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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Be Careful What You Wish For

Posted by R. Ann Siracusa


Oops! I didn't mean that kind; I mean the genie kind.

Before I wrote my most recent short story, Time In A Bottle, everything I knew about genies I'd learned from the original book One Thousand and One Nights or Walt Disney. When I researched the topic, I was in for a surprise.

Actually, jinn or djinn (both plural), which means genies, predate Walt Disney by quite a few thousand years, and also predate Islam, in the form of Arabian Mythology.

The word Jinn comes from the Arabic verb Janna and means "hidden from sight." Jinn refers to any class of spirits, lower than angels, capable of appearing in human and animal forms and influencing humankind for either good or evil.

The English word genie comes from the Latin word genius, which means a guardian spirit thought to be assigned to each person at birth. The French translators of One Thousand and One Nights used the word genie as a translation of jinn or jinni because it was similar to the Arabic word in sound and in meaning. And it stuck.


Throughout history, humans have been attracted to the supernatural and unseen. The spirit world has always held a fascination for people everywhere, from pre-history through modern times. Just look at the popularity of the paranormal genre.

It doesn't come as a surprise that the belief in invisible spirits existed in Arabian, Greek, and Roman mythology, as well as in the primitive beliefs of many other locations from Africa to the Canary Islands.

● In ancient Greece, Daemons were benevolent or benign spirits who served humans, at the will of Zeus, like spirit guides but who were invisible and known only by their acts. Nature spirits.

● The Roman equivalent of a Greek Daemon was a protective spirit call a genius. In ancient Roman religion, the genius was the individual instance of a general divine nature that is present in every individual person, place, or thing. Every man had a protective spirit, or genius, assigned to him, every woman, a juno. In reading the descriptions, it seems to be regarded almost like the soul of a person or place.

● In Arabian mythology, pre-Islamic beliefs of the Arab people, the jinn or djinn were one of a myriad of gods, demigods, and other deities. They were not gods, but supernatural spirits of free will who could be good, benign, or evil. These spirits had the ability to possess human beings, both in the sense that they persuade humans to perform actions (good or bad), and like the Christian perception of demonic possession.

There were several types of djinn in the pre-Islam beliefs. I found references to eleven types in general, but only two in relations to mythology. My guess is that all of them are found in mythology, but that's only a speculation.
Marids – The most powerful, with the ability to grant wishes to mortals, but that usually required battle or a lot of flattery to accomplish. (Drawing by Lisa Brown)
Ifrit – Spirits below the level of angels and devils, noted for strength and cunning. They were large winged creatures of fire who lived underground. They generally married among themselves but could also marry humans. Ordinary weapons could not kill them but they were susceptible to magic. They were also good or evil, but are most often depicted as wicked and ruthless. (Drawing by Lisa Brown)

In mythology, there is a belief that every human has a jinn (called a qareen or quarin  which means companion) like the roman genius, assigned to the individual.


According to my research, neither the word nor the concept of jinn is found anywhere in the original Hebrew text of the Bible, but the word is used in old Arabic translations of the Bible. But in Isaiah 6, the seraphim (which are described as burning, fiery ones) appear as creatures with their six wings used to cover their bodies, face, and feet (the description of the Ifrit). Also, in other scriptures, Jesus drives demons out of humans that are possessed. While not called jinn, these are spirits that possess the characteristics of jinn.

As I understand the references, in Islamic theology the jinn are creatures created by God (Allah) from smokeless fire just as humans were created from the clay of the earth. They are spirits, just as angels are spirits, but a lower order than angles.

They are physical beings with free will, just as humans, and are able to interfere physically with mankind and objects and likewise can be acted upon. They are believed to inhabit an unseen world beyond the dimensions of the visible world occupied by humans.

Then, of course, there is the Hollywood interpretation of where they live.

They are believed to live in social communities, with government, courts of law, weddings, mourning rituals, etc., and they have the ability to travel long distances at incredible speeds. They even die, but are much longer lived the mankind. Jinn are usually invisible to humans, but they can see humans clearly. Like mankind, they will be judged on the Day of Judgment and be sent to Paradise or hell according to their deeds.


