What are jinn?

The technical definition of the Arabic word jinn is "to hide." In Arabic and Islamic literature and legend, jinn (singular jinni; also spelled djinni or genie) are believed to be spiritual beings. They are found in the Quran, but the concept of jinn has existed in Arabic culture prior to the formation of the Muslim faith. The Encyclopedia Britannica says: "Belief in jinn was common in early Arabia, where they were thought to inspire poets and soothsayers. Even Muhammad originally feared that his revelations might be the work of jinn." According to traditional beliefs about jinn found in the Quran or other literature, these supernatural beings exist at a level below that of angels and demons but above that of humans. They are supposedly able to spiritually possess or inhabit inanimate objects, and they are able to choose to do good or evil. According to the Quran, jinn are subject to final judgment and will be sent to paradise or hell, depending on their earthly actions.

Though there are similarities between jinn within Islam and demons within Christianity, they are not fully equivalent to each other. Christians believe that demons are fallen angels; at one point some of the angels followed Satan and thereby became demons (Isaiah 14:12–15; Luke 10:18; 2 Peter 2:4). Muslims believe that angels cannot sin or, therefore, become corrupted. While Christianity teaches that Lucifer was an angel who sinned and became Satan (Isaiah 14:12, NKJV), the Muslim belief is that Satan (Shaitan) was a jinni to begin with, meaning, he started at the level below angels. In Muslim belief, Jinn are fully capable of doing both good and evil by choosing to either accept or reject Islam. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, there are a few different types of jinn: "Ghūl (treacherous spirits of changing shape), 'ifrīt (diabolic, evil spirits), and si'lā (treacherous spirits of invariable form)." Other classifications of jinn sometimes also include: Jann (considered the father of all jinn, snakelike and primitive) and Marid (the jinn with the greatest amount of power, the strongest).

The Bible does not specifically mention jinn, but it does discuss spiritual forces within the heavenly realms (2 Corinthians 10:3–4; Ephesians 6:12). Jinn are never mentioned by name in the Bible, but it does mention other heavenly beings, including:
  • Angels (Psalm 91:11; Hebrews 1:14; 13:2),
  • Demons (Luke 4:41; Jude 1:6),
  • Cherubim (Genesis 3:24; Ezekiel 10:9–17),
  • Seraphim (Isaiah 6:2), and
  • Living creatures (Revelation 4:6–9).

  • God created humans and all the heavenly beings with a singular purpose: to serve and worship Him. There may be innumerable other creatures God has made, so we cannot say that a jinn-like being is impossible. However, as Christians, we also cannot confirm any concrete belief in the existence of jinn. We know that the Quran contradicts the Bible on many points, so we cannot trust that what it says about jinn is truthful (John 17:17). All that we need to know about the supernatural realm and the beings that inhabit it can be found within the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16–17). We can trust that God's Word is perfect, just as He is (Psalm 12:6; 19:7; 119:89). We also know that God's "divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence" (2 Peter 1:3). We need not be concerned with jinn, but should rather focus on the things of God that He has revealed to us.

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