In Arabian folklore
, a genie
, from Arabic جني jinn
) is a supernatural fiery creature who is said to possess free will. Genies are mentioned in the Qur'an
, wherein a whole chapter is named after them (Al-Jinn
). They can be both good and evil. In some cases, Evil genies are said to lead humans astray. In Islam
, known in Arabic as Iblees
, is the iconic genie that refused to bow down to Adam when ordered to by Allah.
Etymology and definitions
is the mythical English translation of the Arabic
. The first recorded use of the word Genie
in the English language was in 1655 as geny
, with the Latin meaning (see Genius (mythology)
). The French translators of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights
later used the word génie
as a translation of jinni
because it was similar to the Arabic word both in sound and in meaning; this meaning was also picked up in English and has since become dominant. The plural, according to Sir Richard Francis Burton
, is Jann.
The French génie, in turn, came from the Latin genius
, which meant a sort of tutelary or guardian spirit thought to be assigned to each person at birth. The Latin word predates the Arabic word jinni
in this context, and may have been introduced in the Arabian civilization through the Nabataeans
. The root however, and its concept of being "hidden" or "concealed" still comes from the Semitic root "JNN" and from which the Arabic Jannah
(garden or paradise) is derived.
Arabic lexicons, such as William Lane's lexicon provide the rendered meaning of Jinn not only for spirits, but also for anything concealed through time, status and even physical darkness. A classical Arabic use of the term Jinn is as follows:
- And there is no concealment with vehement hatred as well as the averting look.
Jinn in pre-Islamic era
dealing with ancient Middle Eastern
cultures, any spirit lesser than Angels is often referred to as a “Djinn”, especially when describing stone carvings or other forms of art. This practice draws on the original meaning of the term genie as simply a spirit
of any sort.
Inscriptions found in Northwestern Arabia seem to indicate the worship of Djinn, or at least their tributary status. For instance, an inscription from Beth Fasi'el near Palmyra pays tribute to the "Ginnaye", the "good and rewarding gods providing a sharp resemblance to the Latin Genius and Juno: The Guardian Spirits.
Types of Djinn include the ghul (“night shade”, which can change shape), the sila (which cannot change shape), the Ifrit iˈfɾɪt, and Marid [mʌˈɾɪd]. According to the information in The Arabian Nights, Marid seem to be the strongest form of Djinn, followed by Ifrit, and then the rest of the Djinn forms.
In the Middle East it is believed that the Djinn were spirits of smokeless fire, although sometimes they associated them with succubi (demons in the forms of beautiful women). The feminine form of Djinn is “jinniyah” or “jinneyeh”.
Jinn in the Bible
In several verses in Old Arabic and Old Persian Bible
translations, the words: Jinn(جن) Jaann(الجان) Majnoon(مجنون) and Iblees(ابلیس) are mentioned as translations of familiar spirit
for Jaann and the devil
In Cornelius Van Allen Van Dyck
's Arabic translation of the Bible these words are mentioned in Lev 19:31, Lev 20:6, 1Sa 28:3, 1Sa 28:9, 1Sa 28:7, 1Ch 10:13, Mat 4:1, Mat 12:22, Luk 4:5, Luk 8:12, Joh 8:44 and other verses as well. Also, in the book of Testament of Solomon
, Solomon describes particular demons
whom he enslaved to help build the temple
, the questions he put to them about their deeds and how they could be thwarted, and their answers, which provide a kind of self-help manual against demonic activity.
Jinn in Islam
The Djinn are said to be creatures with free will
, made from 'smokeless fire' by Allah in the same way humans were made of earth
. According to the Qur'an
, Djinn have free will, and Iblees
used this freedom in front of Allah by refusing to bow to Adam when Allah told Iblees to do so. By refusing to obey Allah order he was thrown out of the Paradise and called “Shaitan
”. Djinn are frequently mentioned in the Qur'an
72 of the Holy Qur'an (named Al-Jinn
) is entirely about them. Another Sura (Al-Naas) mentions the Djinn in the last verse. It is also mentioned in the Qur'an that Muhammad
was sent as a prophet to both “humanity and the Djinn”.
