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A Tale of the Jinn

A Genie in the House of Saud: Zubis Rises is a tale of the jinn.  Where have the genies gone? They lingered for millenia in pre-Islamic folklore; later validated with surah, or books of the Koran, that described acceptable behavior and comportment specifically for the race of jinn. The entrance of the jinn into Western consciousness came primarily through the stories of “The Arabian Nights,” which detail interactions between humans and jinn on a narrative scale. And, of course, you can count on Disney for some solid deconstruction of cultural myth.  For the most part, however, the concept of the jinn has remained relatively unexplored.

According to Islam’s most sacred book, the Koran, the jinn were created by God before man was created: “We created man from dried clay, from black mud and We created the jinn before from the fire of hot wind.” (15:26-27)

This description is not contrary to the Old Testament description of the birth of man: “And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7)

The legends tell us that like man, jinn are able to marry, have children, eat, drink, and die; though their lives are extended hundreds and even thousands of years beyond that of man. And, according to the Koran, the jinn, like man, were given free will. They can choose to follow the word of God or to defy it. In fact, a powerful jinn who “fell from grace” through his disobedience to God was named Iblis. When he sinned, his name was changed to Shaitan. Followers of Judaic and Christian rites will recognize the similarity to the name Satan. Was the well-known fallen angel not an angel at all, but a genie?

The depiction in the Koran of the “fall” describes how Iblis refused to pay tribute to the human Adam when God commanded him to do so. Iblis complained that, “You created me from fire and You created him from clay.”

The proud jinn felt superior to man and, therefore, resentful that he should prostrate himself before an inferior creation. For this transgression, Shaitan was cast from God’s presence. He promised vengeance against humans by telling God that he would “…come upon them, to their faces and behind their backs and from their right and their left: and You will not find most of them grateful to you.”

God reprimanded Shaitan with the words “Get out of here, despised and rejected: Indeed, if any of them follow you, I will fill hell with you all.”

And so a literal and literary antagonism was bred between two races: humans and jinn. While most civilizations maintained the lore of both humans and even angels, the thread of this third creation was lost to myth until Mohammed called them out. Yet, even now, many people refuse to acknowledge the possibility of jinn. Is it that the concept of a potentially massless being that can shift shape and travel great distances in the blink of an eye seems ridiculous? Or perhaps it is the similarities that give man pause. Historically, culturally, and mythologically, jinn are described as spiritual counterparts to man. Like the jinn, the human capacity for sin and potential for redemption lie in free will and the choices that result.  Hey, that's a great idea for a novel.......