Jinn - Description, History, Myths & Interpretations | Mythology.net (2023)

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In the beginning was there ever something more than humans? Islamic tradition tells us that on Wednesday Allah created the angels. On Thursday, however, the Jinn came into being. The Jinn were a mighty race of people who were created from smokeless fire. The mighty jinn lived on the earth for over 1,000 years, but pride would be their downfall. Allah sent the angels to battle the infidel Jinn. When all but a few were defeated, humans were created on Friday.

What is a Jinn?

Depending on belief systems, a jinn is a creature of extraordinary abilities who was created by Allah. There are those, however, who believe jinn are simply magical creatures and do not associate them with a creation story.

Inside Islamic tradition, the Jinn are referenced in two different ways. The first is that they are known to be the opposite of al-lns, which is something that maintains a shape. This means it is impossible for a human to detect them with their sensory organs. However, this classification does not just apply to Jinn. It also applies to Angels and Demons. According to the rule, all Demons and Angles are Jinn, but not all Jinn are Angels or Demons.

The second way in which Jinn are perceived is as an invisible entity that were created from smokeless fire. These creatures are known to have similar motivations and needs to that of humans. They also eat and drink and have the ability to give birth. They are also subject to a life cycle, although they were able to live much longer than humans. Although they were mostly similar to humans, they were known to be much faster and stronger. Additionally, the Jinn were able to be believers or non believers and were subject to being judged to go to heaven or hell.

Did Humans Interact with Jinn?

Although the majority of humans were not able to see Jinn (unless they chose to be seen), there were a few notable figures in history who are known to have the ability to communicate with these creatures.

Islamic tradition tells us that Muhammad (the last prophet of Allah) was sent as a prophet not only to human communities, but to the Jinn as well. There were also other prophets and messengers that were sent to Jinn communities so that they could know Allah and have salvation through him. Surah 72 in the Quran is devoted to the explanation of the Jinn and their existence on earth. It also tells of Iblis – the Islamic equivalent of Satan – who is thought to be a Jinn.

Another Islamic prophet (who also appears in Christianity) who was known to have interaction with the Jinn was King Solomon. King Solomon ruled over ancient Israel and was thought to be one of the most wise men in the world. Islamic tradition tells us that he was also a prophet who was given the ability to speak with animals and Jinn. In addition to being able to speak with Jinn, King Solomon also had control over rebellious Jinn. Legend says that this ability gave him the power to make rebellious Jinn build the First Temple and allowed him to learn cures for illnesses that were inflicted on humans by Jinn.

The Creation of Jinn

Records tell us that the race of Jinn were created on a Thursday – the day after angels were created. These Jinn are said to be created either out of a ‘mix of fire’ or from ‘smokeless fire.’ There are some who take these interpretations quite literally. However, there are also others who believe the meaning could be more figurative. In modern day, there have been those who speculate that the ‘smokeless fire’ that is spoken of in Surah 72 could actually refer to a type of energy. This would explain why the Jinn had a longer lifespan than humans and were undetectable to the human eye.

Regardless of what the reference in Surah 72 means, it is known that the Jinn lived for thousands of years before the humans were created. However, there were problems that concerned Allah. The Jinn had chosen to become prideful beings who thought they were greater than Allah. Their world became subjected to corruption and there was much injustice. Allah tried to send warnings to the Jinn, but all of these warnings were ignored.

Allah Fights the Jinn

With all of his warnings ignored by the prideful Jinn, Allah had no choice but to send his angels to fight the infidel Jinn and cleanse the earth. When the battle had ended, all but a few of the evil Jinn had been destroyed. At this time, Allah decided to make the race of man. Humans were created on a Friday (thousands of years later) out of clay from the earth.

When Allah had finished creating humans, he showed his creation to all of the angels and Jinn and ordered that they bow before the first man – Adam. It was at this time that another problem arose.


Although most of the Jinn and Angels were obedient, one that was named Iblis refused to bow before Adam. He argued with Allah and said that because he was made from smokeless fire instead of clay, he was far more superior to humans and should not be forced to bow to them.

Because of his arrogance, Allah banished Iblis from heaven and condemned him to hell. Iblis accepted his fate, but asked that he might be spared until Judgement Day so that he could tempt humans from the path of righteousness and lead them to the same fate that would eventually befall him. Allah granted this, but did not give Iblis power over humans. Instead, if they were to be led from the righteous path, it would have to be because of their own temptations and transgressions.

There is some debate over whether Iblis is an Angel or a Jinn. Many people claim that Iblis is, without a doubt, a Jinn. This is partially because of the rule of thumb – all Angels are Jinn but not all Jinn are Angels. However, it is also because of the fact that Iblis is known to have disobeyed Allah. Angels are not able to be disobedient, so it only makes sense that it was a Jinn that disobeyed.