In the world there are three main creations, Angels, Humans and Jinns (other than various animals):
Angels: Angels are made from light (Noor). In Islam they are slaves of God who have no free will. They do not commit any sin nor disobey God and they always worship him.
Humans: Humans are created from earth and are given free will to do good or bad in their lives. Because of their free will, they will be held accountable for their choices in this life on the Day of Judgement. Those who follow and obey God (Allah), will be rewarded with paradise/heaven.
Jinns: Similar to humanity, jinns have free will allowing them to follow any religion they choose to, such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, etc. The only difference is that they are made of smokeless fire and therefore are not visible to humans. There are more jinns than humans, in terms of population. Jinns have the power to fly and fit in to any space so they live in remote areas, mountains, seas, trees, and in the air, in their own communities. Similar to the humans, Jinns will also be judged on The Day of Judgement and will be sent to Jannat (heaven) or Nar (hell) according to the life they lead.
Every person is assigned a special jinn to them, also called a qareen, the jinns that whisper into your soul and tell you to give into your evil desires. The Prophet Muhammad's jinn turned into a Muslim jinn, on the recitation of the Qur'an, as the jinn found it most beautiful.
Jinn in post-Islamic Arabic fiction
The evil "Ifrit
" are called “the seed of Iblees
” in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights.
The Spirit of the Lamp in the story of Aladdin, a familiar djinn to the Western world (see next section), was such a jinni, having been bound to an oil lamp. Ways of summoning jinn were told in The Thousand and One Nights: by writing the name of God in Hebrew characters on a knife (whether the Hebrew name for God, Yahweh, or the Arabic Allah is used is not specified), and drawing a diagram, with strange symbols and incantations around it.
The jinn’s power of possession was also addressed in the fictional Nights. It is said that by taking seven hairs out of the tail of a cat that was all black except for a white spot on the end of its tail, and then burning the hairs in a small closed room with the possessed filling their nose with the scent, this would release them from the spell of the jinn inside them..
Genies in Western culture
interpretation of the genie is based on the story of Aladdin
in the Western version of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights
, which told of a genie that lived in an oil lamp
and would grant wishes to the owner of the lamp, as well as the genie in the tale of The Fisherman and the Jinni
Many western stories about genies tend to follow the same vein as the famous short story The Monkey's Paw by W. W. Jacobs, with the overriding theme of “be careful what you wish for”. In these stories, wishes can have disastrous, horrific, and sometimes fatal consequences. Often, the genie causes harm to the loved ones or innocent people surrounding the wisher, making others pay for its master’s greed or ignorance. This also forms the basis of numerous three wishes jokes.
Exploiting loopholes or twisting interpretations of wishes is a classic trait amongst genies in Western fiction, with the genies either deliberately or unintentionally misinterpreting the wishes to grant the wisher exactly what they had asked for while in fact giving them the opposite of what they wanted. For example, in “The Man in the Bottle” episode of The Twilight Zone, a poor shopkeeper who finds a genie and wishes to become a leader of a great nation is transformed into Adolf Hitler at the very end of World War II. Often, these stories end with the genie’s master wishing to have never found the genie, all his previous wishes never to have happened, or a similar wish to cancel all the fouled wishes that had come before.
Examples of Genies in fiction and popular Culture
- Jinnicky the Red Jinn is one of Ruth Plumly Thompson's most popular original Oz characters. His most notable appearances are in Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz, The Purple Prince of Oz and The Silver Princess in Oz.
- Mr. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe conjectures that the White Witch was not human (as was her claim), but was in fact half giantess and half Jinn (A descendant of Lilith, Adam’s “first wife”.)
- Christopher Moore’s book Practical Demonkeeping describes the pre-human origin of the Djinn and God’s favor for humans.
- The “Djinn in charge of All Deserts” gives the lazy camel his hump in the story "How the Camel Got His Hump" from Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories.
- Djinn feature prominently in Tim Powers' supernatural spy novel Declare.
