Who are the Jinn?

November 30, 20222

The Muslim world is full of multiple beliefs regarding jinns. Some believe the Quran refers to evil beings, others to beings with supernatural powers. What is it really ?

By Sajid Ahmad Muslun

While microorganisms are described by all dictionaries as living beings so small that they are invisible to the naked eye, the proposal that they constitute a species of jinn , an Arabic term which designates all hidden and imperceptible things, arouses yet frowns. This idea, first presented by the fourth Caliph (ra) of the Ahmadiyya movement in his famous treatise Revelation Rationality Knowledge & Truth [1] , contains the revolutionary proposition that the Quranic usage of the term jinnwould sometimes refer to bacterial and archaeal organisms that populated the planet before the creation of man. The first to oppose this proposal are, paradoxically, the orthodox Muslims. However, these are the same people who claim to be passionate about “Koranic miracles” and passages with a scientific content that prove the Omniscience of the Author of their sacred book, which they consider to be a revelation from God. . According to several Muslim scholars, the idea that certain microscopic organisms hidden from the gaze of man would conform to the Koranic and lexicological description of the jinn is not acceptable, and would even represent an innovation which must be preserved. They maintain that the jinnprimarily and exclusively designate supernatural and invisible creatures endowed with the ability to possess people’s minds, to make fruits and vegetables appear by enchantment in violation of the rules governing flowering, and to accomplish magically high-end industrial tasks. As the purpose of this article is to explore the microbiological potential of the term jinn and not to demolish the traditional position, a topic to be discussed later, the following few points will suffice to illustrate the inherent discrepancies of orthodox belief in the jinn :

  • According to the hadiths, the Holy Prophet (saw) would have gone to meet a delegation of jinns during the night [2] . Why a secret encounter with invisible creatures?
  • According to the Holy Quran, the jinn who met the Messenger of Allah (saw) converted to Islam [3] . The traditional belief that jinns possess supernatural powers is problematic because the Holy Quran says about the believer:

“  We have sent you as a Witness, Bringer of Good Tidings and Warner, that you may believe in Allah and His Messenger, and help Him and honor Him, and glorify Him morning and evening.  » [4]

  • Why didn’t these do-everything Muslim jinns come to the aid of the Holy Prophet (saw) and his companions when they were suffering from the most torturous persecution in Mecca?
  • Where were these believing jinns , able to make fruits and vegetables appear as if by magic, when the Messenger of Allah (saw) and his companions had nothing to eat during the battle of the ditch?
  • What are the reasons which justify the absence of the Muslim jinns and their non-participation in the battles which opposed the weak and poorly equipped Muslims to the ferocious armies of Mecca?

In truth, the traditional Muslim belief about the Djinn has no Quranic basis, has never been supported by any prophet of God, and bears an uncanny resemblance to the beliefs of idolatrous peoples of the past who accused the pious Messengers of Allah of Majnun [ 5] – possessed by jinns . So what is the real meaning of the jinn ? To answer this question, the second Caliph (ra) presents in the fourth volume of his Tafsir-e-Kabir certain basic principles which serve as a starting point for any investigation aimed at understanding the nature of the various categories of jinn .mentioned in the Holy Quran. One of the rules he presents is that the term jinn , given its intrinsic relationship with notions such as dissimulation, imperceptibility and obscuration, is used to denote a whole panoply of concepts and creatures whose existence somehow transcends the vision of man:

” My observation can be summarized as follows: Given the widespread use of the word جن (jinn) in various places in the Holy Quran and in the prophetic traditions (hadith), it turns out that the different uses of the said word, though distributed through a whole clutter of diversiform meanings and a set of scattered connotations, recapitulate notwithstanding, and without exception, the following two meanings, namely “the one who is hidden” and “the one who conceals”. Thus, the term جن (jinn) applies at first glance to all things, all creatures or all human beings whose existence goes beyond the field of vision and refers, moreover, to all that covers and envelops. It must be recognized, however, » [6]

The rule presented above is taken up by the fourth Caliph (ra) as a preamble in the chapter of his book entitled “  The Djinn  ”. He explains that the subtle nature, the invisible character, and the notion of recovery associated with certain living beings are the reasons why they are designated by terms derived from the root JNN . For example, paradise is called Jannah because it is a place of dense and very shady gardens. On this subject, Imam Raghib, the author of a famous book on Koranic terms writes:

. والجَنَّةُ: كلّ بستان ذي شجر يستر بأشجاره الأرض

“Jannah: Any garden densely populated with trees that cover or hide the ground. »

Arabic language dictionaries define jinn as a reference to the serpent. Al Farahadi, in the 8th century , writes:

والجانُّ: حيَّةٌ بيضاء،

“Jan [denotes] a white snake. »

This definition is confirmed by all the major dictionaries of the Arabic language, some specify that Jan evokes a species of white snake with black-rimmed eyes [7] [8] [9] . The application of the term jinn , which evokes, we recall, the notions of dissimulation and remoteness, to snakes would be attributable to the fact that the latter often remain hidden from the gaze of people and lead a life away from other animals. inside the fissures of the rocks and in the terrestrial orifices [10] . It should be noted that in two places in the Holy Book, the famous serpent mentioned in the story of the prophet Moses (as) is called Jan [11], derived from the same root. The organismic aspect of the Jinn is further highlighted by the expression [12] جن الجنين في الرحم that we find in all the major dictionaries of the Arabic language, and which means that the fetus is called Jinin because it is concealed wrapped in the mother’s womb. The Holy Quran says in one place:

