Djinn, Genie!


الجن‎ – al-Jinn

Djinn, Jinn, Genies – they are feared and revered!

I have long been fascinated by these supernatural beings who are mentioned frequently in the Quran (the 72nd sura is titled Sūrat al-Jinn) and other Islamic texts and are believed to inhabit an unseen world, another universe beyond the known universe.

An individual member of the jinn is known as a jinni, djinni, or genie (الجني, al-jinnī). They are The Quran says that the jinn are made of a smokeless and ‘scorching fire’, but are also physical in nature, being able to interact in a tactile manner with people and objects and likewise be acted upon. The jinn, humans, and angels make up the three known sapient creations of God. Like human beings, the jinn can be good, evil, or neutrally benevolent and hence have free will like humans –


Protection and Attraction

Throughout the Middle Eastern countries the concept of the djinn has played a powerful part in their mythology, religious and social practice and a very common use for henna was to either placate or repel the djinn.

Predating Islam they were believed to be a race of entities that were part human, part fire, similar to the concept of elementals in the Western Tradition. Just as God created man from clay, rendering him half man, half earth the djinn were created before man from smokeless or purest fire. They are believed to be male or female, with the capacity to breed and also shape shift. They are directly under God’s will and live in a parallel existence to man, enjoying a social, sexual and spiritual life but will still be called to Judgment. In Morocco the djinn are classified elementally, being linked to earth, air, fire or water and often represented by flowers, colors or in some traditions they are attributed to the number ‘7’ and the days of the week. Like our concept of ghosts, most djinn are predominantly invisible but they do have a direct relationship with mankind whereby they can be manipulated or coerced into doing the will of the human, often submitting to their invocations and bribes. They can equally be benevolent or malevolent depending on their inclination, bringing chaos or pestilence, good fortune and health in equal measure. Benevolent and helpful djinn are attracted to all things beautiful, fragrant and in particular they liked henna; when pleased they happily bestow favors and blessings. Malevolent djinn are renowned to live wherever disease, bodily fluids, blood or excrement are prevalent often near rubbish heaps or cemeteries. Pregnant or menstruating women are believed to be particularly at risk from their influence, as are newborn babies. Jealous of the ability of women to get pregnant, give birth and nurse their infants, the djinn often became incensed and consequently a threat to both mother and baby. It is believed djinn can enter a woman via her menstrual blood, causing the kind of outbursts of anger, pain and misery that we modernly call PMS. There are a few djinn who are well known in Moroccan legend; Aisha Kandisha, a water djinn, is a particularly voracious spirit who would entrance both men and women, causing them to become so intoxicated by her that they were often driven to the brink of madness. Even today it is not uncommon for people to be exorcised for possession by djinn and there have always been special rituals involving the use of henna to rid the possessed of the evil influence. Women are usually perceived as the best intermediary between humans and djinn and go through enormous preparation to protect themselves while they undertook the exorcism; they would ritually bathe, dress and be hennaed in preparation.  If a woman was suffering from mental of physical imbalance, infertility or generally unwell, she could ask a medium to intervene or she could take part in a banishing ceremony to remove any malevolent influence. One of these rituals is known as Zar and is still practiced in many Middle Eastern countries either to banish negative spirits or influences or to allow communion with the gods or benevolent spirits. Believed to have originated in Ethiopia and brought to Egypt, the Zar is a trancelike experience involving dance and a simple hypnotic music beat. Normally it is only practiced by women and modernly is now seen as ridiculous by most men and is positively frowned upon by Islam. However, it is an important way for women to gather together and let off steam from their lives in a predominantly patriarchal society.

– Source: Henna Magic by Philippa Faulks



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