What is Jinn? Where do they Exist?
I do not think it’s possible for any human to initiate a conversation with a Jinn. If that were possible, the Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) would certainly have done so, but no such credible report exists.
Almost all Muslims believe in Jinn—non-human intelligent beings that God created from “fire” (or some form of energy, for lack of a better term when Quran was revealed) before He created mankind. The only exception is Qadianis (a sect declared “non-Muslim” in Pakistan) who believe that Jinnaat were simply a tribe of human beings mentioned in Quran. That view, however, can be rebutted by so many verses of Quran and Hadiths that one need not spent any time on it.
However, to what degree Jinns (Jinaat is the correct plural) play a role, if any, in our lives has been a controversial subject among Muslims. There are Muslims who believe that Jinnaat inhabit certain houses or walk among us as humans, in much the same way that many non-Muslim Westerners believe in ghosts. There are also modern Muslims who believe that Jinnaat are extraterrestrial beings that have visited our planet every now and then but usually do not communicate or live with humans.
The existence of Jinnaat is well attested by both Quran and Hadith literature. According to Quran, God created Jinnaat from “fire,” before He created mankind, to inhabit the universe. Like human beings, Jinnaat are considered capable of both good and evil.
Jinn in Islamic History
Muslim historian, Tabari has provided some additional information on this subject, not mentioned in Quran or Hadith but based on pre-Islamic or Jewish legends. However, as usual, he did not take a critical look at some of these reports and simply reported them. According to some of these legends, Jinn were actually a tribe of angels. Although all angels are considered to have been created from light, Jinn, according to Tabari, were created from a “bright flame (‘marij’) of fire. ‘Marij’ means a tongue of fire blazing on its sides and top. Quran also mentions a smokeless flame of fire (Quran 15:27). Satan was one of these Jinn whose actual name was “Azazil.” Tabari has also listed several sources which suggest that some of Jinn inhabited the earth before the creation of mankind but because of their evil, God sent Azazil, who was the most knowledgeable of the angels, to destroy these Jinnaat. Other sources suggest that Azazil was the chief of the angels of the lower heaven. The other name for Azazil is Iblis.
Many of these narratives about the Jinn go only as far back as Ibn Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet, who was only a child when the Prophet died. Ibn Abbas was also considered a great intellectual of his times. It is doubtful that all of his knowledge about the Jinn came from Prophet Muhammad or his companions; he perhaps also relied on some pagan and Jewish legends, with which he was familiar with.
One Modern Interpretation
God wanted us to know that we are not alone, that there are extra-terrestrial beings who inhabit this vast universe. Quran also calls God “Lord of the Worlds” (in plural), implying that there are several worlds, like our own world. Most of the modern writers believe that this ‘marij’ that God refers to is actually energy. We human beings were created from matter and the Jinn were created from energy_ clay and flame being symbols of matter and energy, respectively. And as you know, matter and energy are interchangeable. In other words, there is matter based intelligence, therefore, there must also be energy based intelligence. It is also interesting that Quran challenges both the Jinn and the humans to travel through space (Jinns are listed first). It says, “[55.33] O assembly of the jinn and the men! If you are able to pass through the regions of the heavens and the earth, then pass through; you cannot pass through but with authority.” Here the Arabic word for “authority: is “sultan” which actually means ‘power.’ At the same time, Quran indicates that not all regions of the universe are open to travel: “[72.8,9] And that we sought to reach heaven, but we found it filled with strong guards and flaming stars. And that we used to sit in some of the sitting-places thereof to steal a hearing, but he who would (try to) listen now would find a flame lying in wait for him.” In other words, some space and communication boundaries have been created which cannot be surpassed.
If the Quran had mentioned some genii living in the desert, then I probably would have thought it was all a myth. But the way Quran explains everything, you cannot help but realize that something more significant is being discussed here and the Jinn are not like the demons that we find in movies. The Jinn are presented as sophisticated creatures who, like humans, can distinguish between good and evil but who also have limitations and are subject to Divine judgment.