Answers to Everyday Issues: Part XVII – Jinn


Click here for Part XVI

Guidance regarding basic Islamic issues – which Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa has given on various occasions in his written correspondence and during MTA programmes – is being officially published below for everyone’s benefit.

Zaheer Ahmad Khan, Head of Records Department, Private Secretariat, London


Someone wrote to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa that in an interview published in Tariq Magazine, seemingly, the viewpoint of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh was put forward by the interviewee that jinns did exist, contrary to the viewpoint of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra. The person said that it gave rise to some allegations by the opponents and asked how one could reply to them.

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Photo courtesy of Suhaib Ahmad

Huzooraa, in a letter dated 18 March 2021, gave the following reply: 

“The word jinn is frequently used in the Holy Quran and ahadith. It means something that remains hidden, whether it is hidden owing to its form or its behaviour. The word takes on numerous connotations as it changes cases or is inflected in other ways. Nevertheless, the concept of being hidden and obscure is common across all of these connotations. 

“The following words, for example, that are derived from the root j-n-n, carry the above-mentioned connotation: 

• The verb janna [جَنَّ] for example means ‘to cast a shadow’ or ‘to cast a mantle of darkness’

• Janeen [جَنِين] is the foetus hidden in the mother’s womb

• Junoon [جُنُون] refers to the illness which covers the intellect

• Jinan [جِنَان] denotes the heart, hidden in one’s chest

• Jannah [جَنَّة] is the garden, the thick shade of the trees of which, cover the soil

• Majannah [مَجَنَّة] refers to the shield behind which the warrior hides

• Jaann [جَانّ] is applied to the snakes that live in hiding in the ground

• Janan [جَنَن] refers to the tomb that hides the dead in itself 

• Junnah [جُنَّة] applies to the veil that covers the head and the body

“Moreover, the word jinn is also used for veiled women. It is also used for such chieftains and prominent people who do not mix with the public. It is also used for people of nations that live in geographically remote areas and are cut off from the rest of the world.

“Similarly, the word [jinn] is also used for nocturnal animals that stay in the dark and for very small insects or microorganisms such as germs etc. That is why the Holy Prophetsa instructed that eating utensils be kept covered at night. He also forbade the usage of bones for cleaning after attending to the call of nature and said that they were the food of the jinn i.e. ants, termites and other bacteria.

“Furthermore, the word jinn is also used for hidden evil spirits i.e. Satan and for the hidden good spirits i.e. angels as has been stated that:

مِنَّا الصَّالِحُونَ وَمِنَّا دُونَ ذَلِكَ

“[Some of us are righteous and some of us are otherwise.] (Surah al- Jinn, Ch. 72: V. 12)

“In the Jamaat’s literature, especially in the writings and addresses of the Promised Messiahas and his Khulafa, the word jinn is usually used in this sense. All of their discourse negates the popular notions and perceptions regarding the jinn which portray them as controlling people, possessing women, tormenting people or themselves being controlled by people who then order them to bring them things they desire. Such jinns are the creation of the minds of superstitious people and the Islamic doctrine does not accept them. 

“While answering a question regarding the existence of jinns, the Promised Messiahas said: 

‘We believe [iman] in them but have no intimate knowledge [irfan] of them. Why would we even stand in need of the jinn in our matters of worship, society, culture and politics etc.? How beautifully did the Holy Prophetsa proclaim:

مِنْ حُسْنِ إِسْلَامِ الْمَرْءِ تَرْكُهُ مَا لَا يَعْنِيهِ

“[Part of the excellence of a man’s Islam is that he stays clear of what does not concern him. (Muwatta, Kitab husn al-khulq)]

“Human life is very short but the journey [to the Hereafter] is long and arduous. Therefore, one should prepare the necessary provisions for that journey. It does not behove a believer to indulge in such utterly absurd and vain activities. Make peace with God and put your trust in Him alone. No one is mightier and more powerful than Him.’ (Malfuzat [Urdu], Vol. 3, pp. 403, Edition 2016)

“Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Ira, while rejecting these imaginary jinns, states:

“‘A boy used to live here. His name was Abdul Aliyy. His father often used to claim to be able to summon the jinn. He often stayed with me but was never able to summon the jinn before me.’ (Mirqat al-Yaqeen fi Hayat Noor ad-Din, pp. 249, Edition February 2002)

“Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra has, in his various writings, sermons and addresses, elucidated the issue of jinns from different angles and in great detail. In light of the teachings of the Holy Quran and the ahadith of the Holy Prophetsa, he has thoroughly refuted the existence of such jinn which are only present in the minds of the people, and which possess them or come under the control of some people, who then employ them as they desire. Hence, in response to a question about the jinn, Huzoorra dictated:

“‘I believe in the existence of jinns, but I do not believe that people are possessed by them or that they bring them any fruits. Just as people are not possessed by angels, in the same way, they are also not possessed by the jinn; just as angels meet human beings, so do the jinn, but only as far as their natural entity permits them.

“‘With regard to the teachings of the Holy Prophetsa, I believe they are for both human beings and the jinn, and believing in him is also necessary for the jinn. It is also [incumbent on everyone] to act on the revelation that descended upon him. However, this belief of mine has also led me to believe that people can neither be possessed by [the jinn] nor can they bring any fruits for them.

“‘The Holy Quran states that it was the duty of those who believed in the Holy Prophetsa to help and support him. If the jinn had the power to help or aid human beings [in the same manner], why were Abu Jahl etc. not possessed by them? They would not even have had to make any sacrifices [to do this]. 

“‘Some say that the jinn bring sweets etc. to people, but I do not believe in such jinns who although bring sweets to this and that person, but for [the Holy Prophetsa], the one, believing in whom was necessary and obligatory – and a party of jinn even came to profess their faith in him – and who would, at times, starve for three days in a row, they would not even bring some bread. If it were not necessary for them to believe in Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, then this would have put us in doubt whether or not they are able to harm mankind, but now we are certain that they cannot do so.

“‘As far as the matter of women being possessed by the jinn is concerned, then these are all diseases, superstitions or the manifestation of natural phenomena. For example, phosphorus shines at night and it is often seen in graveyards because phosphorus comes out of the bones and it shines but people attribute it to the jinn.’ (Al Fazl Qadian [Urdu], No. 82, Vol. 8, 2 May 1921, pp. 7) 

Jinn 1
How jinn have been perceived in early history, partaking in combat with their characteristic hooves | Wikimedia Commons

“Similarly, in one of his addresses, published under the title of Fazail-ul-Quran, Huzoorra sheds light on another aspect of the jinn and states:

“‘Some people say that jinns are non-human beings who believed in the Holy Prophetsa, Hazrat Mosesas and Hazrat Solomonas. However, what needs to be determined is whether the Quran acknowledges this interpretation. If this is a metaphor, then surely the Holy Quran must have explained it in one of its other verses. If we do not take it as a metaphor, then two verses of the Holy Quran would clash, leading to an inconsistency in the Holy Quran. 

“‘Thus, we have to see whether a contradiction is created in the Holy Quran by rejecting it as a metaphor or by accepting it as one. Those who do not consider it a metaphor, say that it is like the word “Satan” used [in the Quran]. Just as Satan is a creature that is separate from human beings, so are the jinn creatures that are separate from human beings. However, commentators unanimously agree with regard to وَإِذَا‭ ‬خَلَوْا‭ ‬إِلَى‭ ‬شَيَاطِينِهِمْ [But when they are alone with their ringleaders [lit. Satans]… (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch. 2, V. 15)] that the “Satans” mentioned here refer to the Jews and their prominent leaders. Thus, if human beings can be Satans, then why can they not be jinns

“‘Likewise, Allah the Exalted states: 

وَكَذٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَا لِكُلِّ نَبِيٍّ عَدُوًّا شَيَاطِينَ الْإِنْسِ وَالْجِنِّ يُوحِيْ بَعْضُهُمْ إِلٰى بَعْضٍ زُخْرُفَ الْقَوْلِ غُرُوْرًا

“‘[Surah al-An‘am, Ch.6, V.113]

“‘It means that “We made enemies for every prophet from among the human Satans as well as the jinn, who provoked enmity among people and incited them against the prophet and his community.” 