- Several references to djinn occur in the final short story, entitled “Ramadan”, of Neil Gaiman’s sixth The Sandman collection, Fables and Reflections. In Gaiman’s novel, American Gods, an ifrit drives a taxicab in New York.
- In the Bartimaeus Trilogy books by Jonathan Stroud, a djinni is a section of five major spirits, also including afrits (a form of Ifrit) as a creature of fire, marids, foliots, and imps. The trilogy focuses on a five-thousand year-old djinni named Bartimaeus and his unwilling alliance with a teenage boy.
- In Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden seriesthe Djinn appear frequently. The Wardens who control fire, weather and earth capture the Djinn in bottles, and use them to channel an smplify their powers. The two most powerful Djinn in the world are used in these series of books.
- Dragon Rider, a novel by Cornelia Funke features a djinn named Asif. She stated he was colored dark blue. She also stated he had a thousand eyes, he was so large his shadow could darken an entire ravine, his pointed ears were larger than the wings of a dragon, he had a fat belly, and blue hairs thicker than saplings grow inside his nostrils. He is an example of a serious interpretation of a djinn. He lives in a gray car, materializes from blue smoke, has a thousand eyes, and is omnipotent.If you ask him a question, he will show you it in one of his thousand eyes. A human must ask, it must be seven words, and if Asif has the same question but before him, the questioner must serve him for their entire life. Funke did not state if you could escape him and no character did get to be a slave, but Asif did say to the dragon Firedrake that he made his skin itch so much that a thousand servants had to scratch it for him. The servants were not shown, but mentioned.
- In the popular book series Children of the Lamp, John and Phillipa Gaunt discover that they are members of the djinn tribe Marid. They are guided by their English uncle Nimrod on a series of exciting adventures.
- In the young adult’s book Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones, the sequel to Howl's Moving Castle, there is a genie in a bottle and a pair of Djinn.
- In Jinn a book by Matthew B.J. Delaney, the creature which is being hunted is a Jinn. Has been called "Saving Private Ryan meets Alien in Delaney's tense and involving first novel, a hybrid that transcends its several genres."
- Julian referred to himself, as well as Jenny's Grandfather, as Djinn (Julian is a play on that name) in the Forbidden Game trilogy by L.J. Smith.
- In the Necromancer Wars literary series, an evil djinn is captured by a wiccan coven and imprisoned in a bottle.
- There are several passing references to djinna in Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses.
- “The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye” is a short story by noted British writer A. S. Byatt published in a short anthology of the same name.
- In the supernatural drama The Jinniyah by Maria Aragon, an Englishman during the reign of Henry the Eighth opens a gift decanter and gains unwanted immortality when he releases the female Jinn or Jinniyah inside.
- In the 1891 Short story The Bottle Imp by Robert Stevenson tells of a wish granting demon in a bottle, that grants your wishes in exchange for your soul and the only way to remove the curse and get your soul back is to sell it before you die, for less than what you paid for and it can only be resold with coins.
- In the Doctor Who novel The Stone Rose, the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler encounter an artificial life form called a GENIE- Genetically Engineered Neural Imagination Engines- in ancient Rome, capable of reshaping reality to grant wishes. The Doctor explained that these life forms, created in the future, were the actual inspiration for the genies of Earth tales when they travelled back into the past, but all but the original GENIE were erased from history when their creators realised that the power possessed by the GENIEs was tearing reality apart as people made more and more large-scale wishes
- In the novel Proven Guilty in the book series The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, Lucius Glau, Madrigal Raith's lawyer, is a jann- a scion of a djinn and a mortal.
- Djinn is the title of the 1981 novel by French author Alain Robbe-Grillet.
- In the anime and manga series Dragon Ball Z, the character Mr. Popo is a djinn that protects Kami’s Lookout and the final and most powerful villain faced by the heroes was a stylistically-Arabic demon called Majin Boo. “Majin” is the Japanese word for “Magical Being” or “Genie.” Befitting the genie that he is, Boo is a spirit formed from smoke and clouds that utilizes horrific transmutation sorcery which transforms living beings into candy to sate his monstrous appetite, as well as possessing incredible power that quite literally rivalled that of the most powerful gods in the Dragon Ball universe.
