Who or what are jinn?


A lady from London wrote to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa and said non-Ahmadi Muslims believe in the existence of ghosts and spirits and asked how the reality of these entities should be explained to them.

Huzoor-e-Anwaraa, in his letter dated 17 December 2021, provided the following answer to her question:

“When it comes to the beliefs surrounding the jinn and ghosts, among non-Ahmadi Muslims, there is a perception regarding them that is not supported by any evidence from the Holy Quran or the prophetic traditions [ahadith]. However, the term ‘jinn’ is numerously mentioned in the Quran and the Hadith in various contexts and with different meanings. Therefore, the meaning of this term should be understood in its proper context.

“The word jinn basically 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:

janna [جَنَّ], for example, means ‘to cast a shadow’ or ‘to cast a mantle of darkness’.

janin [جَنِين] is the foetus hidden in the mother’s womb.

junun [جُنُون] refers to the illness which covers the intellect.

jinan [جِنَان] denotes the heart, hidden in one’s chest.

jannah [جَنَّة] is the garden, whose thick shade from the trees covers 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 the elite 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. [Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-ashribah, Bab al-’amri bi taghtiyati l-ina’i wa ika’i s-siqa’i wa ighlaqi l-abwab] 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. [Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-manaqib, Bab dhikri l-jinn]

“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)

“Thus, as mentioned above, the word will have different meanings depending on the context.

“I have already provided a detailed response regarding the jinn, which was published in Urdu in Al Fazl International on 25 June 2021, and in English in Al Hakam on 2 July 2021. You may also refer to these sources for more information on the topic.”

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