Types of Jinn

Though there are technically several different types of beings that exist within the Jinn definition, it is also important to note that the Jinn have several subspecies of their own. It is unknown if the distinctions are created to differentiate between good and evil Jinn or actual races inside the Jinn group. It is thought that the truth is likely a combination of both answers. Surah 72 tells us there are three different types of Jinn that exist. There are also references to other types of Jinn in ancient texts.


Ifrit are a type of Jinn that are thought to frequent ancient ruins. There are many myths in modern day that the Ifrit protect the Egyptian pyramids and burial grounds. It is thought that if someone tries to open these areas without having an anti-spell, the Ifrit would come and kill the offender.

Ifrit are known to live in societies that are much like human worlds. They have royalty and social ranking that follows the example of Arabic tribal lines including tribes and clans. While they prefer to marry other Ifrit, they are known to be able to marry humans and have children with them. Ifrit are also known to have the power to grant wishes.

While Ifrit have free will and are known to be able to choose to be believers or non-believers, most Ifrit are considered to be wicked and malevolent creatures that should be avoided at all costs.


The Marid are one of the most well-known types of Jinn and are also thought to be the most powerful. They are the Jinn that most modern day understandings of genies are based off of and have the ability to shift form. The word ‘marid’ itself means ‘giants’, which speaks to their large form.

The Marid are known to be able to grant wishes and are likely the source of the ‘Three Wishes’ legend. However, obtaining these wishes come at a costly price. Most often, it requires a great deal of battle to obtain a wish. They can also be made to grant wishes if they are imprisoned with magic or if there is a ritual performed in their honor. Flattery has also been proven to work – but an extraordinary amount of flattery is needed to gain favor.


Ghoul are some of the most greatly feared Jinn because of their ability to shapeshift and their tendency to prey on humans. While all Jinn are feared to some extent, Ghoul are especially feared because of their craving for human flesh. While ghouls are usually content to feed on a corpse, they are also content to devour humans that are still living making them a great threat.

Ghouls are thought to frequent areas like graveyards, ruins, and places that are generally uninhabited. They tend to attack people who travel alone or who are in small groups that can be outnumbered by the ghoul pack. Female ghouls are especially feared because of their ability to appear as normal – and beautiful – mortal women. They convince human men to marry them and then devour them.


Hinn are a type of Jinn that tend to appear as dogs and other animals. They are known to be spotted most often in Arabia, Persia, and India. It is thought that there may be a connection between these types of Jinn and the strange dogs that would lure foreign soldiers into the desert during World War II and then disappear.


Jann are shape shifters who live in the desert and are some of the most open-minded and friendly Jinn to interact with humans. In fact, they were some of the first Jinn that interacted with humans. They are known to appear in the form of whirlwinds and white camels.

Jann can be mischievous as they have the ability hide or reveal the presence of an oasis depending on whether or not they like a group of travelers. Despite their mischief they are powerful allies – especially because they are the enemies of the ghoul.

Jann are also known to help humans in their war struggles throughout history. If the Jann decide that one army is righteous, they will protect the warriors who fight for the holy cause. If they deem an army to be unworthy, however, they are known to intervene and try to cause trouble.


Sila are shapeshifting Jinn that are thought to be fairly tolerant to humans compared to most Jinn. The Sila are thought to be fond of meddling in human affairs – though often with the attempt to help. It is unlikely that you will see a Sila though – they are very rarely sighted.


Palis is a type of Jinn that has many similarities to the vampires of Europe. They live in the desert and drain all the blood from their victims by licking the soles of their feet and sucking the blood out that way. However, the Palis are also of very low intelligence. You can outsmart a Palis if two people sleep end to end with the soles of their feet together or under each other’s heads.


The Qareen are perhaps one of the most interesting breeds of Jinn. It is thought that every person in the world is born with their own Qareen. This Qareen is the part of the human that causes them to do bad things and sin. It is possible to train the Qareen to become a servant, but it is thought that this process takes many years and can be dangerous. Successful endeavors, however, are very rewarding. The Prophet Muhammad turned his Qareen into a Muslim and did away with his evil nature entirely. Other benefits include:

  • Obtaining information on any person in the world. Every human has a Qareen so if you make your Qareen your servant it can talk to others of its kind and report back to you.
  • Knowing how to cure illnesses.
  • Finding lost and stolen things.
  • Influencing others Qareen to get that person(s) to do whatever you want.
  • Being aware of anyone who is coming to see you before they arrive.