- In the Image comic book series Amazing Joy Buzzards, El Campeon is a mexican wrestler genie that can be summoned by the rock group by use of a magical amulet and saying the magic words "GO EL CAMPEON GO!".
- In the Vertigo comic Fables, a Djinn is released. In this comic, they are considered armong the most powerful creatures in existence.
- In the comic Jesi The Genie, a former milk goddess is cursed with becoming a genie, and then released during the time of the Arabian Nights by a young man. Jesi also appears in the webcomic Gaijin Hi.
- ClanDestine, a comic book series by Alan Davis and Mark Farmer and published by Marvel Comics, is about a family of British superheroes in the Marvel Universe, children of a human and a female djinn.
- Comic fiction author Tom Holt titled one of his novels Djinn Rummy, combining the word Djinn with the popular card game Gin Rummy. The novel is in fact about a number of djinns in the human world, many of whom have corporate sponsoring. Djinns appear frequently in a number of Tom Holt’s books, though it is normally taken for granted that the reader knows some of the fictional background of these characters. (I.e. the books are somewhat chronological).
- The DC Comic’s characters Johnny Thunder and Jakeem Thunder are masters of the djinn from the 5th dimension named Thunderbolt. Genies in the DCU are summoned by their masters by saying their name backwards. Thunderbolt's true name is Yz, which when said backwards sounds like "say you". Disgraced superhero Triumph was later manipulated by the evil djinn named Lkz, which when said backwards sounds like "so cool". After a conflict involving both the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America the two genies were merged together changing the Thunderbolt's summoning word to "so cool". The 5th dimension is also home to Superman's enemy, Mister Mxyzptlk. In the pages of JSA it was revealed that imps, like Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite, are seen as something akin to children. Thunderbolt's son, Shocko and Shocko's wife Peachy Pet are also djinn.
- Although not an actual genie, the wish-granting Id, created by the higher dimension beings known as the Cathexis from the JLA storyline Divided We Fall bore many similarities to genies, in that it granted wishes that gave the wisher exactly what was asked for without giving them exactly what was desired, occasionally responding simply to casual comments; the first sign of its presence occurred when it latched on to Superman's comment about how he wished heroes with dual identities sometimes didn't have to deal with the pressures of such a role and thus split six of the Justice League between their civilian and superheroic identity
- In the anime and manga series Magic Knight Rayearth the princesses from Chizeta, Tarta and Tatra have two djinn guardians.
- In the anime and manga Aladdin and the Magic Lamp (Aladdin to Mahou no Lamp)from Toei Animation alladin have two djinn the Ring Servant and the Djinni of the lamp
- In the Lebanon-published book Malaak (2007, first of a series), an angel with the appearance of a young girl fights evil jinns, which only she can see as they really are, who are involved in maintaining an ever-going civil war in an alternate reality Lebanon
- In the comic book there is a character named Genie.
Movies and television
- The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) features Baronni, a child Genie, who is freed and becomes Sinbad's cabin boy.
- The original Twilight Zone features two episodes with genies in them: "The Man in the Bottle" and "I Dream of Genie".
- The sitcom I Dream of Jeannie, which began in 1965 and ran for five seasons, featured Barbara Eden as a 2,000 year-old beautiful blonde Persian genie completely infatuated with the American astronaut master who had found her bottle and set her free in modern America. It was spun off into the animated series Jeannie in 1973.
- The horror film Wishmaster features a hateful and evil Djinn as its villain. The film has spawned three sequels.
- In the 1996 film Kazaam, Shaquille O'Neal played a rapping genie who lived in a boombox.
- In the animated series Martin Mystery, episodes called “Curse of the Djini” and “Return of the Djini” featured an evil djinn trapped in a skull that could read peoples' mind’s and make them say their wishes. If the djinn died then the wishes would be undone.
