Sunday, April 03, 2016

Doctrine - Creation according to Muhammad - The Djinn (Part 1)

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
One of the most interesting creatures mentioned in the Koranic scriptures are the Djinn (also spelled Jinn). Interestingly, it is from the word Djinn that we get our English word Genie. Exactly who and what the Djinn were is not clearly spelled out in the Koran. They certainly were not men. At the creation of mankind, the Djinn were present; Satan (called Iblis in the Koranic text) already being created and himself being a Djinn, remarked,
"And when We said to the angels, 'Bow [prostrate] yourselves to Adam'; so they bowed [prostrated] themselves, save Iblis; he was one of the jinn, and committed ungodliness [revolted] against his Lord's command [behest]." (Koran 18:48)
"Said he, 'I am better [nobler] than he; Thou createdst me of fire, and him Thou createdst of clay.'" (Koran 7:11)
As to whether or not the Djinn were angels, the Koranic text is a bit unclear. While Iblis was a Djinn, he also seemed to be counted in with the angels as he appeared with them when they were called at the creation of Adam. However, at other times the angels seem to distance themselves from the Djinn as being different from them.
"Upon the day when He shall muster [gather] them all together, then He shall say to the angels, 'Was it you these were serving [did these worship you]?' They shall say, 'Glory be to Thee! Thou art our Protector [master], apart from them [not these]; nay rather, they were serving the jinn; most of them believed in them.'" (Koran 34:39-40)
Here a clear distinction was made my the angels between themselves and the Djinn.

The Djinn were often evil and tempted mankind toward sin, but they also were found in the service of men. It was said that king Solomon had a company of Djinn that he commanded and that supported him in his works.
"And his hosts were mustered [gathered] to Solomon, jinn, men and birds, duly disposed [and they were marched on in bands]" (Koran 27:17)
As best I can describe the Djinn, they were somewhere between angels and men; like the daemons, but a creature separate from the angels. They are probably most closely akin to the demigods of Greek and Roman mythology; Somewhere below the prime gods and yet above mankind.

What is certain, is the nature of their creation. Muhammad claims that the Djinn were created out of pure fire.
"Surely We created man of a clay of mud moulded, and the jinn created We before of fire flaming [subtle fire]." (Koran 15:26-27)
"He created man of a clay like the potter's, and He created the jinn of a smokeless [pure] fire." (Koran 55:13-14)
It is important to note that the Jewish scriptures never mention anyone, or anything, being created of, or out of, fire. However, it is true that the exact means of the creation of angels is not specified in the Jewish account of creation.

As to their purpose, Muhammad links the purpose of the Djinn with the purpose of mankind.
"I have not created jinn and mankind except to serve [worship] Me. I desire of them no provision, neither do I desire that they should feed Me. Surely God is the All-provider [the sole sustained], the Possessor of Strength, the Ever-Sure [the unshaken]." (Koran 51:56-58)
The role of Djinn and men alike is to serve and worship God. It is interesting that he does not include the angels in this same purpose, although their exclusion may not have been to imply their exemption from the worship and service to God. However, the language would, again, serve to indicate that the Djinn were separate from the angels in kind and creation.

More to come...
David Robison

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