“‘Here, Allah the Exalted has clearly stated that human beings can also be Satans. Thus, if there can be Satans from among humans [shayatin al-ins], why can there not be jinns from among humans [jinn al-ins]? That is, just as there can be humans who are referred to as Satans, so can there also be humans who are referred to as jinns. Hence, we can deduce from the Quran alone that not only did Hazrat Solomonas command the jinn, but there were also jinns who professed faith in Hazrat Mosesas and the Holy Prophetsa.’ (Fazail-ul-Quran [Urdu], No. 6, pp. 387, 388)

“Similarly, after extensively discussing the topic of jinns in Tafsir-e-Kabir, Huzoorra summarises the discourse and writes:

“‘In short, the term jinn has been used in various ways in the Holy Quran:

“‘1. Jinn: All the invisible beings that are from the category of the metaphysical Satan. These entities incite evil in the same way that angels encourage good. The difference, however, is that the encouragement of angels is wider in its scope whereas their incitement is limited. That is, they focus on those who willfully turn to evil thoughts. These beings are also called Satans. 

“‘2. JinnJinn also refers to cavemen in the idiom of the Holy Quran, that is, human beings who lived underground before becoming capable of receiving revelation and were not bound by any formal system. For the future, however, the Holy Quran adopted the following terms; those who possess the ability to demonstrate obedience have been referred to as humans [insan] and those who have a fiery nature and refrain from obedience are called jinn

“‘3. Jinn: The people of the northern regions, that is Europe etc., who did not mix with the people of Asia, and who were destined to make astonishing material progress and show rebellion against religion in the Latter Days. They have been mentioned in Surah al-Rahman. 

“‘4. Jinn: People of other religions and strangers whom some nations like Hindus and Jews considered a new creature. They are commonly referred to as jinns, such as the jinns of Hazrat Solomonas or those people who came to profess their belief in the Holy Prophetsa.

“‘In my view, the jinn that are mentioned as being the inhabitants of Hell, are the same people who are of a fiery nature and who do not obey and do not accept any religion or teaching. As for the human inhabitants of Hell, they are the disbelievers who associate themselves with one religion or another. Or, perhaps, the nations of the Northwest have been referred to as the jinn, while the people of the South and the East have been referred to as humans [ins]. Those people were known by these names in common lore […]

“‘Before I conclude this addendum, I would also like to point out that many classical scholars at least share with me the idea that there are no such jinns who would come and meet human beings and possess them and make them do different things […] If one says that some esteemed elders had mentioned jinns, then the reply to that would be that they were spiritual visions that are possible in the world of allegory. [Those elders] saw some things by way of visions and since the belief in jinns was prevalent among the masses, and the term ‘jinn’ is also used in the Holy Quran, the people misconstrued these figurative entities to be physical beings.

“‘My personal experience in this regard is as follows: At different times people have written to me that jinn came to their house and caused mischief. I always expressed the desire to have an experience of such a house at my own expense, but I would either receive this reply that the jinn had stopped coming or that they had fled due to the blessing of my letter or that of my envoy. I think what they saw was a neurological mystery. As my letter or emissary proved to be a source of comfort for them, their condition changed.