Culture shock! In Muslin cultures, people believe that Jinn exist. It is part of the Muslim religion that God (Allah) created three kinds of beings: Angels, Jinn, and humans. And according to the Quran 51:56 "I did not create the Jinn and mankind except to worship me."

I found it interesting that the article on indicated that, because of their free will, "Jinn can thus be Muslims or non-Muslims. However, due to their fiery nature, the majority of them are non-Muslim." However, those are considered by Muslims as part of the army of Satan.

The Jinn were given greater powers and abilities than humans as a test. Among other things, they have the power to take over the minds and bodies of other creatures. This however, has been prohibited as it is a great oppression to possess another being.


So, armed with all this knowledge about jinn and genies, I set out to write a short story. Sorry to say, I undoubtedly used many of the misconceptions about these spiritual beings and their abilities.

Boroughs Publishing - 6K
Boroughs Buy Link    Amazon Buy Link

This is the story of Mona, a California girl trying to make the best of the difficult hand fate has dealt her. At this point, Mona's only desire is for a job that pays the bills, but a magical birthday present delivers sweetness she thought she'd never taste again, happiness she'd long forgotten, and a future better than any wish she could possibly imagine.


“Are you injured?” A deep velvety voice with a thread of steel slipped over me like a silken scarf, wrapping me in a gentle but firm caress. Startled, I strained to see its owner, but everything looked insubstantial, without defined edges.

I’d been cooking with a man in my kitchen? How did that happen? I hadn’t had a man in my life for nearly six years. Maybe I’d been out longer than I thought. Or maybe this was a dream.

I flexed my shoulders, shaking myself to get rid of the wooziness, my mind opting for the dream. “I’m okay… I tho—”

My vision cleared and my eyes focused on the tall, bronzed, and very male body standing in front of me, and my voice froze in my throat. Broad shoulders knobbed with muscle, a lightly-haired and bare chest, tight abs, a narrow waist… Yowza!

The man let go of my wrist and crossed his muscular arms, his dark eyes considering me intensely from above high cheekbones and beneath a lock of dark wavy hair that escaped the turban on his head. His square chin jutted a bit, proclaiming a stubborn streak as well as an Eastern heritage. The rich aroma of cardamom and his furnace-like heat infused the air, heating my blood and making me tremble.

The smoke-laden haze swirling around—and through!—him began to dissipate, and his thick dark brows pulled together in a frown. He took a step forward, his nostrils flaring as though assessing my scent.

Stifling a cry of surprise mixed with a small dose of fear, I hopped back, my hands behind me, and bumped against the counter. My fingers brushed something. The glass bottle. I tossed it a backward glance to see it lay on its side, vestiges of gray mist rising from its open mouth.


If you had your own personal genie, a qareen or quarin, what would you wish for? Add a comment about your wish.

Below is the genie I want for a gareen.




Tina Donahue said...

Great post, Ann.

I recall the Jinn episode on the X-Files. Thought it was great how wishes can get twisted into something you don't want.

Loved your excerpt. :)

Sandy said...

Excellent informative piece, Ann. Enjoyed your excerpt, too.

Vijaya Schartz, author said...

Your Jinn looks and sounds delicious, Ann. Great excerpt, great research, too. I love the mention of magical creatures in religion and history. Such a source of literary inspiration.

Melissa Keir said...

Wow...what an informative post! I didn't realize Jinn went so far back, but it makes sense.

I love your cover and the book sounds wonderful! I wish you many sales!

Cara Marsi said...

Very interesting post. I didn't know all this about Jinn. When I think of genies I think of the old TV show, I Dream of Jeannie, with Barbara Eden. I love your cover. I just downloaded your story. It sounds great and I like to support a fellow Boroughs author.

jean hart stewart said...

I always love posts that are informative as well as interesting and yours is both! Good post, Ann

Fran Lee said...

Love Genies, Djinn, Jinn and plain old hot guys that pop outta bottles. I, too, have written a very short tale about a Djinn...loved every minute. I enjoyed your post very much. Thanks for all the great information!

MaryG said...

I love learning new things. I just bought you book and look forward to reading it. Thanks, Ann.

Gemma Juliana said...

I've long been fascinated with jinn, Ann. Thanks for a very informative article.

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