- In the episode "The Wish" of the UPN horror/comedy series Special Unit 2, Special Unit 2 encountered an evil genie-like link who needed to grant 3,000 wishes in order to gain free will. Unlike traditional djinn, this genie did not have supernatural powers other than the ability to transform between gas and solid states. As a result, the genie had to carry out wishes physically. So for example if someone wished for a million dollars the genie had to break into a bank and steal a million dollars for them. If someone wished for a relationship with a beautiful model the genie would have to kidnap the model. These wishes almost always ended in disaster for the genie's masters. After 3,000 wishes had been granted the genie would no longer have to live in bottles or grant wishes.
- The 1964 comedy The Brass Bottle features a genie (Burl Ives) who causes more problems than he solves for his master (Tony Randall) and his fiance, Barbara Eden (who herself would enter the bottle the very next year in I Dream of Jeannie.)
- The 2005 Japanese tokusatsu TV series Mahou Sentai Magiranger introduced a genie character in the middle of the series named Smoky, the Magical Cat. He resided in a lamp, which also acted as a gun to assist his master (Hikaru/MagiShine) in battle. His American counterpart is that of Jenji in Power Rangers Mystic Force.
- An episode of the TV series Charmed called "I Dream of Phoebe" has the Charmed Ones confronting a trickster Genie that is trying to gain its freedom by granting three wishes; another, previous wish featured another genie whose wishes unintentionally caused disaster for the sisters despite his efforts to help when his lamp fell into the wrong hands before the sisters managed to undo his wishes.
- An episode of the CW paranormal drama Supernatural called “What Is And What Should Never Be” has Sam hunting a Djinn (which has Dean) which did not actually grant wishes. Instead, it would cause the victim to enter a dream state where their greatest wish was granted while the Djinn fed off their life.
- Some episodes of TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer featured the introduction of vengeance demons, a race of demons who granted wishes for humans seeking revenge; like genies, these wishes commonly featured the exact wording of the wish being obeyed while not giving the wish-maker what they wanted, such as when Cordelia Chase's wish that Buffy Summers never came to Sunnydale created a world where vampires were in control, or when Dawn Summers's wish that nobody would leave her resulted in the guests to Buffy's 21st birthday party being unable to leave her house.
- In a Season 7 episode of The X-Files called "Je Souhaite", Mulder and Scully find a man and his dim-bulbed, wheelchair-bound brother who chooses three wishes which backfire increasingly. The cause of which is an indifferent genie whose willingness to grant wishes belies a deeper motive.
- Desiree from the animated series Danny Phantom is a genie-like ghost who grants any wishes she hears, gaining power from the wishes that she grants.
- In the film Long Time Dead the characters do a ouija board, which brings out a vengeful spirit named Djinn.
- In Fairly Oddparents there's a genie named Norm (voiced by Norm MacDonald) who, like traditional malevolent genies, grants the wish precisely without giving the wisher exactly what he wanted; although Timmy Turner- the series' main character- initially attempted to use Norm for three rule-free wishes in his first appearance, he subsequently realised his mistake and, having gained three more wishes by trapping Norm in another lamp, subsequently wished for a lawyer to help him draw up another wish to ensure that there would be no way for Norm to 'cheat' his way out of the wish.
- In the 1940 movie The Thief of Baghdad, Abu the thief frees a genie from a bottle who promptly tries to kill him, but after Sabu tricks the genie back into the bottle, the genie gives him three wishes. Abu asks first for sausages, second to be taken to king Ahmad, and third, in a fit of anger in an argument, for Ahmad to go to Baghdad, after which the genie abandons Sabu. Fortunately, Abu destroys the All-Seeing Eye, which has freed good spirits that will help him defeat the evil Grand Vizier Jaffar.
- In the 1945 film A Thousand And One Nights, Evelyn Keyes plays a voluptuous redheaded genie named Babs who is the Slave of the Lamp of Nador. She falls head-over-heels for her new master, Aladdin, and reluctantly helps him win the heart of a busty blonde princess.
