What are Jinn?

Posted by on 24 Mar, 2012

What are Jinn?

Praise be to Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ Lord of the worlds and peace and blessings be upon the one whom was sent as a mercy to mankind, the rightly guided Prophet and leader of the pious and God fearing صلى الله عليه و سلم


T he world of Jinn and its mysteries is often a topic that excites people due to the unknown or unseen nature of these species.

Accepting the existence of Jinn is an integral part of Islam since the Qur’an speaks about the existence of mankind and Jinn and there is even a chapter called ‘Al Jinn’ (Surah 72).


Here are some Ayahs/verses from the Qur’an about the existence of Jinn:

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

 ”And I did not create the Jinn and Mankind except to worship Me.” [51:56]

وَالْجَآنَّ خَلَقْنَاهُ مِن قَبْلُ مِن نَّارِ السَّمُومِ

And the Jinn We created before from scorching fire.” [15:27]


There are also a number of authentic hadith from the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم mentioning the Jinn.

“The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم said: ‘The Jinn are of three types: A type that has wings, and they fly through the air; a type that looks like snakes and dogs; and a type that stops for a rest then resumes its journey.” (1)

From these three types, there are mareed, maarid and ifrit, pious and rebellious.

Allah mentions them in the Qur’an.

And to guard against every rebellious devil (maarid) [Surat Aş-Şāffāt 37:7]

An Ifrit (strong) from among the Jinns said ” I will bring to you before you rise from your place (council). And verily, I am indeed strong and trustworthy for such work.”[Surat An-Naml  27: 39]

And also the shayateen (devils) from the Jinns (including) every kind of builder and diver. [Surat Şād (The Letter “Saad”) 38:37]


They have the ability to think and reflect. Similarly, to man they also have the ability to choose between the path of good and the path of evil in the same manner as humans. The Jinn have their own sect and groups of muslim, sunni, shia, sufi. There are Jews, Zionist, Christians, Catholics, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist and sun, sea, mountains, stones, moon, fire worshipers.


Their Nature

Allah informs us in many Ayahs that the Jinn are created from fire, specifically  ’smokeless fire’ (2). It is said that this form of fire is the purest of fire. Man was created from ‘smooth clay’ and Jinn from smokeless fire. However, just as man was originated from mud or ‘smooth clay’, man has it’s own nature. Similarly the Jinn were originated from smokeless fire but their actual form is not quite the same. This is why the fire of Hell will burn the evil or disbelieving among them.

It was narrated from ‘Aa’ishah that the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه و سلم was praying, then the Shaytaan came to him and he seized him, threw him to the ground and strangled him. The Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “Until I felt the coolness of his tongue on my hand. Were it not for the prayer of my brother Sulaymaan, he would have been tied up this morning so that the people could see him.” [arrated by al-Nasaa’i in al-Sunan al-Kubra, 6/442; classed as saheeh by Ibn Hibbaan, 6/115]

It was narrated that Abu’l-Darda’ said: The Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه و سلم stood (in prayer) and we heard him say: “I seek refuge with Allaah from you.” Then he said: “I curse you with the curse of Allaah,” three times, and he reached out his hand as if to take something. When he had finished praying, we said: “O Messenger of Allaah, we heard you say something in your prayer that we have never heard you say before, and we saw you reaching out your hand.” He said: “The enemy of Allaah Iblees came with a brand of fire to throw it in my face, so I said, ‘I seek refuge with Allaah from you,’ three times, then I said: ‘I curse you with the full curse of Allaah,’ but he did not go back, three times. Then I wanted to seize him, and by Allaah, were it not for the prayer of our brother Sulaymaan, this morning he would have been tied up and the children of the people of Madeenah would have played with him.” [Narrated by Muslim, 542]

From these two hadeeths it is clear to us that the Jinn are not fire now. This is indicated by the coolness that the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه و سلم felt from the tongue of the Shaytaan, as stated in the first hadeeth. If the Shaytaan was still in the form of fire, he would not have needed to bring a brand of fire to throw in the face of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم and the children would not have been able to play with him.

In as-Saheeh it is narrated that the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said: ‘The Shaytan flows through the son of Adam as the blood flows through his veins.’”


Are they good or Evil?

The Jinn have free will just as humankind do. They are good, bad, evil and they are of communities. They have families just as humans do. There are Christian, Jewish, Muslim and disobedient or disbelieving Jinn. The evil or malicious among the Jinn are known as shaytaan or shayateen (plural) and these are the followers of Iblees. Iblees is humankind’s sworn enemy and has vowed to do everything in his power to misguide man so he ends up in utter loss in the hereafter. Due to his pride he refused the command of Allah سبحانه و تعالى to bow to our father Adam عليه السلام. Iblees is the only one of the Jinn kind that will remain alive until the day of judgement.


The Jinn have different capabilities to human

The Jinn have capabilities and powers that are different to humans. They see us where as we are unable to see them. Some have the ability to move extremely quickly and even transport large objects as we can see in the story of Suleyman عليه السلام when he asked them ‘which of you can bring me the throne (of the Queen of Saba) [27:38].’  Only one among the Jinn was able to reply and take up the challenge. This Jinn was of the Ifrit type, which are known to be the strongest among their creation.

An Ifrit Jinn said, “I will bring it to you before you rise from your place. I have the strength for it and I am trustworthy“. [27:39]


Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

The Jinn may appear in human or animal form; they may appear in the form of snakes, scorpions and so on; or in the form of camels, cattle, sheep, horses, mules and donkeys; or in the form of birds. They may also appear in human form, as the Shaytaan came to Quraysh in the form of Suraaqah ibn Maalik ibn Ja‘sham, when they wanted to go out to Badr.

Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And (remember) when Shaytan (Satan) made their (evil) deeds seem fair to them and said, ‘No one of mankind can overcome you this Day (of the battle of Badr) and verily, I am your neighbour (for each and every help).’ But when the two forces came in sight of each other, he ran away and said ‘Verily, I have nothing to do with you. Verily! I see what you see not. Verily! I fear Allah for Allah is Severe in punishment’” 

[Surah al-Anfaal 8:48].  [Majmoo‘ al-Fataawa (19/44, 45)


Are the Jinn stronger than Humans?

As mentioned above, Jinn have physical abilities that humans do not. However, humans are intellectually stronger. Allah has chosen the mankind above Jinn in terms of knowledge and because of this reason Allah has preferred Adam and the children of Adam over Jinn. And this shows the status of knowledge in front of Allah - that he has chosen the more knowledgeable being over the physically stronger one. The evidence for this is that Allah commanded Iblees to prostrate to Adam, to which his response was 'I am better than him' and he was jealous. The Prophets and Messengers of Allah have all been human, there are none from among the Jinn. This is why the Jinn follow our (humans) religions. They learn and speak our languages. The evil among them feel an immense jealousy and hatred towards man because they wanted this status of knowledge and rank but it is only the evil ones that oppose man.


Food Of The Jinn

The Jinn eat and drink. Ibn Mas’ood رضي الله عنه‎ said: “The Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه و سلم said: ‘Someone from among the Jinn called me, and I went with him and recited Qur’an for them.’ He took us and showed us the traces of where they had been and the traces of their fires. They asked him for food and he said, ‘You can have every bone on which the name of Allaah has been mentioned that comes into your possession, as meat, and all the droppings as food for your animals.’ The Prophet said, ‘So do not use [these things] for cleaning yourselves [after relieving oneself], for they are the food and provision of your brothers.’” (Reported by Muslim, 450)

According to another report: “A delegation of Jinn from Naseebeen came to me (the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم) and what good Jinn they are! They asked me for food and I prayed to Allah for them, so that they would not pass by bones or droppings, but they would find food on them.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 3571)

Hudhaifah رضي الله عنه‎ reported:
When we attended a meal with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), we would not stretch forth our hands towards the food until he (ﷺ) would start eating first. Once, we were with him when a little girl rushed in as if someone was impelling her. She was about to lay her hand on the food when the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) caught her hand. Then a bedouin came in rushing as if someone was pushing him. He (ﷺ) caught his hand also and said, “Shaytan considers that food lawful for himself on which the Name of Allah is not mentioned. He (Shaytan) brought this girl to make the food lawful through her but I caught her hand. Then he brought the bedouin to make it lawful through him but I caught his hand too. By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, now Shaytan’s hand is in my grasp along with their hands.” Then he mentioned the Name of Allah and began to eat. [Abu Dawud and An-Nas'i]


Where do they live?

The Jinn live all over earth but they mostly reside in derelict places such as deserts, ruins, and places of impurity like bathrooms, wastelands and graveyards (for the evil ones). They are frequently found in places where they can cause mischief and corruption, like markets or shopping malls. Shaytaan (malicious or evil jinn) also dwell in the homes of humankind. Saying ‘bismillah’ [In the name of Allah] before entering prevents them from entering the home.

A very important point I would like to make is that we should all build a fortress around our homes and protect them from shayateen. Following the Sunnah, saying the supplications (dua) of RasulAllah صلى الله عليه و سلم such as the dua before entering the toilet or entering and leaving the home is very important as a protection against shayateen.


Should we be scared of the Jinn?

A lot of people have superstitions or are scared of the Jinn and this is NOT the purpose of discussing or learning about the Jinn.

The reality is that they are weaker than us IF we turn to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى‎). The muslim Jinn do not harm us or interact with man. They are our brethren and they leave us be. As for the non-muslim Jinn that wish us harm, their main method of harming us is by the whisperings or inner-thoughts (wasswassa) and we seek Allah’s refuge from the whispering of shaytaan. When we seek refuge and invoke the name of Allah or remember Allah, the Jinn will disappear as  they cannot bear to be in the presence of the name of Allah. When we recite the Qur’an, especially Surat Al Fatiha and Ayat-ul-Kursi they will disappear. When the adhan is pronounced they cannot bear it -they turn and flee.

WE SHOULD NOT FEAR THE JINN! NOT AT ALL. We put our trust in Allah and we realise that Allah has created different species on this earth.

One of the benefits of learning about the Jinn is that our emaan in Allah increases because we realise we don’t see the Jinn we rely on Allah’s protection against the Jinn. We need His protection and the closer we are to him and the better we understand Tawheed, the more dhikr (remembrance of Allah) and the more Qur’an we recite, the more protection we have against the Jinn (shayateen).

The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said that dhikr is a fortress that protects you from shaytaan. We need to implement this in our daily lives. When we enter the house, when we enter the toilet, when we leave the house, when we eat we make dhikr (remembering Allah). Knowing about the existence of Jinn and knowing about this enemy out there (the evil Jinn) keeps us on guard and prompts us to remember our Lord.

I ask Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ to make us among those who remember him frequently throughout the day and to protect us against the evil of ourselves and the evil of shayateen and to guide us to be haste and sincere in His remembrance. Ameen


And Allah knows best



(1) (Reported by al-Tahhaawi in Mushkil al-Athaar, 4/95, and by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, 22/214. Shaykh al-Albaani said in al-Mishkaat (2/1206, no. 4148): al-Tahhaawi and Abu’l-Shaykh reported it with a saheeh isnaad).

(2) Qur’an, 55:15 


Book – ‘The Jinn in the Quran & Sunnah’ – Mustafa Ashour


One Comment

  1. May Allah reward you for highlighting this important topic.