What is a Jinn?
The word ‘jinn’ comes from the Arabic word ‘Janna,’ which means to ‘cover or hide.’ Unlike the other creations of Allah (SWT) that we can see, we cannot know the reality of the jinn. Allah mentions them at many places in Al-Qur’an, and there is an entire Surah titled Al-Jinn. Al-Qur’an and the factual statements of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) help us understand what the jinn are made of, the purpose of their creation, and what happens to them when they obey or disobey Allah’s command.
Allah tells us in Al-Qur’an jinn’s reality that He created the jinn from the fire before He created man.
وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا ٱلْإِنسَٰنَ مِن صَلْصَٰلٍ مِّنْ حَمَإٍ مَّسْنُونٍ
And We did certainly create the human being out of clay from an altered black mud.
وَٱلْجَآنَّ خَلَقْنَٰهُ مِن قَبْلُ مِن نَّارِ ٱلسَّمُومِ
And the jinn We created before from scorching fire.
(Qur’an 15: 26-27)
Stating the purpose of their creation, Allah says He created the jinn to worship Him alone.
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ ٱلْجِنَّ وَٱلْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Qur’an 51: 56)
However, Allah gave the jinn the freedom to choose between right and wrong. Those who choose the right way will enter Paradise, whereas those who pick the wrong will end up in Hell. Allah mentions the reality of the jinn of both groups in Surah Al-Jinn.
قُلْ أُوحِىَ إِلَىَّ أَنَّهُ ٱسْتَمَعَ نَفَرٌ مِّنَ ٱلْجِنِّ فَقَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّا سَمِعْنَا قُرْءَانًا عَجَبًا
Say, [O Muhammad], “It has been revealed to me that a group of the jinn listened and said, ‘Indeed, we have heard an amazing Qur’ān [i.e., recitation].
يَهْدِىٓ إِلَى ٱلرُّشْدِ فَـَٔامَنَّا بِهِۦ ۖ وَلَن نُّشْرِكَ بِرَبِّنَآ أَحَدًا
It guides to the right course, and we have believed in it. And we will never associate with our Lord anyone.
وَأَنَّهُۥ تَعَٰلَىٰ جَدُّ رَبِّنَا مَا ٱتَّخَذَ صَٰحِبَةً وَلَا وَلَدًا
And [it teaches] that exalted is the nobleness of our Lord; He has not taken a wife or a son.
وَأَنَّهُۥ كَانَ يَقُولُ سَفِيهُنَا عَلَى ٱللَّهِ شَطَطًا
And that our foolish one [i.e., Iblees] has been saying about Allāh an excessive transgression.
(Qur’an 72: 1-4)
وَأَنَّا مِنَّا ٱلْمُسْلِمُونَ وَمِنَّا ٱلْقَٰسِطُونَ ۖ فَمَنْ أَسْلَمَ فَأُو۟لَٰٓئِكَ تَحَرَّوْا۟ رَشَدًا
And among us are Muslims [in submission to Allāh], and among us are the unjust. And whoever has become Muslim – those have sought out the right course.
وَأَمَّا ٱلْقَٰسِطُونَ فَكَانُوا۟ لِجَهَنَّمَ حَطَبًا
But as for the unjust, they will be, for Hell, firewood.’
(Qur’an 72: 14-15)
Who is Iblis?
The jinn oft-mentioned in Al-Qur’an is Iblis, who refused to obey Allah when He told him to prostrate to Adam. Iblis argued that Allah created him of fire, a superior element; he could not worship a man made of inferior clay. [Iblis (Satan) said:
قَالَ أَنَا۠ خَيْرٌ مِّنْهُ ۖ خَلَقْتَنِى مِن نَّارٍ وَخَلَقْتَهُۥ مِن طِينٍ
“I am better than he; You created me from fire, and You created him from clay.” (Qur’an 38: 76)
Allah rejected Iblis’s argument, cursed him, and condemned him forever. In return, Iblis vowed not to leave any stone unturned to mislead humanity. Allah clarified to him that he could not deceive His devoted people. At the same time, Allah repeatedly warns people to beware of the evil tricks of Satan, the greatest enemy of man.
يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ كُلُوا۟ مِمَّا فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ حَلَٰلًا طَيِّبًا وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا۟ خُطُوَٰتِ ٱلشَّيْطَٰنِ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ
O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good, and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.
(Qur’an 2: 168)
Evil Jinn (Qareen):
According to the Prophet (PBUH), an evil jinn (Qareen) accompanies every human being and tries to misguide him/her. The Prophet said Allah turned his Qareen into a good jinn (Muslim, vol. 4, p.1472, No. 6757).
The evil jin can distract human beings even when the latter are engaged in a good act.
Once, the Prophet offered his Salah when Ifreet, a wicked jin, tried to meddle with his prayer. The Prophet wished to tie him to the masjid pole for everyone to see in the morning, but he quickly remembered that Allah had given that power only to Prophet Sulaymaan. (Bukhari, vol.1, p.268, no. 75; Muslim, vol.1, p.273, no. 1104)
In the past, the jins could steal information from the Angels and pass it on to their human partners. Still, after Prophet Muhammad’s mission commenced, Allah Almighty curtailed their ability to steal information. They mixed the little information they could steal with several lies before sharing it with the fortunetellers.
وَأَنَّا لَمَسْنَا ٱلسَّمَآءَ فَوَجَدْنَٰهَا مُلِئَتْ حَرَسًا شَدِيدًا وَشُهُبًا
‘And we have sought to reach heaven but found it filled with stern guards and flaming fires.
وَأَنَّا كُنَّا نَقْعُدُ مِنْهَا مَقَٰعِدَ لِلسَّمْعِ ۖ فَمَن يَسْتَمِعِ ٱلْءَانَ يَجِدْ لَهُۥ شِهَابًا رَّصَدًا
And certainly, we used to sit there in stations to (steal) a hearing, but any who listens now will find a flaming fire watching him in ambush.” (Qur’an 72: 8-9)
Elaborating it, the Prophet said:
“They (the jinn) would pass the information back down until it reaches the lips of a magician or fortuneteller. Sometimes a meteor would overtake them before they could pass it on. If they passed it on before being struck, they would add to it a hundred lies.” (Bukhari, vol.8, p.150, no. 232)
Forms of Jinns:
The jinn can take various forms and reside in many different places. While their glance can adversely affect a person, they can also possess human beings. Adhering to Al-Qur’an can undo such evil effects of the jinn and the factual statements of the Prophet. The recitation of Surahs Al-Falaq, An-Naas, Al-Baqarah, and Ayat al-Kursi are some of the solutions prescribed by the Prophet and recorded in the authentic books of Hadith.
The Prophet told Ali ibn Abi Taalib to recite the last two chapters of Al-Qur’an, Al-Falaq, and An-Naas, to cast off the spell of a jins on him.
(Bukhari, vol. 6, p. 495, no. 535; Muslim, vol. 3, p. 1195, no. 5440).
Moreover, the Prophet said,
“Verily Satan flees from a house where Surah Al-Baqarah is read.”
(Muslim, vol. 1, p.337, no. 1707)
Without a doubt, jinns’ reality is Allah’s creations whose only purpose in life is to worship Allah alone. Those who do so go to Paradise, while those who defy Allah end up in Hell. Although Allah has given them the freedom to mislead humanity, He also warned people against following Satan’s footsteps to save themselves from the punishment of Hellfire.