“‘If any of the readers of this exegesis have experience of the said creatures and they write to me, I am ever ready to have an experiment conducted at my own expense. Otherwise, what I have understood from various Quranic arguments is that the jinn that are popular among the people and about whom it is said that they had some relationship with human beings or brought things to them is merely an illusion, hallucination or misperception. Or they are the tricks of showmen, but people have attributed them to the jinn as they are not familiar with the secret compositions of their tricks. I have also studied this field of knowledge and I am familiar with many of the illusions of these people.’ (Tafsir-e-Kabir [Urdu], Vol. 4, pp. 69-70)

“Moreover, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh, in response to questions about jinns during majalis-e-irfan and question and answer sessions, has always stated the position that there was no mention in the Quran and ahadith of such jinns who are the creation of the minds of the maulvis and who can, at their behest, pick up a person and bring him before them within a night. Hence, Huzoorrh states in his magnum opus, Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth, that: 

“‘Prepare now to undertake a journey upon the wings of scientific vision into the ancient past to explore the nature and identity of the jinn […] It literally means anything which has the connotation of concealment, invisibility, seclusion and remoteness. It also has the connotation of thick shades and dark shadows. That is why the word ‘jannah’ (from the same root word) is employed by the Quran to denote Paradise, which would be full of thick, heavily shaded gardens. 

“‘The word jinn is also applicable to snakes which habitually remain hidden from common view and live a life secluded from other animals in rock crevices and earthen holes. It is also applied to women who observe segregation and to such chieftains as keep their distance from the common people. The inhabitants of remote, inaccessible mountains are likewise referred to as jinn

“‘Hence, anything which lies beyond the reach of common sight or is invisible to the unaided naked eye, could well be described by this word.

“‘This proposition is fully endorsed by a tradition of the Holy Prophetsa in which he strongly admonishes people not to use dried up lumps of dung or bones of dead animals for cleaning themselves after attending to the call of nature because they are food for the jinn. As we use toilet paper now, at that time people used lumps of earth, stones or any dry article close at hand to clean themselves. We can safely infer therefore, that what he referred to as jinn was nothing other than some invisible organisms, which feed on rotting bones, dung etc. Remember that the concept of bacteria and viruses was not till then born. No man had even the vaguest idea about the existence of such invisible tiny creatures. Amazingly it is to these that the Holy Prophetsa referred. The Arabic language could offer him no better, more appropriate expression than the word jinn.’ (Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth, pp. 363-364)

“In reply to the question of what Islam’s concept of jinns was, what evidence there was for it in the Quran or in the hadith, if there was any event in the life of the Holy Prophetsa that proved the existence of jinns or whether the notion of the people that jinns possessed people was correct, Huzoorrh [jokingly] said:

“‘I have spoken extensively about jinns but these jinns are such a calamity that they do not leave one alone. Whichever gathering one goes to, whichever country one goes to, jinns will definitely come there, that is, the question of jinns would always come up. I have answered this question many times.

“‘These jinns used to come to the ijtemas of Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya and they did not leave us alone at Ansarullah’s ijtemas either. The question about jinns still comes up, whether I go to Karachi or Pindi. Pakistanis everywhere, be they in England or mainland Europe, are hugely interested in jinns.

“‘The word jinn has appeared in different places in the Holy Quran with different connotations. In short, jinn refers to hidden things in the Arabic language. That is, the word jinn in Arabic applies to things that are hidden in any way. That is why serpents are also called jinn or jaann and women who are veiled are also called jinn. Prominent people who keep their distance from the common people and remain hidden are also referred to as jinn. Mountain tribes that are generally hidden from the people living on the plains are also described as jinn. Cave dwellers are also called jinn. The word jinn is also applied to hardy, tough people. The word jinn is also used for bacteria. Hence, the Holy Prophetsa forbade the use of bones for cleaning after attending to the call of nature, saying that it was the food of the jinn. At that time, there was no concept of bacteria nor was it known that bones were the food for anything. Later research revealed that bacteria really did cling to bones and that they were harmful and should not be used for cleaning after attending to the call of nature. So, one of the meanings of jinn is something that is hidden. All other connotations stem from this meaning. 

