What does the term ‘ifrit mean?


Someone from Jordan sent the following questions to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa:

  1. Is everything out of sight a jinn and can Iblis and angels also be jinn?
  2. Do Ahmadis believe in the existence of ‘ifrit?
  3. We have read that the Promised Mahdi will appear in the Latter Days, are we really living in the Latter Days?
  4. Can we take an oath in the name of Allah Almighty or the Holy Prophetsa or the Promised Messiahas?

Huzoor-e-Anwar, in his letter dated 10 February 2022, provided the following response to these queries:

“[…] As for the belief of the Ahmadiyya community about ‘ifrit, it is the same as what the Quran and Hadith have taught us. In Surah an-Naml, in the story of Hazrat Sulaimanas, Allah says:

قَالَ عِفۡرِيۡتٌ مِّنَ الۡجِنِّ اَنَا اٰتِيۡکَ بِہٖ قَبۡلَ اَنۡ تَقُوۡمَ مِنۡ مَّقَامِکَ ۚ وَ اِنِّيۡ عَلَيۡہِ لَقَوِيٌّ اَمِيۡنٌ

“‘A powerful chieftain (from among the people of the hills) said, ‘I will bring that (throne) to thee before thou strikest thy camp; and indeed, I possess power (therefor), (and) I am trustworthy.’’ (Surah an-Naml, Ch. 27: V. 40)

“The word ‘jinn’, as I explained in my previous letter, is used in many senses. This term is also used to describe a person who possesses fiery qualities and a spirit of rebellion, has a quick temper, and is prone to anger. Therefore, people who engage in fights, riots, rebellion, and defiance or stubbornness are also referred to as ‘jinn’.

“Some of the nations that Hazrat Dawudas and Hazrat Sulaimanas conquered were very hardworking and industrious, but they also possessed such fiery qualities and a rebellious nature. Hazrat Dawudas and Hazrat Sulaimanas used their God-given wisdom and knowledge to make these nations submissive and obedient.

“Similarly, to accomplish the diverse tasks of Hazrat Sulaiman’sas kingdom, Allah made several nations subservient to him, for whom the Holy Quran has used various words. In Surah Saba, verses 13–15, the term ‘jinn’ is used for such people, while in Surah Saad, verses 38–39, as well as in Surah al-Anbiya verse 83, the term ‘shayatin’ is used. In fact, these terms refer to the wicked and corrupt nations that Hazrat Sulaimanas defeated with Allah’s help and support and appointed to carry out various tasks for his empire. Among them, ‘Ifrit was also one of the leaders of a similar nation who held a high rank during the reign of Hazrat Sulaimanas.

“The term ‘‘ifrit’ is also mentioned in the Hadith:

“Hence, Hazrat Abu Hurairahra narrated, ‘The Holy Prophetsa said, ‘An ‘ifrit (i.e., a wild barbarian of a hideous form) from among the jinn jumped on me yesternight suddenly, so as to spoil my prayer, but Allah enabled me to overpower him, and so I caught him and intended to tie him to one of the pillars of the mosque so that all of you might see him, but I remembered the invocation of my brother Sulaymanas: ‘O my Lord, grant me forgiveness and bestow on me a kingdom that will not suit anyone after me.’ (Surah Saad, Ch.38: V.36) So, I scolded him and drove him away.’’ Imam Bukhari states that the meaning of ‘ifrit is ‘rebellious’, whether it be human or jinn. (Sahih al-Bukahri, Kitab ahadithi l-anbiya, Bab qawlillahi ta‘ala ‘wa wahabna li dawuda sulaymana…’)

“This incident has been mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari in several other places as well. In the hadith of Kitab as-Salat, the term ‘‘ifrit’ has been used for the person who disrupted the prayer of the Holy Prophetsa, but in Kitab al-Jumu‘ahBab ma yajuzu mina l-‘amali fi s-salat, the narration uses the word ‘shaytan’.

“This incident can also be a kashf i.e., a vision shown by God into future events, namely that human beings with fiery qualities, rebellious thinking, evil and corrupt satanic tendencies will engage in enmity and incite war against the Holy Prophetsa to prevent him from fulfilling his duties. They will do this by trying to kindle the flames of animosity and provoking restless and unruly tribes to rise up against him. However, Allah the Exalted will put these wicked people under his control, and they will be humiliated and reduced to a state of disgrace by their failed attack.

“As history has shown, this is indeed what then transpired; Allah the Exalted granted the Holy Prophetsa complete victory and dominion over his enemies who had the traits of ‘afarit. Nonetheless, while Hazrat Sulaimanas, under divine will, enslaved defeated nations, who remained in his service until the end, the Holy Prophetsa, blessed with immense mercy and compassion for humanity, taught the emancipation of slaves, as is evident from the last part of this narration, and then he and his companions freed millions of slaves.

“If this incident is taken literally, it proves that a wicked and abominable person or animal of a vicious, wild, and savage nature attacked the Holy Prophetsa at night while he was praying, causing a disturbance in his prayer. However, the Prophet managed to control the human or animal and intended to tie it to the pillar of the mosque, but then he freed it out of his natural and instinctive mercy and compassion.

“In the commentary of Surah al-Naml [in Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 7, p. 394], Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra discusses the lexical meaning of the word ‘ifrit and quotes Aqrab al-Mawarid as follows:

“‘‘1) One who is sharp, vigorous and effective in an affair, exceeding the ordinary bounds therein, with craftiness or cunning. 2) One who is wicked or malignant.’’ [Said al-Shartuni, Aqrab al-Mawarid, Vol. 2, Qom: 1403 AH, p. 802; Malik Ghulam Farid, Dictionary of the Holy Quran, p. 581]

“Then, while describing the incident of Hazrat Sulaimanas and the Queen of Sheba in the commentary of this verse [27:40], Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra writes the following about ‘Ifrit:

“‘Hazrat Sulaimanas thought that the gift brought by Hudhud would not be effective enough, so something else should be ordered. So he said, ‘O my chiefs! Before those people come to me obediently, who will bring me the queen’s throne?’ One of the leaders of those who were special bodyguards said that he would bring that throne before any invasion took place. As the leader of the army, he knew how long they would camp there. He estimated that the queen’s throne could be brought in a few days after making the queen fearful, and he also claimed that he was a powerful leader and that the army of this small country could not compete with him. He also assured that he was loyal to Hazrat Sulaimanas and would not commit any betrayal while bringing this wealth.’ (Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 7, p. 394) […]”

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