- In the episode "Justin's Little Sister" of Wizards of Waverly Place on Disney Channel, Alex calls upon a genie for wishes and in true fashion, the genie twists her wishes into their most extreme translations.
- Disney's TV series Aladdin features a genie named Eden who becomes the girlfriend of Aladdin's Genie.
- The Game Genie cheat cartridge series was so named for its ability to change aspects of games at will.
- In the videogames Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age, players encounter Djinn as small benevolent creatures who use their powers to aid the protagonists in battle. There are 18 Djinn for each element. Some are hostile and must be beaten in combat to earn them.
- The strategy game series, Heroes of Might and Magic, features Genies as playable characters and units. A Genie named Solmyr is also a major protagonist in the series.
- In the 1980s video game Archon, the Djinn is the champion of the light side, opposite the Dragon who is champion of the dark side.
- In the video game Primal, the world of Volca is inhabited by evil creatures called Djinns, led by King Iblees and Queen Malikel. Those Djinn live dormant in a volcano, awakening only when the volcano is about to erupt.
- In the video game Sonic and the Secret Rings, there are two djinn: Shahra the Ring Genie, a Genie of the Ring, who assists Sonic through the game and Erazor Djinn, the game’s main villain who is a Genie of the Lamp.
- In the video game series Final Fantasy, one of the summoned creatures is named Ifrit and offers fire elemental magic. Also, in Final Fantasy III the player must defeat a Djinn who has turned an entire town into ghosts.
- The Pokémon Jirachi is said to grant any wish once it is written on a tag and attached to its three star points on its head.
- Genies are a major plot element in King's Quest VI as part of the Green Isles folklore.
- Iblees, while not being the main villain of the story, is featured as a summoned entity by the game's antagonist in second of the Quest for Glory games. The protagonist (Hero) also has the opportunity to summon a lesser djinn who grants him three wishes near the game's end.
- In the Game Boy game Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land the games main villain uses a Genie to attempt to defeat Wario during the final boss battle.
- In The Sims 2: FreeTime your Sims that have been created by yourself will get a Genie lamp by a gypsy, it will only grant 3 wishes per sim, after you have finished your wishes, you cannot have more.
- In the Game Boy Advance game Mega Man Battle Network 3 White Version one of the Navis you must fight is Mist Man, whose appearance is that of a Genie.
- In the expansion Hordes of the Underdark for Neverwinter Nights, there is a djinn you can encounter which acts as a portable merchant.
- In the PC Online MMRPG, tibia in Darshia there are djinn selling and buying items
- In MMRPG Guild Wars, good and bad djinns are encountered. Good djinns protect treasures and people, and also grant wishes. Multiple bad djinns are seen as enemies through games.
- In the N64 title, Diddy Kong Racing, an elephant genie named Taj can change your vehicle from Car, Plane or Hovercraft if you choose to do so.
- In the Dungeons & Dragons series of roleplaying games, genies are powerful elemental spirits from the Inner Planes, each of the four classical elements having its own subspecies of genie: Djinn for air, Dao for earth, Efreet for fire, Marids for water, and a fifth type known as the Jann, who draw their existence from all four elements. A six type, the Qorrash, has been added later and is linked to the pseudo-element of cold
- In the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering there are more than two dozen djinn-related cards, mostly larger-than-usual creatures with a drawback, and a dozen ifrit/efreet cards
- In Malaysia, all issues of the Economist dated December 19 2006 had the pages containing the article “Born of Fire” ripped out. The government's explanation was that “Muslims cannot believe in Jinns as this goes against Islam”.
- The Ars Arabica supplement to the roleplaying game Ars Magica classifies genies into several tribes: Jinn, Jann, Marid, Ifrit, Shaitan, and Ghul.
- al-Ashqar, Dr. Umar Sulaiman (1998). The World of the Jinn and Devils. Boulder, CO: Al-Basheer Company for Publications and Translations.
- Barnhart, Robert K. The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology. 1995.
- “Genie”. The Oxford English Dictionary. Second edition, 1989.