Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
According to the Pew Research Center, in the South Asian countries surveyed, at least seven-in-ten Muslims affirm that jinn exist, including 84% in Bangladesh. In Southeast Asia, a similar proportion of Malaysian Muslims (77%) believe in jinn, while fewer in Indonesia (53%) and Thailand (47%) share this belief.
Unlike many Muslims I do not believe that Jinns exist as supernatural beings that can interact with the humans. This, I believe, gives me and my immediate family a very clear advantage over those who believe in them. As there is one less thing I have to worry about in life and it gives me better understanding of psychiatric and other illnesses.
Belief in jinn is relatively widespread – in 13 of 23 countries where the question was asked, more than half of Muslims believe in these supernatural beings.
Across the Middle Eastern and North African nations surveyed, belief in jinn ranges from 86% in Morocco to 55% in Iraq.
Overall, Muslims in Central Asia and across Southern and Eastern Europe (Russia and the Balkans) are least likely to say that jinn are real. I guess greater the influence of other cultures and pluralism greater the enlightenment.
The simple observation that the prevalence of belief varies from country to country and that a large segment of the population in different countries do not believe in their existence should make us realize that belief in them is not fundamental to our faith or religion.
Whereas belief in angels is broadly considered to be one of the fundamental beliefs in Islam by most scholars, belief in jinns is not on that list of any reputable scholar or sect of Islam.
In Central Asia, Turkey is the only country where a majority (63%) of Muslims believe in jinn. Elsewhere in Central Asia, about a fifth or fewer Muslims accept the existence of jinn. In Southern and Eastern Europe, fewer than four-in-ten in any country surveyed believe in these supernatural beings.
In general, Muslims who pray several times a day are more likely to believe in jinn. For example, in Russia, 62% of those who pray more than once a day say that jinn exist, compared with 24% of those who pray less often. A similar gap also appears in Lebanon (+25 percentage points), Malaysia (+24) and Afghanistan (+21). I guess this arises out of literal and less enlightened reading of the Quran. I have tackled this further in one of my previous articles: Possessed by Jinns: Many Medieval Muslim Scholars Need Exorcism.
Despite fairly common belief in the jinn, evidence for their existence is not forth coming.
The Pew Research Center‘s survey also asked if respondents had ever seen jinn. In 21 of the 23 countries where the question was asked, fewer than one-in-ten report having seen jinn, while the proportion is 12% in Bangladesh and 10% in Lebanon.
One argument that I have often heard from the Muslims in favor of jinns is that they are mentioned in the Quran, “don’t you believe in the Quran.” Yes, I do believe in the Quran. But, I do not believe in every clumsy translation or interpretation and commentary of the Quran. The Quran is a literal word of All Knowing God and as such is infallible but as we are not perfect, our understanding of it is not perfect and we should be constantly seeking greater understanding of the scriptures.
I cannot demonstrate the absence of jinn in every nook and corner of our universe.
It is not possible to prove a negative, in other words the burden of proof lies on those that believe in jinns to show their existence. In my 59 year of life I have not seen any good evidence for their existence. What I have found is that lesser the general secular education of a society greater their tendency to believe in jinns. As you travel from villages to towns to cities to biggest metropolitans the jinns continue to disappear. Jinns seem to coexist only with human ignorance as it decreases the jinns migrate to more ignorant segments of human society.
I have several other articles on this subject and related subject of exorcism: