Jinns, Genies and other “Spirits”
Forget what you know, or think you know about “genies” from movies and old TV shows. In the Arabic tradition Jinns or Djinns are very real spiritual entities and not some mythical granter of wishes.
The Jinn or Jinni from the Arabic is generally described as an Elemental Spirit of Fire. Jinns were mentioned in the Quran, long before they become the “Genies” of European folktales. The derivation of the word actually pre-dates the Arabic, and comes from the Hebrew “JNN” which “means to be hidden”, and accounts for Jinns being unseen often playful if not malicious spirits. Prior to the rise of Islam, archeologists have found the use of the word Djinn in ancient Middle Eastern cultures to refer to any spirit less than God, which would include angels or demons.
There is a pantheon of sorts of Djinns with Marids being the most powerful, followed by The Irfrit, The Sila, The Ghul, and other lesser forms. In Islam Jinns are described as creatures of free will created by Allah from Fire, much as humans are creatures of free will created from the Earth. By some interpretations of the Quran it was a Jinn who exerted this Free Will by not bowing to Adam when instructed to do so by God, and thus was banished from The Garden, and named Shaitan, or Satan. Not a fallen “angel” as in the Judeo-Christian Bible. In the Islamic tradition there are three types of beings the Angels, who are made of pure God –Light and are completely supplicant to God, they can do no evil, and cannot disobey The Word of God. Followed by Jinns and Humans who are creatures of free will. They can do good or evil and both shall be judged on Judgment Day. The only difference between Jinns and humans is that humans are made of Earth and therefore are more material. Jinns are made from smokeless fire, so they cannot be seen by humans. But since they are basically non-corporeal like fire, they can exist almost anywhere, in the sea, in the air, the mountains, or very small spaces – like lamps.
According to most texts Jinn have the power to transform into other animals and humans. They seem to prefer the form of a serpent or snake. While some traditions equate the Jinn to the Banished One, Shaitan, or Satan, not all jinns are perceived as inherently evil by nature. However followers of Islam do say prayers to protect themselves from the influence of the more nefarious of Jinns (Marids).
The “evil” jinn are roughly the equivalent to the demons of Christian lore. Malicious jinns are said to have the ability to possess human beings in the same manner as the Christian concept of demonic possession. In the Quran, the Prophet Solomon is said to have had members of his army who were jinn. As a Prophet of God Solomon had the ability to communicate with all beings including the jinn. Summoning a Jinn often involves tracing a hexagram, The Seal of Solomon, using a knife inscribed with Hebraic characters for the name of God.
In magic circles Jinns are sprits not to be trifled with lightly. Jinns can be invoked or summoned. But unlike Demons which are bound by their natures to do evil, or Angels which are bound to do good, Jinns do posses free will, which makes them very dangerous entities to deal with. It is because of this much of the tales and folklore surrounding Jinns all carry an underlying theme of “be careful what you wish for.”