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Islam, Arabs, and the Intelligent world of the Jinn

Amira El-Zein

Publication Year: 2009

According to the Qur’an, God created two parallel species, man and the jinn, the former from clay and the latter from fire. Beliefs regarding the jinn are deeply integrated into Muslim culture and religion, and have a constant presence in legends, myths, poetry, and literature. In Islam, Arabs, and the Intelligent World of the Jinn, Amira El-Zein explores the integral role these mythological figures play, revealing that the concept of jinn is fundamental to understanding Muslim culture and tradition.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page, List of other titles in series, Dedication, About the Author

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xxiii

This book is long overdue. After years of painstaking investigation, this thorough work is based on an extensive and intricate research in Arabic and several European languages. I have attempted to present an all-embracing examination of the jinn’s concept in classical Islam including most types of supposed interactions of the jinn with humans, angels, and animals. I was often confronted...

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1. The Poetics of the Invisible: Muslim Imagination and the Jinn

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pp. 1-12

As spiritual entities, the jinn are considered dual dimensional, with the ability to live and operate in both manifest and invisible domains. The traffic between them is the focus of discussion in Islam, because believing in al-ghayb, the unseen and the unknown, is central and fundamental in Islamic faith. God himself is referred to in the Qur’an as the Outward and the Inward.1 This means...

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2. Correspondences Between Jinn and Humans

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pp. 13-31

The hierarchical Islamic view of the cosmos entails the imaginal realm just above our terrestrial domain impinges unswervingly on us and interferes in our lives in a subtle and hidden manner. Because of the staunch belief in this direct influence on humans, Muslim scholars, poets, and writers found themselves compelled to thoroughly research the link between humans and jinn...

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3. Beings of Light and of Fire

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pp. 32-52

Islamic teaching, as seen previously, highlights the interaction between humans and jinn, and attempts to interpret every facet that deals with this relationship. It expands much less, however, on the situation of angels and jinn despite the intermediary position of the latter, who are supposed to trade both with humans in the lower level and with angels in the higher level. The reason for this paucity...

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4. Divination, Revelation, and the Jinn

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pp. 53-69

With the advent of Islam, jinn were transformed from kings of the unseen to servants of the new religion. Islam retained their power, but made it subservient to the One God. They could still change the course of human events if God willed them to do so. Those who didn’t join Islam, the evil ones, were told in the Qur’an they would be accountable for their bad deeds on the Day of Judgment. To comprehend the...

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5. Magic, Possession, Diseases, and the Jinn

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pp. 70-88

Medieval Islamic literature on the jinn maintains Muslims had little apprehension of the jinn who converted to Islam. They dreaded, however, the heretic jinn who rejected Islam. Muslims claimed these malevolent spirits could attack them at any time and in any place. They considered them harmful, and they endeavored to fend off their evil. Scholars, theologians, magicians, and healers...

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6. Jinn in Animal Shapes

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pp. 89-102

Humans seem always to have spiritualized animals, and keenly associated the spiritual realm with the animal one. This correlation might have its origin in the enduring human belief animals are mysterious beings, somehow related to the invisible domain. People believe animals could feel the approach of disasters; for example, they sense the approach of a storm, an earthquake, or a flood....

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7. Love Between Humans and Jinn

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pp. 103-120

Love between humans and jinn could be considered one of the most extravagant and intriguing aspects in the two species’ interaction. This particular theme fascinated Muslims in medieval times. Aberrant love affairs between jinn and humans circulated, creating fear, and flaring the curiosity of all classes of the society. Writers from the three layers of Islam—Orthodox, popular, and Sufi — were...

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8. Jinn Inspiring Poets

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pp. 121-133

Jinn meddle in the lives of humans as lovers, warriors, teachers, helpers, or healers. They also manifest themselves in mystifying modes in the lives and verses of Arab and Muslim poets. Jinn’s incursion reveals itself sometimes as a whispering, sometimes as a powerful voice from another world which calls upon poets, drowns them into its inebriated power, and commands them to write its words...

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Conclusion: The Sentience of Inside Out/Outside In

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pp. 134-135

The exploration of the jinn’s concept underscores that we and the universe are made from the same fabric. Each resembles the other. Most significantly, both are incessantly in contact. Like the human, the universe has a soul and is a living body. This is what our ancestors called “Anima Mundi,” or “the Soul of the world.” Both are endowed with intelligence. Plato (d. 347 BCE) evoked in the...

Appendix: The Different Classes of the Jinn

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pp. 139-147


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pp. 149-178

Glossary of Arabic Words and Names

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pp. 179-184


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pp. 185-198


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pp. 199-215

E-ISBN-13: 9780815650706
E-ISBN-10: 0815650701
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815632009
Print-ISBN-10: 0815632002

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2009