Thursday 29 August 2019

Understanding Islam: Who are Jinn?

Most of the children grow up listening to the fairy tales with a happy ending always. But some grow up listening to the stories of demons, jinn or genies. Many believe that these creatures are fictional or man made. In Wikipedia these are thus described as "Jinn, also Romanized as djinn or Anglicized as genies (with the more broad meaning of spirits or demons, depending on source), are supernatural creatures in early pre-Islamic Arabian and later Islamic mythology and theology. "

But the fact is that these are invisible creatures that do exist and have been living on earth in a world parallel to mankind. The Arabic word Jinn is from the verb ‘Janna’ which means to hide or conceal.  This invisibility is one of the reasons why some people have denied their existence.  I do not know about other religions, but mention of Jinn appear in many verses of the Holy Qur'an which validates their existence. In fact the Chapter 72 of the Holy Qur'an is titled as Surah Al Jinn.

The origins of the Jinn can be traced from the Quran and the Sunnah.  In the Qur'an it is mentioned: 

 وَلَـقَدۡ خَلَقۡنَا الۡاِنۡسَانَ مِنۡ صَلۡصَالٍ مِّنۡ حَمَاٍ مَّسۡنُوۡنٍ​ۚ‏  وَالۡجَـآنَّ خَلَقۡنٰهُ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ مِنۡ نَّارِ السَّمُوۡمِ‏ 

“Surely We brought man into being out of dry ringing clay which was wrought from black mud, while We had brought the jinn into being before out of blazing fire. ” (Al Quran, Surah Al Hijr 15:26-27)

In the above verse, nar-i-samum will mean flame of intense heat. This is the explanation of those passages in which it has been stated that jinns have been created from fire. The verses also tells us that Jinn were created before man

While making of mention of Prophet Suliaman (Solomon, peace be upon him) in Surah An Naml, the mention of Jinn beside birds and men have been made which had been given under the control of the revered prophet:

وَحُشِرَ لِسُلَيۡمٰنَ جُنُوۡدُهٗ مِنَ الۡجِنِّ وَالۡاِنۡسِ وَالطَّيۡرِ فَهُمۡ يُوۡزَعُوۡنَ‏ 

"Hosts of jinn and humans and birds were marshaled for Solomon and were kept under full control." (Al Quran Surah An Naml 27:17) 

It may be clarified here (with reference to the above quoted verses from Surah An Naml),  that the Bible does not either make any mention that there were jinn in the Prophet Solomon’s (peace be upon him) armies, and he took service from them; but the Talmud and the rabbinical traditions contain details of this. Some of the present-day writers have strained every nerve to prove that the words jinn and tair do not refer to the jinn and birds but to men who performed different duties in the Prophet Solomon's (peace be upon him) army. They say that the Jinn were the people of the mountain tribes whom Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) had subdued and who performed tasks of great strength and skill under him; and tair implies cavalry which could move much faster than the infantry. But these are indeed the worst examples of misinterpreting the Quran. The Quran here mentions three distinct kinds of the army consisting of the men, the jinn and the birds, and all the three have been qualified by the prefix al (alif-lam) to denote a class. Therefore, al-jinn and al-tair could not be included in al-ins (the men), but could be two separate and different classes from the men. 

The whole subject-matter of Surah Ar-Rahman, the 55th chapter of the Holy Qur'an shows that the audience of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) invitation are both the men and the jinn:
(55:14) He has created man from dry, rotten clay like the potter's,
وَخَلَقَ الۡجَآنَّ مِنۡ مَّارِجٍ مِّنۡ نَّارٍ​ۚ‏  
(55:15) and has created the jinn from the flame of fire.
The words in the original are: mim-marij-im-min-nar. Nar signifies fire of a special nature and not the fire which is produced by burning wood or coal and marij means a pure, smokeless flame. The verse means that just as the first man was created out of earth, then passing through various stages of creation, the clay model adopted the shape of a living man of flesh and blood, and then his progeny spread by means of the sperm-drop, so was the first jinn created from a pure flame of fire, or a fire free of smoke, and then the species of jinn spread from his progeny.

