From the Encyclopaedia of Demons and Demonology:
Djinn in Islam
Descriptions from antiquity portray demons as shape shifters who can assume any form, animal or human or hybrid, such as the Mesopotamian demons. The Platonists and early fathers and theologians of the Christian Church said that demons condense bodies out of the air or smoke. In Arabian lore, the djinn are made of smokeless fire. Some of the theologians and witch hunters of the Inquisition said that demons have no corporeal form and only give the illusion that they are in human or animal form. They create voices out of air that mimic people.
Arabic lore, a type of interfering spirit, often demon like, but not equivalent to a DEMON. As are the Greek DAIMONes, djinn are self-propagating and can be either good or evil. They possess supernatural powers and can be conjured in magical rites to perform various tasks and services. A djinn appears as a wish-granting “genie” in many Arabic folktales such as those in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights.
In pre-Islamic lore, the djinn are malicious, are born of smokeless fire, and are not immortal. They live with other supernatural beings in the Kaf, a mythical range of emerald mountains that encircles the earth. They like to roam the deserts and wilderness. They are usually invisible but have the power to shape shift to any form, be it insect, other animal, or human. King SOLOMON used a magic ring to control djinn and protect him from them. The ring was set with a gem, probably a diamond, that had a living force of its own. With the ring, Solomon branded the necks of the djinn as his slaves. One story tells that a jealous djinn (sometimes identified as ASMODEUS) stole the ring while Solomon bathed in the river Jordan. The djinn seated himself on Solomon’s throne at his palace and reigned over his kingdom, forcing Solomon to become a wanderer. God compelled the djinn to throw the ring into the sea. Solomon retrieved it and punished the djinn by imprisoning him in a bottle.
According to another story, Solomon took djinn to his crystal-paved palace, where they sat at tables made of iron. The Qur’an tells how the king made them work at building palaces and making carpets, ponds, statues, and gardens. Whenever Solomon wanted to travel to faraway places, the djinn carried him there on their backs. Solomon forced the djinn to build the Temple of Jerusalem and all of the city as well.
Djinn in Muslim Lore
Islamic theology absorbed and modified the djinn; some became beautiful and good-natured. According to the Muslim faith, humans are created from clay and water, and the essence of angels is light. Djinn were created on the day of creation from the smokeless fire, or the essential fire. They are invisible to most people except under certain conditions; however, dogs and donkeys are able to see them. They were on the Earth before human beings, but it is unknown how long. By some accounts, they were created 2,000 years before Adam and Eve and are equal to angels in stature. Their ruler, IBLIS (also called Shaytan), refused to worship Adam and so was cast out of heaven,along with his followers. Iblis became the equivalent of the Devil, and the followers all became demons. Iblis’ throne is in the sea.
As do humans, djinn have free will and are able to understand good and evil. The Qur’an states that the purpose of their creation is the same as that of humans, which is to worship God. They are responsible for their actions and will be judged at the Last Judgment. It is said that HELL will be filled with djinn and humans together. Conflicting stories about the djinn abound, similar to conflicting stories about ANGELs and demons. According to some accounts, there are three types of djinn:
1. Those who are able to fly. These djinn can be heavy or light, tall or thin, and are shape shifters with very flexible bodies.
2. Those who reside in a given area and cannot travel out of that area. They may live in abandoned houses.
3. Those who manifest as snakes, scorpions, creeping animals, and dogs (especially BLACK DOGS, who are devils or IBLIS) and cats. A cat should not be chased away early in the morning or late at night, lest it be a shape-shifted djinn, who will take revenge.
Muhammad warned the people to cover their utensils, close their doors, and keep their children close to them at night, as the djinn spread out at night and take things. He also warned people to put out their lights, as the djinn could drag away the wicks and start a fire. However, they will not open a locked door, untie a knot, or uncover a vessel. If people find a snake in their house, they should call out to it for three days before killing it. If the snake is a shape-shifted djinn, it will leave. The djinn can be converted, as sura 72 of the Qur’an indicates: “It has been revealed to me that a company of the Djinn gave ear, then they said ‘we have indeed heard a Qur’an wonderful, guiding to rectitude.’ ” Muhammad converted djinn by reciting the Qur’an to them. However, all djinn are unreliable and deceitful, even if converted. The djinn will guard graves if commanded to do so by WITCHCRAFT; in Egypt, it is bad luck to open a pharaoh’s tomb, for the guarding djinn will harm anyone who violates the sacred space.
The life span of djinn is much longer than that of humans, but they do die. They are both male and female and have children. They eat meat, bones, and dung of animals. They play, sleep, and have animals. Descriptions of their appearances vary. They may have the legs of a goat, a black tail, or a hairy body. They may be exceptionally tall and have their eyes set vertically in their heads. Although they can live anywhere on the planet, they prefer deserts, ruins, and places of impurity like graveyards, garbage dumps, bathrooms, camel pastures, and hashish dens. They also can live in the houses where people live. They love to sit in places between the shade and the sunlight and move around when the dark first falls. They also like marketplaces, and Muslims are warned not to be the first to enter the market or the last to leave it.
Marriage between Humans and Djinn
As do FAIRIES, djinn fall in love with humans and marry them. There is no direct evidence of it, and no children have qualities of both djinn and human. A clan in the United Arab Emirates claims to descend from a female djinn. There is controversy over whether it is lawful to marry djinn, but most Islamic jurists believe it is unlawful. There also seems to be controversy as to whether a mixed marriage will be able to produce children. If the mother is human, the children will be visible and look like humans. If the mother is djinn, the children will be invisible. Djinn interfere in human relationships. If they fall in love with a human, they try to disrupt marriages and other relationships.
Possession by Djinn
Ordinary human acts can kill or hurt djinn without people being aware of doing so. When that happens, djinn possess the offending people in order to take revenge on them. Others who are vulnerable to possession are those who live alone, for djinn are opposed to community.
As do the daimones, pairs of djinn stay with each person. One whispers good; the other whispers evil. The moods of humans can be affected by the djinn, ranging from happiness to sadness for no known reason. Although they are able to affect peoples’ minds and bodies, they have no power over the soul or heart. When possessed, the person appears to be insane and exhibits signs of anger, anxiety, and depression. A woman’s voice will sound like a man’s, and a man’s voice will sound like a woman’s. Physical symptoms include nausea after eating, headaches, frequent desire to fight, heavy shoulders, a constant feeling of dissatisfaction, and a desire to commit suicide. Asking the djinn to leave may not be enough to induce him or her to go, and someone who is trained may be needed to perform an EXORCISM to expel the djinn from the body.