Jinn: Tales of Wish Masters Throughout Time
They traditionally are said to live in their own communities and their existence can remain secret as they are able to travel over great distances extremely quickly. Also, jinn can make themselves invisible to the eyes of humans. Because of all this, stories say that humans can only get small, vague, and unclear glimpses of the existence of jinn without fully perceiving their reality.
From Jinn to Devil
It is said that, after Allah created man, he asked angels and jinn to bow before Adam. At that time, one jinn exerted his free will and chose to disobey the Creator. He was the Iblis. For his disobedience, he was banished from Paradise and he became the Devil, under the name of Sheitan. This change caused Allah sent prophets to both human and jinn alike in order to provide good counsel and show the righteous path.
Illustration of Iblis better known as the Devil. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )
In this way, Mohammed was but one of these prophets and messengers. One of the differences between Christianity and Islam is that the Bible constitutes the word of God sent through the apostles, while the Quran is considered to be the word of Allah itself. As depicted in the Quran, the Iblis gained Allah’s favor through his devotion and he was granted command over the order of angels.
The Quran, in traditional Arabic text. ( CC BY 2.5 )
However, even though he had obtained a rank similar to that of angels and, just as the angels, he had to listen and obey to Allah’s orders, the Iblis refused to bow before Adam while stating “ I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay ” – Surah 7, Al-A’raf, Ayat 11-12.
Until Qiyaamah, Judgment Day, Allah, in his mercy, postponed the destruction of the Iblis turned Sheitan. As for devils, the Islamic tradition states: “ We made the evil ones friends only to those without faith ” – Quran 7-27. In Christianity, Lucifer, an angel, became Satan - the Devil. In Islam, Iblis, a jinn, became Sheitan - the Devil.
The Power of Sheitan
When it comes to the power Sheitan has over men, there are two main aspects which he can exploit. The first is hubris which constitutes extreme pride and arrogance. The second is influence, which means that Sheitan can whisper and instigate people to do evil, but it is up to each human to decide whether he wishes to follow the suggested evil path or not. In this way, Sheitan lacks any kind of direct means of control over the lives of humans.
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‘Imam Ali Conquers Jinn’ by an unknown artist. (1568) Golestan Palace ( Public Domain )
His power rests merely at the level of suggestion, balanced by the possibility of choice that is provided by free will. Partly, this explains why the name “Iblis”, coming from the root “balasa” means “he who causes despair”. In addition, the Quran argues that devils and evil jinn were created to help sorcerers who are, from a spiritual point of view, very far from Allah. Supposedly sorcerers can invoke these entities, force them into obedience through special rituals, and then send them out to accomplish tasks set by the sorcerer himself - or by those paying for his services.
Featured image: 1001 Arabian nights. Photo source: flickr ( CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 )
By Valda Roric