This verse proves two things. First, that the jinn are not simply spirit, but are material beings of a special nature, but since they have been composed of pure fiery substances, they remain invisible to human beings who have bean created of earthly substances. The same has been referred to in this verse: Satan and his party see you from where you cannot see them. (Surah Al-Aaraf, Ayat 27). Likewise, the jinn’s being fast-moving, their adopting different shapes and forms easily and their penetrating into different places imperceptibly where things made of earthly substances cannot penetrate, or if they do, their penetration becomes perceptible, all these things are possible and understandable only because they are essentially a fiery creation.

Besides telling us about the existence of Jinn, it is also mentioned that there is a purpose for their existence in this life, which is to worship Allah Alone with no partner or associate. Allah Almighty says:

وَمَا خَلَقۡتُ الۡجِنَّ وَالۡاِنۡسَ اِلَّا لِيَعۡبُدُوۡنِ‏ 

“And I (Allah) created not the jinn and humans, except they should worship Me (Alone).”(Al Quran, Surah Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)

Since in the above said verse, it is mentioned that Allah created men and jinn for His worship alone, this also leads us to conclude that Jinn can thus be Muslims or non-Muslims.  However, due to their fiery nature the majority of them are non-Muslims.  All these non-Muslim Jinn form a part of the army of the most famous Jinn, Satan, for Satan was created from fire and it was for this very reason the Satan refused to prostrate in front of Adam when he was created by Allah from plain clay. It is for this reason that the disbelieving Jinn are also called devils.  

Like men, Jinn too embraced Islam and become Muslims. A special reference to this effect is made in the Holy Qur'an when once Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was reciting the verses of Holy Qur'an, a group of Jinn happened to be passing by and were  amazed by the recitation of the Quran.  Since they were invisible, the Prophet of Allah was unaware of their presence around him, Allah made a mention of this event in the verses number 1-2 of Surah Al Jinn, Chapter 72, specially dedicated to mention of Jinn:

 ۙ‏ قُلۡ اُوۡحِىَ اِلَىَّ اَنَّهُ اسۡتَمَعَ نَفَرٌ مِّنَ الۡجِنِّ فَقَالُوۡۤا اِنَّا سَمِعۡنَا قُرۡاٰنًاعَجَبًا ۙيَّهۡدِىۡۤ اِلَى الرُّشۡدِ فَاٰمَنَّا بِهٖ​ ؕ وَلَنۡ نُّشۡرِكَ بِرَبِّنَاۤ اَحَدًا 

“Say (O’ Muhammad): It has been revealed to me that a group of Jinn listened and said; ‘Indeed we have heard a marvelous Quran.  It guides unto righteousness so we have believed in it, and we will never make partners with our lord’.”(Quran Surah Al Jinn 72:1-2)

The very purpose of these two verses was to inform the believers and nonbelievers alike about the existence of the invisible beings who too were attracted to the Qur'an and became Muslims.

In the above verses, the words in the original are: Quran-un-ajaba, which means “something which is read again and again”, and the jinn probably used this word in this very meaning, for they were introduced to this divine revelation for the first time, and they did not perhaps know then that what they were hearing, was the Quran itself. Ajab is a superlative, which is used in Arabic for a wonderful thing. So, what the jinn said means: We have heard such a wonderful recital which is unique both in its language and in its subject-matter.

This also shows that the jinn not only hear what human beings say but also understand their language, although it is not necessary that all the jinn might know all the human languages. It is possible that those of them who live in a particular region of the earth might know the language of the people of that region. But in any case this statement of the Quran clearly shows that the jinn who listened to the Quran at that time were so conversant with the Arabic language that they not only appreciated the matchless eloquence of the divine word but also understood its sublime subject-matter.