The Shayteen are evil Jinn that have no hope for salvation. They pledge their service to the evil one – Iblis (sometimes called Shaitan). The Shayteen are pure evil and are known to be the cause of many troubles in the human world. They are sometimes used and controlled by strong dark magicians.

Shayteen have the ability to cause illness and even death. They are also capable of much destruction and can cause a person to lose everything they have. Perhaps most dangerous of all though, Shayteen are known to have the ability to possess humans. While other Jinn also have this ability, the act is much more malevolent when done by a Shayteen.


The Vetala are often thought of as the original vampires and are a truly terrifying type of Jinn because they are able to possess corpses and prevent them from decaying. This allows them to move about freely in the human world and be virtually undetectable.

Vetala are also extremely intelligent and are thought to be natural psychics. They are often said to have the ability to read thoughts and tell a person’s future.

Modern Interpretations of Jinn

Although the Jinn were widely accepted in early cultures, the modern day perspective on these beings has changed quite significantly. There are those who still believe in the Jinn as literal being and those who think the creatures may have more of a metaphorical implication.

Despite the recognition of the Jinn by Islamic traditions, there are also scholars who do not believe in the existence of Jinn at all.

Metaphorical Creatures/Unruly Humans

There are some who think that while Jinn are not actually the spirit like entities that they are portrayed as in mythology and religious texts, they were very real. Many who hold this opinion suggest that Jinn was a classification for a specific group of humans that lived outside of the societies of our ancestors. They hypothesize that these were very sinful and unruly people who evil and prideful in their ways.

Not Real

There are, of course, those who refuse to believe in the existence of Jinn. The most common argument for this is that we would have developed a way to prove their existence by now if they did, indeed, exist.

Many skeptics argue that if the Jinn are real, they have to be either made of solid or ethereal materials. The argument is that if the Jinn are made from solid bodies, they would be visible to human beings and would not be a mystery. If they were made from ethereal bodies they would not be able to lift solid objects and would not be capable of what was spoken of in the myths and legends.

Beyond Comprehension

There are also those who wonder if the Jinn are simply beyond our comprehension as humans. Many who hold this opinion believe that because the Jinn are also a creation of Allah, it is arrogant to assume that the human mind has all the answers for what can and can’t exist.

The religious texts such as Surah 72 are very specific in their documentation of Jinn. This means that the Jinn must exist and our own human limitations are likely the reason we can’t prove their existence. There are some who try to take a scientific approach to this belief – often pointing to the many discoveries that are made each year. However, most supporters of this belief take a traditional approach.

A Result of Waswas

There are also a few who think the reports of Jinn and other similar creatures are likely a psychological response to loneliness. Human minds are very creative and imaginative. It is thought that when a human becomes lonely or it must find a way to entertain and soothe itself. One of these ways is to play mind games with itself and to engage in wishful thinking. In arabic terminology, these thoughts are known as waswas.

Waswas are most easily understood as whisperings in the mind. It is often believed that these whisperings are caused by Satan. These whisperings are thought to result in the belief that something is ‘there’ when in reality nothing is present. This imagined being goes on to become a legend that is passed down to children and other family members. When these children grow up and become lonely, the waswa stories that were given to them by their elders serve as a powerful suggestion to their imaginations. It is these suggestions that create other supposed sightings of the Jinn and cause belief in these beings to extend into modern day.

The Manifestation of Sickness and Disease

Other scholars believe that their ancestors may have simply had a different way of expressing their scientific understanding. Some people believe that the reference of Jinn in Islamic texts and mythology may have been another way of expressing how microorganisms – like bacteria and viruses – are able to ‘live’ among humans without being perceived. These microorganisms may not be visible, but are known to cause much trouble and misery among humans – much like the supposed Jinn. It is also notable to mention that many Jinn are found in areas where bacteria and other hazards are known to flourish – like abandoned houses and cemeteries.

This theory also extends into different types of energy that exist in the world but are unable to be perceived or understood by humans. It is thought that this is possibly why Jinn are described as being made from ‘smokeless fire.’

A Very Dangerous and Real Threat

Last, though certainly not least, it is common for people to simply rely on the warnings provided in religious texts that Jinn are dangerous creatures who should be avoided at all costs. There are varying extents of this belief, but there are many who heed literal translations of Islamic texts.

Because religious texts tell of a Jinn’s ability to possess humans, the threat of Jinn is taken very seriously by literalists (who are often Salafists). Saudi Arabia (which practices a strain of Salafism nationally) implemented the death penalty for cases dealing with Jinn in an effort to prevent sorcery and witchcraft from becoming rampant. To the practitioners of Salafism, summoning a Jinn is no different than summoning a demon – especially because demons are simply unbelieving Jinn.

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