In Islamic folklore and religion Jinn (or genies) are supernatural beings sharing with human beings the agency of free will. They live in a world parallel to ours, and may help or hinder humanity.
coolguymuslim bashes the negative Judeo-Christian (and Hollywood) stereotypes about the Jinn by adding that
They are not necessarily bad or evil. They are another of God’s creatures who are being tested as humans are. They are made of smokeless fire as humans are of clay. There are ethnicities, religions, and other divisions amongst jinn just as there are amongst humans.¹
Although they can be disruptive to human affairs, Jinn may be harnessed for heavy labor. Solomon, for instance, used them as helpers (Qur’an 27.17). And a person at the point of dying may be converted into a Jinn.
Gordon D. Newby says that Jinn are unlike angels because of their capacity to sin. In some folkloric tales they sit on the walls of heaven to try to hear what the angels and God are talking about. And shooting stars result from angels throwing things at them, trying to drive the Jinn away.²
In the Qur’an Iblis (i.e. the devil) is said to be both a Jinn and an angel. This has lead to much commentary about the nature of Jinn and angels among Muslim scholars.²
From a traditional Judeo-Christian point of view Jinn are often regarded as familiar spirits or demons. However, the Arabic word Jinn doesn’t appear in the Hebrew old Testament—it only appears in translations from the original Hebrew.
In Judeo-Christian tradition, the word or concept of jinn as such does not occur in the original Hebrew text of the Bible, but the Arabic word jinn is often used in several old Persian and Arabic translations.
In several verses in those Arabic and Persian translations, the words: Jinn (جن) Jann (الجان) Majnoon (مجنون) and Iblis (ابلیس) are mentioned as translations of familiar spirit or אוב (obe) for Jann and the devil or δαιμόνιον (dahee-mon’-ee-on) for Iblis.
In Van Dyck‘s Arabic translation of the Bible, these words are mentioned in Lev 19:31, Lev 20:6, 1Sa 28:3, 1Sa 28:9, 1Sa 28:7, 1Ch 10:13, Mat 4:1, Mat 12:22, Luk 4:5, Luk 8:12, Joh 8:44 and other verses as well. Also, in the apocryphal book Testament of Solomon, Solomon describes particular demons whom he enslaved to help build the temple, the questions he put to them about their deeds and how they could be thwarted, and their answers, which provide a kind of self-help manual against demonic activity.³
From a Jungian standpoint, the morally ambiguous Jinn might be comparable to the idea that the power of the archetypes is neither negative nor positive in itself. It’s the relationship to the ego that’s key.
² See Gordon D. Newby, A Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, Oxford: 2002, pp. 86-87, 116-117 (pdf online book).
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