This throws light on several things:
  • That the jinn do not deny Allah’s existence and His being Lord and Sustainer.
  • That among them there are polytheists also, who like polytheistic human beings ascribe divinity to others than Allah: thus, the community of the jinn whose members heard the Quran was polytheistic.
  • That the Prophethood and revelation of divine scriptures does not exist among the jinn, but whoever of them believe, they believe in the Prophets raised among human beings and in the Books brought by them. 
As for their beliefs, it is mentioned in Surah Al Jinn as Allah tells us that some of the jinn said:
(72:14) and that “among us some are Muslims (Those who have submitted to Allah), and some of us are deviant. So those who became Muslims found the Right Course;(72:15) but those who deviated from the Truth, will be the fuel for Hell.”
Here, one may ask: When, according to the Quran, the jinn have been created from the fire, what harm can the fire of Hell do them? The answer is: Even according to the Quran, man has been created out of the earth; why does then man feel hurt when a clod of earth is thrown at him? The truth is that although the whole body of man has been made from the earthly substances, when a living man of flesh and blood is molded from them he becomes an entirely different thing from those substances; then other things made from the same substances become a means of causing harm to him. Likewise, although the jinn have also been created from the fire, when a living and sentient creation has been made from it, the same fire becomes a means of causing harm and hurt for it.

In Surah Al-Ahqaf, Ayats 29-30, it has been stated that the jinn who had then heard the Quran, were from among the followers of the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), and they after having heard the Quran, had invited their people to believe in the revelation that had been sent down by God confirming the previous scriptures: 
(29) And call to mind when We sent to you a party of the jinn that they may listen to the Qur'an. When they reached the place (where you were reciting the Qur'an), they said to one another: “Be silent (and listen).” And when the recitation ended, they went back to their people as warners.
The traditions that have been related from Abdullah bin Masud, Zubair, Abdullah bin Abbas, Hasan Basri, Saeed bin Jubair, Zarr bin Hubaish, Mujahid, Ikrimah and others in connection with the commentary of this verse concur that this incident of the first visit of the jinns, which has been mentioned in this verse, had occurred in the valley of Nakhlah. And according to Ibn Ishaq, Abu Nuaim Isfahaini and Waqidi, this incident occurred during the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) return journey from Taif to Makkah. On the way, when he halted at Nakhlah, and was reciting the Quran in the Isha or the Fajr or the Tahajjud Prayer, a group of the jinns happened to pass by and stopped to listen to him. In this connection, all the traditions agree that on this occasion the jinns did not appear before the Prophet (peace be upon him), nor did he feel their presence, but Allah informed him afterwards by revelation that they had come and listened to the Quranic recitation.

The place where this incident took place was either Az- Zaimah or AsSayl-ul-Kabir, for both these places are situated in the valley of Nakhlah and at both water is available and are green; if the travelers from Taif have to halt in this valley, they can halt at either of the places. 
(30) They said: “Our people, We have heard a Scripture revealed after Moses, verifying the Scriptures revealed before it; it guides to the Truth and to the Straight Way.
This shows that these jinns had already had faith in the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) and in the divine Books. After hearing the Quran they felt that it gave the same teachings as the former Prophets had been preaching. Therefore, they believed in this Book forthwith and also in the Prophet (peace be upon him) who had brought it.
(31) Our people, respond to the call of him who calls you to Allah and believe in him. Allah will forgive your sins and will protect you from a grievous chastisement.”
Authentic traditions show that after this several deputations of the jinns visited the Prophet (peace be upon him), one after the other, and met him face to face. When all the traditions related in the collections of Hadith on this subject are read together, it appears that at least six deputations had visited him in Makkah before the Hijrah.

About one of these deputations, Abdullah bin Masud relates: One day the Prophet (peace be upon him) remained missing from Makkah for the whole night. We could not know his whereabouts and feared he might have been attacked by somebody. Early in the morning we saw him coming from the direction of Hira. On inquiring he said that a jinn had come to invite him and he had accompanied him and recited the Quran to a gathering of them there. (Muslim, Musnad Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Abu Daud).

