northern Africa, which further strengthens this hypothesis.

In Judeo-christian mythology, the genie never mentioned in the original bible,however the Arabic word for genie are frequently used in several old Persian and Arabic translation bible.
Jinn in the pre-Islamic era

Amongst archaeologists dealing with ancient Middle Eastern cultures, any spirit lesser than angels is often referred to as a jinni, especially when describing stone carvings or other forms of art.

The pre-Islamic Zoroastrian culture of ancient Persia believed in jaini or jahi, evil female spirits thought to spread diseases to people. However, Zoroaster himself did not believe in the existence of such evil female spirits.

Inscriptions found in Northwestern Arabia seem to indicate the worship of jinn, or at least their tributary status. For instance, an inscription from Beth Fasi’el near Palmyra pays tribute to the “Ginnaye”, the “good and rewarding gods”.

Types of jinn include the shayṭān, the ghūl, the marīd, the ‘ifrīt, and the jinn. According to the information in the Arabian Nights, ‘ifrits seem to be the strongest form of jinn, followed by marids, and then the rest of the jinn forms.

Genie in Islam

In Islamic theology jinn are said to be creatures with free will, made from smokeless fire by God (Allah) as humans were made of clay. According to the Qur’an, jinn have free will, and Iblis abused this freedom in front of God by refusing to bow to Adam when God ordered angels and jinn to do so. For disobeying God, he was expelled from Paradise and called “Shayṭān” (Satan). Jinn are frequently mentioned in the Qur’an: Surah 72 of the Qur’an (named Sūrat al-Jinn) is entirely about them. Another surah (Sūrat al-Nās) mentions jinn in the last verse. The Qur’an also mentions that Muhammad was sent as a prophet to both “humanity and the jinn” and that prophets and messengers were sent to both communities.

Similar to humans, jinn have free will allowing them to do as they choose (such as follow any religion). They are usually invisible to humans and humans do not appear clearly to them. Jinn have the power to travel large distances at extreme speeds and are thought to live in remote areas, mountains, seas, trees, and the air, in their own communities. Like humans, jinn will also be judged on the Day of Judgment and will be sent to Paradise or Hell according to their deeds.
Classifications and characteristics

The social organization of the jinn community resembles that of humans, e.g., they have kings, courts of law, weddings, and mourning rituals. A source claims that jinn are divided jinn into three classes: those who have wings and fly in the air, those who resemble snakes and dogs, and those who travel about ceaselessly. An unchecked report claimed that ‘Abd Allāh ibn Mas‘ūd (d. 652), who was accompanying Muhammad when the jinn came to hear his recitation of the Qur’an, described them as creatures of different forms; some resembling vultures and snakes, others tall men in white garb. They may even appear as dragons, onagers, or a number of other animals. In addition to their animal forms, the jinn occasionally assume human form to mislead and destroy their human victims. A source has also claimed that the jinn may subsist on bones, which will grow flesh again as soon as they touch them, and that their animals may live on dung, which will revert to grain or grass for the use of the jinn flocks.

Ibn Taymiyyah believed the jinn were generally “ignorant, untruthful, oppressive and treacherous”.

Ibn Taymiyyah believes that the jinn account for much of the “magic” perceived by humans, cooperating with magicians to lift items in the air unseen, delivering hidden truths to fortune tellers, and mimicking the voices of deceased humans during seances.


Every person is assigned their own special angel, also called a qarīn, of the jinn that whisper to people’s souls and tell them to submit to evil desires. However, the notion of a qarīn is not universally accepted amongst all Muslims. But it is generally accepted that Shaytan whispers in human minds, and he is assigned to each human being.

Relationship of King Solomon and the genie

The Quran states that King Solomon (Sulayman) is said to have compelled the Djinn into his service and given them dominion over 25 parasangs of his realm. In his court, the Djinn stood behind the learned humans, who in turn, sat behind the prophets. Solomon’s wife, the Queen of Sheba, was reportedly born of the marriage between a Djinn and a human, some sources suggesting a Djinn named Rayḥāna was her mother. It was this connection to the Djinn that made people apprehensive about Solomon’s marriage to her. They feared that if their master Solomon married a half-Djinn, they would be forced to remain in the service of the offspring of that marriage forever. Thus, to make Solomon fall out of love with her, they told him that she was insane, and that her feet were hairy and resembled those of a donkey.

The Djinn remained in the service of Solomon, who had placed them in bondage, and had ordered their king, Zūba’a, to perform a number of tasks throughout his life. Upon Solomon’s death, however, Zūbaa went to the places where his subjects were toiling, and called out to them to stop working. They happily obeyed, and one of them carved a message in stone, enumerating what they had built during their servitude.

Esoteric theories

In 1998, Pakistani nuclear scientist Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood proposed in a Wall Street Journal interview that jinn (described in the Qur’ān as beings made of fire) could be tapped to solve the energy crisis. “I think that if we develop our souls, we can develop communication with them. … Every new idea has its opponents, but there is no reason for this controversy over Islam and science because there is no conflict between Islam and science.”

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