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Jinn

Jinn

Arabian spirits, perhaps animistic, but more probably strictly mythological like the Persian divs. The jinn were said to have been created out of fire and to have occupied the Earth for several thousand years before Adam. They were perverse and would not reform, although prophets were sent to reclaim them; they were eventually driven from the Earth and took refuge in the outlying islands of the sea.

One of the number named Azazeel (afterward called Iblees) was carried off as a prisoner by angels. He grew up among them and became their chief, but when he refused to prostrate himself before Adam he was degraded to the condition of a sheytân (devil), and became the father of the sheytâns.

The jinn are not immortal and, according to legend, are destined ultimately to die. They eat and drink and propagate their species, live in communities, and are ruled over by princes. They can make themselves visible or invisible, and they assume the forms of various animals, such as serpents, cats, and dogs. There are good jinn and bad jinn. They are said to frequent baths, wells, latrines, ovens, ruined houses, rivers, crossroads, and marketplaces. Like the demons of Jewish traditions, they ascend to heaven and learn the future by eavesdropping. With all their power and knowledge, however, they are liable to be reduced to obedience by means of talismans or occult arts and become obsequious servants until the spell is broken.

It is far from certain that the jinn of the East were derived from the mythology or philosophy of the West, and the practice of translating the Arabic word jinn by the Latin term genius arose more from an apparent resemblance in the names than from any identity in the nature and functions of those imaginary beings.

This similarity of name, however, must have been purely accidental, for the Arabs knew little or nothing of the Latin language. Demonnot geniusis the word they probably would have used if they had borrowed this part of their creed from the West. Jinn appears, moreover, to be a genuine Arabic word derived from a root signifying "to veil" or "to conceal"; it therefore means properly "that which is veiled and cannot be seen."

"In one sense," states Frús-àbàdí (Câmús, vol. 3, p. 611), "the word Jinn signifies any spiritual being concealed from all our senses, and, for that reason, the converse of a material being. Taken in this extensive sense, the word Jinn comprehends devils as well as angels, but there are some properties common to both angels and Jinn; some peculiar to each. Every angel is a Jinn, but every Jinn is not an angel. In another sense, this term is applied peculiarly to a particular kind of spiritual being; for such beings are of three kinds; the good, which are angels; the bad, devils; and the intermediate, comprehending both good and bad, who form the class of Jinn."

Thus Arabs acknowledged good and bad jinn, in that respect agreeing with the Greeks, but differing from the Persians. The "genii" so long familiar to European readers through the Arabian Nights are not the same beings, but rather are the divs and dévatàs of Indian romance dressed up in a foreign attire to please the tastes of readers in Persia and Arabia.

The principal differences, therefore, between the genii of the West and the jinn of the East seem to have been as follows: the genii were deities of an inferior rank, the constant companions and guardians of men, capable of giving useful or prophetic impulses, acting as mediators and messengers between the gods and men. Some were supposed to be friendly, others hostile, and many believed one of each kind was attached from birth to every mortal. The former was called Agathodemon, the latter Cacodemon.

The good genius prompted men to good, the evil to bad actions. That of each individual was as a shadow of himself. Often the genius was represented as a serpent. His age also varied. He was generally crowned with a chaplet of plane-tree leaves. His sacrifices were wholly bloodless, consisting of wine and flowers, and the person who performed the oblation was the first to taste the cup. The birthday was placed under his special care.

Roman men swore by their genius, the women by their juno. The genius of the reigning prince was an oath of extraordinary solemnity. There were local as well as individual genii, concerning whom many particulars may be found in De Idolatria liber of Dionysius Vossius (editions 1633, 1641).

The jinn, on the contrary, who seem to be the lineal descendants of the dévatés and rakshasas of Hindu mythology, were never worshiped by the Arabs nor considered as anything but agents of the Deity. Since the establishment of Islam, indeed, they have been described as invisible spirits, and the feats and deformities that figure into romance are as little believed by Easterners as the tales of King Arthur's Round Table are by Westerners.

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Jinn

Jinn (Arab., junna, ‘be mad, furious, possessed’). Fiery spirits in Islam (Qurʾān 55. 15), particularly associated with the desert. A person who dies in a state of great sin may be changed into a jinnī in the period of the barzakh.

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"Jinn." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Jinn." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/jinn

jinn

jinn in Arabian and Muslim mythology, an intelligent spirit of lower rank than the angels, able to appear in human and animal forms and to possess humans, and having supernatural powers.

The name influenced the adoption from French of genie.

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jinn

jinn (one of) an order of spirits in Muslim demonology. XVII (dgen). — Arab. jinn, coll. of jinnī GENIE(also jinnee XIX).

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"jinn." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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jinn

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