The Origin of Genies in Islam

The Origin of Genies in Islam
by Michael Szul on 2008-04-29 08:54:49
tags: djinn, genies, islam, koran

The Djinn (genies) were apparently created two thousand years before humanity. Originally there were held in the same high regard as that of the angels, but in some stories they were downgraded for refusing to kneel unto humans.

The Djinn, which refer to the hidden or invisible, are a part of the Arabic culture and heritage.

We learn about the Djinn from mostly Arabic folklore, the Koran, and Islamic tradition including the works of the prophet Mohammed. The Djinn existed in Arabian legends far before Mohammed received the Koran from the angel Gabriel. These beings were incorporated in-to the scriptures of Islam because of the incredible amount of Middle Easterners who believed in their existence.

Whereas demons are shells of life and devils are fal-len angels, the Djinn are a race unto themselves just like humans and angels. The Koran states, “We have created humankind from potter’s clay and the Djinn we created from smokeless flame”(55:1). It is clear from the text that humans were made out of the Earth while the Djinn were made from the fire.

The Djinn are not fire elementals however. They are not Salamanders. Another mistake that is often attributed to the Djinn is that they wield fire at will and are immune to the heat and flame, but can be destroyed by the cold and water. This is untrue as is evident from the many stories of Mohammed.

The Koran also tells us that the Djinn were created before humankind much like the angels were. These Djinn reside in nations much like humanity does. “Well have they deserved the fate of bygone nations of Djinn and men” (41:20).

From the character of the Djinn, we can tell that just like humans they too can be both good and evil. The Koran tells of Djinn who have turned to Islam (46:29; 72:1), and God even set out to redeem the Djinn much like he did with humanity: “Djinn and men! Did there not come to you apostles of your own who proclaimed to you My reve-lations and warned you of this day” (6:130).

There are many classes among the Djinn much like there are orders of angels. An Ifreet is a devious Djinni known to have a lot of power. A Mared is a wild Djinni known to be rebellious and uproarious. The Shitan however are the adversaries of the human race. They are considered quite evil and very dangerous. It must be noted though that the Shitan can also be human as evident from the passage: “Thus have we assigned for every prophet and enemy: the devils among men and Djinn, who inspire each other with vain and varnished falsehoods” (6:109).

In addition to these titles, the Djinn also have titles based on their environment. There are two important classes that will be discussed, the Qareen and the Ghilani. The Qareen are Djinn that are considered familiars. The prophet Mohammed himself confirmed that each individual human is assigned a Qareem from the Djinn by God much like each individual is assigned a guardian angel. The Ghilani are probably the most important and interesting Djinn that should be understood. These Ghilani are Djinn magicians, practitioners of the magical arts and are adept at incantations and ceremonial magic. These Ghilani are the Djinn equivalent of modern day humanity’s faith healers, diviners, psychics, and mystics.


This is a great article. Do you have any other resources you’d recommend to learn more about the djinn?

by Psyche on 2008-04-29 17:15:40

Most of this information comes straight out of the Koran. It’s actually a chapter from an out-of-print book that I wrote back in 1999 (published in 2000) that I ended up removing from the final product.

Most information on the Djinn can be found in Islamic and Arabic folklore. One Thousand and One Arabian Nights is a good primer with a few tales. I’ll have to double check to see if I have anything more specific for you.

by szul on 2008-04-29 20:17:32

The commentaries and notes on ‘The Arabian Nights’, by Sir Richard Burton (Crowley’s hero, not the actor) may be of interest on the subject.

by Melog on 2008-05-01 19:27:42