“‘Yet another connotation is that of being created by fire, having fiery attributes and a spirit of rebellion. Hence, every nation that has a fiery temperament, which is volatile, quick to anger, militant and rebellious is described as jinn. The jinn that were made subservient to Hazrat Solomonas and Hazrat Davidas were in fact nations that were conquered. They were hardy and there was an element of rebellion in them. Therefore, the Holy Quran says that they were chained and forced to work. Had they been the kind of jinns that are concocted by the minds of the maulvis, then such jinns could not have been chained. Hence, it becomes clear that the jinn were some physical creation. Therefore, the Holy Quran has also used the word jinn for prominent people and for the capitalist system.

“‘While addressing big people, be they capitalists or representatives of socialist governments, Allah the Exalted states in Surah al-Rahman: 

يٰمَعۡشَرَ الۡجِنِّ وَ الۡاِنۡسِ اِنِ اسۡتَطَعۡتُمۡ اَنۡ تَنۡفُذُوۡا مِنۡ اَقۡطَارِ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ فَانۡفُذُوۡا ؕ لَا تَنۡفُذُوۡنَ اِلَّا بِسُلۡطٰنٍ۔ فَبِاَيِّ اٰلَآءِ رَبِّكُمَا تُكَذِّبٰنِ ۔

“‘[O company of Jinn and men! if you have power to go beyond the confines of the heavens and the earth, then do go. But you cannot go save with authority.] (Ch.55, V.34)

“‘يٰمَعۡشَرَ‭ ‬الۡجِنِّ‭ ‬ means, “O the top people from among the jinn!” and والانس means “And, o the top people from among the common people!” This is what is meant. So, the term jinn is used in all those places. It is a very vast word. Some representatives from the hardy, mountainous tribes also came to meet with the Holy Prophetsa and they wanted to have a separate conversation with him. So, the Holy Prophetsa agreed a time with them, went to see them outside where they had encamped and a discussion took place. The Holy Quran has recorded the incident and it is mentioned in Surah al-Jinn. Later, they became believers. 

“‘At the same time, the ahadith also tell us that when the Companionsra went there later, they saw that there were traces of their stoves where food had been cooked. So, if they were jinns, then the food of the jinn, imagined by the maulvis, is not cooked on the fire; rather, their food is made up of different substances. They are made up of a fiery substance or a translucent kind of existence. So, it becomes evident that the jinns who came to meet with the Holy Prophetsa were from among human beings. Then the concept of prophets is found among them. They said, “We were very ignorant. We thought that God would never send a prophet again. But look, a prophet has now appeared.”

“‘Prophets come [to guide] human beings. In the Holy Quran, the Holy Prophetsa has always been told to convey the message to human beings. He has not been told anywhere to address such jinns. Hence, those aforementioned people who professed their belief [in the Holy Prophetsa], mention that they had denied prophets, by thinking that no prophet would come in the future. It makes it very clear that they were some people from among humans. The Holy Quran has mentioned the jinn in many places in the same sense or in the similar sense that I have described. However, it has not described the jinn, who would steal people’s chickens and bring them to maulvi sahib nor the kind of jinns, who would catch someone you wish to be caught and bring them to you within a night. No such mention is found in the Holy Quran or in the life of the Holy Prophetsa.’ (Question and Answer Session, 29 December 1984)                            

“Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashir Ahmadra has also written excellent articles about jinns. Hence, in one place he writes:

“‘The word jinn may denote many things. Nevertheless, it is not at all true that there are jinns in the world who present themselves to people so that they may employ them as they wish, so as to become their toys; or jinns who employ people as they wish after bringing them under their control, so as to make them their toys; or jinns that become people’s friends and bring them good things or jinns that harass people after becoming their enemies; or jinns that make people suffer from insanity and disease after possessing them; or jinns that open the gates of health and prosperity for some people etc. All these are superstitions of weak-minded people that have no basis in Islam and true Muslims should avoid such superstitions. 

