Ayesha Le Breton
January 11, 2024
Mohammad Anas Khan, an anthropologist and heritage walk guide who grew up in Delhi, India, also known as the “city of jinns,” recalls a story his father once told him, about a neighbor who had sealed up a lamppost. “The jinns used to bang their windows, they used to make noises, and they used to trouble their kids until, finally, they called in someone who could communicate with the jinns.” This person told the family that a jinn had possessed their boy. “And then they told them that you cemented our house where we used to live [the lamppost] and now we have no place to go. So we are going to trouble you like this.” Jinn, according to the simplest definition, are beings who interfere in the lives of humans in various forms. Jinn can be muses of Arab poets, Aladdin’s big blue genie, or the ghoul of your nightmares. It’s hard to pinpoint when the lore of jinn first emerged, but it can be traced back at least a thousand years to Arab poets in the fifth and sixth centuries, predating Islam. Despite their ancient origins, jinn have withstood millennia and remain relevant to this day. A 2012 Pew survey found that 84% of Muslims in Bangladesh, 77% in Pakistan, and 70% in Afghanistan believe jinn exist. For many, jinns are a touchpoint to generational family history, representing creativity, comfort, and escapism.