There’s an ancient Arabic legend about a shape-shifter that can take the form of any animal. They can also appear as a living column of smoke or dust or a giant human and have been known to live trapped in a bottle. These creatures are known as Jinn or Genie.
Where does Genie Live?
Ancient Scriptures believed that Jinn live in the space between celestial and terrestrial worlds. They are not monsters, not humans, and not celestial beings, Jinn is something different. But for many people, the Genie is just some guy in a lamp who can give you three wishes. A way for you to get what you want without having to work for it. This belief is not even close to the original versions of the Jinn. It dismisses the immense power these beings possess. The Genies are species all their own. They are more powerful than humans and more meaningful than pop culture would have us believe.
When God Made Jinn?
Crafted from prehistoric fires long before humans Jinn is neither wholly earthly nor wholly spiritual. They require food to live are subject to lust and other human passions and can die. Although they live naturally f or thousands of years.
Jinn can see humans and interfere in their lives, Humans can only see a genie if it takes a form that allows itself to be seen which is rare. They can move through walls and travel great distances quickly. Jinn can shape-shifting into all kinds of animals and can appear as smoke. Sometimes the appearance of a genie is preceded by an Earthquake or a Storm.
Jinn in Arabic Culture
In Ancient Arabic cultures, Jinn was worshipped for their capacity to make legendary weapons and supposed ability to encourage fertile crops. These Pre-Islamic accounts of jinn also claimed a Genie could take on a human form and have children with them. These offspring were often seers who could communicate with their Jinn relatives as well as with the divine. These half Jinn children were advisors and consultants on religious matters, they helped find lost animals gave and removed curses, and settled personal disputes.
Islamic narratives heavily influenced the perception of Jinn and its characteristics. The Quran explicitly mentions there are three types of Spiritual beings: Angels, Demons, and Jinn. That text also states Jinn was created before humans and our intelligent beings with free will formed from smokeless fire and scorching winds.
Encounter Between Genie And Prophet Muhammad
In Islamic tradition, people made from clay occupy the material realm of Earth while Angels occupy the celestial realm of life. It is said that Jinn resides in a realm between the material and celestial called the intermediate realm.
A particular story in the Quran tells of an encounter between the Prophet Muhammad and a crowd of jinn. This tale describes the Jinn as men, tall as lances, completely wrapped in their Mantles from their feet up who seem to be composed of blackness.
Interestingly the 55th chapter of the Quran is written in dual form for both humans and Jinn. It describes jinn as practitioners of religion including Islam, who are believed to have the same religious responsibilities as humans.
Type of Genies
Medieval Muslim scholars believe the Jinn were susceptible to fiery temperaments because they were composed of fire. So Jinn could either be good or evil.
The Evil Jinn were said to enter into the bodies of humans causing madness injury or death. An idea that pre-Islamic communities shared as well.
Human and Jinn’s interactions weren’t always negative. Stories of love affairs between Jinn and humans were popular in the Medieval Period. One of the most famous interactions between Jinn and Humans occurs in one of the world’s most popular texts “The Thousand and One Nights”.
Story of Genie
The Story Of The Fisherman
In it, an old man slogs through a hard day of work with nothing to show for it. After casting his net many times he draws up a bottle of brass with a heavy lead stopper stamped with the seal of a dead Sultan. When he opens the bottle a plume of smoke rises up and condenses into the form of a massively freaked evil Genie so big his head is inside the clouds. At first, Genie who has been trapped in the bottle for 1,800 years wants to kill the fisherman. But the old fisherman is clever he challenges the Genie to show him how it was possible for such a magnificent powerful being to fit in such a small vessel.
Apparently very vain the genie turns back into the smoke and enters the bottle little by little until the fisherman can seal it up once again trapping the Genie. After some negotiation, the two come to a compromise if the fisherman releases him the genie will not only let the fisherman live but will grant him one service.
Once freed Genie leads the man to a hidden lake in the desert where he is able to capture the most exquisitely colored fish. The rare fish make the fisherman a very prosperous man.
Story of the Merchant and the Genie
This version tells the story of a merchant who rests under a tree eating dates when he carelessly tosses a pit aside. An angry Genie appears sword drawn claiming the pit had struck and killed his son. Before he slays the man he agrees to give the merchant a year to get his affairs in order.
A year passes and the merchant returns to the same spot under the tree and awaits his death. While sitting there three sheiks stumble upon him one by one each deciding to wait with the doomed man. When the Genie finally appears the Sheikh strikes a bargain with Jinn. They said they will each tell the entity a story if one of the stories pleases the genie he will relinquish one-third of his claim on the merchants’ life. Luckily each story presses the genie and the merchant survives.
what do Islamic traditions tell about Jinn?
In some Islamic traditions today the Genie is said to still roam the Earth hidden from humans. Some people are believed that Jinn is the cause of mental illness hallucinations epilepsy, and other conditions are said to be the work of Jinn.
When one considers Genie part of Muslim religious tradition. It’s understandable that people would think this much in the same way other religions conceptualize demonic possession. A Genie occupying a human’s body is one explanation for seemingly uncontrollable behavior.