Background Information:

My informant is a 20-year old student. She is originally from Lucknow in India but is now studying and living in Los Angeles. She is of the Muslim faith and related to me her knowledge of Jinn, which she thoroughly believes in. This piece of folklore was particularly interesting to me as there is nothing like it in the other Abrahamic faiths, and is a distinctive Muslim belief.

Main Piece:

Jinn were created by God alongside humans and angels. Humans were made from clay, and the jinn were made from fire that had no smoke. They are not like the genies that we see in Disney’s Aladdin, despite this being the etymology of the word, that come out of lamps and exist to aid humans. Rather, they are an equally real group of beings who exist in the human world but we cannot see them. They go about their days in the human world but they usually don’t interact with humans, as the majority of them are benign. They can also die, and they have lifespans, and will be judged alongside humans by Allah at the Day of Judgement. They can also be of any Abrahamic faith, and celebrate the rituals and customs, and partake in the social organization that comes along with that faith. In this sense, they’re like ghost-human hybrids, who exist but are invisible to humans, yet are real amongst themselves. The Devil, Shaitan, has also been identified as a member of the jinn, but this is contested. However, Iblis – Satan, rather than the Devil – is a jinn, and is a personal name for the Devil himself, rather than a force to incite evil among men and jinn, which is the Shaitan. Iblis was cast from heaven as he refused to bow before Adam, but again, this is contested depending on which branch of Islam one is a member of.

Performance Context:

This piece of folklore was related to me in person after I asked a few questions of my friend about jinn, as my interest was piqued in class.

My Thoughts:

I found this a particularly interesting piece of folklore to collect, as I had no idea that Jinn even existed outside of Aladdin, never mind that they were an entire species of individual just as real as humanity on top of that, in Islamic thought. It contests the idea that the Earth was made for humans alone in Christian thought, and makes it a very distinct belief among Abrahamic faiths. It is also a complex belief for a person not of the Muslim faith  to understand, especially the distinction between the Devil and Satan, as it is not directly mappable onto any belief in Christianity, and the development of this belief would therefore be a particularly interesting one to trace.