“‘Linguistically speaking (not as an Islamic term), angels can also be called jinns because they are an invisible creation. The teachings of Islam prove that angels play a significant role in increasing the believers’ knowledge, in developing their energy and in their overcoming of the disbelievers as happened on the field of Badr when three hundred and thirteen (313) destitute Muslims rapidly reduced one thousand of the disbelieving warriors, who were fully armoured with weapons, to dust, by the command of God (Sahih Bukhari). So, if the questioner is interested in having a relationship with invisible spirits, then he should give up the idea of such jinns whom he can manipulate or who can manipulate others; rather, he should focus on the friendship of angels, the relationship with whom can completely transform an individual by the grace of God.’ (Al Fazl, 13 June 1950)

“Similarly, while explaining some of such incidents related to Hazrat Maulana Ghulam Rasul Rajekira that are recorded in Hayat-e-Qudsi, Hazrat Sahibzada Mirza Bashir Ahmadra states:

“‘As far as being possessed is concerned, my view is that it is a sort of psychological disorder in which the affected person subconsciously considers himself ill or under the influence of a supernatural spirit. The person’s previous life experiences, his desires and fears unconsciously contribute towards this feeling too. This too is a kind of illness, namely hypochondria and not an actual disease. Islam believes in the existence of angels and the jinn and they are mentioned in the Holy Quran. 

“‘It is also correct that the angels of Allah the Exalted control the system of the world by Allah’s command, encourage people to do good and awaken an awareness against evil. However, it is not correct to say nor do we find any Islamic legal basis for it that the jinn possess people, seize their hearts and minds and make them do various things. Such ideology is wholly against the teachings of Islam and man’s freedom of conscience. 

“‘Moreover, Islam has defined the concept of jinns in such broad terms that it includes certain hidden spirits as well as invisible insects and germs. Therefore, the statement mentioned in a hadith that one should cover the eating and drinking utensils lest jinns enter them, means that one should protect items of food and drink from the germs of disease.

“‘In any case, the existence of jinns is a proven reality. The system of God Almighty certainly accepts reality but not antics. Therefore, I do not accept, even if there are seemingly misleading and deceptive accounts against it, that there were some jinns who made human beings the target of their antics. So, to me, what is called evil spirits is in fact [a psychological disorder]. And what is called “normal” in relation to evil spirits is another facet of the so-called possessed person’s own being that is unconsciously speaking through the possessed person. And since the “possessed” person is bound to be weak-minded, when a person with a stronger mind or a more spiritual personality pays attention to him, he is able to break the spell of the “demon” through his mental or spiritual power or the power of his heart. Material people create this change only with their mind’s attention, but the action of spiritual people also includes the effect caused through the attention of the soul and prayer, and mesmerism is definitely a reality. (Hayat-e-Qudsi [Urdu], Hazrat Maulana Ghulam Rasul Rajekira, pp. 617-618)

“As for the statements from the interview published in the Tariq Magazine, they are based on the account of someone who had heard the incident being narrated. The listener may have misheard or misinterpreted them because, as far as I remember, Huzoorrh did not mention anywhere that he had seen a jinn put a blade in [the razor], but said that the next morning, he saw that there was a blade in it. 

“Moreover, the incident from the previous night that Huzoorrh narrated may have been a vision because the stance on jinns, put forward by Huzoorrh in his writings and other question and answers sessions, is contrary to the existence of this kind of jinns

“Thus, the word jinn can have numerous connotations but it is incorrect to say that there are jinns in the world who present themselves to people so that they may employ them as they wish, so as to become their toys or jinns who employ people as they wish after bringing them under their control, so as to make them their toys, or jinns that become people’s friends and bring them fruits and sweets or jinns that harass people after becoming their enemies, possessing them and clinging onto them. Such notions are the invention of maulvis who target and misuse weak-minded and superstitious people using their tricks. Such jinns have no basis in Islam and true Muslims should avoid such superstitions. 

“If such jinns had indeed existed, then they would have been obliged to make efforts to help our Lord and Master, Hazrat Muhammad, the Chosen One, the Munificent, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and to destroy his enemies by possessing them, especially since the Holy Quran and ahadith mention a party of the jinn visiting him and professing their belief in him. Thus, the fact that this was not the case proves that these imaginary jinns do not exist in this world.”

(Translated by Al Hakam)

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