Abdullah bin Masud has related another tradition, saying: Once the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked his companions in Makkah as to which of them would accompany him that night to meet the jinns. I became ready to go with him. At a place in the upper quarters of Makkah the Prophet (peace be upon him) drew a line and told me not to cross it. Then he went forward and stood and began to recite the Quran. I saw that a number of the people had gathered around him and they stood between me and him. (Ibn Jarir, Baihaqi: Dalail an-Nubuwwat, Abu Nuaim Isfahani: Dalail an-Nubuwuat).

On another occasion also during the night Abdullah bin Masud was with the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he decided a case of the jinns at Hajun in Makkah. Many years later Ibn Masud saw a group of the villagers at Kufa and said that the group of the jinns he had seen at Hajun closely resembled those people. (Ibn Jarir).

The verses mentioned above clearly states that the jinn are a separate and independent creation from men. This brings out the error of the thinking of those people, who assert that some people from among mankind have been called the jinn in the Quran. 

Those still needing more references to mention of the jinn may please read following verses of the Quran: 
(Surah Al-Anaam, Ayats 100, 128); (Surah Al-Aaraf, Ayats 38, 179); (Surah Houd, Ayat 119); (Surah Al-Hijr, Ayats 27 to 33); (Surah Bani Israil, Ayat 88); (Surah Al-Kahf, Ayat 50); (Surah As-Sajdah, Ayat 13); (Surah Saba, Ayat 41); (Surah Suad, Ayats 75, 76); (Surah HaMim As-Sajdah, Ayat 25); (Surah Al-Ahqaf, Ayat 18); (Surah Ar Rahman, Ayats 15, 39, 56). 
The jinn live where we do live on this earth. They are mostly to be found in ruins and unclean places like bathrooms, dunghills, garbage dumps and graveyards. Hence the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us to take precautions when entering such places, by reciting Allah’s Name prescribed by Islam. One of these are reported by Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) who says:
“When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) entered the toilet, he would say,‘Allahumma inni a`udhu bika min al-khubuthi wal-khaba’ith(O Allah, I seek Refuge with You from all offensive and wicked things [evil deeds and evil spirits]).’”
In order to avert the harm which the bad jinn may cause us the humans,  the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us many ways to protect ourselves from their harm. They are seeking refuge of Allah from the accursed shaytan, reciting Surah Al-Falaq and Surah An-Nas, and reciting the words taught by Allah in the Qur’an:
“And say: My Lord! I seek refuge in Thee from suggestions of the evil ones. And I seek refuge in Thee, my Lord, lest they be present with me.”(Surah Al-Mu’minun: 97-98)
Saying Bismillah(in the Name of Allah) before entering one’s home, eating or drinking, and having intercourse will keep Satan from entering the house or partaking with a person in his food, drink and sexual activity. Similarly, mentioning the name of Allah before entering the toilet or taking off one’s clothes will prevent the jinn from seeing a person in a state of undress or harming him. The Prophet (peace and blessings of be upon him) says:“To put a barrier that will prevent the jinn from seeing the`awrah of the sons of Adam, let any one of you say ‘Bismillah’ when entering the toilet.”(Reported by At-Tirmidhi)

To conclude the discussion of existence of the Jinn, it would be pertinent to clarify that the jinn are not only a creation of a wholly different nature from human beings, but the substance of their creation also is absolutely different from that of man, animal, vegetable and solid matter. This reality thus negates the viewpoint of some people who regard the jinn as a kind of human beings. According to their interpretation, the meaning of creating man of the dust and the jinn of the fire is to describe the difference of the temperamental nature of the two kinds of the people; one kind of them are humble by nature, and they are men in the true sense, and the other kind of the people are wicked by nature and fiery in temper, who may better be called devils. This is, however, no commentary of the Quran but its distortion. In E.N. 14 above we have shown in detail how the Quran itself has fully described the meaning of creating man from the earth. After reading all these details, can a reasonable person understand that the object of all this is only to define the humility of the good men? Moreover, how can a sound-minded person understand that the meaning of creating man of rotten, dry clay and the jinn of the flame of pure fire is the difference of the separate moral characteristics of the two individuals or groups with different temperaments belonging to the same human species? 

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