|Posted by Alex Khan on April 18, 2010 at 12:48 AM|
One of the least understood aspects of Islamic teachings in the modern world concerns that class of beings
called the jinn and referred to several times in the Quran.The reason for mis~under standing comes from the
post-Cartesian materialistic conception of the Universe, which excludes the subtle and psychic world, where
in fact the beings called jinn belong in the traditional schemes of cosmology.
To understand the meaning of jinn one must therefore go beyond a conception of reality which includes only
the world of matter and the mind (this paralyzing dualism which makes an understanding of traditional doctrines
impossi ble) to an awareness of a hierarchic reality made up of the three worlds of spirit, psyche, and matter.
The jinn can then be identified as beings that belong to the psychic or intermediary world, the barzakh, situated
between this world and the world of pure Spirit.In Quranic terminology and the hadith literature the jinn are usually
coupled with ins or mankind and often the phrase al-jinn wa'l-ins (the jinn and men) is used as referring to that
class of creatures to which God's commands and prohibitions address themselves.
Man was made of clay into which God breathed (nafakha) His Spirit. The jinn in Islamic doctrines are that group
of creatures which was made of fire rather than earth, and into which God also breathed His Spirit. Hence like
man they possess a spirit and consciousness and have Divine commands revealed to them. on their own level
of existence they are central creatures just as men are central creatures in this world. But in contrast to men they
possess a volatile and "unfixed" outer form and take on many shapes.
This means that they are essentially creatures of the psychic rather than the physical world and that they can appear
to man in different forms and shapes.Having been endowed with a spirit, the jinn, like men, possess responsibility
before God. Some are "religious" and "Muslim. These are intermediate angels, the psychic forces that can lead man
from the physical to the spiritual world through the labyrinth of thc intermediate world or barzakh. others are malefic
forces that have rebelled against God. in the same way that some men rebel against the Divinity.
Such jinn are identified with "the armies of Satan (junud al-shaytan) and are the evil forces which by inducing the
power of apprehension (wahm) and imagination (khayal) in its negative aspect lead man away from the Truth which
his intelligence perceives by virtue of the innate light that dwells within him.In the religious cosmos of the traditional
Muslim, which is filled with material. psychic. and spiritual creatures of God, the jinn play their own particular role.
By the elite they are taken for what they are, namely, psychic forces of the intermediate world of both a beneficent and
an evil nature: On the popular level, the jinn appear as concrete physical creatures of different shapes and forms against
which men seek the aid of the Spirit, often by chanting verses of the Quran. The jinn and all that pertains to them hence
enter on the popular level into the domain of demonology, magic. etc., and are a vivid reality for men whose minds are
still open towards the vast world of the psyche in its cosmic aspect.
The Muslim of this type of mentality lives in a world in which he is aware of God and also of both the angelic forces
representing the good and the demonic forces representing the evil. He sees his life as a struggle between these
two elements within him and about him.
Although the jinn are of both kinds, the good and the evil most often in ilis thought he identifies them with the demonic
forces that lead men astray. They are personifications of psychic forces that work within his mind and soul. On the
theological and metaphysical level of Islam, the order of the jinn becomes understood as a necessary element in the
hierarchy of existence, anelement which relates the physical world to higher orders of reality.
The jinn are, moreover, especially akin to men in that, as was mentioned above, into them also was breathed the Spirit
of God. And some of God's prophets, like Solomon, ruled over both men and jinn, as attested to by the Holy Quran.