“  He knows you better than anyone when He created you from the earth, and  also  when you were but embryos – Ajinna – in your mother’s womb . » [13]

Thus, a study of the Holy Quran and the Arabic language reveals that the term Jinn is used to denote various living beings and certain stages of biological development, which are characterized by covering, invisibility and concealment. That said, the following question naturally comes to mind: “Why consider as inadmissible, or even unreasonable, the proposition that the term jinn denotes microorganisms, which are universally defined as:

  1. “A type of living organism, not visible to the naked eye due to its small size. » (the internet user) [14]
  2. “Living things so small they can only be seen under a microscope. (Futura Science) [15]
  3. “A living organism […] invisible to the naked eye. (Wikipedia) [16]
  4. “Microscopic living organisms invisible to the naked eye. » (Environment news) [17]
  5. “An organism of plant (microalgae, flora) or animal (microbe) nature [that] cannot be seen with the naked eye. (aqua portal) [18]

This proposal is moreover supported by a recent research published by La Revue des Religions [19] which indicates that the Holy Koran speaks in two places of a category of beings smaller than the Zarra – the little ant – the living being. the smallest known to the Arabs before the invention of the microscope:

“And nothing is hidden from your Lord, even that which weighs no more than the Zarra, or less than that. » [20]

The statement “or less than that,” as demonstrated in this research, is a clear reference to the existence of beings known to God but hidden from the gaze of man due to their smallness. It goes without saying that these organisms so small that they are “hidden” from the gaze of man correspond perfectly to the description of micro-organisms and correspond very concretely to the definition of the term jinn , which means something hidden and invisible. It is also worth mentioning that in Surat Al-Hijr [21] , the Holy Quran speaks of beings called jinns, created from smokeless fire, at a time before the creation of man, a description which succinctly recapitulates the conclusion reached by researchers studying the origin of life, who notice that most ancient organisms “…would have survived on the energy of lightning and ultraviolet radiation…” [22] . Finally, one of the greatest proofs in favor of the concept of ”  bacterial jinns ” is that it finds a decisive precedent in the hadiths of the Holy Prophet (saw), as explained by the fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya movement in his treatise Revelation Rationality Knowledge & Truth  :   

”  This proposal is fully supported by a tradition of the Holy Prophet (saw)where he urges people not to use the dung or bones of dead animals to clean themselves after satisfying their natural needs because, he said, “these are the foods of the jinns”. Just as we use toilet paper today, people used to use bits of dirt, rocks, or whatever dry object they could reach to clean themselves. We can thus safely deduce that what was referred to through the term jinn was none other than certain invisible micro-organisms, which feed on rotten bone, dung, etc. Remember that the concept of bacteria and viruses was not yet born. Nobody had the slightest idea of ​​the existence of these tiny invisible creatures. Surprisingly, this is what the Holy Prophet (saw) was referring to. The Arabic language could not offer him a better expression than the word jinn.» [23]

Sajid Ahmad Muslun is a student living in Ontario and a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. He is studying Biochemistry at York University. He is also involved in broadcasts of the MTA channel.


[1] https://www.alislam.org/library/books/revelation/part_5_section_3.html

[2] Sahih Muslim Kitab-us-Salat Bab Al-Jahr bi l-Qira’at

[3] The Holy Quran 46:30 and 72:2

[4] Chapter 48:9-10

[5] The Holy Quran 51:40, 26:29, 44:14-15, 37:37, 15:7, 68:52, 51:53, 54:10, 81:23, 68:3, 52: 30

[6] Tafsir e Kabir volume 4 commentary on verse 28 of Surah Al-Hijr

[7] Al Qamus Al-Muhit: وحَيَّةٌ أكْحَلُ العين لا تُؤْذِي ( wa hayyatun akhalul-‘ayn la tu’zi )

[8] Lane’s Lexicon: or a species of serpent (AA, M, K) having black-bordered eyes, (M, K,) inclining to yellow, (M, TA,) harmless

[9] Tafsir e Kabir volume 7 p. 349 – volume 7 p. 499 – volume 4 p. 58

[10] https://www.alislam.org/library/books/revelation/part_5_section_3.html

[11] The Holy Quran 27:11/28:32

[12] Lisanul-Arab

[13] The Holy Quran 53:33

[14] https://www.linternaute.fr/dictionnaire/fr/definition/micro-organisation/

[15] https://www.futura-sciences.com/sante/definitions/biology-micro-organism-6183/

[16] https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro-organism

[17] https://www.actu-environnement.com/ae/dictionnaire_environnement/definition/micro-organisation.php4

[18] https://www.aquaportail.com/definition-2022-micro-organisation.html

[19] https://www.revuedesreligions.org/etres-invisibles-dans-le-coran/

[20] The Holy Quran 10:62

[21] The Holy Quran 15:28

[22] DICKERSON, RE (September 1978) Chemical Evolution and the Origin of Life . Scientific American, p.80

[23] https://www.alislam.org/library/books/revelation/part_5_section_3.html

source https://www.revuedesreligions.org/qui-sont-les-djinns/?fbclid=IwAR2Ew6wKzlnMnzsLwSA4RMcEGFEXQ5TKtEaWm7aPAvx7RGfUxc5BWu9uPeU

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